The advanced stage of wireless technology in Australia and Singapore has a group of Canadian new media content producers excited about opportunities to export their wares. In late February and early March, a group of 12 producers from across Canada explored the market opportunties in those two countries during a three-week trade mission. What they found was a hunger for mobile content to serve customers who are now embracing third-generation wireless networks – as well as possible government funding to put their projects afoot. While in Australia, Hutchison was aggressively marketing its "3" 3G wireless service in both Australia and Singapore, while Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., the government-owned incumbent phone company, launched new price plans that squarely target existing 2.5G customers for upgrades. In fact, the 3G service launched February 23 by Singtel will be priced at 30% lower than existing GPRS plans, and the company has offered to waive charges on much of its 3G content, including for video streaming for a limited time. The company will also cap the amount of data a customer can download in a given month, depending on their normal usage patterns, to avoid sticker shock on their monthly bills. Third-generation wireless was first introduced by Hutchison in Australia in 2003. Wireless phones have seen the greatest adoption of the various communications technologies by Australians, easily beating out PC-based Internet, which lags behind Canada. Around 20% of Australian households have broadband Internet – usually 256k ISDN lines – and just a quarter of Australians subscribe to pay televsion services such as satellite and cable. In Singapore, just 36.4% of cabled households subscribe to a television service, while just under half subscribe to Internet services. By contrast, wireless phones have near-total penetration in both countries.The ubiquity of mobile telephony has the Canadian producers accompanying the trade mission to Australia and New Zealand thinking hard about their existing content and possible new projects to sell into those markets. One of the trade mission participants, Diane Williamson, who heads London ON-based Digital Wizards, says she’s already come back with a potential contract from the public broadcaster in Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. While Williamson had several projects she brought to Australia to sell, mainly television and new media related, it was her GeoTracker project that caught the eye of the ABC. The GeoTracker project allows kids to use the GPS capabilities in handsets to upload sitings of animals as part of a game. "It was one of the things I kind of had in my hip bag, but it wasn’t necessarily my number one task to have this be expanded to the Australian market. It was just interesting that when I spoke of it a couple of times, it really appeared to get the attention of people. And, it was in one of the presentations that a couple of people actually contacted the ABC. ABC wasn’t even present during that (presentation). And, two different producers got in touch with ABC and said, ‘You have to meet with this woman. You have to hear about this. You should do this.’ So, by the time I met with the right person at ABC, he was already sold." The head of one of Canada’s most successful convergent production shops, Toronto-based marblemedia, also saw tremendous opportunity in the Australia/Singapore wireless markets. Used to creating products for a Canadian audience of high-speed Internet users, for the audiences of its DeafPlanet.com and This is Daniel Cook TV show/web site properties, for instance, marblemedia head Mark Bishop tells Report on Wireless that the wireless possibilities he saw on the trade mission will require new thinking. "I think the most exciting skill set that we saw both in Singapore and in Australia was really…the acceptance of wireless and any different form of mobile interactivity. Again, because the adoption rate of mobile is so much higher in both of those countries, there’s a different way of thinking when it comes to content creation and the integration of the mobile component into content, whether it’s broadcast content, new media content, whatever the case may be. But it’s still that very seamless integration of the mobile component which is something that we want to do here. Even there, when we were in Singapore, the introduction of 3G was top of mind in terms of some of the presentations we were seeing. When you have 3G rollout, as a content producer you get very excited. And, when you see it accelerated that much faster in Singapore, especially, but also in Australia, you realize that, there’s tremendous potential for the content which you’re creating, and the things that we’re preaching here, but that we’re not necessarily able to fully carry out." The head of the body which organized the trade mission, the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, says the discovery of how pervasive mobile technologies are in the two countries was eye-opening. "Mobile is obviously the future," says Andra Sheffer. The Bell Fund is a private granting body that assists convergence projects associated with broadcast properties, usually but not limited to interactive web sites. She notes that the fund has assisted projects with mobile components before, and says she expects further proposals will come out of the trip. The Bell Fund co-sponsored the trip with Canadian Heritage and the Canadian Consulate General in Sydney, Australia. Decima Reports participated in the mission with the financial assistance of both.