Telecommunications and Information

The APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group (TEL) advances the development of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and services in the Asia-Pacific region. and promotes cooperation, information sharing and the development of effective ICT policies and regulations. It also aims to enhance social and economic development through the effective use of ICTs as well as to promote a secure and trusted ICT environment.

The TEL aims to ensure that all people in the Asia-Pacific region have affordable access to ICTs and the internet. In 2000, Leaders set the Brunei Darussalam goal of universal internet access by 2010; in 2008, the TEL Bangkok Declaration affirmed the commitment to achieving universal access to broadband by 2015; and the 2010 TEL Okinawa Declaration set the ambitious goal of access to next-generation high-speed broadband by 2020, to nurture the growth of knowledge-based economies in the APEC region.

In 2017, Leaders noted the importance of promoting the internet economy, and welcomed the adoption of the APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap, which the TEL will contribute in implementing.

The TEL also supports achieving open and free trade and investment in the APEC region by 2020 in the field of ICT—a component of the Bogor Goals.

The TEL conducts its work program through the following steering groups:

  • Liberalisation Steering Group (LSG)
  • ICT Development Steering Group (DSG)
  • Security and Prosperity Steering Group (SPSG)

Mutual Recognition Arrangement Task Force (MRATF) was created under the LSG to implement a mutual recognition arrangement on conformity assessment of telecommunications equipment (MRA-CA) and to draft a mutual recognition arrangement for equivalence of technical requirements in telecommunications equipment (MRA-ETR). In 2015, the “Mutual Recognition Arrangement Task Force” was renamed the “Conformity Assessment and MRA Task Force.”

The steering groups and task force propose and implement projects that address priorities set by both telecommunications and information ministers and APEC Leaders.  In 2015, the 10th Ministerial Meeting on Telecommunications and Information (TELMIN10) endorsed the TEL Strategic Action Plan for 2016–2020, with the following priority areas:

  • Develop and support ICT innovation
  • Promote a secure, resilient and trusted ICT environment
  • Promote regional economic integration
  • Enhance the digital economy and the internet economy
  • Strengthen cooperation

Last page update: September 2019

Current Activities

The 59th Meeting of the Telecommunications and Information Working Group (TEL59) was held in Santiago, Chile, from 2 to 7 March 2019. The meetings were attended by 17 member economies, as well as private sector and guest representatives from the Internet Society (ISOC), South East Asia Regional Computer Confederation (SEARCC), Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), Derechos Digitales, Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale (ALAI), AT&T, Google, DirectTV Chile, Telecom Advisory Services LLC,, and Singularity University.

TEL59 continued to take forward the work laid out in the TEL Strategic Action Plan 2016–2020 (SAP), which was revised at TEL58 after the completion of a midterm review. In view of the approaching completion of the current SAP, a drafting group was formed to create TEL’s next five-year SAP (2021–2025). Discussions at the brainstorming session held during TEL59 resulted in an agreed framework with four priority areas, which would form the basis of the new SAP. A complete draft of the new SAP is expected to be tabled at TEL60 for further discussion.     .

In addition, TEL strengthened cross-fora collaboration efforts and cooperated with the newly formed Digital Economy Steering Group (DESG) at the margins of SOM1, 2019. A joint meeting between TEL and the DESG was held in the morning of 3 March 2019 to discuss issues related to the implementation of the APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap (AIDER). Together with the DESG, TEL organized a public–private dialogue in the afternoon of 3 March 2019, which included an interactive discussion with the private sector on issues related to the AIDER’s implementation.  

Three roundtable discussions on competition policy, gender equality and new technologies were also conducted at TEL59, aiming to stimulate constructive dialogue on those crucial issues between public and private sectors..

The next TEL meeting (TEL60) will be hosted by Korea in October 2019.


In 2017, there were approximately 3.6 billion Internet users globally—about 48 percent the world’s population.  Mobile-broadband subscriptions have grown more than 20 percent annually in the last five years, reaching 4.2 billion globally by end 2017.[1]  Access to ICT is a key metric in efforts to reduce poverty, empower citizens and foster economic development.

However, the benefits of ICT are not evenly enjoyed in our society and half of the world’s population is still offline. Most of them belong to vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, persons with disabilities, remote communities and low-income households. Therefore, promoting digital inclusion and innovative applications have been TEL’s top priorities for years.

In this regard, the ICT Development Steering Group (DSG) focuses on expanding digital access and usage, and exploring new ICT applications and services in the APEC region. In 2019, the DSG is working on the following activities:

1. Innovation Roundtable on How to facilitate the growth of new technologies (among them IoT, Big Data, AI, etc.) (Chile)

The DSG Innovation Roundtable on the topic “How to facilitate the growth of new technologies (among them [the Internet of Things], Big Data, AI, etc.)” was organized by Chile on 5 March 2019. The context of the innovation roundtable was as follows: New technologies have the potential to change the world radically by improving quality of life and generating new business. It is necessary to facilitate their growth and development, especially those with greater potential for transforming society, such as the internet of things (IoT), big data, AI, etc. In this sense, it is necessary to reflect on the measures that can be adopted by APEC economies that promote or facilitate their development, especially in the context of avoiding a generation of new divides. There were three speakers: Mr Makoto Yokozava (Japan), Mr Brian Larkin (United States) and Mr Jens Hardings (Chile). The discussion was about the need for new perspectives if new technologies are to develop. Regarding the governance and dialogue, the multi-stakeholder framework will be the one of possible solutions. Speakers also discussed the necessity to ensure that the telecommunication service market is a level playing field.

2. Workshop on the Potential of Emerging Technologies such as Blockchain for Digital Government (Japan)

The workshop, held on 3 October 2018, aimed to identify opportunities of adopting emerging technologies for digital government, focusing blockchain as a case example but also considering IoT and AI in the context of smart cities and ageing societies. The speakers discussed and shared views regarding: 1) human resource development and capacity building for digital government; 2) innovating digital government; and 3) applications of blockchain for government.

3. ICT Applications for People with Special Needs (Ageing and Disabilities) – Extension

This multi-year project co-led by Japan and Singapore and co-sponsored by Chinese Taipei; Thailand; Russia; and the United States commenced in May 2013 to create a platform for knowledge exchange on innovation for assistive ICT applications for elderly and disabled people.  Eight stages of this project have already been completed by 2018. The project is expected to be completed in 2020. Click here for more information.

4. APII R&D Test Bed Network Project (Japan, Korea) – Extension

The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Japan (NICT) conducts R&D activities and operates largeā€scale technology assessment environment (test bed) networks to establish new generation network (NWGN) technology through proof and evaluation. The test bed networks are widely available to industry, academia and government to promote the timely development of new applications and strategic international joint research and cooperation through connecting test beds in the Asia-Pacific. Korea reported progress on this multi-year self-funded project, which will continue until 2020. Korea provided updates on the Korea Advanced Research Network (KOREN) and its future applications on blockchain and medical data, cryptography. Click here for more information.

5. APEC e-Government Research Center (Japan) – Extension

The APEC e-Government Research Center at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, was established in 2005 to help provide solutions to various challenges of e-government. It also offers recommendations for the improvement of e-government implementation. The project is self-funded by Japan; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; and Thailand. As part of the center’s commitment to addressing e-government issues, the center is working on e-APEC. The APEC Senior Officials' Meeting commissioned to the Pacific Economic Cooperation Committee (PECC) to provide an assessment of progress in implementing the e-APEC strategy. The main activities of the center will be monitoring and assessing the e-APEC initiative, maintaining a data bank for e-government readiness for member economies and conducting trainings with a distance online system. The project is expected to be completed by 2020. Click here for more information.


Due to fast-paced disruptive technologies, different sectors are now getting more and more intertwined, making it difficult for regulators to keep up. Polices and regulations are often criticized for lagging behind innovations and even for becoming obstacles to new technologies. A telecom industry report[2] also shows that one-third of global telecom leaders are concerned about uncertain regulatory environments. Therefore, it is important for TEL to work towards promoting regulatory and enabling environments for new ICT.

To this end, the Liberalization Steering Group (LSG) focuses on regional economic integration in ICT and on effective policy and regulatory frameworks for industrial innovation and public interest. This year, they are working on the following activities:

1. Conformity Assessment & Mutual Recognition Arrangement Task Force (CA&MRA TF)

The 1998 APEC Telecommunications Mutual Recognition Arrangement (APEC-TEL MRA) is a multilateral arrangement between economies in the APEC region to facilitate the recognition of each other’s conformity assessment results. These arrangements are intended to streamline the conformity assessment procedures for a wide range of ICT equipment, facilitating trade among signatories to the APEC-TEL MRA. Over 20 years, this agreement has helped encourage innovation in the region and stimulated the growth of the technology sector. For international ICT companies, the APEC TEL MRA has reduced the number of hurdles for approvals of new technologies, provided local access for exporting entities by allowing in-economy testing and created the incentive to design products to international standards.

2. Regulatory Roundtable on the role of competition policy in fostering infrastructure to bridge the digital divide, 4 March 2019 (Chile)

On 4 March 2019, Chile organized a regulatory roundtable on the role of competition policy in fostering infrastructure to bridge the digital divide. The roundtable revolved around three main topics: 1) reframing competition policies; 2) market structure, infrastructure development and affordability; and 3) Latin American telecommunications market structure. The main objective of this roundtable was to explore policies that foster competition in order to encourage the development of the digital ecosystem to overcome the digital divide, mainly from the point of view of the digital infrastructure.

3. Industry Roundtable on how to maximize the impact of gender equality in the digital economy within the APEC economies (Chile)

This industry roundtable was held on 5 March 2019 and the discussion was led by a panel compromised of representatives from the private and public sectors, which was moderated by Ms Pamela Gidi, the Undersecretary of Telecommunications from the government of Chile. The objectives of this roundtable were to identify the baselines regarding the participation of women in the telecommunications industry, the gender equity development policies that have been implemented in the context of the APEC economies, and observations and measurements of the impact of these inclusion policies.


In 2018, “cyber-attacks” and “massive data fraud” were listed as part of the top five global risks in terms of likelihood.[3] It is almost inevitable that cyber-risks will continue to intensify as the world becomes more digitally interconnected. Therefore, TEL endeavors to build collective capacity to ensure a secure and trusted ICT environment through various measures such as raising cyber security awareness, protection of vulnerable groups and encouraging secure cross-border flows of information.

The Security and Prosperity Steering Group (SPSG) focuses on promoting security and trust in e-commerce and networks and cybercrime prevention. They are working on the following activities:

1. APEC Framework for Securing the Digital Economy (Thailand)

The project initially aimed to develop the APEC Cybersecurity Framework, with a view to help APEC economies improve their understanding and awareness of work going on across the region and in relevant international bodies. It aims to promote discussions of best practices for addressing key issues on the topic and begin to identify common themes and frameworks in regional and global approaches to a secure, safe and trustful online environment. The project terms of reference were endorsed by TEL in 2015 to be used as a primary reference for developing the framework. Cybersecurity framework workshops were held at TEL56 and TEL57 to review and discuss a draft framework presented by Thailand. At TEL57, the meeting agreed to rename the framework the “APEC Framework for Securing the Digital Economy,” which brings forth a different, niche direction than the initially intended comprehensive Cybersecurity Framework. After extensive intersessional discussions, the framework was finally endorsed by TEL prior to TEL59 and will be published in due course.

2. Cyber Security Awareness Activity (United States)

Now commemorating its 15th year, US Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2018 is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to ensure every citizen has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. The DHS also recently published reports on malicious activity from North Korea and their use of malicious software on payment systems, such as ATMs, to conduct financial fraud. Additionally, the DHS has published information regarding advanced persistent threat (APT) activity on managed service providers (MSP) and cloud service providers (CSP).

[1] ICT Facts and Figures 2017, ITU, 

[2] Digital transformation for 2020 and beyond, Ernst & Young,

[3] The Global Risks Report 2018, World Economic Forum,

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Telecommunications and Information

APEC economies have achieved the goal of tripling internet access in the region, originally set in the 2000 APEC Leaders' Declaration (the Brunei Declaration) and the goal of universal internet access by 2010. Economies are currently working to establish and implement policies to reach the goal of universal access to broadband by 2015.



Contact Us

Dr NAM Sang-yirl

TEL Chair
Korea Information Society Development Institute (KISDI)
18 Jeongtong-ro, Deoksan-myeon
JINCHEON-GUN, Chungcheongbuk-do 27872
Korea (Rep. of)

Ms Christine Cho

Assistant to the Chair
Korea Information Society Development Institute (KISDI)
18 Jeongtong-ro, Deoksan-myeon
JINCHEON-GUN, Chungcheongbuk-do 27872
Korea (Rep. of)

Mr Adrian CHENG

Program Director