|Summer 2004 Issue 7|
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Generation Network Standards to Be Defined at ITU
IT Alliance: Japan, Korea, China Aim to Jointly Counter US Dominance
Internet Access as Key Telecom Revenue Stream in Asia Pacific
Asia-Europe E-Commerce Pilot Project to Be Expedited
Asian Governments Focus on ROI
'AsianBondsOnline' Web Site Launched at ASEAN+3 Finance Ministers Meeting
Global IT Firm CEOs Set Up Forum in Seoul
Korea, Brunei Hold Seminar on e-Government
There's More to E-Govt Than Just A Pretty Face
APEC Promotes Spread of e-Commerce
E-Documents to Replace Paper Documents
E-trade Among APEC Economies Attainable in 10 Years
Three Countries Join on Home Networking
Asia's First Broadband Airplane Takes Off from Narita, Japan to Munich
APEC Members Discuss E-Business for Small Firms
China, Japan Develop Asia's 1st Standardized Linux Platform
Piracy in Asia Costs Software Makers $7.5 Billion
Broadband World Forum 2004: Invitation to Futuristic Internet
Intl Conference on E-Government Starts in Capital
The Fourth Annual Forum on City Information in the Asia-Pacific Region Held in Shanghai, China
ITU Telecom Asia 2004 to Explore Dynamic Asia-Pacific ICT Market
Hong Kong to Host ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006
The Asia-Pacific E-Government Summit
Int'l Telecom Confab Open
Given Greater Access to Internet
Internet Industry Establishes Self-discipline Regulations
Electronic Signature Legislation Needed
China Deploys Internet Protocol Version 9 Network
Hong Kong Telecom Interconnection Policy to End in 4 Years
Online Games to Clean Up Their Action
500 Porn Websites Identified Nationwide
IRAN: Iran Shuts Down Some Internet Providers
JAPAN: IBM Offers Strategic Planning for Japanese E-Govt Projects
Kyoto: 2004 Department Policy Promotion Plan
Partial Revision of Guidelines for Promotion of Competition in the Telecommunications Business Field
Regional Public Network Construction with Fiscal Year 2004 Budget
Release of Information and Communications in Japan: White Paper 2004
KYRGYZSTAN: President Signs Electronic Digital Signature Law
SOUTH KOREA: Ministry to Get Police Power on Cyber Crimes
Probe on IT Espionage Begins
Agreement Reached to Narrow Digital Divide
Exemption Taxes to Include 'E-books'
Seoul to Ease IT Regulations
China Shuts Down 8,600 Internet Cafes
Seoul Plans Anti-Hacking Network
Policy to Use Chapter Software Praised
Malaysia to Extend IT to Schools, Clinics
Broadband Access to Cost Government RM800mil
SINGAPORE: Draft Anti-Spam Laws Unveiled
THAILAND: IPAIT Bangkok Summit Commits to E-Govt
Data Protection Law to Come into Force Before Smart Cards Used
Govt Scores Poorly in Security Test: Ministry to Issue Digital Signatures
VIETNAM: Vietnam Sets Govt Database, Networking Standards
Policy for Ensuring Telecom Sector Uplift Urged
T&T Mobile Phone Hits Market in Dec
Legal Framework for IT to Develop E-Commerce
INDIA: Country Becoming World's IT Lab as Major Firms Move In
Sustained Growth, Reforms Key for India - IMF
India's IT Engine Is Slowing Down
IT Firms Pitch for Simpler Tax Regime
NEPAL: Nepal Telecom to Cut Cellular Phone Rates
PAKISTAN: Ideal Climate for IT Investment
Internet Policy Within a Month
Cooperation in Telecom a Must to Reduce Poverty
Saarc States to Cut Telecom Tariff
International Call Charges, Connection Fee Reduced
Computer Education for All
Government Approves Expansion of PTCL
of Hope for Maori 3G
AUSTRALIA: E-health's $48m Boost
Push for Online Auction Laws
$55m for IT in NSW Budget
Incubator Model Flawed: Vcs
NEW ZEALAND: Opt in, Opt out - Government Weighs Options in War Against Spam
Campaigning Still Long Way Off
Chinese E-Govt Is Transparent Government
Macau to Establish E-Govt Portal
HK Restructures Government IT Departments
Hong Kong: E-Government Programmes to Focus on Customers
Civic Pride Driving China E-Govt Development
New Website Aims to Be China's No.1 E-commerce Portal
IRAN: E-banking, Backbone of Development
JAPAN: Establishment of the Telecommunications Business Dispute Settlement Commission's Website (English Version)
Japanese City Deploys E-Govt
MPHPT Compiles Outline of User Complaints and Inquiries Concerning Telecommunications Service in Fiscal 2003
Japanese Town Establishes E-Govt Network
Intel Moves to Deliver Chinese E-Govt Network
NORTH KOREA: Internet Portal Site Opens
SOUTH KOREA: Seoul City Launches English Help-line
Korea to Adopt Homegrown Internet Format
Korea to Create E-Govt Partnership Fund
KAZAKHSTAN: Kazakhstan Increases Pace of E-govt Reform
UZBEKISTAN: Syrdarya to Introduce Pilot E-Government Programme
Looks to Korean E-Govt Model
Indonesian Legislators, Bureaucrats: 'Don't Understand The Internet'
MALAYSIA: Many Govt Agencies in Need of Better Web Security
Malaysia Brings High-Tech ICT Benefits to Rural Areas
PHILIPPINES: Filipino Board of Investments Launches E-Filing
Up to a Quarter of IT Spending Wasted
Thai Civil Servants Need to 'Speed Up' E-Govt Reform
VIETNAM: Ho Chi Minh City's Online Business Registration Project
Districts＊ Free Online Procedures to Speed Up Residential Transactions
LANKA: E-Sri Consortium Gets Nod from Sri Lanka Govt
Telecom Day Observed Govt Firm to Develop ICT Sector
Bangladesh Plans to Set Up E-govt WAN
ATDP Launches: Agribusiness Search Engine Today
INDIA: 370 Million E-Voters in Indian Elections
Indian E-govt Award Winners Announced
Indian Internet Centres to Handle Govt Complaints
Expand Local IT Market
BANGLADESH: New Role for the BTTB
Govt Releases Electronic Authentication Draft
Govt Guide to Help Small Firms Sell Online
ACA Steps Up Fight Against Spam
Super Regulator Formed for Broadcasting and IT
Tax Office Opens Standards
Tech Skill Visas on the Rise
Queensland to Get Science Chief
Slow Start for 'IT Ambassadors'
Abbott to Launch E-health Pilot
NEW ZEALAND: Government Gets Look at Security Software
Government Science Company Upgrades Its Supercomputer
Farmers Opts for SAP Solution
Telecom's Net Plans Unpopular
First Private TV Station on Air
New Television Station Starts Broadcasting in Western Afghanistan
CHINA: Largest Online Sci-Tech Databank Completed in China
Building Hong Kong as a Digitally Inclusive Society
Beijing Starts to Issue New ID Cards
Management on On-Line Information Improved
Hong Kong: Bridging the Digital Divide
Beijing Provides Web Access to Poor People
Shanghai: Digital System Used to Protect City from Floods
Guangdong Govt Web Site Launches English Version
Election of "Shanghai IT Elite Youth" Starts
Hong Kong: An Evolving E-Learning Society
China Builds Free Net Encyclopedia
Dalian to Build Software Industry Corridor
Internet Ads Revenue Tops US$130m
Hong Kong Seniors Take to Cyber Space
Digital Terrestrial Television by 2007
Shanghai Opens Free E-Mail Platform
China: World's 2nd Most Wired Nation
Iran Calls for Establishment of Regional Information and Communication Technology Hub
Debut Trial of Digital Interactive Broadcasting
JAPAN: Individuals Join Online-trading Bandwagon
Japan to Launch ＆Wallet Mobile Phone＊
Regional Public Network Construction with Fiscal Year 2004 Budget
Gov't Sees Internet Use Anywhere, Anytime
Japan's Broadband Users Increase to 15.8 Million, Gov't Says
Japan Launches 3G Phone Working in Local Area Network
SOUTH KOREA: Samsung Electronics Gives Up 'Samsung City' Project
Digital Media City Takes Form
IRAN: IT, Key to Modern Banking
Ubiquitous-Korea to Become Reality by 2007
Nine Cities Apply for Company City Project
Seoul Citizens to Have New Traffic Card
Microsoft to Invest 10 Billion Won in South Korea
Korea Ranked First in IT Competitiveness Among OECD Members
Shinhan Offers Online Banking in English
Cell Phone Users in Korea to Hit 39 Million by 2008
KAZAKHSTAN: Ministry of Information to Launch Public Television
UZBEKISTAN: Supreme Court Launches Website
Uzbekistan Championship on Computer Games Finished
Computerized School Admission System in Jakarta Passes First Test
MALAYSIA: IT-Guided Tour at Frim＊s ＆Hi-Tech Forest＊
Inculcate Good Values Along With E-Learning
E-Solutions Technology Push for SMIs
Virtual Market Opened for Agricultural Community
Tech-Savvy Judges Put Trial Notes on The Web
Calculating Tax Payable at the Click of a Mouse
Online Link for Quick Police Action
More Using Internet to Check Job Applications
SINGAPORE: Few Use Online Service to File Police Reports
National University of Singapore Speeds Up Wireless Campus
Starhub Launches Digital Option for Cabled Homes
More Commercial Carparks Going High-Tech to Beat the Parking Blues
IATA Promotes E-Ticketing to Help Airlines Save US$3b
Singapore Marches Onward Towards an e-Inclusive Society
Integrated IT Platform to Make Trade Information Flows More Efficient
Uphill Task to Win Over More Singaporeans to Online Shopping
Singapore GIC Web-Enables HR
THAILAND: Third Party Sought to Test E-Plus Device
IT Paves Way for NCMU to Become E-University
THAILAND: Government Touts Paperless Trade
Purported Royal Letter Up for Online Auction
Bahria Institute Gets New Electronic Lab
CityCell Introduces 'Online Self Care'
BHUTAN: Villages to Have Internet Connection
INDIA: Kerala City Corporation Put On Digital Map
Indo-US Firm Builds 2nd Fastest Computer
SRI LANKA: Rupavahini to Go Digital
MALDIVES: Electrification of 12 Islands Put on Tender
BANGLADESH: Digital Telephone Exchanges Are Being Installed at 21 Upazilas
Local Tech Rates in Global Top 10
New NICTA Lab in Melbourne
School Reunion Website Sold for $3m
NSW Makes Open Source Move
Regional Telco Service Boost
Private Broadband in SA Lunchboxes
Melbourne Opens Hi-Tech Hub
Bank IDs Tackle Cyber Fraud
Telstra to Share Rival's 3G Network
Spam Affecting Most NSW Small Businesses
Bubble Has Burst, But IT Staff Are Still Premium Earners
Broadband Project Gets Great Barrier Up to Speed
Telecom 'Subsidy' Hits Rivals
Intellectual Capital Invests $35 Million in Woosh
Buy-Out Will Keep Land Database for NZ
Businesses Taking Internet Safety Seriously
Free Cellphones Likely for Rural NZ
University Plans Technology Park
The 7th China Beijing International Hi-Tech Expo
E-Governance Conference to Be Held in Beijing
Tehran Telecoms Summit 2004
JAPAN: Seminars on International Conferences and Business Practices in the Age of Globalization
SOUTH KOREA: Global IT Firm CEOs Set Up Forum in Seoul
Forum for Five-Year Development Plan of Daegu-Gyeongbuk Province Held
MONGOLIA: Internet Usage in Rural Areas Regional Workshop
Republican Seminar ※Development of Small Business and Entrepreneurial Activity in Communications and Informatization Sector§
Tashkent to Host Business Forum on Information Technologies
INDONESIA: Robot Contest Seen as Fun, No Serious Function for Now
MALAYSIA: Master ICT, Dayaks Told
Special Training in Computer Forensics for ACA Officers
Singapore's Top Computing Students Unveil Technological Breakthroughs in Gaming Arena
More Singaporeans Taking Up E-Learning
Taxi Companies Sending Drivers for New Computerised Driving Tests
Sector on Major Recruitment Drive
Energy Watchdog Plans Steps to Protect Consumers - Plans to Establish E-Management
BUET Launches E-learning Programme
BHUTAN: Buddhism in Electronic Archives
Private Firm Offers Satellite & Internet Services
INDIA: Hall of Electronics Opens at Visvesvaraya Museum
India Short of 2 lakh IT Pros
BSNL Targets 2.78 Lakh New Cell Connections
BANGLADESH: Recruiting ICT Human Resources Thru' Revenue Budget Seen Vital
Women Lead Rural India's Internet Rush
|AUSTRALIA: CeBIT Plans a Byte on the Side|
(HONG KONG) -- Work on next-generation network (NGN) standards has found a home at ITU following industry debate. ITU's standardization arm -- ITU-T -- is to create a focus group that will produce global standards for NGN. The ICT standardization body has responded to industry calls for specifications with the first results expected one year from now. The main difference between NGN and today's network is the switch from current circuit-switched networks to packet-based systems such as those using Internet protocol (IP). The need for global standards is critical as most operators expect to move to an IP infrastructure. One area to be addressed is the concept dubbed "nomadicity", which will give fixed line and mobile users seamless communication. This means the underlying technology will be invisible to the user regardless of a multi-service, multi-protocol, multi-vendor environment. "Industry sought a quick solution on NGN and we responded," said Houlin Zhao, director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. "In this case, the focus group concept has given us the means to act with the level of immediacy required. There is no faster and more efficient place for the development of this work." Herb Bertine, director of Standards, Lucent Technologies agreed. "Through this initiative ITU-T is bringing all players together in an environment where they can create truly global specifications for the service-aware network of the future, to deliver dynamic, customized services on a massive scale." NGN will offer a richer set of applications to the end user. The work of the new group will build on existing fixed/mobile convergence architecture (e.g., 3GPP/3GPP2 IP multimedia subsystem (IMS)) to provide transparency between fixed and mobile networks. Keith Dickerson, head of Standards, BT, said, "Service providers will benefit from specifications that will allow them to move quickly to a packet-based infrastructure. And, manufacturers will be able to offer NGN equipment to a global market, customized to user needs but interoperable."
(TOKYO) -- Japan, Korea and China are stepping up their alliance in the area of information technology, including cell-phone and computer operating systems. Their aim is to establish de facto global standards on the back of the rapidly expanding Chinese market, in a bid to counter the current situation where US standards are dominant. NTT DoCoMo Inc started research into the fourth-generation cell-phone service in Beijing this spring, and is set to increase its manpower there from the current 10 to 40 soon. Most of its employees there are Chinese, a fact that reflects the firm's effort to build a strong relationship with local public, private and academic sectors. DoCoMo's move is aimed at paving the way for its future entry into the lucrative Chinese cell-phone market, where the number of subscribers hit the world's largest, 200 million, as of the end of 2002. The Japanese government is poised to help DoCoMo and other IT companies. At a communications policy meeting of Japanese, Korean and Chinese representatives due to be held in July, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications is set to help determine a common fourth-generation cell-phone communications protocol for the three countries, which together hold about 30% of worldwide cell-phone subscribers. Such a protocol is expected to greatly benefit cell-phone services and manufacturing companies of the three countries and will likely pave the way for their establishment of a de facto global standard. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry noted the need to avert risks from depending too much on a single OS in a comprehensive information security strategy compiled last October. Specifically, the ministry noted, Japan depends excessively on Microsoft Corp's Windows OS, which accounts for 78% of sever OSs and 99% of personal computer OSs in Japan. At a meeting of the three countries held in Beijing on April 3, Telecommunications Ministry and METI officials agreed with Korean and Chinese participants on the need to spread the use of the free Linux OS by standardizing Linux specifications. Their aim is to nurture the Linux as a post-Windows OS in the three countries. Cooperation is also deepening among the three nations in the area of smart tags, an effective tool to keep track of merchandise data. Ubiquitous ID Center, a Tokyo-based private-sector organization promoting unique smart tag standards, agreed April 23 with a Chinese research institute o xperiments and spreading the use of smart tags in Beijing. This followed a tie-up accord with a South Korean smart-tag promotion organization, called RFID, in March. Forming tie-ups with Chinese partners, however, has its risks, as China recently expressed its intent to adopt a unique wireless LAN (local area network) standard not compatible with the global standard. The decision irritated Intel Corp of the United States, which threatened to stop exporting its wireless LAN semiconductor chips to China. Faced with this, China retracted the decision, but it still has a strong desire to adopt a unique wireless LAN standard. Also, Beijing has been engaged in trade practices that could spark a feud with the US and other foreign countries. Japan runs the risk of becoming embroiled in China-triggered trade frictions (if it makes deeper commitments to joint IT initiatives with China)," says a METI official. Furthermore, in pushing trilateral IT cooperation, Japan (and Korea) may see China gradually taking the leadership role. Japan, therefore, will need to "subtly steer" the cooperative dealings with the two countries, analysts note.
(HONG KONG) -- Growth in Internet access revenues and users again provided one of the few bright spots in the Asia Pacific fixed-line telecommunications market last year, according to Gartner. Internet access revenues in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan), which include broadband, climbed 32% to US$8.8 billion last year while the number of ISP accounts grew some 16% to 64.5 million. "Internet and broadband access revenues in 2003 accounted for around 11% of the total value of the fixed line market in Asia Pacific and cemented its position as a major carrier revenue stream," said Andrew Chetham, principal analyst, Gartner, Asia Pacific Telecoms. "For those carriers that have large numbers of higher spending broadband customers, Internet access has quickly become a vital revenue stream that is helping to offset declining sales in the voice and legacy data businesses." Gartner added that by 2008 Internet and broadband access revenues across the region will reach US$14.3 billion representing around 14% of the total value of the fixed-line market. At that point Asia Pacific will have some 107.9 million ISP accounts. As a result, all carriers should view Internet access as an important part of their portfolio of services. Carriers like Korea Telecom (KT), one of the world's leading broadband carriers, are showing the way. Its Internet and broadband access revenues already amount to around 20% of its total sales. "KT was only a minor player in the South Korean Internet scene five years ago," said Chetham. "This not only illustrates a dramatic and sudden shift in KT's business, brought on by rapid broadband rollout, it also highlights why other carriers increasingly want to grab a larger share of the Internet access market from independent ISPs." A big boost to the region's Internet access revenues last year came from China which saw phenomenal growth in broadband connections to nearly 11 million from some 3.4 million in 2002. Driven by highly attractive pricing, relative to dial-up access, this growth has shown that broadband can be become a mass-market product in a developing country. "Internet access revenues will remain one of the healthiest areas for fixed-line telecoms in the region," said Chetham. "There are still many countries where Internet penetration is low, while other countries like Australia and Malaysia are beginning to see broadband growth pick up, which will boost revenues."
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy reported Thursday (July 15) that the e-commerce pilot project between Asia and Europe that has been processed in ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) is likely to be accelerated by Korea, Britain, France and Germany. The ministry said that it is setting eyes on concluding a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to form a consortium among the private companies of the four countries within this year and pursuing to hold the Private-Government Council for the Korea-France-Britain-Germany E-Commerce on Sept. 3-4 on Korea＊s Jeju-do Island. The ministry is also considering jointly submitting a business proposal to the European Commission＊s e-commerce support programs. The ministry expects that Korea＊s leadership role in the e-commerce pilot project will help Korea to secure a beachhead for its e-commerce system to advance into overseas markets and the expansion of trade volume between Korea and Europe In order to maintain leadership in the Asia-Europe e-commerce, the ministry will focus on expanding the business category and the number of Korean participants in the pilot project, while making full use of the multi-channels as ASEM and APEC and bilateral channels with the three countries.
Governments in Asia Pacific are asking for more out of IT investments, says IDC. A recent IDC study 'Asia/Pacific Policy and Strategies Influencing Government IT Spending, 2004' has found that the focus of many Asia Pacific governments is on squeezing more value out of their IT investments. In the region, the Australian and Singaporean governments have led in demanding more value out of their IT investments, as a result of tightening budgets. Other Asian governments with aspirations to position themselves as global egovernment leaders are beginning to view the value derived from IT investments as a measure of their capabilities. "Reflecting on the last five years, Asian government's approach to building their IT infrastructure has been 'if it's possible to build, then we need to build it'," said Nathan Midler, Research Manager, Public Sector Research, IDC Asia/Pacific. "Today, leading governments realise that aligning government needs with IT solutions, and making strategic investments can cost less, yet deliver more in terms of cost savings, recognition, and user satisfaction." Governments have designed bold and grand plans for egovernment, but in many cases their efforts have failed to deliver the intended outcome. Plans have envisioned improving user satisfaction and modernising the government, but despite their high aspirations, many eservices remain under used. Many governments continue to rely on offline work methods, or worse, with new IT solutions in place, continue to carry out the same inefficient work processes that existed offline previously. The key to increasing the value of IT is to align IT solutions with government needs. Today, leading governments in Asia are gaining more value from their IT investments through focusing on cross-agency solutions, reorganising their internal management of IT and eservices, increasing IT training, placing greater emphasis on tracking and evaluating performance indicators, and promoting collaboration. In order to bridge gaps and overcome the barriers to communication, government policies are being implemented to establish a common set of technology standards to which departments must adhere. Only when inter-department communication and data transfer across the entire network is achieved will the government be able to realise the benefits of IT investments and advance to the next stage of egovernment. "Governments today are evaluating if funds can be better channeled elsewhere rather than investing in resources that simply duplicate work processes. For example, governments are now seeing the potential benefits of combining non-core government functions, such as human resources, via a centrally managed IT solution," added Midler. At the same time, greater value in how IT is used to deliver government services is possible, particularly with citizen-focused eservices. Despite large investments, eservices have not managed to significantly reduce the use of offline channels of government interaction. In many cases, government employees have been under trained to use their own eservices and, not surprisingly, have difficulty inspiring citizens to use these eservices. As governments continue to rely on offline channels to interact with citizens, large investments in eservices are under used. Singapore has long stood out as a leader in the adoption of IT within the government. In comparison to the rest of Asia, Singapore benefits greatly from its small size, both geographically and in terms of population. As the regulatory environment driving IT adoption and user standards in Singapore is highly developed, it provides a strong foundation for IT investment decision-making. The Singapore government is also actively involved with building a clearly defined, advanced and legalised context for IT implementation. The government's Policy and Regulation cluster formulates and develops short and medium term IT policies intended to spur business development and growth, and citizen satisfaction with government services.
JEJU, REPUBLIC OF KOREA - Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Tadao Chino joined the 13 ASEAN+3 finance ministers and the ASEAN Deputy Secretary General today in launching AsianBondsOnline, a one-stop clearing house of information on the rapidly growing sovereign and corporate bond markets in the region. The launch was held following the ASEAN+3 Finance Ministers Meeting, which took place in parallel with ADB's 37th Annual Meeting in Jeju. Supported by ADB and financed by the Government of Japan, AsianBondsOnline is part of the ASEAN+3 Asian Bond Markets Initiative (ABMI), a cooperative effort to help develop mature bond markets in the region. ASEAN+3 comprises the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam - plus People's Republic of China, Japan, and Republic of Korea. The web site provides a common format for accessing information on market infrastructure, rules and regulations, market activities, market data, and new policies and initiatives for each market as well as the region as a whole. It also provides news and commentary on regional bond markets, and recent economic releases, research, and analysis. The site "offers investors easy and centralized access to information about a segment of the global financial market that is growing in size and importance," Mr. Chino said at the launch. "For the first time, concrete steps are being taken at the regional level, by the ASEAN+3 and other groups, to complement individual country efforts in developing bond markets," he added. The ABMI aims to enable private as well as public sectors to raise and invest long-term capital while effectively managing maturity and currency risks. Deep, liquid bond markets mitigate over-reliance on bank lending for corporate financing requirements, a situation that exacerbated the Asian financial crisis in 1997. They also help governments and businesses manage their own debt portfolios and reserves. In its first phase of development, AsianBondsOnline will focus on providing links to publicly available information on the Internet. As the site develops, it will expand coverage with more in-depth information, commentary, and analysis. "We expect the site to be very useful to both existing market participants and to those potential users who may be unfamiliar with the region," says Yoshihiro Iwasaki, Head of ADB's Regional Economic Monitoring Unit, which developed and maintains AsianBondsOnline. "Importantly, it is a part of a growing effort among the region's governments to share information and integrate with each other." AsianBondsOnline can be accessed at http://asianbondsonline.adb.org.
Chief executive officers of global IT corporations doing business in Korea set up a forum of their trade on May 27. Shin Park-je, CEO of Philips Electronics Korea has been chosen to head the forum. The forum will lead the efforts to lure R&D centers of multinational IT businesses and foreign capital, which the Korean government has been pursuing as a priority task. On hand at the meeting held at Hilton Hotel were Information-Communication Minister Chin Dae-je and CEOs from Philips, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Texas Instruments and 19 other electronics companies operating in Korea. In a congratulatory speech, Minister Chin asked for the forum's cooperation in luring R&D centers and expanding IT investment, saying Korea's national task of ushering in an era of $20,000 per capita GDP through the successful promotion of IT839 strategies would be feasible if public and private sector efforts were combined.
Korea and Brunei held a seminar on the establishment of e-government Wednesday (June 9) in Brunei's capital of Bandar Seri Begawan. Attending the seminar were representatives from the bureaucratic, private and academic sectors of the two countries. The Korean delegation introduced its government experiences in the establishment of e-government at the seminar under the topic of "the Current Situation and the Perspectives on Korea's e-government Initiatives." In response, Pehin Hazair, vice minister under the Brunei prime minister's office, proposing an active bilateral collaboration in the IT sector, asked for Korea's support in setting up e-government in Brunei. To develop the IT industry, Brunei is working on 32 projects including the e-government project.
E-government has seen unprecedented amounts of money allocated to improving the interaction experience. Much of this has been a waste, writes James Smith. New interaction channels are nice-to-have - they dramatically upgrade the consumer experience, and bring government delivery closer to citizens. However, an overemphasis on delivery, and a relative lack of investment in behind-the-scenes integration will stifle attempts to reinvent the operation of government in Asia Pacific. Contrary to what some observers have claimed, e-government does not stand for 'easy' government. Although I've been a long term advocate of moving towards a frictionless service environment - towards creating an 'invisible bureaucracy' if you like - this can only be a consequence of reforming deep-seated governmental work processes. Building a new web interface, and painting it in pretty colours may give you short term kudos - it may even make the service delivery experience more straight forward. But only tight integration of back-office and inter-departmental work practices will deliver more effective government on a sustainable basis. This misguided attention to the web interface stems from two reasons, as far as I can tell: It's easy. We all like quick wins, and revamping the web channel is often as easy as it gets. . Civil administrators are viewing things from an organisational perspective, with their department at the heart of any interaction: 'How do I get citizens to interact with my services better'. True citizen-centric governance is not obsessive about making service delivery easier - it's obsessive about making service delivery right. Consolidating citizen data, integrating government services, sharing information collaboratively within and across government departments - these are issues which are hard to get right. But if you do get them right, then they'll make more of a difference to the needs of citizens than any tweaking of HTML and .php. "In the rush to put as many government services online in the quickest time possible, an important factor has been ignored: value," says Richard Harris, Gartner's principal government analyst in Asia Pacific. "Many e-government projects help neither the citizen nor the civil service. The e-services hype has led to a rush to take out people processes and to blindly replace them with technology." The recent rush to web-enable government services has made an impact on the ground. Government is certainly more accessible as a result. But if these services are being delivered in isolation from other complementary government services, then there has been a massive opportunity cost - a failure to invest in joined-up-government.
YANTAI: E-commerce business is expected to become popular among all members of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) within 10 years, said sources from the APEC e-commerce Business Alliance Forum opened on Tuesday in Yantai in East China's Shandong Province. The forum aims to establish communication channels between governments and enterprises as well as between enterprises themselves and also to encourage APEC economies to pay more attention to the development of paperless trade and facilitate trade among APEC members. Ministers of trade and information industry from APEC member economies made speeches on development trends and related policies, legal practice, applications of e-commerce, paperless trade and the building of e-government and digital cities. Officials said that the forum also started up the 2004-06 paperless trade programme adopted in a high-level APEC conference held in Chile this year. China pays much attention to the development of e-commerce business, said Liao Xiaoqi, vice-minister of China's Ministry of Commerce. China's e-commerce started in the early 1990s, and has undergone rapid development in the past 10 years with government support and the quickly growing popularity of the Internet. The Chinese Government has adopted a series of measures to facilitate the development of e-commerce business, including formulating relevant laws and regulations, gradually intensifying financial support and organizing demonstration of e-commerce projects. To date, e-commerce has been applied at all kinds of major fairs, trade talks and information ports in China. He said the Ministry of Commerce would speed up the sector in three aspects: promoting more enterprise applications; trying to build a sound environment for e-commerce development; and enhancing international exchanges and co-operation. The development of e-commerce will be based on the development of the information industry, the use of IT to propel industrialization which will, in turn, stimulate IT applications, as well as e-commerce businesses,the minister said. In China the IT sector has tripled the growth rate of the country's GDP in the past few years. Latest statistics show that China has more than 79 million Internet users, 30 million units of Internet computers, 600,000 Internet stations. Each year the country registers more than 90 million new phone users, soaring to the current total of 570 million. (by Chuan Jiao and Chuan Jiang)
Financial institutions and private companies may not have to waste money on keeping paper documents starting this October at the earliest. New laws that acknowledge the validity of e-documents will be made, making laws that mandate the keeping of paper documents ineffective. During an economic ministers＊ meeting presided by Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hun-Jai at the Gwacheon government complex Friday, the government decided to legislate an e-Document Usage Promotion Law by September, which allows the use, distribution and keeping of e-documents, to cut down costs for producing and keeping paper documents. Thirty rules out of 117 that mandate the keeping of paper documents will be overhauled by enacting the new e-document law. Financial institutions have consistently demanded for the legalization of the use of e-documents instead of paper documents. According to inside statistics of Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance, 11 property and casualty insurance companies spend W90 to W130 billion annually on managing paper documents. Moreover, the amount continues to increase because every year new documents are added while old documents are kept as they are. Park Jong-hwa, a director with the Korea Non-Life Insurance Association, said, ※The enormous amount of money spent on managing paper documents will eventually raise premiums, passing the burden on to the consumer. Also, if the paperless era is realized, it will greatly contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of the financial industry.§ The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy expects that the legalization of e-documents will help save W1 trillion annually in connection to managing paper documents -- W500 billion each from the financial industry and the manufacturing industry.
E-commerce business will be popularized among all members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in ten years, said sources with the APEC e-Commerce Business Alliance Forum (AEBAF) opened on Tuesday in Yantai City, east China's Shandong Province. With digitalized enterprises: cornerstone of E-commerce as the major topic, the forum aims to establish communication channels between governments and enterprises and between enterprises themselves and to encourage the APEC economies to pay more attention to the development of paperless trade and facilitate trade among APEC members. The forum started up the 2004-2006 paperless trade program adopted in the APEC high-level conference held in Chile this year. The APEC ministerial conference held in Kuala Lumpur in Oct. 1998, capital of Malaysia designed the blueprint of the APEC E-commerce project. According to the blueprint, by 2005, paperless trade will be realized in developed economies, by 2010, it will berealized in developing economies. And by 2015, all APEC members will practice no-paper trade between each other. The two-day forum was sponsored by the Department of Information Technology of the Ministry of Commerce and China International E-commerce Center. The APEC E-commerce exposition also opened on Tuesday.
Korea, China and Japan have reached an agreement on the joint development of home networking technology, moving ahead to promote standards for interoperability among home-electronic devices, the Information and Communication Ministry said on Friday (June 18). The state-run Korea Home Network Forum, led by KT Corp. Executive Vice President Yoon Jong-lok, signed a memorandum-of-understanding with Japan's Echonet (Energy Conservation & Homecare Network) Consortium and China's IGRS (Intelligent Grouping & Resource Sharing) to share their advancements in home networking technology and promote the developed standards internationally. "The three countries are among the leaders in broadband connectivity and could have advantages in securing intellectual property in home networking should they cooperate in the standardizations process," said Yoon. "Home networking currently stands in a crucial period in its transition from PC-centric home networks to a more consumer-electronics approach and its time for the industry to come up with new solutions," he added. The Echonet Consortium is Japan's industry standard for home networking systems, where major electronic firms such as Matsushita Electronic Industrial Co., Hitachi, Ltd., Toshiba Corp. and Sharp Electronics Co. among others work together to develop key components in home appliances. IGRS is China's industry standard for information-technology products and joined by electronic and computing firms such as TCL, Lian Xiang Group and Konka. Ministry officials hope that the joint project could compete with the standards developed and promoted by the Digital Home Working Group (DHWG), currently the world's leading industry standard for home networking. DHWG is backed by multinational high-tech firms such as Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., Nokia, Sony Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. among others. "Through the agreement, we hope that the three countries could develop into world leaders in home networking technology, unlike other mobile and information-technology sectors which rely heavily on foreign technologies," said Seok Ho-ik, director of the Information and Communication Ministry's Information Planning Office.
TOKYO -- Deutsche Lufthansa AG on June 22 started providing high-speed Internet services via wireless LAN on its airplane from Narita en route to Munich, making it the first such service in the Asia-Pacific region, the airline company said. The service employs an Internet service provider (ISP) service called "Connextion by Boeing," which is provided by US Connextion by Boeing using a stationary satellite. Communication speeds are 5Mbps downstream link and 1Mbps upstream link. To use the service, a notebook PC or a PDA equipped with a wireless LAN is required. In addition to the Internet connection by Connextion by Boeing, inside the plane, news, travel information, Lufthansa services and in-flight shopping information are provided on its portal site called "FlyNet portal" in both English and German. The FlyNet portal is free. Internet connection fees come in two plans: a fixed rate or based on usage unit. The fixed-rate fee system "InternetFlight" is US$29.95 per flight. A fee plan based on usage "InternetMinutes" is US$9.95 for the first 30 minutes and an additional US$0.25 per minute thereafter. Currently, the method of payment is by credit card only. Lufthansa plans to start the service for a route from Osaka to Frankfurt in the summer of 2004. Further, the service is going to be expanded to all of Lufthansa long distance flights including the Tokyo/Frankfurt or Nagoya/Frankfurt routes. The company held a press conference on June 22 regarding the start of the service. There was a live broadcast using a video chat from the airplane on the way to Munich flying over Russia.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation members gathered in Seoul yesterday for a two-day forum to promote the use of information and communication technologies by small and midsize enterprises. The 2004 Informatization Policy Forum, taking place at Novotel Ambassador Gangnam, features presentations by leaders from the public and private sectors to develop cooperation among APEC members to promote the technologies by sharing related support policies and best practices. "This meeting plays an important role for the community of small and midsized companies because information-technology is indispensable for the e-business environment of today and the future," said Kim Joo-yong, director of the Policy Research Division at the Korea Information Management Institute for SMEs. During the conclusion of the forum today, participants will be able to get the latest results of the APEC Informatization Survey for Small and Medium Enterprises. Kim will present the survey. He said the levels of info-tech in member economies were measured by assessing infrastructure, business environment and supporting organizations. Kim, who has more than 20 years experience in the IT industry, will propose establishing a joint project called "e-APEC Readiness" and forming an informatization subgroup under the APEC SME Working Group to enhance cooperation on IT promotion for small and midsize companies at the APEC level. The final presentation, prepared by Michael Baker, executive director of the Asia Oceania Electronic Marketplace Association, will cover the progress and outlook for e-business efforts in the APEC community. This will follow a panel discussion on the perspectives and direction of informatization policy for small and midsize enterprises within APEC. The hosts of the event - the Small and Medium Business Administration and the Korea Information Management Institute for SMEs - said they hope the forum will improve Korea's image as an IT powerhouse and establish a "cooperative mechanism" among APEC members to enhance the use of information and communication technologies. They also hope the issues raised at the forum will be considered at the APEC leaders' meeting and the SME ministerial meeting to be held in 2005 in Korea. The first day of the forum was divided into three sessions and featured guest speakers, including policymakers, IT experts and researchers, from such members as the United States, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China and Australia. Among the speakers was Noriyuki Yonemura from Fuji Xerox Co. He introduced strategies for increasing IT applications by Japanese SMEs in his presentation titled "Second Stage of IT Utilization for SMEs." Noer Soetrisno, deputy minister of Cooperative and SMEs of Indonesia, discussed the "clustering strategy" being implemented by his government as an IT promotion policy for small and midsize businesses. Arrow Augerot, senior electronic commerce analyst at the U.S. Department of Commerce, discussed U.S. programs and services for small and midsize exporters. Kim Kio-chung, executive director of the Asian Pacific Women's Information Network Center at Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul, proposed setting up an e-business network center for women within APEC, which would help entrepreneurs gain competitiveness through IT adoption. The two forum hosts, with APEC funding, began the APEC SME Informatization Project in 2003. It comprises three stages - informatization survey on SMEs of member economies from July to November 2003, APEC informatization policy forum currently underway and the upcoming training workshop on e-business and support for building an e-community in September. (by Yoo Soh-jung)
BEIJING (Xinhuanet) -- Asia's first and only standardized Linux platform has been jointly developed by Chinese and Japanese partners. The Asianux operating system was developed by China's Red Flag Software and Japan's Miracle Linux Corporation, reported Wednesday's CRI online. The research work was conducted in Oracle's China Development Center in Beijing. Oracle has expressed its recognition of the operation system and announced the elevation of Asianux into its world class Linux support program. Meanwhile, key infrastructure partners, including AMD, Dell, HP, Langchao, NEC and Sun have come forward to certify their products and support the adoption of Asianux as a Linux standard for Asia. Reports say a South Korean company is holding talks with the Asianux research team, hoping to take part in the research work.
Software piracy in the Asia-Pacific region cost the industry $7.5 billion in 2003, with more than half of software installed in personal computers obtained illegally, according to a study released Wednesday. The global software piracy study, conducted annually for the last decade by the Business Software Alliance, a trade group, showed a worldwide rate of 36 percent last year, amounting to a loss for the software industry of $29 billion. A dramatic change in methodology caused the association to refrain from directly comparing this year's numbers to last and from claiming an overall increase or decrease. Nonetheless, the alliance last year cited a 55 percent piracy rate for 2002 in Asia, suggesting a slight decline. "We have made progress," said Jeffrey Hardee, BSA's vice president and regional director for Asia, who compared 2003 numbers to the 68 percent piracy rate in Asia in 1994, when it began the annual study. "And if you look at country levels, we've seen dramatic drops in piracy throughout the period." China and Vietnam showed the highest figures with 92 percent piracy rates. In China, dollar losses measured $3.8 billion, versus 2002's $2.4 billion. Among the lowest rates in the region was that of Japan, which dropped to 29 percent in 2003 from 35 percent in 2002. Also high on the list in the 2003 report were Indonesia at 88 percent and Pakistan at 83 percent. Asia showed higher rates than in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which the BSA said showed a combined 41 percent piracy rate and total dollar losses of $12.4 billion. Within the European Union, the rate was 37 percent. North America had a piracy rate of 23 percent in 2003, while losses came to over $7.2 billion. Piracy in Western Europe has the largest economic impact, however, with the biggest loss globally at over E8 billion, or $9.9 billion, despite being on par with the global rate. International Data Corp., a research and consulting firm, took over the study for the BSA this year, expanding its measurements to market segments such as operating systems, consumer software and local market software that were not previously studied. The BSA said the new categories offered a broader, more accurate indication of software piracy. "The challenges are many in Asia-Pacific," Hardee said. In the huge and fast-growing market of China, he added, "we have a huge challenge in trying to bring down the level of piracy." To attempt to do so, the BSA is focusing on governments to produce anti-piracy laws, and to increase public awareness of piracy. The group also asks countries to be more consistent in enforcing existing laws, including inside businesses where pirated software causes the biggest losses for the industry. Among the countries that have been more aggressive in enforcing anti-piracy laws are Taiwan and South Korea, Hardee said. "We do believe that many countries in Asia-Pacific are attuned to the problem of software piracy," Hardee said. "Many countries are committed to the growth of the IT sector, and committed to legislation to protect copyrights." (by Chris Oakes)
The long-awaited Broadband World Forum Seoul 2004 raised its curtains on Monday at the COEX Intercontinental Hotel with much hype and heavy participation. As many as 1,200 high-speed Internet experts and industry representatives from 65 countries took part in the global event`s fourth edition, which will continue through May 6. ``The Seoul forum will provide good chances to learn the current status and the future development path of broadband networks, services and platforms. Participants will be able to feel the global pulse of the high-speed Internet,`` the forum`s chairperson Lee Yong-kyung said. Lee, president of Korea`s dominant telecom company KT or Seoul forum`s official sponsor, will deliver welcoming messages on Tuesday at a formal opening ceremony. The annual Broadband World Forum started in 2001 under the aegis of the International Engineering Consortium (IEC) to boost the global information industry and Seoul Forum is the first event held outside Europe. The non-profit organization IEC was founded in 1944 in the United States to catalyze technology and business progress worldwide in a range of high-tech industries. The four-day Seoul gala began on a especially upbeat note as 1,200 participants, an almost doubled presence compared to last year`s Berlin conference, showed unwavering zeal to examine new broadband trends from day one. Three intensive half-day workshops have shed light on such emerging topics as broadband in China, online games with high-speed Internet and the future directions of wireless broadband. Led by chairperson Lee`s welcoming message, the official opening ceremony and nine sessions will take place on Tuesday with 10 and 11 in-depth conferences scheduled in the following two days, respectively. Centered mainly on commercial viability and outlook of broadband, topics will also include wide-ranging issues from cable technologies to optical access and to network architectures. In addition, three big-wig businessmen like Bell Canada president Eugene Roman will give keynote speeches for each of the remaining three days. Separate from the educational programs, the forum will feature the industry-leading demonstration during May 4~5 by around 40 top-rate service providers and technology developers. ``The exhibition will provide an ideal opportunity to eye-witness and discuss new advancements in broadband industry, offering hands-on knowledge,`` KT executive vice president Lee Sang-hoon said.
on E-Government Starts in Capital
The Fourth Annual Forum on City Information in the Asia-Pacific Region
(CIAPR IV) was held in May 22-25 in Shanghai, China. With a theme of
※ICT for Development: The Role of Local Government,§ this forum focuses
on various hot topics concerning ICT and Informatization. Particular
attention is paid to the emerging trends, needs and efforts in bridging
the digital divide. The forum is claimed to be the highest-level event
of its kind with the largest number of VIP attendants ever in its history.
Over 800 governmental officials, representatives from international
organizations such as United Nations, and senior corporate executives
lined up for the forum. Jose Antonio Ocampo, the UN's Under-Secretary-General
for Economic and Social Affairs, pointed out that the UN has developed
an online network for public administration known as UNPAN, which promotes
innovative and efficient information management for improving public
administration. "I am very happy to say that the Shanghai Regional
Co-operation Office for City Informatization is one of the most active
members of this network," he added. "Shanghai will continue
to use ICT in the construction of urban infrastructure, and take ICT
as the major force to prompt urban information flow via four main ways."
said Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng. The city will apply the ICT into the
aspects: Governmental administration, such as e-government and the municipal
information network; economic and financial development, like e-customs
clearance; social life and urban community-building, like the social
welfare network and e-medication; and urban construction and management
such as intellectual traffic management. UNDESA (United Nations Department
of Economic and Social Affairs), issues the Recognition Award to Shanghai
Municipal People's Government for its invaluable contribution to city
informatization in Asia and the Pacific. For details, please click:
ITU TELECOM ASIA 2004 〞 the 7th ITU event to be held for the Asia-Pacific region will be held 7 to 11 September 2004 at Bexco (Busan Exhibition and Conference Centre) Busan, Rep. of Korea. The theme of the event will be "Asia Leading the Future" a theme which will highlight the Asia-Pacific region＊s vital role at the heart of new ICT developments. The ITU TELECOM Forum will provide a platform for debate on the key areas driving the growth of ICT in the region, with Plenary sessions along with sessions encompassing the fields of Business and Strategy, Technologies and Markets and Policy. Confirmed Forum participants include Dr Irwin Jacobs, Chairman and CEO, Qualcomm, Mr Takeshi Natsuno, Managing Director of i-mode strategy, NTTDoCoMo, Mr Sean Maloney, Executive Vice-President and General Manager, Intel and Mr Amarendra Narayan, Executive Director, Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT).
The International Telecommunication Union or ITU has announced that the next world-wide telecommunication exhibition, ITU TELECOM WORLD in 2006, will be held in Hong Kong, China. The announcement came following an evaluation on May 28 of the final offers received from Geneva and Hong Kong, the two cities which applied to hold the event. An ITU press release says all considered, the Hong Kong offer beat the Geneva bid because direct costs are 30 to 50 percent lower, there is a sizable level of guaranteed sales by Chinese companies and Hong Kong sub-contractor rates, hotel rates and other indirect costs are lower. ITU TELECOM events were launched more than 30 years ago with the first world-wide event being held in Geneva in 1971.
19 - 21 October 2004, Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort, Singapore The 2004 Asia-Pacific E-Government Summit is an innovative event born out of the growing demand for e-business solutions in governments and other public sector bodies across the tremendously diverse Asia-Pacific region. This unprecedented international summit will focus on the strategic and technological solutions for successful government-to-government (G2G), government-to-citizen (G2C), and government-to-business (G2B) operations. Governments across the Asia-Pacific region are now embracing the challenge of developing strategies and adopting technologies for successful e-business. International governmental organisations, national, regional and local government authorities, and other public sector bodies such as health and police services hope to realise the huge transformations, efficiencies and cost savings that can arise from implementing e-strategies and technologies. The World Summits Organisation is working very closely with various bodies responsible for e-strategy and e-policy from every country in the Asia-Pacific region. With this in mind, we are hosting a completely unprecedented Summit on the subject of e-government for all countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The Summit will be held over 3 days at the exclusive Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore. We are concentrating on gaining the highest level delegate attendance in order to stage a most comprehensive and stimulating Summit agenda.
Deputy minister of information and communication technology for research and international affairs announced that an international telecommunications conference opened yesterday aimed at establishing closer ties with neighboring countries and transfer of modern telecommunication technology, especially various generations of cellphones. Mas＊ud Shafiei told reporters that other important goals of the conference include exchange of experiences and achievements among various IT companies, introducing the latest developments in the field of information technology and presenting capabilities of domestic companies. He said that during the inaugural, first vice president, Mohammad Reza Aref, and secretary general of International Telecommunications Union will address the audience. Shafiei added that telecommunication ministers from Syria, Kuwait, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Turkey have taken part at the event sending their deputy ministers, adding, "Some 22 countries have also sent their high-ranking state officials, experts or big companies." He noted that telecommunication ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Syria and Iran will hold a specialized meeting to exchange views on their countries capabilities with regard to information and telecommunication technology. "Some 38 papers will be presented in the conference in addition to six specialized meetings. Some 30 papers have been sent from France, Germany, Denmark, Indonesia, China, South Africa, UK, morocco, Saudi Arabia and Egypt while Iranian experts will present eight papers," he said. The official stated that the gathering is sponsored by Erikson, Nokia, IBS, Asr-e Danesh Afzay-e Ma, Macrobom, Iran Telecommunication Factories, Shahid Qandi Telecommunication Cables Company, Iran Aerospace Organization, and Rafsanjan Industrial Complex.
By 2006, all the nation's soldiers will be able to communicate with their parents and friends via e-mail from Internet PC rooms set up at all 7,000 company-level military units, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday (June 30). The ministry, in a morale-boosting move, earmarked about nine billion won ($7.5 million) annually to maintain Internet training rooms, which will be equipped with various security programs. The main server PC and each company commander will block access to obscene sites and military intelligence material. The project to set up Internet training rooms and PC rooms will also enable soldiers to learn foreign languages and help them to acquire licenses they need to enter the job market after they complete their mandatory 24-month military service, ministry official Lee Sun-keun said. The ministry will complete setting up the infrastructure to provide seven Internet-service computers at each company-level unit by 2006 and will expand the Internet lines to 16 by 2008. Eventually, about 600,000 enlisted soldiers from privates to sergeants will be able to enjoy the Internet. From Thursday, soldiers at 75 company-level units in front-line camps near the border with North Korea will have access to the Internet and by the end of the year a total of 251 companies will have the ability to roam the net. "A pilot program granting soldiers Internet access turned out to be positive by boosting morale and welfare, as well as bridging the information gap between the military and society," the ministry said in a statement. South Korea has a compulsory military service system that maintains its troop strength above 600,000 as a deterrent, alongside U.S. forces, against North Korea's 1.1 million strong military. The two Koreas remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korea War ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty.
Chinese websites, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other Internet-related organizations across the country are being invited to sign a self-discipline pact designed to protect online intellectual property rights as well as prevent cyber crime, the spread of harmful information and unhealthy competition. The pact, containing four chapters and 31 articles, is initiated and implemented by the Beijing-based China Internet Association, a national self-governing body for the country's Internet sector. The pledge stresses the establishment of a self-disciplinary mechanism aimed to advance the healthy and orderly development of the Internet industry in China. The basic principles of self-discipline for the Internet industry are patriotism, observance of the law, fairness and trustworthiness, according to the pact. The pledge encourages lawful, fair and orderly competition and values the protection of intellectual property, network security and the elimination of deleterious information from the Internet. Those Internet information providers should not issue or spread information threatening the national security, social stability or containing superstitious or erotic content, according to the pact. Those websites containing deleterious information should not be linked, and the information inflow from other domestic and overseas websites should be examined and supervised by relevant organizations, according to the pact. Effective measures should be taken to create a good environment for juvenile Internet surfers, and Internet bars should direct surfers, especially young surfers, to have access to healthy online information. Any online information products should not contain contents violating others' intellectual property rights, according to the pact. The Internet industry should make joint efforts to oppose online virus spread and take relevant precautions, according to the pact, encouraging enterprises and individuals to develop software and hardware products with their own intellectual property rights. The pact also calls for active participation of international cooperation and exchanges in this regard, as well as observance of international agreements signed by China. China has promulgated a series of laws and governmental regulations relating to the management of the Internet, such as the decision on safeguarding Internet security enacted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's legislature.
While the expected institution of legislation on electronic signature will help promote e-commerce in China, experts and industry insiders are also calling for stricter regulation of certificate authorities (CAs), the agencies that play a vital role in setting up electronic signatures. "Adopting electronic signatures is a growing trend in e-business, and the law will guarantee the validity of electronic signatures, which will help build trust between online traders," Yang Bingzhi, a researcher with the Internet Economic Research Centre of Peking University, told China Business Weekly. The absence of an online credit system has been a major obstacle hindering e-commerce development in China, Yang said. Although many Chinese netizens are used to placing orders over the Internet, they pay the bill afterwards directly to the creditor, especially in consumer-to-consumer e-commerce. Electronic signature refers to data presented in electronic form that serves as a method of authentication, similar to the function of traditional handwritten signatures and seals. With electronic signature, companies can clinch deals in virtual space and thus largely reduce their spending on business trips and express delivery and postal services. But because they are not yet legal, electronic signatures have not yet been popularly adopted in China. "Many of our clients prefer getting both paper copies and e-copies of business transactions, as electronic signatures are not legally recognized yet," Li Yanzhao, vice-president of iTruschina, told China Business Weekly. "Thus, their operation costs are actually increased, certainly not what electronic signatures were designed for," he said. The country's No 1 CA, iTruschina, offers electronic signature services to a number of domestic companies. Foreign giants including Siemens and Motorola are among those who use iTruschina's services. The company bases its work on the Contract Law, which stipulates that electronic documents and records can be used as proof in courts, according to Li. "When disputes take place, we resort to the agreement with our clients," he said. The draft of China's regulation on electronic signatures, which was approved by the State Council, China's cabinet, in March, is expected to be passed by the National People's Congress, China's top legislator, between August and October, Wang Donglin, an expert with the National Standardization Group for e-government, was quoted by www.sohu.com as saying. The law will mainly be applied to e-commerce, said Wang. The United States, which implemented a law on electronic signatures in 2000, has witnessed a "crazy" expansion of its online shopping volume, which, estimated at several billion US dollars in 2000, jumped to more than US$40 billion in 2002 and exceeded US$100 billion in 2003, an unnamed expert was quoted as saying. While speeding up the legislation process, China should also work out rules for CAs, so as to reduce the risk of illegal use or misuse of electronic signature, suggested Li. "Electronic signatures, in themselves, are reliable and secure. The only risks involved in using electronic signatures lie in the CAs involved disclosure of business secrets, either intentionally or unintentionally," said Li. "This is also what some experts warned in previous discussions." Li, as an expert, participated in revising the draft in its earliest form. In using electronic signatures, the two parties in e-commerce establish mutual trust through CAs, which act like notary offices. Upon application, CAs issue certificates involving passwords that the document receiver uses to identify the sender. As the signatures, or the specific data, are attached to or logically associated with other electronic data - business contracts for example, the electronic signature will change in case of even a slight change made in a business contract. "The existing industrial rules are insufficient to regulate CAs," said Li. The Ministry of Information Industry and iTruschina have together drafted such an industrial rule for reference, but other government organs concerned, such as the Ministry of Public Security and the National Security Bureau, have yet to get involved, he explained. "E-commerce using electronic signatures will be even more dangerous if the industry's rule-making lags behind Chinese legislation," Li noted. When the draft becomes law, more CAs are expected to emerge in China, but the lack of regulations at present makes irregularities possible, he said. Of the several dozen CAs in China at present, most are built by e-commerce websites and banks, he said. According to Li, employees in CAs must be professionals in information security with excellent personal credit records, and they must also be extremely strict in their work, basing their decisions on a clearcut division of rights and responsibilities. ITruschina, a certified partner of VeriSign, the world's largest CA, has adopted the most advanced CA business model and is able to offer certificate service around the globe. VeriSign commands more than 60 per cent of the global CA market. (by Zhu Boru)
China's Internet technology Ipv9, which being compatible with IPv4 and IPv6, has been formally adapted and popularized into the civil and commercial sector. Stated at the Industrialization & Development Seminar held at Zhejiang University, its founder Xie Jianping said that the Ipv9 protocol is based on a ten-digit computing method, and it has its own address protocol, nameplate protocol, transitional protocol, and digital domain name regulations and standards, crienglish.com reported Sunday. Along with being compatible with IPv4 and IPv6, IPv9 can also realize logistic separations between them and safely control them.
The Hong Kong telecom policy which forces a fixed-line operator to share its broadband network with rivals will be withdrawn within four years, the government announced yesterday - and consumers will benefit from a greater choice of services. "The withdrawal of the Type II interconnection policy will encourage investment in building new infrastructure and upgrading existing infrastructure," Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology John Tsang said. The policy was introduced in 1995 when the local fixed-telecom network market was first liberalized. Under the rules, PCCW-HKT, the dominant fixed-line operator, is mandated to lease its last-mile networks to rivals to spur competition. Since then, competitors to PCCW-HKT have together built networks that cover some 53 per cent of households in Hong Kong. The government initiated a review of the Type II interconnection policy last year, with two public consultation exercises conducted in May and December. The Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) proposed a gradual end to the policy while PCCW preferred a more abrupt change. In a recent legal battle between OFTA and PCCW, the High Court ruled that the former has the right to force the fixed-line operator to lease its broadband network to rivals. The ruling might have prompted the government's adoption of OFTA's go-slow proposal. Tsang said Hong Kong is the first and only advanced economy to withdraw Type II interconnection. "Our decision to withdraw Type II interconnection will send a clear signal to the operators to invest in advanced networks, and it will allow them reasonable time to adjust their business strategies and carry out the rollout work should they so decide," Tsang said. The withdrawal will be fully implemented across the SAR by June 30, 2008. In the run-up to this date, the withdrawal will be implemented in an orderly manner on a building-by-building basis and will apply to buildings already connected to at least two self-built customer-access networks. These buildings will be subject to a two-year transitional period and a one-year "grandfather" period thereafter to protect the interests of consumers. During the transitional period, operators can continue to acquire new customers through Type II interconnection, while during the "grandfather" period, no more new customers can be acquired through the interconnection. After the "grandfather" period, interconnection terms, including charges, will be subject to commercial negotiation between the operators concerned. However, to protect consumer choice, after the full withdrawal of the policy in 2008, mandatory Type II interconnection will be maintained as a safety net in buildings in which it is technically not feasible or economically not viable for an operator to roll out its customer-access network.
China's software industry will soon classify all its online games in an effort to protect the health and welfare of children from violent and pornographic content. Yesterday, China Consumer's Association, China Software Industry Association and Software World Magazine announced they will work together to provide standards to classify online games in order to create a more healthy environment for adolescents. The computer gaming industry is developing rapidly in China. Its e revenues amounted to 1.32 billion yuan (US$159 million) last year and are expected to reach 6.7 billion yuan (US$810 million) by 2007. Through last year, China had 13.8 million online game players, accounting for 20.2 per cent of Internet users and the number is expected to grow to 41.8 million by 2007. At present, online games have no grades and anyone can log onto the Internet to give games a try. Statistics show that 80 per cent of online game players are under the age of 25 and have become addicted. Most of the games are imported and some of them contain "improper" content for young people, including material that is violent, pornographic, gambling or superstitious. Teachers and parents often worry about their children's vulnerability since most kids don't have access to good guidance. (by Chen Hua)
Nearly 500 websites across the nation have been confirmed as containing pornographic materials, said Cai Mingzhao, deputy director of the Information Office of the State Council. Speaking in Beijing on Sunday, he said that members of the public have filed 22,000 complaints with the official online reporting center since it opened earlier this month. About 95 percent of the complaints concern pornography on the net. Officials confirmed that nearly 500 of the websites published pornographic pictures, film clips and recorded video messages, said Cai. News and commercial websites have been ordered to delete pornographic content by the end of September or face cancellation of their licenses to publish news stories. Hundreds of Chinese websites, including the most influential ones, publish indecent and even pornographic content to attract readers. These have been the focus of complaints from many parents and educators.
Reza Rashidi, the head of Iran's Data Connection Company, said on 7 June that the judiciary will close Internet service providers (ISPs) that operate without a permit, ISNA reported. ISPs that do not filter websites or that allow international telephone calls (Internet telephony) will be closed, he added. "Iran Daily" reported the same day that the judiciary has a list of 220 ISPs that it intends to close and it has closed 50 ISPs since May. "Iran Daily" cited Rashidi as saying that the state Telecommunications Company of Iran has lost some $50 million due to Internet telephony. (For more on Internet telephony and website filtering, see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 28 May 2001; 16 June, 21 July, 1 September, and 29 December 2003; and 19 January 2004.) BS
In a bid to crack the Japanese market for e-government projects IBM is planning to offer medium-term strategic planning. Leveraging the expertise of its operations in North America and Western Europe, IBM Japan has established an in-house 'Enterprise Architecture Team' of 150 specialists. Up until know IBM has found it tough going competing against local IT industry heavyweights such as Fujitsu and NTT Data Corp. IBM's proposed planning services will involve analysis of the suitability of new technologies in the public sector environment, as well as scenario planning to assess the computing capabilities required by government agencies.
Kyoto City has completed drafting the "2004 Department Policy Promotion Plan." The plan aims to achieve "Municipal administration with good management sense and an aura of speed." It is one step in the "New Kyoto Municipal Administration Strategy," prepared in April this year. For each City Department, the plan clarifies priority objectives, budget and other important business, while setting guidelines for policy implementation. Through policy formulation and evaluation of administrative procedure, the plan focuses attention on all aspects of the municipal administration cycle from planning and organization of projects to evaluation. At the same time, it raises the level of information disclosure and accountability towards city residents. Details of the "Department Policy Promotion Plan" are given in the Kyoto City website.
The MPHPT and the Fair Trade Commission have taken into consideration the comments that were received from all parties following the announcement on April 26 of the original draft amendment of the Guidelines for Promotion of Competition in the Telecommunications Business Field which they had produced together, and have confirmed these guidelines. The MPHPT will apply these guidelines starting today. In addition, the MPHPT will revise these guidelines incidentally and expeditiously from the perspective of putting in place an environment of even greater fair competition.
The MPHPT has been promoting the nationwide penetration of regional public networks through the project of Intranet infrastructure construction to link a wide range of facilities including city halls, schools and libraries through high-speed networks. This is so as to develop a concrete approach towards becoming the world's most advanced IT nation, as advocated in the e-Japan Priority Policy Program 2004 (adopted in June 2004 by the IT Strategic Headquarters). The MPHPT recently decided to offer subsidies within the fiscal year 2004 budget to regional public bodies to implement construction of regional Intranet infrastructure, construction of wide-area regional info-communications network infrastructure, promoting the introduction of regional Internet, and promoting the installation of an info-communications system.
The Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (MPHPT) presented a report on the "Information and Communications in Japan: White Paper 2004" to the Cabinet meeting held on Friday, July 6, 2004 and released the White Paper to the public. Since 1973, the White Paper on information and communications has been compiled by MPHPT annually in order to gain national understanding of the current status of information and communications in Japan and the trends of the Japanese information and communications policies. The "Information and Communications in Japan: White Paper 2004" marks the 32nd issue. Japan is seeing rapid progress in improvement of the information communications infrastructure, such as the availability of the world's lowest-priced and highest-speed broadband services. Terrestrial digital television broadcasting was inaugurated in the three major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka in December 2003, and intelligent home appliances and RFID tags that utilize networks are gradually coming into use. These developments are leading toward the realization of ubiquitous networks to which all users can freely access and exchange all types of information anytime, from anywhere and from any appliance. In light of this situation, MPHPT featured the building of a ubiquitous network society spreading throughout the world in this year's White Paper, and analyzes the current status of evolving network infrastructure, the expectations of individuals and businesses for ubiquitous networks, and the issues concerning the realization of an optimal ubiquitous network society in the future and its economic impact.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has signed the Electronic Digital Signature Law, which sets the legal framework for using electronic digital signatures in the country in electronic correspondence, a presidential press service official said on Tuesday. The law regulates the notarizing of such signatures and outlines the procedure for using electronic digital signatures in state management, corporate networks, and the country's payment system, he said.
Law enforcement agencies plan to grant the Ministry of Information and Communication police power to combat computer crimes such as network hacking, a move that is expected to generate controversy over individual rights and the limits of the state's authority. "Basic agreements were reached with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs in March in extending juridical authority," said a ministry official on Friday(May 7). "We think our trained personnel and technical infrastructure at the Korea Information Security Agency to cover the areas in computer crimes the National Police Agency lacks in efficiency in controlling," he said. More than 600 cases of unsolicited e-mail distribution and personal information infringements were reported to the police last year, compared with none in 2002. If the plan is approved, the ministry officials will have the authority to investigate such cases without a police warrant. Ministry officials hope related regulations will be revised by the National Assembly by the end of the year. Legal experts criticized the plan as an unreasonable expansion of government authority. "Government authority to control over individual freedom should be accessed by authorized and limited personnel only, since it harbors the possibility of violating civic rights," said lawyer Lee Eun-woo, a member of Lawyers for a Democratic Society. "If police needed help with computer crimes, they could always request technical assistance from the ministry or other telecom companies. There is no reason to expand the jurisdiction itself." Under the tentative plan, the ministry will have a 24-person inspection team with two agents from the Korea Information Security Agency sent to each of the eight provincial police agencies across the nation. The ministry official said talks were currently under way between the Justice Ministry and National Police Agency on jurisdiction matters. The National Police Agency has balked at the plan since it was broached in March by justice officials. It says that it would be more reasonable to increase personnel and budgets of the police computer crime investigation units. "The crimes in the information technology sector aren't disconnected with other types of crimes happening in other areas. It's not like technology experts could handle them alone," said a police agency spokesman. Currently, the Information and Communication Ministry has jurisdiction over limited cases, including the violation of software copyrights and destruction or illegal use of electronic and radio communication equipment. The ministry also runs branch organizations of Korea Information Security Agency and the Information and Communication Ethics Committee to oversee information security and inspection of Internet content.
South Korea on Tuesday launched an investigation into suspected espionage in the high-tech industry after a string of attempts to sell secret company information to overseas sources, the Ministry of Information and Communication said. The six-week probe is aimed at preventing possible industrial espionage in the fields of mobile phones, semiconductors and flat-panel displays, where South Korean companies have a competitive edge. Some 400 domestic technology companies will be recommended to step up security precautions during the investigation, the ministry said in a statement. In addition, the ministry will closely cooperate with the state spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, to restrict industrial espionage, it said. The move follows the recent conviction of a former Pantech employee on industrial espionage charges for attempting to give the handset maker`s internal computer files to a Hong Kong-based firm in return for money.
A memorandum was signed by South Korea and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for increased understanding and cooperation in narrowing the digital divide between rich and poor countries, the Korean Embassy in Geneva said on Tuesday (June 22). The agreement was reached between Choi Hyuck, the Korean ambassador to Geneva, and Yoshio Utsumi, the ITU's secretary general, according to the South Korean embassy.
The government plans to increase the scope of exempted items from value-added taxes to include online publications delivered over the Internet starting from next month, the National Tax Service said on Tuesday (June 29). The National Tax Service, which has revamped rules extended to value-added taxes, said the increase will be applied for "e-books" with larger contents. According to the officials, the change was a result of amendments to the country's tax codes and the definition of "online publication." Eligible for the tax breaks are materials that are not compiled on CD-ROMs and materials which contents include more than 70 percent of pictures and letters. Previously, information stored on CD-ROMs were considered online publications. However materials that have more than 30 percent of their content in the form of moving pictures are not considered e-books.
The government will ease regulations so that information-technology infrastructure can be fully utilized for corporate activities, said Commerce, Industry and Energy Minister Lee Hee-beom. Speaking at a luncheon Monday organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, Lee said that the service sector would play a very significant role as a country develops, and therefore it is very important to create an environment in which to foster the knowledge-based industry. "All sections of this industry such as distribution, logistics systems, consulting, design and e-business will be given an impetus by the government," he said. Lee noted that the government is making efforts to improve the business environment and the goal is to provide the best investment environment for foreign investors. Companies should be encouraged to invest more because more investment will lead to more production and exports, ultimately revitalizing the economy, he said. "The government will continue to make policy efforts to create jobs and stimulate the economy by boosting the morale of companies. The ministry will seek changes and innovation efficiently supporting companies` efforts to enhance their competitiveness," he said. In this context, Lee said that it is most important to establish productive and cooperative labor-management relations for companies to carry out activities in a stable manner. "The importance of foreign investment is highlighted by elements such as sovereign credit rating, job creation and foreign currency earnings. Many countries are competing to attract foreign investment, providing different incentives. Korea is no exception, actively inducing foreign direct investment to enhance its industrial competitiveness and expedite the restructuring process," he said. The best direct investment policy is not to provide attractive incentives but to ensure that the foreign companies already here can pursue business activities safely and stabily and to help them earn significant profit. In parallel with the efforts to create a better business environment, the government is striving to improve foreigners` living conditions so that investors will feel at home. All the relevant ministries are working together to support this effort, he noted. As for energy policy, the government is moving away from the conservation policy towards the development of new and renewable energy and conversion to environment-friendly energy structure, he said. "We have set the target of expanding the renewable energy use including hydrogen and fuel cells from the current 1.5 percent to 5 percent by 2011. The focus is on a stable energy supply and conversion to a future-oriented energy structure," he said (firstname.lastname@example.org) (by Rambabu Garikipati)
China has shut down more than 8,600 unlicensed Internet cafes across the country since February when it launched a nationwide check on all Internet cafes, according to Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng. These cafes were closed for admitting juveniles in violation of relevant regulations, said Sun. Sun made the remarks at a recent week-long nationwide clean-up campaign for Internet cafes. "Some unlicensed Internet cafes, especially in some townships, counties and areas joining town and country, still need to be clamped down on, and some local governments do not impose severe punishment on those cafes who allow the entry of juveniles," Sun said. Local governments across China have been ordered not to approve any Internet cafe operations in residential areas or within 200 meters of primary and high schools. The General Administration for Industry and Commerce (GAIC), China's market watchdog, said currently in China, many Internet cafes, especially those without licenses, admit juveniles in violation of relevant regulations and spread unhealthy information online. "They have brought great harm to the mental health of teenagers and interfered with the school teaching, which has aroused strong reaction from the public," said the GAIC. A recent tragedy in this regard happened in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality on March 31, when two junior middle school students were crushed to death by a train when they fell asleep on the train track after surfing the Internet for over 48 hours in a cafe. The Industrial and Commercial Administration of Shapingba District, where the cafe was located, confiscated five computers and illegal gains by Ou Zheng, the boss of the unregistered cafe. Ou was also fined 30,000 yuan (US$3,600) for his illegal operation of the unlicensed cafe, according to the administration. The Chinese government has launched a nationwide check on all Internet cafes from February to August so as to halt the entry of minors as well as to prevent access to detrimental information through the Internet, according to a circular released in February jointly by the Ministry of Culture, the GAIC, the Ministry of Public Security and other relevant government departments. During the period, the government departments will take resolute, unyielding measures to enhance supervision over Internet cafe business and shut down those with no licenses. Any such place allowing juveniles to enter or allowing unhealthy information to spread through the Internet will face rigid, severe penalty. "We must take utmost resolutions and make utmost efforts in the clean-up campaign to achieve our anticipated goal, for Internet cafe management has an important bearing on the healthy growing of juveniles," said Sun Jiazheng. (by Li Jianmin)
South Korea plans to work together with other Northeast Asian countries including Japan and China to create a joint regional monitoring system against hackers and strengthen cooperation with Australia＊s Computer Emergency Response Team. The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) announced on Thursday that it will also form an anti-hacking team with 226 private computer security companies nationwide to promote combined efforts against hacking. The task force will coordinate between government agencies and private companies, which run many of the nation's information networks, it said. As part of precautionary measures against cross-border cyber terrorism, internet service providers (ISPs) and Internet service operators such as KT and Hanaro Telecom will be required to report any hacking incidents to the MIC. In addition, the MIC plans to streamline related regulations so that it can make ISPs shut down hackers＊ access paths and issue hacking warnings. To help small-sized companies, which are particularly vulnerable to network infringement, the MIC will check the systems of 2,400 such firms starting next month. In an effort to ultimately contain hacking, the MIC will channel 21.4 billion won to its affiliate, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, for the development of anti-hacking technologies against recent strains of harmful software, such as Peep and Phishing. The announcement came two days after the National Intelligence Service said 278 computers at government agencies and local private companies were hacked last month by unknown Chinese hackers who capitalized on the Trojan programs of Peep and Revacc. Those affected included the National Assembly, the Agency for Defense Development, the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute and six other state agencies. The incident triggered broader concerns about computer security in the country. (by Kim Tae-gyu)
Analysts welcome the government's decision to use "open-source" software rather than licensed ones in its computer network, saying the policy would promote the wider use of such software throughout the nation. The information and technology director at the Bandung Institute of Technology, Budi Rahardjo, said over the weekend that the policy would lead to the growth of the software development business in the country, which provides such services as installment, customization and training programs for users who purchase open-source software. Since installing open-source software is much cheaper than licensed software, computers will become more affordable for most people. As a result, the number of computer users in the country is expected to increase. "The government will have to spend money on training programs for computer users to learn the new software. The budget may be the same as buying proprietary software, but it's a different kind of investment," Budi said. He also said that in the beginning, the government might be facing difficulties in introducing the new system to the public as they are already familiar with proprietary software and will probably be reluctant to learn a new system. "First of all, the government has to make a kind of 'road map' that sets the targets, time frame, and coverage in order to make IGOS successful," Budi suggested. The government has named the project: Indonesia Goes Open Source or IGOS. The government launched the project last week in a bid to curb rampant software piracy and to cut its expenses for the purchase of proprietary software. Under the IGOS project, the government will first install open-source software in all governmental offices throughout the country. Once it is completed, the government will move to other institutions, such as schools. Two of the most popular open-source software are GNU/Linux and the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) Family. These software were created to compete with various proprietary operating systems available on the market, including software giant Microsoft. GNU/Linux, for example, can be downloaded for free at certain websites or can be purchased from various distributors, such as Debian, RedHat, Mandrake, Turbolinux, and SUSE Linux, for a certain fee. Given its basically free platform, the fee is mostly for accompanying services, such as installment and operation training programs service. PT Microsoft Indonesia vice president director Ari Kunwidodo agreed that IGOS could spur the development of software business in the country. He added that his company fully supported the government's move as long as it assured fairness. "It's fine as long as the government makes fair regulations, especially in terms of product procurement ... that the procurement regulations don't limit consumers to one product to the disadvantage of a certain party like Microsoft," he said. Ari said that the move would not have a significant effect to Microsoft since it was actually eyeing a different market. "Microsoft and other proprietary operating systems have their own market, as does the open-source system. But what people don't realize is up to 63 percent of PCs sold annually are naked (not equipped with software yet). This is the potential market and what the government must focus on," he argued. According to data from the Indonesian Association of Computer Industry (Apkomindo), around 800,000 to 1 million personal computers are sold per year. To keep its software competitive, Microsoft has been taking a number of actions, such as by fully localizing its flagship Windows system into local languages that are offered at a lower price than the English version.
Launching the 'My Malaysia, My MSC' campaign, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said this new phase of the country's IT development will be more 'people-centric'. The Multimedia Super Corridor's (MSC) 'Next Leap' will bring the benefits of high-technology to schools and health clinics the length and breadth of the country. The move to actively involve the public represents a departure from the first phase, when the MSC was conceived to foster the development of innovative software and hardware applications. Health informatics and education will now be the focus of Malaysia's IT push, as the country seeks to wire up rural clinics allowing them to transmit x-rays and medical test data online. The use of IT in schools is also set for an overhaul. "With these applications we will show them that technology can help, and they will realise why the government needs to invest in the use of computers and ICT. This will directly help narrow the digital divide," said Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi. The Prime Minister said that the government had abandoned the 'smart school' project which had built up 87 schools with the latest IT and web-based teaching facilities. The government would instead concentrate on wiring up all 10,000 primary and secondary schools and provide them with web-based courseware under a new 'Schoolnet' programme. To encourage the development of local software expertise, he said government ministries and agencies would lead the way in using locally developed products. This was taken as a hint that, despite the recent visit of Microsoft's founder Bill Gates to the country, the government was set to press on with its growing interest in open source solutions. Datuk Seri Abdullah maintained that the shift in emphasis did not discredit the role of the MSC, which has successfully attracted investment from BMW, DHL, Shell, Ericsson and IBM, creating 19,000 jobs.
A paper on the National Broadband Plan to roll out faster broadband access to the Internet will be submitted soon for Cabinet approval. Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said the rollout would cost the Government about RM800mil. We are extending the access to schools (to be called SchoolNet), e-government offices, universities and research institutions (MyRen) and for telemedicine in clinics, he said. Dr Lim said the Government hoped to build up a critical mass of clients who would be using the Internet through broadband access. With this critical mass available, perhaps private companies who are Internet service providers or application service providers will increase their coverage, Dr Lim said at the launching of Microsoft＊s Unlimited Potential programme here and seminar for supervisors from 42 rural internet centres (RIC). Under the programme, the 42 RIC established by the Government will receive funds to implement activities to make technology accessible to rural people. Microsoft Malaysia Corporate Affairs director Zaid Hamzah said Microsoft had contributed RM3.8bil under the global programme over five years. Later, Dr Lim launched a RM28,000 model RIC cabin sponsored by Medan Sedunia Digital that is implementing the RIC project.
Singapore unveiled planned new laws aimed at reducing e-mail spam while still protecting the interests of marketers using the Internet. Under the guidelines, marketers have to label their messages as advertisements and provide a valid opt-out mechanism for email users who do not want to receive their messages, the Attorney-General's department said. They also have to send their messages from a genuine e-mail address and are forbidden to use misleading or false subject headers. "This is a joint effort between the public and private sectors to curb e-mail spam," deputy chief executive and director-general of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, Leong Keng Thai, said. "The three Internet service providers receive thousands of complaints each month about spam." But as long as the marketing messages abide by the new rules, businesses can still send out unsolicited commercial messages in bulk. "We need to strike a balance between consumer and business interests. Singapore is a business centre, and an information and communication technology hub," Leong said. "On the one hand, we need to address the issue of consumer perspective, but we do not want to overly burden or hamper legitimate businesses." However, the impact of the planned legislation could be limited as the laws will only apply to messages sent from within Singapore. Nearly 80 percent of spam messages in the city-state comes from overseas. "We are beginning to see international efforts against spam," Leong said, pointing out new anti-spam laws recently implemented in the United States, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom and South Korea. "But it's still too early to have a global effort." Singapore's proposed laws have been posted on an anti-spam website and are expected to be enacted by early next year after gathering public feedback, Leong said. Experts have warned the volume of spam messages threatened to undermine the use of the Internet itself.
Delegates at the Second General Assembly of the International Parliamentarians' Association for Information Technology (IPAIT) met in Thailand to sign an accord that outlines their mutual efforts to advance IT. Lawmakers from 23 countries yesterday pledged to collectively advance the use of information and communications technology in their societies, eyeing open-source software as a means of bridging the digital divide. The agreement tied off the three-day annual gathering. The Bangkok Declaration on IPAIT Collaborative Projects is intended to be a stepping stone to electronic democracy for developing countries, said Kalasin Senator Wiboon Shamsheun, Chairman of the Assembly's Preparation Committee. Promotion of open-source software, web portals to share the experience on the development of information technology legislation, human-resources development and translation tools were highlighted in the accord. The promotion of open-source software would be a means 'to establish a strong rationale for the reasonable pricing of software products based on the idea of benefits to both software publishers and consumers', the declaration read. All participating parliamentarians, from Angola to South Korea, also agreed to develop information infrastructure for e-parliaments in their respective countries. The information and communication technology would be used to enhance information outreach between the parliaments' and their citizens, according to Suchon Chaleekure, President of both the General Assembly and the Thai Senate. Signatory countries also agreed that information on their parliaments' websites would be available in English. The next general assembly is scheduled to take place in Brazil next year.
The government plans to introduce a data protection law before the Smart Cards are made fully available. Legislation to protect the confidentiality of people's personal details, the Personal Data Protection Act is currently being drafted according to the theInformation and Communications Technology Ministry (ICT). Under the legislation, the personal data contained in the Smart Cards will be protected. Government officials who are found to have violated the official information act will be prosecuted. Although the announcement of the Act comes after the release of the first Smart Cards, this should not pose any problems and the bidding process for the Smart Cardswill continue, said the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Minister Surapong Suebwonglee. The actual government agency which will be responsible for the Smart Cards and the Personal Data Protection legislation is yet to be decided. Initially, it was agreed that the one agency should be dedicated to overseeing the issue of personal data. The responsibility for information requested by the public and the protection of personal data may need to be handled by more than one department. The ICT Minister and Deputy Prime Minister General Thamarak Isarangura na Ayudhya are expected to find a solution to the issue soon. The Personal Data Protection Act may not come into force before the October deadline when the first batch of Smart Cards are to be released. Mr Surapong Minister has also proposed that the penalties for those found guilty ofviolating civilian data be incorporated into the existing Official Information Actas thiswould be quicker than proceeding with a comprehensive Personal Date Protection legislation.
Government web sites could be at risk from security threats, according to a recent survey, which found that only 12% of 267 surveyed agencies used data encryption technology, and only one organisation _ Krung Thai Bank _ utilised digital signatures. The survey by the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec) covered 267 government deparment-level agencies, universities and state organisations. It also found that almost half of the web sites surveyed relied on only a user name and a password to authenticate users, while 12%, or 32 agencies, secured information with SSL or data encryption technology. "Some agencies do not even have a firewall to protect against hackers. This is a weakness of the government," said Nectec director Dr Thaweesak Koanantakool, adding that agencies needed to be more concerned with security and provide secure transactions to the public. ICT Ministry permanent secretary Dhipavadee Meksawan said to help ease security concerns, the ministry plans to invest up to eight million baht to provide 50,000 digital signatures for government officers by September. "The digital signatures will be issued by the Government IT Service, TOT Corp and the CAT Telecom," she said, adding that they will help reduce document fraud and provide secure transactions. The survey, conducted between 14 January and 31 March this year, aimed to find out the e-service readiness of the web sites. It also tracked information provided by the sites, including basic organisation information, history, email, news and links to other agencies. More than half (64%) are bilingual web sites but only two organisations (1%) had features for easier accessibility, such as captions for pictures and clear fonts and colours. Most of the agencies (91%) updated their information once a week while the remaining 9%, or 25 agencies, updated the information more than once a week. Some 77% of sites offer interactive functions such as an email form (82%), web board (74%), FAQ (39%) and internal search service (47%), while 55% or 145 agencies have transaction functions including log-in forms (54%), data transactions (10%) and online payments (6%).None of the government agencies provides applications on their web site and only seven percent (19 agencies) have implemented basic intelligence that can provide information based on a user's log-in. Most of these were web sites of universities, said Dr Thaweesak. "We want to see more integration and intelligence from the government web sites in the future," he said. Meanwhile the ICT Ministry permanant secretary said the survey would be used to reflect the status of government agencies to Cabinet and for allocating its ICT budget. Nectec also plan to extend its survey to cover the web sites of provincial administrative offices, schools and ministries in the future.
Ho Chi Minh City is implementing an e-government promotional effort using a US$130,000 credit provided by the Asia Foundation. The project, slated for completion by September, will set the standards and rules for databases and networks, including a basic programme of four e-government services: business registration˙construction licensing˙land-use right certification˙data management. Another of the project's focal points is to improve the ability of relevant officials in proposing and selecting feasible e-government initiatives. Six of the city's 24 districts are participating in the project, including 1, 5, 9, Binh Thanh, Go Vap and Phu Nhuan. Some districts have already launched e-services for business registration, procedures relating to real estate, and the granting of construction licences.
Science and Information and Communication Technology Minister Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan on Friday laid emphasis on creating competitive environment both in public and private sectors to provide telecom facilities at a lower rate at home and abroad, reports BSS. ※A time befitting policy is needed for ensuring development of telecommunications sector considering the global perspective,§ the minister said while addressing a seminar on ※ Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) in Bangladesh: Technology and Policy§ organised by Electrical Engineering Division of Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) at its seminar room in Dhaka. Chaired by Vice-Chairman of the Division Engineer S M Jafar Sadek, the seminar was also addressed, among others, by Chairman of Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Syed Margub Morshed, Engineer M A Hannan and Shahriar Zaman. Engineer Asir Ahmed, who is working with Japanese Telecommunication, and Anwar Siddiqui, who is working with the International Internet Taskforce of the USA, presented the keynote papers. Dr Khan said information technology is not only a latest technology but also a tool for changing the society, which opened a new horizon in telecommunication sector.
Post and Telecommuni-cations Minister Barrister Aminul Huq Tuesday said in Parliament that the much-talked about T&T mobile phone would come to the market by next December, reports UNB. Replying to Mashiur Rahman Ranga (JP), he informed that all the processes for T&T cellular phone had been completed. In the first phase, 250,000 mobile phones out of one million would be marketed and all upazilas would be covered with its network. In reply to a question from Maj (retd) Manzur Kader, the minister said digital telephone would be introduced in all upazilas by the year 2005. He told Kader Siddiqui (KSJL-Tangail) that during the previous government, Internet service was provided to only eight districts and 165 upazilas. At present, Internet services are available in all the 64 districts, he said adding that by the end of the current fiscal the service would be extended to all the upazilas.
BSS, DHAKA - Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Moudud Ahmed Monday said information technology law would be enacted in the country to ease e-commerce. ※The draft law on information technology is in final stage§, said the Law Minister and added the government is examining the draft of digital law linked with information technology law. The minister said this while addressing the inauguration ceremony of a two-day workshop on `The Changing Pattern and Associated Risks in International Trade and Role of Arbitration＊ organised by the International Chamber of Commerce-Bangladesh (ICCB) at the Sonargaon Hotel as the chief guest. With President of ICCB Mahbubur Rahman in the chair, the workshop was addressed, among others, by head of Global Sales for International Trade of Standard Chartered Bank Ken Stratton, acting chief executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank SAA Masrur and Chairman of ICCB standing Committee on Banking Technique and Practice Mamun Rashid. Barrister Moudud emphasized the need for establishing a strong arbitration system in the country in a bid to resolve the problems arises in national and international business levels. He also underscored the need for proper training to lawyers to make them efficient mediators. The law minter, however, said the ICC could take effective steps in this regard. Referring to alternative dispute resolutions through arbitration in Bangladesh＊s judiciary, he said the provision of alternative dispute resolution through arbitration has already been kept in `civil procedure court＊ and `Artho Rin Adalat＊. Because of the delay in delivering judgement, the government has taken various steps to expedite the system and their outcomes are being experienced by the people of the country, ※ he observed. Under the process, 3,000 cases were dispensed speedily in the last 11 months and Taka 850 crore bad loans were realized through Artha Rin Adalat, he said. There are 40,000 cases under trial in the country, which involved Taka 10,000 crore of bank loans, the Law Minister said. The government would take necessary steps to make arbitration system strong and effective in international business and shape the country＊s arbitration and judiciary system of international standard, he said.
Google, the world＊s largest search engine, is all set to open a R&D centre in Bangalore. Leading Web portal Yahoo also carries out R&D work in Bangalore; US-based chip maker Intersil is setting up a design centre in Bangalore. IBM has set up a research lab in Delhi to tap Indian scientific talent, one of the eight such labs in the world. It has 70 researchers in India. Mobile phone giant Nokia to set up a R&D hub in India. Intel conducts 15-25 per cent of its R&D outside the US. Its worldwide R&D head count is more than 5,000, with about 900 in Bangalore, where it expects to add 1,100 employees by the end of next year. Sun Microsystems has a R&D centre in Bangalore. There are more to follow. Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Network Appliances, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), 3Com, AOL＃ a veritable who＊s who of tech companies. And they are all coming to India for research and development work. Though yet to be in the big league, India is fast emerging as the world＊s IT lab. What is it about India that draws the big and the mighty? There are countries like China, Israel, Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia and Russia all vying for the R&D pie. Yet India is emerging as a preferred destination. The main cause has to be the lower cost of a technical workforce in India. One of the corporate biggies had pointed out that ※there is a high potential of very good technical people in India and the cost to the company is almost a fourth." Besides cost, the pool of technically qualified workforce is also a big draw. For example, the driving reason for GE has not been the cost, but the talent pool." GE's 1,600-strong R&D employee workforce includes 1,100 technical experts. Of these, 31% are Ph.Ds and 44% have Master's degrees. As around the world new Silicon Valleys emerge, the very notion of Silicon Valley has got gone outdated. There are no more one-point shops which are the cradles of cutting-edge tech. It all might have started in the Silicon Valley when talented techies from different parts of the world converged to make the magic dotcom boom happen. But many of these people who were on the vanguard of the movement have now gone back to the places they came from, taking their expertise along.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sustaining high growth rates and reducing poverty in India should be the main priorities of policy for its new government, an International Monetary Fund spokesman said on Thursday. "The challenge looking ahead is to sustain both the high rates of growth and to reduce poverty," IMF spokesman Thomas Dawson told a regular press briefing. "The path for doing that, as we see it, requires a broad-based effort including in the areas of tax reform, trade liberalization, agriculture and labor market reforms, and on the infrastructure side," he added. Dawson said India's interim budget had indicated it would tackle these issues. "I'm sure the new government will take its look at it, but pursue that course," he added. The IMF does not have a program in India but conducts annual reviews of the economy. Dawson said India's reserves, improved inflation performance and growth meant it "was moving in the right direction" although the IMF has previously raised concerns about the country's fiscal position. India's new Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's, the father of India's reforms, came to power in a surprise election win over a Hindu nationalist-led government last week. Spelling out plans for the country on Thursday, Singh said he would pursue reforms aimed at economic growth of 7 to 8 percent annually for the next decade. He also outlined plans to accelerate social and economic change that would focus on the country's rural poor and small industries.
The IT industry＊s results for the March ＊04 quarter indicate that the industry as a whole has not done particularly well, even though front-line companies such as Infosys and Wipro may have performed well. Although sales grew over the December ＊03 quarter, net profit showed a slight dip. The operating profit margin of the sector was fairly stable. However, other income for the sector suffered a setback. Results for March ＊04, when compared year-on-year, looked decent, partly because the corresponding quarter in March ＊03 had been a particularly bad one for the IT industry. Net profits were up 45%, compared with the corresponding quarter last year, while sales were up 22%. The stand-alone results of the companies were taken into account, when carrying out the analysis. The sequential increase (increase over the immediate previous quarter) of sales for the IT sector was at Rs 7,063 crore for the quarter ended March ＊04, 7%, lower than the 10% increase for the quarter ended December ＊03. Sales for the quarter ended March ＊03 had grown just 3% on a quarterly basis. Staff costs remained stable in the quarter ended March ＊04 at around Rs 2,050 crore, having remained almost the same as that for the December quarter. Other income however, suffered a setback. For both quarters ended December ＊03 and March ＊03, other income dropped 23% and 24% respectively. For the quarter ended September ＊03, other income had been as high as Rs 234 crore, but came down to Rs 138 crore for the quarter ended March ＊04. The decline was primarily due to the appreciation of the rupee, which rose by 3.4% in March alone. This affected the profitability of the companies. Net profit in the sector fell 2% on a sequential basis to Rs 1,209 crore for the March ＊04-ended quarter, down from Rs 1,231 crore in the previous quarter. This happened even though the operating profit margin for the sector was 24.1% for the quarter ended March ＊04, just 0.7% lower than that for the quarter ended December ＊03. Margins either remained stable or increased for most of the bigger IT players. Margins for Infosys, i-flex, Satyam Computers, MphasiS and Wipro either remained the same or increased by 1-3%. Operating profit margins for players such as HCL Technologies, Hughes Software and Polaris fell by 3-8%.
NEW DELHI - India's high-profile IT industry expects the budget for fiscal year 2004-05 would focus on redressing anomalies in tax laws and rationalise the duty structure to ensure steady growth in the sector. The software and computer hardware makers also hope that the upcoming annual fiscal package would unveil measures to boost infrastructure facilities and education system to spur increased domestic as well as overseas investments. Finance Minister P Chidambaram will unveil the Congress-led coalition government's maiden fiscal budget July 8. "While no new policy measures is expected in the budget, a little bit of tweaking here and there will ensure the continuity of the IT sector's robust growth," said Sameer Kochchar, CEO of tech industry research firm Skoch Consultancy. "The government must realise that its main goal of improving agriculture production, education and rural sector can easily be realised by using IT as an enabler tool," Kochchar told IANS. "Therefore, it must address some of the issues like anomalies in tax laws, low government technology spending and poor infrastructure that actually threatens to inhibit the growth of both software and hardware industries." On the taxation front, the I-T industry wants the Finance Minister to take proactive steps to resolve various legal and taxation, both direct and indirect, related issues. These include allowing tax exemption to non-residents outsourcing the back-office processing and call centre activities in India and extending time limits of tax breaks to other allied sectors. "Irritants that are presently being faced on the taxation front need to be sorted out," said Kiran Karnik, President of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom), India's IT industry umbrella group. "This should be done with an eye on maintaining cost competitiveness and providing a conducive regulatory environment," he added. Nasscom recommends complete exemption of excise and customs duty on computers so that manufacturers are encouraged to try and innovate and produce cheaper computers. "A major reason for the lack of computer penetration is the prohibitive cost of computers," said Karnik. "Due to smaller volumes, domestic hardware production has not picked up and continues to be expensive, with high import duties both on components and finished products adding to the costs." Karnik said the government should make the sale of computers to educational institutions as well as local communities exempt from all import and excise duties to significantly increase IT penetration. "Very large quantities of useable computers are discarded in developed countries. These second-hand computers should be permitted to be freely imported into India on a duty-free basis," he said. "And these should then be given on a free-of-cost basis to educational institutions and local communities. This will be a step in bridging the digital divide."
Nepal Telecom Friday announced tariff cuts on incoming calls on both ＆pre paid＊ and ＆post paid＊ mobile services. According to Radio Nepal, the reductions will come into effect on 15 June. The new rate for calling to a post-paid mobile phone from a general telephone between 8:00 am to 8:00 pm will be Rs 1.00, down from the current price of Rs 1.80. Similarly, the new rate for pre-paid mobiles will be Rs 1.20 from Rs 2.34. Along with the reductions in tariffs, incoming calls to the pre-paid mobile phones from 8pm in the to 8am will be free, this service was already provided on the postpaid mobiles. There are about 136,000 cell phone users in the country right now. Nepal Telecom is improving its infrastructure and upgrading its services to increase the number of cell users.
ISLAMABAD - Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari on Tuesday said the government had provided ideal business climate and investment opportunities to foreign investors in IT and telecom sectors of Pakistan. "We not only want the foreign companies to start their operations in Pakistan but also want them to invest in the human resource development so that the country can produce world-class IT-enabled services and products." Mr Leghari expressed these views in a meeting with Michael Weaver, vice-president and global head, and Daniel Monahan, director and worldwide head, of a foreign IT firm, who called on him to apprise him of their plans to expand their regional IT hub to Pakistan from Europe and Middle East-Africa region. The minister said a tremendous response by foreign investors to the policies introduced by the government in the telecom sector reflected on the level of confidence they had in Pakistan as a potential market growing at a fast pace. Mr Weaver reiterated his company's renewed commitment to Pakistan for making this region "IT savvy with more focus on services and trainings". He said his company was setting up a centre of excellence in Pakistan to add value to its products and services. "We have already employed 50 top-class local professionals and plan to add another 150 in the next 12 months," he said. Daniel Monahan also appreciated the governmental policies which, he said, were very conducive to attract more investment to Pakistan. Pakistan to help Kabul: Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari here on Tuesday held a meeting with Dr Nanguyalai Tarzi, Afghanistan's ambassador to Pakistan, to discuss mutual cooperation in the fields of telecommunication. He told the ambassador that Pakistan wanted to help Afghanistan improve its telecommunication facilities. The ambassador briefed the minister on the reconstruction efforts underway in his country and plans to lay a railway track that would run from Quetta and pass through Afghanistan to link up with Zahedan in Iran.
ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari on Tuesday said the ministry would soon announce a broadband internet policy to provide fast and effective connectivity to users at cheaper rates. The minister was speaking at the inaugural session of the three-day 'Pakistan Developer Conference', organized by an international software development firm. Mr Leghari said the departments concerned had completed their tasks and the policy would be announced within a month. The potential of DSL broadband services in the county has been evaluated and the policy in this regard would be a revolutionary step in the IT sector, he added. The minister said in order to achieve broadband service growth in the country, content and end user industry (sale of personal computers) needed to grow in parallel. He said the government's policies to liberalize the telecom sector had borne fruits as more and more potential investors from around the globe were seriously looking at the available opportunities. He also pledged to help the IT industry seeking reduction in costs incurred on the digital cross connectivity. The minister called for bringing the fruits of information technology to the people. Mr Leghari said the IT ministry was going to launch a programme to provide computers to people on instalments at affordable rates. In this regard, there is a proposal to collect Rs1,000 per month with any of the utility bills from people intending to purchase computers on instalments, he added. He said the ministry had also allocated a sizable amount to help the local IT industry by creating demand for work for the software development houses. The minister said the deregulated telecom sector in the country was ready to take off as around 100 local and foreign firms had finally applied for land line telephone operation licenses.
ISLAMABAD - Saarc secretary-general Q.A.M.A. Rahim has underscored the urgent need for regional cooperation in development of telecommunications as an effective approach to poverty alleviation and economic development. Speaking at the inaugural session of the 2nd Saarc communication ministers' conference here on Tuesday, he reminded the participants that Saarc leaders at their 12th summit held in Islamabad in January had declared poverty alleviation as the overarching goal of all Saarc activities. He said the South Asia Free Trade Area (Safta) agreement was also signed as a vital step towards that goal for which the role of telecom was crucial. To harness the potentials of ICT (telecommunications and communication technology), Mr Rahim pointed to a number of problems facing the region. Most important among these is the low telecommunication density and technology gaps among member states, he said. Besides, wide gaps have appeared between urban and rural areas as well as between the richer segment of the population and the poor, he added. The Saarc secretary-general also called for making the internet services available to most people at affordable cost. Tracing the history of initiatives taken by the member countries for increasing cooperation in telecom, he noted these pre-dated the establishment of Saarc when an integrated programme of action was launched at the first meeting of foreign ministers in New Delhi in 1983. The latest development was the launch last January of the Regional Integrated Programme of Action under which a new working group on telecommunications, information and communications technology had been created, he added. He hoped that the creation of this new group would enable the member states to pay focused and dedicated attention on regional cooperation in this field. In his inaugural address, Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, the president's special envoy to the conference, said South Asia faced the real threat of being marginalised if the issues of infrastructure development, regional cooperation, human resource development, intra-regional cooperation and retention of human capital were not addressed on a priority basis. It is, therefore, imperative that communication infrastructure is developed in such a way as to allow sharing of knowledge and connectivity to the people at large, he said. He admitted that simultaneous goals of infrastructure expansion and human resource development to international levels of competition were difficult to achieve in view of the current state of affairs. According to an official press release, the delegates agreed to enhance cooperation among each other for the development of ICT. They also agreed to share information and resources besides exchanging fellowships and training facilities in the telecom discipline. One of the important tasks of the conference is to formulate a common position of South Asian countries for presentation at the second phase of the world summit on the information society to be held in Tunis in November 2005. In the first phase of the summit held in Geneva in December 2003, the Saarc countries had also presented a common position.
ISLAMABAD - The South Asian countries will reduce telecom tariff within the region to the "lowest extent feasible" within the framework of cost orientation based on international benchmarks. This was decided in the 2nd Saarc Communications Ministers Conference at the end of three-day deliberations here on Wednesday. The concluding session was chaired by the federal minister and special envoy of the President, Awais Leghari. Recognizing the rapid technological changes taking place globally in the field of telecommunications, the delegates vowed to enhance regional cooperation in the field. They agreed that a comprehensive strategy should be devised, which would facilitate the expansion of telecom services in the region. They would also share information and resources, besides exchange of fellowships and training facilities in the telecom discipline. The plan of action, adopted by the conference, also called for harnessing technologies and social and economic uplift of the region through infrastructure development by optimal sharing of available resources. It was decided to promote technology transfer, standardisation and human resource development by evolving a coordinated approach on issues of common concern in international telecom fora. The member states also agreed to offer special rates for transiting/hubbing regional traffic and utilise the facilities of other members for their overflow traffic. For this purpose, licensed international long distance operators would be encouraged to frequently negotiate agreements for offering lowest possible tariff. The delegates also agreed to further facilitate intra-regional communications for travellers and entrepreneurs by promotion of direct services, calling cards, cellular roaming and liberalised leased lines within the regulatory frameworks of the member states. By another significant decision, the participants agreed to encourage complete digitalisation of inter-country links as early as possible and settle inter-operator revenues in line with the time frame set under international telecommunication regulations.
ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) on Friday unveiled a new tariff package from August 14 to provide free late-night local calls and cut installation charges by 44 per cent and international call charges to Rs20 per minute. "The package, applicable from Aug 14, 2004, will not only provide relief to the common man but also help in exploiting untapped potential of the market besides enhancing the PTCL's reach," Information Technology Minister Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari told a news conference. Free local calls within a city will be available from midnight to 6am, he said. Instead of varying rates for international calls a flat rate of Rs20 per minute has been fixed for all countries of the world. Earlier, Rs21.75 per minute used to be charged for Saarc countries, Iran and Turkey and Rs26.08 for other countries. The minister said the decision to provide reliable telecommunication services at affordable prices had been taken at a July 13 meeting of the PTCL Board. It would also help alleviate people's problems. PTCL President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jonaid I. Khan, who was also present, when asked about the financial impact of the new package, said that the new initiative would have a positive impact with a definite upsurge in the profitability of the PTCL. Explaining salient features of the package, Mr Leghari said telephone installation charges had been slashed from Rs1,350 to Rs750 plus a 15 per cent general sales tax (GST) in urban areas while the recently introduced charges of Rs500 would continue to be operational in the rural areas. The minister said he was confident that lower installation charges would enhance tele-density as reduction in connection charges for rural areas had witnessed a growth of telephone connections by 300 per cent. While local calls between midnight till 6a.m. will be free of charge, Internet dialup and premium service calls, irrespective of the distance, will continue to cost as much as now. About the nation-wide calls, the minister said the rates for distances between 80-160 km and beyond 160 km during prime time (7:30am to 6:30pm) had been reduced to Rs4.25 from Rs5.65 and to Rs5.25 from Rs7.39 per minute respectively. He said rates of average international outgoing calls had been reduced to Rs20 from Rs26 per minute (24 per cent). The minister said reduced tariffs would attract more traffic, better utilization of the available capacity and add new customers at a faster rate. All these reductions would be exclusive of the 15 per cent GST. These initiatives, he said, would also accelerate competition and result in the introduction of new service packages in a deregulated environment. To promote the cause of higher education and to meet the long-standing needs pointed out by the High Education Commission (HEC), international Internet bandwidth charges for institutions and universities connected with the Pakistan Educational Research Network (PERN)) had been reduced to $2,500 per month.
QUETTA - Federal Education Minister Zobaida Jalal has announced that the government would facilitate computer education at all the 10,500 public schools in the country. She was speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Government Haji Sher Dil Khan Girls Inter College at Mach the other day. The minister said five-year agreements had been signed with various companies for the maintenance of computers and provision of teaching staff. She expressed the hope that computer classes would start in Mach from next month. The minister urged girl students to excel in their studies so that they could play a role in the development of the province and the country. Education Secretary Munir Ahmed Badini, Director Colleges Riaz Ahmed Baloch and tribal elders were also present on the occasion. Our Quetta correspondent adds: The Jafaria Alliance, Balochistan, has demanded setting up of a new tribunal comprising five Supreme Court judges to investigate the March 2 incident that claimed around 50 lives in Quetta. Shia leaders have rejected the report of a Balochistan judicial tribunal led by Justice Akhtar Zaman Malghani. Speaking at a press conference here at the local press club, provincial alliance chief Allama Maqsood Ali Domki regretted that the provincial home minister did not give them the comprehensive report of the tribunal despite repeated requests.
ISLAMABAD - The federal government has approved the expansion plan of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) to install two million new fixed telephone sets at a cost of Rs20 billion. Official sources told Dawn here on Monday that the PTCL Board was meeting this month to work out various formalities in order to undertake the expansion plan across Pakistan during 2004. The expansion plan was approved by the government despite the fact that the company was to be privatized. Three international companies, one each from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon, have expressed their willingness to buy the PTCL. The government will not provide any funding for the expansion which will have to be carried out by the PTCL through its own resources. Since the company continued to make profit, it was said to be in a position to finance new plans. However, the government expected from the present management of the company to introduce efficiency, especially by managing manpower and overstaffing issues. The PTCL was also directed to introduce full automation to remove public complaints. "We need to make our processes corruption free for which human involvement will be gradually reduced in order to have complete automation," a source said. Previously there were only 2.4 million fixed working connections which increased to 4.2 million by February 2004, hence the tele density increased from 1.85 per cent in 1996 to 2.8 per cent by the end of February this year - an improvement of 51.35 per cent. Installation charges, sources said, had been reduced from Rs1,850 to Rs1,350 for urban areas and from Rs1,850 to Rs500 for rural areas, there was a scope for further reduction in installation charges keeping in view the growing competition. The government, sources said, wanted early privatization and de-regulation of the PTCL so as to encourage more competition by having new companies in the country. However, the process was slow due to which the international telecom players were hesitant in coming forward and taking part in the privatization of the PTCL. "This is really unfortunate that right now only three foreign companies are interested in PTCL due to which its privatization is still being delayed under one pretext or the other," another source said. Customer services, he said, needed to be improved about which a lot of complaints were received daily. Now a decision has been taken to separate the customer and technical departments in order to improve customer services. "Without making the company customer-oriented, it would be difficult to fetch a good price for the company through its privatization," the source said.
Nigeria may seem an unlikely benefactor for a Maori telecommunications venture, but events in the oil-sodden West African republic may stir some life into the moribund operations of Econet New Zealand, part owned by Maori Spectrum Trust. Cash starved and with its plans to become New Zealand's third mobile network operator shelved for now, Econet NZ has sat on the sidelines as Vodafone and Telecom continue to battle each other in the mobile market. But Econet's parent, Nigerian mobile phone operator Econet Nigeria, appears to have overcome an obstacle that threatened the future of the whole group. A 5 per cent owner of Econet Nigeria, a company operating in the most promising mobile market in Africa, Econet Wireless International believed it had pre-emptive rights to take a controlling stake in the Nigeria operation. But Vodacom, 30 per cent owned by Vodafone, also claimed to have rights to take a controlling stake. It also entered a management deal with Econet Nigeria and rebranded the business as Vee Networks. Legal action by Econet to prevent Vodacom from buying more of the company threatened to drag on for years and stymie investments in offshoots such as Econet NZ. But Vodacom has now pulled out of its management contract, claiming a "breach of trust" on behalf of its Nigerian partners. It's now unlikely Vodacom will seek a controlling stake in Vee. The head of Econet New Zealand, Tex Edwards, said Vodacom's pull-out was "an interesting development in a crown jewel asset for us". The move is likely to boost the chances of a separate joint-venture deal being nailed down between Econet and South African Altech, which could generate US$70 million ($113 million) in cash for Econet. Edwards has hinted that money may be coming the way of Econet New Zealand if the Altech deal is finalised. Edwards still is not making any comment on plans for the New Zealand operation, which gained access to third generation (3G) mobile spectrum through a partnership with the Maori Spectrum Trust. The trust's commercial arm Hautaki spent $4 million buying a 30 per cent stake in Econet. But Econet has continued to burn cash and has made no move to build a network. Edwards said the recent impressive result from Vodafone New Zealand showed there was room for more competition here. "It proves there's a problem in New Zealand's cellular market. New Zealand remains the only GSM economy with one GSM network." Key to the success of a new entrant into an already highly developed mobile market is number portability - the ability to take your phone number with you as you change network provider. The country's telcos are still haggling about how to do this. Econet appears to be hamstrung until events in Africa play out. Edwards said the intention was still to launch a network here. "We've got this beautiful asset and we're preserving it. We're not giving up and going home." The story so far Maori Spectrum Trust got $5 million from the Government in 2000, along with a 10-year right to buy 3G telecommunications spectrum at a 5 per cent discount. The move was seen as a way to boost Maori participation in the knowledge economy. In 2002 the trust invested $4 million of the money in Econet Wireless, the fledgling New Zealand subsidiary of South Africa-based Econet Wireless Group. The trust also gave Econet a 10-year option to use the 3G spectrum set aside for Maori. Econet has yet to make any progress in creating a wireless network. In the year to June 30, 2003, Econet Wireless New Zealand declared a group after-tax loss of $2.8 million on no revenue. (by Peter Griffin)
E-COMMERCE is a dotcom boom buzzword that you don't see used much these days, but it's resurrected in budget health spending. The Government said it would spend a whopping $48.2 million over four years to develop electronic claim lodgment facilities, among other IT systems, for the health industry. It is a rare boost to the e-commerce health sector after capital for the industry dried up after the collapse of the internet boom in 2001. The Government said the program "will improve the quality of data and reduce paperwork, and is expected to lead to savings in administrative costs for health funds". The budget papers said this should be "in turn reflected in lower growth in premiums for private health insurance". The papers said the IT system would provide secure electronic links between the health funds, hospitals and doctors, to streamline the billing process. It is also designed to make information on costs more accessible to private health insurance patients. Also on IT, the Government will extend the list of electronic items exempt from FBT to include printers designed for use with portable computers. Personal digital assistants (PDAs) will also become exempt. "This will ensure that PDAs continue to be exempt from FBT, as these products become increasingly sophisticated and less like electronic diaries," the budget papers said. Until now, just electronic diaries and portable computers, such as notebooks, have been exempt from FBT. (by Geoff Elliott)
NSW POLICE Minister John Watkins will seek national guidelines to help protect people using an online auction site from fraud. The minister will present his proposal to the Australasian Police Ministers' Council in Hobart today. Mr Watkins said internet auction site ebay (ebay) had become immensely popular in Australia since it arrived in 1999, with around 400,000 items for sale locally at any one time. "The vast majority of these are legitimate, but like any area of society we must do what we can to protect consumers from thieves, fraudsters and other criminals," Mr Watkins said in a statement. "NSW has put forward a set of protocols to be adopted by each sate and territory developed in consultation with the company itself." The national protocols would include using state-of-the-art technology to protect ebay users, as well as developing a close relationship between the internet site and state police.
THE NSW government has promised to streamline service delivery with $55m of IT spending announced in the state budget. NSW Commerce Minister John Della Bosca said the IT measures announced in the 2004-05 budget were part of the government's commitment to "simplify dealings between business and public sector agencies and reduce compliance and regulation costs". Accounting for more than half of projected spending in 2004-05 will be the $28 million government licensing system, known as connectingBusiness, which will replace over 40 licensing programs with a single system across the state government. During 2004-05, 13 groups, including real estate agents, motor dealers and travel agents will be put onto the new licensing system, with more than 50 groups due to be brought in by 2008. A further $16.7 million has been allocated to support the state's government radio and mobile data networks, with a planned extension of the data network to more agencies. Emergency services will also receive $500,000 for the development of a new cross-agency operational management system. The budget also allocated $7.7 million to provide client management systems, electronics referrals and an online human services directory for non-government community service providers such as the Salvation Army, meals on Wheels and the St Vincent de Paul Society. NSW has also earmarked $200,000 for its ongoing open source software project "to further investigate the use of open source software within government," the state's Department of Commerce said in a statement. A central website will be established to provide information on open source systems across government. "It will be the home for reports and studies initiated by NSW government agencies and will also contain other relevant information sourced from around Australia and overseas," the Department said. The website is due to be online by the end of September. Electronic service delivery received $2 million in Budget funding. "The focus over the next year will be upon streamlining and improving the quality of online services," the Department of Commerce said. The eServices program will include the introduction of quality assurance and benchmarking procedures and "the investigation of new electronic delivery platforms such as mobile phones and digital television". (by Chris Jenkins)
THE Commonwealth's Building on IT Strengths incubator program was fundamentally flawed, with too many incubators charging too much to distribute too little money according to venture capital sources. Although money invested in start-up companies with a lot of potential was a good thing, the $36 million allocated in the Budget to a three-year extension of the scheme was best described as "good money after bad", said Chris Golis, executive chairman of venture capital fund Nanyang Ventures. With the incubator companies involved in the BITS program spending up to 60 per cent of the original Commonwealth funding of $78.5 million on management fees and advice, the scheme was simply unviable, Mr Golis said. "If you allocated $78 million to a private-sector venture capital fund and at the end of four years it invested $28 million, with the rest spent on management fees, there would be uproar," he said. Long-time BITS critic Louise Convy is outraged, as much by the level of spending on management fees as by the Government's failure to rectify problems that became apparent early in the program's development. Ms Convy formed a lobby for start-up companies, called Entrepreneurs Only, and had made representations to the Department of Communications, IT and the Arts for a stricter monitoring regime. She said start-up companies were in some cases "gouged" by their incubator, forced to use incubator services, and could be expelled from the program if they did not toe the line. Her organisation had tried to have a review system put in place so start-ups could appeal against expulsion, but had been turned away by DCITA, which commissioned the recently released report on BITS by the Allen Consulting Group. "It's too late for the Allen Report to be issued after all these funds have been issued. The horse has already bolted," Ms Convy said. "We have maintained since BITS's inception the program should have been properly monitored and evaluated every six to 12 months, not left until now. "The Government rejected and ignored until now the input and involvement of the entrepreneur community." Mr Golis said DCITA's division of an already limited pool of investment money among 11 incubator companies, had multiplied management costs. He said Australian venture capital funds generally operated on a management fee ratio of 2 per cent, and over four years, management services should account for 8 per cent of funds under management. When the BITS program was being conceived, US academic Gordon Murray, who designed the highly successful Innovation Investment Fund operated by the Department of Industry, Science and Technology, had recommended that any fund of less than $40 million would not be viable. "What the Government has done is to take that $78 million and effectively start up 11 incubators, with each taking an average of $7 million," Mr Golis said. The incubators were set up to provide more than the management of investment money, they were designed to also offer management advice and services, Mr Golis said. "It's like being half-pregnant," he said. "Are they venture companies or are they management consultants? They keep saying 'we're offering start-ups advice'. I'm sorry, but that's not the game. "The trouble with the program is that I think it is fundamentally flawed. The question is: are you throwing good money after bad by extending it?" According to the Allen Report, the incubator operated by Allen and Buckeridge had spent $700,000 on set-up costs and 45 per cent of its $4.7 million BITS funding on payroll costs. Just 31 per cent of the BITS funding went to the start-up companies under the Allen and Buckeridge Seed Stages Ventures wing. A&B Seed Stage Ventures was originally a joint venture with Deloittes, known as ePark. According to A&B, 90 per cent of set-up costs had been spent on its initial recruitment drive, just before the dotcom bubble burst, when IT salaries were peaking. It said it quickly readjusted to the tighter market conditions. "Wages and salaries were only high in the first year, and were down to virtually nothing in later years," Information City executive director Roger Crompton said. "It was a very aggressive model when it was started. Deloitte planned to raise a pooled development fund. They structured it as a much larger organisation. A&B destructured it as a much more sensible organisation. According to the Allen Report, the Northern Territory-based incubator, Original IT Investments had allocated 69 per cent of its $5 million to its incubator companies in cash. Not one of those companies had been successful. The average annual revenue from remaining OIT incubatees was less than $2000. That was after spending $800,000 on running costs. Matt Hammond, founder of InQbator, one of the most successful BITS incubators, said the Allen Report would have been influential in the Government's decision to extend the program. It had not been operational long enough to make an adequate assessment of its progress, he said. InQbator was allocated $9.5 million in the first round of BITS funding and had put 95 per cent into its start-up companies as cash. The extension of the scheme was welcome, but the climate for raising venture capital remained tight, although it was improving, Mr Hammond said. A spokeswoman for IT minister Daryl Williams said the Allen Report showed that 260 companies had been assisted through the program, in both capital and other forms, and that the program had attracted a further $80 million in private investment. "The ICT start-up companies that have benefited from the program include some of Australia's most innovative ICT firms," the spokeswoman said. "It can hardly be argued that these achievements do not reflect successful use of the Government's investment in these companies." (by James Riley, Simon Hayes)
It's the bane of our online lives, but New Zealand is inching towards the creation of legislation against the sending of "spam" email with the issue of a Government discussion paper looking at the matter. The question is, can legislation in any form stop the deluge of junk messages? Most people think not. Associate IT Minister David Cunliffe will release a paper on Monday entitled Legislating against spam, a document which lays out the questions that need to be considered in New Zealand for passing legislation targeted at spammers. For many, the way forward is simple - copy the Australian legislation, which came into effect on April 11, and work with other countries to harmonise spam legislation around the world. That approach has the support of the Direct Marketing Association, which was a "virtual partner" in putting together a code of conduct for email advertising with its Australian sister body, the Australian Direct Marketing Association, and policing body, the Australia Communications Authority. "We'll be supportive of anything that gets online communication into a more disciplined state," said Keith Norris, the chief executive of the Direct Marketing Association. "But it won't do much within our domestic shoreline," he added. That is because, with the exception of a handful of local spammers contracting their services to the world, the bulk of spam is generated overseas. No amount of local pressure can stop it from appearing in email in-boxes. The US Can-Spam Act has not stemmed the flow of unsolicited advertisements. The New Zealand Internet Society has labelled it a "disastrous failure". The law, which came into effect in January and imposes fines on spammers, has a major loophole. It takes an "opt-out approach" to spam - people have to tell spammers they do not want to receive their emails. "Opt-out is not an option when you get 2000 messages a day," said Peter Macauley, the society's executive director. The State of California and Australia have gone for "opt-in" consent, where a person has to be consulted about being added to a list. The Australian Act can impose a fine on a spammer of A$220,000 ($252,000) for a day's contravention and A$1.1 million ($.1.26 million) for further breaches. Chris Thompson, the head of internet and online marketing at Xtra, puts his faith in technology rather than legislation. Spam filtering software is used to lessen the junk email passing through Xtra's servers. SPAM ISSUES * Is the onus on an email recipient to request to be taken off an advertiser's mailing list or should a recipient have to be asked before they appear on any such list? * Should the legislation apply to faxes, text messages, picture messages, etc, as well? * Who will enforce anti-spam legislation?
Candidates vying for House of Councilors seats in Sunday's election will not have the luxury of updating their positions or activities via the popular medium of the Internet. A candidate in the July 11 House of Councilors election leans out of his campaign vehicle to greet a passerby in Tokyo's Asakusa district. Most candidates have Web sites, Web logs, or blogs, and e-mail newsletters, but had to put all their information out by the night of June 23, as the Public Offices Election Law does not allow them to update their sites or send any electronic information during the June 24-July 11 campaign period. They can keep any information that was posted before June 24 up on their sites, as it is still considered part of day-to-day political operations and not campaign activities, which are subject to the election law. Web-based political activism is believed to have helped Roh Moo Hyun in the final stages of his bid for the South Korean presidency in 2002, and this year's U.S. presidential candidates are using Web pages and blogs to get their messages out and to solicit donations from the public. But in Japan, a nation of 77 million Internet users, Net-based campaigning has a long way to go -- for both legal and cultural reasons. (by Tomoko Otake)
Widespread leverage of the internet in China is making decision-making more transparent, and service delivery more efficient, argues Edmund Tan. China had 79.5 million web surfers at the end of 2003, according to a report by the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) out of Beijing. The number catapults the country ahead of Japan, which has 56 million internet users and second only to the US, which has 165.75 million internet users. According to the bi-annual Statistical Survey Report, China added 20.4 million new users in 2003, a 34.5 per cent increase over the year prior. It's an amazing six-month leap; its previous report, the 12th Statistical Survey Report, showed 68 million internet users. Officials determine an internet user as someone who accesses the internet one hour or more a week. With Chinese citizens voting with their web browsers, many public agencies in the country have seen fit to follow their lead with the progressive roll-out of information and services. In Shenzhen, the local legislature recently issued a circular on shenzhen.net.cn, asking citizens to contribute suggestions for its legislative work in 2004. In Beijing, the municipal government has posted a notice on Beijing.gov.cn, soliciting public views on 56 major public undertakings planned for 2004. Nationwide, cases of the government using the Iiternet to communicate with the public have been increasing rapidly. Thanks to the internet, the degree of public participation in China's public affairs has reached an unprecedented level. The government has been vigorously promoting this trend with the launch of two projects, one for building a transparent government and another for building an e-government. The first project requires government agencies across the country to be more active in its public disclosure of the decision-making process, particularly when it comes to taxation, expenditure and planning. The second project encourages government agencies to use computer networks, including the internet, to improve the transparency of public affairs, draw public views in making major decisions and streamlining bureaucratic procedures. "Lots of government agencies have come to regard the internet as a useful tool, one that would help them to make better decisions," said Professor Liu Qinglong of China's Qinghua University, who is heading a research programme on e-government. Besides view collecting sessions, the government also looks upon internet bulletin boa ite voting systems as everyday channels of government-public interaction. In eastern China's Anhui Province, in Wuhu, a bulletin board has been established on the city's website for citizens to raise grievances and make enquiries. The administrator of the bulletin board is responsible for channeling this feedback to the relevant government authorities, which are then required to present their response. The Beijing Municipal Government is considering establishing a similar opinion collecting system in 2004. At the end of last year, China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing participated in a scheduled online chat session that lasted around two hours. The content of the chat ranged from China's foreign policy, Sino-US and Sino-Japanese relations to Li's personal life. Officials from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and other public agencies have also participated in online chats with topics ranging from the significance of certain new policies to the work style of the government. The Chinese general public now know much more about government administration than any previous periods. The internet has played a critical role in this revolution. Public response to the new opportunities created by the Internet has been enthusiastic. According to some estimated more than 40,000 people participated in the on-line chat with Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing last December. In November of 2003, the Beijing Municipal Government invited public appraisals of the performance of its 60 functional departments through Beijing.gov.cn. More than 100,000 people cast their votes showing satisfaction or dissatisfaction. In China e-government is driving the democratic decision making process into the heart of the community, increasing accountability and bringing with it greater public sector efficiency. (by Edmund Tan, the Editor of PSTM.net)
A total of 44 government departments have been told to cooperate in the former Portuguese colony's e-government project, and have been given a July 2006 deadline. According to Florinda da Rosa Silva Chan, Macau's Secretary for Administration and Justice, the focus of the territory's e-government initiatives will be to create a single online access point to government services. This will be complemented by a reengineering of government processes, and training for civil servants. Last year the Macau authorities gave the go-ahead to a 6.6 million patacas (US$825,000) e-government contract for infrastructure integration to a team from the International Institute for Software Technology of the United Nations University, the University of Macau and the Macau Institute of Computer and System Engineering. The same team will now design and develop the government portal, under the supervision of Macau's Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau. The project will initially serve Macau's 8000 public servants, before being made accessible to Macau's citizens. The government portal will deploy workflow management and document imaging applications to streamline internal processes within the administration. Access to the government network will be secured with smart cards. Tomasz Janowski, Project Manager at the International Institute for Software Technology of the United Nations University believes that the development of Macau's e-government will not only make the delivery of services to citizens more efficient, but that it will also assist in the development the territory's IT industry.
A new Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO) will be formed, following the merger of the Information Technology Services Department (ITSD) and the IT-related divisions in the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau. ITSD director Alan Wong Chi-kong will be interim Chief Information Officer while the government embarks on a global search to fill the post. Deputy Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee said the creation of the office would result in annual savings in staff costs worth US$950,000. Three directorate posts, including Wong's current position, would be made redundant. Fung said the new office, comprising 640 staff, would streamline its IT role within the government. Its main functions would be formulating policies and strategies, taking a leadership role in driving the e-government programme, and pushing for a more flexible deployment of resources. The new office will fall under the Communications, Industry and Technology Bureau and have direct access to the Financial Secretary. "We are moving along similar lines as the United States, the UK, Canada and Australia, all of which have established a chief information officer or its equivalent who reports to the highest level of government," Fung said. "In business process re-engineering, for example, the involvement of the Treasury is important to provide incentives for agencies to adopt more streamlined operations to save money." Beyond public policy, the government has a strong influence in the local IT sector because it is a leading investor in technology. It has invested an average of US$4.6 billion annually in IT over the past three years. In his new position, Wong is expected to preside over team-building efforts within the new organisation. External publicity aimed at other government agencies and the public are also a priority. "Apart from e-government, the office will step in to promote some key technology areas identified in the government's Digital 21 Strategy," Fung said. "These include wireless applications and digital entertainment." To find a suitable candidate for the CIO position, the government will soon conduct an open recruitment exercise in which local and overseas candidates will be considered based on their qualifications. The new CIO stands to earn US$250,000 a year, plus housing benefits and a 15 per cent gratuity after three years. "Although the main qualifications are still being discussed, we have a few basic things in mind about what the CIO should possess," Fung said. "He or she must have a very senior position in a large corporation or in a government agency. This would also mean that the candidate has connections to key players in both the government and private sectors."
The future focus of the e-government programme will be to put customers at the centre of public service delivery so as to bring greater value to both customers and the Government. This was highlighted in a new booklet on e-government published recently by the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau. The Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr John Tsang, said in the forward section of the booklet that the Government had placed great importance on e-government work. "The reasons are three-fold," he said . "First, developing e-government allows us to improve operational efficiency and introduce service improvements to benefit our customers, through technology exploitation and service transformation. "Second, it is an effective way to drive the wider adoption of IT in the business sector and community. And third, it demonstrates the Government's leadership role in promoting Hong Kong's international status as an innovative digital city." The booklet outlines the achievements of the e-government project, in terms of programme implementation and international recognition, since the release of the first Digital 21 Strategy in 1998. It also sets out the roadmap for the next wave of e-government development. "Our focus in the years ahead will be on understanding our customers, creating value based on what they need, driving utilisation through creation of customer value and rationalising channel management through a mutual realisation of customers' and government benefits," Mr Tsang said.
Estimated at US$4.8 billion, China's market for e-government services depends upon the development of common national standards. Report: Edmund Tan. Chinese e-government is booming. More than 90 government portals have been established by China's central government. But when you look at the regional and municipal government level the number is far greater: over the last three years the number of government web sites has passed 10,000. "China's market capacity of e-government will reach CNY 40 billion (US$4.8 billion)," predicts Wang Xuan, Vice Chairman of China's National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Although much of this online activity amounts to little more than 'web-gloss' for unchanged bureaucratic procedures, a significant minority have integrated existing service procedures with the online channel. Virtual offices, online examination, permit applications and official notification are key areas of focus, particularly at the city government level. However this civic activism poses challenges for the next stage of e-governance in China. "China's e-government construction has come to a crucial point and is facing a series problems and choices," warns Yang Fengchun, Professor of Peking University. "The further development will largely depend on whether we can adopt right measures and common standards to solve existing problems." "Several bottlenecks are beginning to impact e-government development. The lack of standards is one of them," says Liu Yankee, Vice Director of General Office of People's Government of Tannin Municipality. Since China's e-government construction is conducted separately and independently without unified planning, most e-government systems fail to interconnect with each other. The current lack of e-government standards is leading to a proliferation of information islands at a civic level - digitised pools of information that remain entirely inaccessible to related organisations. As a result one of e-government's key benefits - the liberation of citizen information from legacy data silos - is failing to be realised. At present, the demand for data sharing becomes very urgent. Standardisation naturally becomes the focus of e-government construction. China and foreign country's e-government practices have also proved that e-government construction must be based on standardisation to realise connectivity, information sharing, and business coordination. The Chinese government has attached great importance to standard drafting. As revealed by a government official, China's e-government standardisation guide has been basically completed. Two part of e-document standard has been finished and is in trial operation now. Other standards are also under drafting. "Standardisation is an urgent need in e-government construction," adds Wang Xuan. Wang pointed out that China's e-government standardisation construction should fall in line with international practice, since this would be quite helpful for Chinese products to enter global markets.
China's first E-commerce portal, www.ChinaEC.com, has gone fully operational, and says it aims at becoming China's largest E-commerce portal between online consumers and product providers. President of ChinaEC, Su Qiqiang, head of several successful IT companies, says the operational mode of the website covers both a search engine and providing B to C services. "As an online shopping portal, ChinaEC is dedicated to providing E-commerce services for e-shop websites and online shoppers. For B to C websites, ChinaEC will offer services to promote its websites and products, so that they can focus on their main operations while leaving other things to ChinaEC." More than 30 businesses and websites have formed partnership with ChinaEC, enabling their products to be found through the portal. ChinaEC will then guarantee the authenticity of the products they undertake to promote. These businesses range from home appliances, home decoration, software and book sales to telecommunications, gifts and flowers, amongst others. China's leading home appliances giant Gome is one. Its deputy general manager Liu Chunxi says it will help to improve growth in their online business: "Gome Home Appliances started online shopping at the beginning of last year. Currently, online business lags far behind Gome's overall business growth. We also want to enlarge our consumer groups through this platform." Meanwhile, an official from the China Electronic Commerce Association says E-commerce in China is about to enter a brand new stage. "China's first law on electronic signatures will come out soon, and will be the first law specifically dealing with E-commerce. It recognizes the operational mode of E-commerce in a legal form. China's first series of E-commerce policies will also be enacted in the latter half of this year. Both are bound to bring about a new era for E-commerce development in China." China currently has more than 12,000 B2C websites and sales through the internet grow at more than 50 percent annually. Insiders say E-commerce portals like ChinaEC are expected to further promote the E-commerce sector in China. And they will lead to a re-arrangement of the market for those more competitive enterprises who have access to E-commerce competition.
A lawmaker said here on Wednesday that the electronic banking initiative will contribute greatly to improving the country's development goals, saying the 14-article resolution issued at the end of the Seminar on Electronic Money, which was held in Tehran earlier this month, will serve as the main impetus for promoting e-commerce in Iran. Peyman Forouzesh told Iran Daily that the country's trade regulations date back to the 1930s, and called on the Seventh Parliament to ameliorate them in accordance with modern developments. The lawmaker said the banking system must be modernized, adding that the traditional economy must give way to the information technologybased one. He further noted that the electronic banking system will lead to a decline in the profit rates and bring about an improvement in the job market as well as market competition. Forouzesh said that electronic banking is the prerequisite to Iran's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), stressing that economic progress is contingent upon informatics development. "WTO entry requires that the identity of all the companies be specified clearly and relevant data be distributed evenly worldwide," which is practicable only through the Internet, he said, adding that the electronic banking initiative calls for a change in public attitude towards the banking sector as well as the contribution of senior officials, including the chief executive, to the implementation of the groundbreaking plan. The Second Seminar on E-Commerce; Strategies, Policies and Opportunities was held in Tehran on June 6-8. The Commerce Ministry organized the seminar, in which the impact of e-commerce on the national economy as well as ways to create necessary infrastructures for promoting e-commerce in Iran and utilizing successful experiences of other countries in relevant areas were discussed by a number of Iranian and foreign information technology (IT) experts. Participants also included university professors, economic officials and industrial experts. A training workshop and a specialized exhibition attended by various domestic IT companies was held on the sidelines of the seminar. (by Sadeq Dehqan)
The Telecommunications Business Dispute Settlement Commission, which is independent of the department in charge of issuing approval of telecommunications carrier's business, is a body established to ensure prompt, smooth and fair dispute resolutions between telecommunications carriers. For its wider understanding at international level, the Commission announces that an English language website has been set up.
Kyotango City has deployed an e-Government network solution to enable sophisticated information services for its 66,000 citizens. Kyotango City is a new Japan municipality created by the merger of six Kyoto prefecture towns. A secure, high-capacity multiservice optical backbone network from Nortel Networks now connects the city halls in each of the six original towns 每 Mineyama, Omiya, Amino, Tango, Yae and Kumihama 每 to create a 'community intranet'. "In order to launch our new community services initiative, we looked for a highly reliable, secure, high-bandwidth network solution that was capable of carrying a wide variety of applications as well as providing a platform for future growth and expansion," said Masanori Kazuta, assistant chief, Information Systems, Strategic Planning, Kyotango City. "In terms of security, which is extremely important, we especially value the IEEE 802.1x and MAC address security functions." The network allows Kyotango City residents on-site access to such e-Government services as e-voting, e-booking of municipal facilities, employment support, and remote medical consultations. It also permits the city government to deploy disaster prevention services. There are plans for eventual metro-wide broadband connectivity to enable home- and business-based access to the Kyotango City community intranet. The new network was implemented by Nortel Networks Japan and local business partners Nihon Unisys and UNIADEX. The Kyotango City network is one of the major end-to-end e-Government deployments in Japan and an example of how local government can cost-effectively contribute to the realisation of the national e-Japan strategy to create a knowledge-based society.
The MPHPT accepts complaints and inquiries concerning telecommunications service from users through the Telecommunications and Consumer Affairs Office. The MPHPT has recently compiled the number and outline of complaints and inquiries received in fiscal 2003, and is now announcing these. The MPHPT will continue, with reference to the results that have been compiled at this time, to promote putting in place a usage environment for telecommunications services so that users can safely make use of telecommunications services, by providing information to users through various PR activities, and through necessary guidance and requests to the telecommunications carriers.
Kadena town, located on the Japanese southern island of Okinawa, has selected an enterprise network solution to secure its e-government network. The e-government network will primarily be used to exchange educational, administrative, and community information. Kadena town has embarked the e-government intranet infrastructure in order to link public facilities as the town hall, resident associations, welfare facilities, police departments, and hospitals. At present, the town wants to improve the e-government network, providing a high level of security and users' privacy. Kadena town has placed over 50 Alcatel OmniSwitch 6600 switches at the edge of the network in over 40 locations to use an authenticated virtual local area network for enhanced mobility and security. The technology will enable Kadena's residents to access dedicated resources from designated terminals within any linked facility in the town once the user's identification and password are verified.
Intel will provide technical consultations on e-government projects for the Xi'an National Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone (XDZ) in China. Intel will help map out a blueprint for XDZ's information infrastructure to further promote the informatisation of the administration in the area. XDZ plans to promote e-government project-based services by the end of 2004. The e-government projects are expected to raise the efficiency of XDZ's administration as well as lower enterprises operation costs. These projects will also be based on Intel Architecture. Intel will provide solutions for public systems, including release and search system for public information, public payment gateway systems, in addition to e-education and e-healthcare systems.
North Korea continues to open its electronic borders as it launched a portal site in June, two and a half years after it started e-mail services. A North Korean monthly, Chosun, said in its latest edition that the state-controlled Korea Computer Center started to test run a portal site, titled Naenara (www.kcckp.net) from June. The word ``naenara＊＊ means my country in Korean. According to Whois, an international domain registration service provider, the site was registered on May 28 and its server is based on Berlin, Germany. The North, which had strictly restricted its people＊s access to the Internet, offered the first commercial e-mail services through Silibank (www.silibank.com) from November 2001. The entity, based in Shenyang in Northeast China and supported by the North Korean government, installed servers in the city and Pyongyang to enable the services. Naenara offers various features such as North Korean news and e-mail services as well as operating online shopping malls. News and message board services are available after entering the site, but e-mail services and shopping mall use are possible only after registration, although the two subscriber-only services didn＊t function properly on Wednesday. Experts point out the move will encourage inter-Korean contacts in cyberspace combined with the South＊s recent move to ease regulations. The National Assembly is currently mulling over allowing South Koreans to access North Korean Web sites without needing prior permits from the government. It was adopted as a parliamentary agenda after a total of 34 lawmakers forwarded a revised Inter-Korea Cooperation and Exchange Law to the Assembly for passage earlier this month. Under the current law, South Koreans who log onto North Korean Web sites without prior approval are subject to up to three years in jail and a maximum of 10 million won in fines. (by Kim Tae-gyu)
The Seoul Metropolitan Government started on Monday (May 3) to provide an English help-line for expatriates in Seoul at the Seoul Help Center for Foreigners. "You may talk to English-speaking foreign volunteers to get general information on daily living by calling 82-2-797-8212," said a press release from the city government. It also said English speaking volunteers will staff the general information desk of the SHC weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Inquiries may be made in one of three ways: by dropping in to the SHC, by calling the Help-line or by e-mailing the SHC at email@example.com. The SHC office is located near Seoul City Hall. The 24-hour Medical Referral Service for foreigners was launched April 6, and is operated by medically qualified English speakers. The SHC has combined services with FOCUS, a non-profit, multinational organization serving the foreign community in Seoul since 1976.
Starting next year, South Korean cell phone manufacturers will be required to use a home grown Internet platform in compliance with the government initiative. The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) said on Tuesday that the government will oblige the Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability (WIPI) to new cell phone models from next year. ``We originally mulled over starting mandatory WIPI use from this October but handset makers wanted a larger grace period to prepare for the new regulations,＊＊ an MIC manager, who declined to be named, said. Earlier last month, the United States agreed not to take issue with Korea＊s unified mobile platform as long as competition is secured in the domestic market. Under the agreement, the Korean government can mandate the open-source WIPI as a standard while mobile carriers are also allowed to support other specifications on top of the compulsory WIPI platform. This provided breathing room for binary runtime environment for wireless (BREW), the offspring of U.S.-based Qualcomm, as Korea backed away from the previously staunch principle of landing a single national standard. Currently, around 6.5 million people among the nation＊s 35 million total mobile customers are carrying BREW-based phones, which are provided by runner-up carrier KTF. WIPI and BREW are middle wares, which enable people to download games and music files by accessing the Internet on the move via cell phones. Despite the new regulations, old models without WIPI platform can go on sale next year, but the MIC official predicted such phones will disappear in the latter part of 2005 as the sale span of average models is usually less than six months.
South Korea plans to create a 'Knowledge Partnership Fund' to share with other countries the experience it has learned during its development process. In a keynote statement to the opening ceremony of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Board of Directors, Finance and Economy Minister Lee Hun-jai said the fund, if created, will be financed solely by the South Korean government. South Korea is seen as the ADB's model rags-to-riches success story, and the effective channelling of this experience could help other countries in the region trying to overcome poverty. Lee told the meeting at the Jeju International Convention Centre that an e-Asia Fund will be set up within the ADB that will promote e-government in the region. He said that South Korea will pick up the tabs for this venture as well.
Kazakh Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov has set a three-month deadline to complete the timetable for the adoption of an e-government programme. "I give three months for the completion of work on versions of the concept and preparation of a final proposal on the timetable for adopting a state e-government program," Prime Minister Akhmetov has said. The Head of the State IT and Communications Agency, Birzhan Kaneshev, responsible for overseeing the e-government programme, believes that the goals of e-government are to improve the efficiency of government agencies by using information technology, and to establish a civic technology infrastructure that supports the development of an information society. According to Kaneshev, there are a number of critical steps that the country needs to take before e-governance can flourish: create a regulatory, legislative and technological foundation that would allow the government, the public and organisations to function in the conditions of an information society optimise the structure of business process in the system of state administration open a public centre for access to government information resources and services roll-out a system of professional education and training in the field of information technology integrate the resources of government agencies into the information system. Elements of e-government already exist in some of the information systems of government agencies, Kaneshev said. For example, the information system of the Finance Ministry's tax committee allows taxpayers to fill out declarations for all types of taxes online, and review and manage their own personal accounts. The committee's information system is linked to the information systems of the treasury, banks and the justice and interior ministries. The information system of the government centre for pension payments allows pension payments to be made electronically and reports on pension contributions to be accessed online, he said. The customs information system automates customs control procedures, centralises databases and processes documents, he said.
Syrdarya to Introduce Pilot E-Government Programme
Brunei-Korea-e-Government Seminar focuses on governance best practice. The Brunei-Korea-e-Government Seminar was held at Brunei Darussalam's Civil Service Institute, and was opened by Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Paduka Awang Haji Hazair Bin Haji Abdullah, Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office. "Shaping new forms of governance in the digital era requires knowledge of the dynamics of the electronic processes and structures in the government as well as an adequate insight in the capabilities of ICT technologies," explained Pehin Dato Haji Hazair. The seminar was co-organised by the Civil Services Institution and Brunei-Korea Association for Friendship (B-KAF) and supported by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea. Also present at the event were Dato Paduka Awang Haji Alimin bin Abdul Wahab, President of (B-KAF), Woongnam Kim, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, government officers and invited guests. The Permanent Secretary went on to say that e-government will redefine how governments relate to citizens and businesses, as well as how it relates internally to its own agencies and its own employees. Successful e-government was about improving the coordination of government resources, creating better analytical tools to solve the increasingly complex problems faced by modern governments, and decision support tools to enhance effectiveness of public policy. Pehin Dato Haji Hazair suggested that easily transmitted information was key to the improvement in the dispensation of public services. Innovation in governance will require addressing a number of issues: organisational structure, policy, implementation and IT research and development.
IT advocates have expressed concern for a lack of legislative understanding of the benefits of the internet and e-government. Judith MS, the Chairman of the Indonesian Internet Kiosk Association (AWARI), said that only 10 per cent of legislators had email accounts. Against this backdrop, creating a supportive environment for e-government initiatives was destined to fail."It's sad and surprising to know that only a few legislators have email accounts and are aware of the benefits of the internet," said Judith. She went on to criticise the lack of awareness among officials of how information technology could lighten their workload and promote good governance in the country. "Good implementation of e-government would minimise or even eradicate corruption and collusion at all levels of government," said Johar Alam, of Internet Data Centra Indonesia (IDC). Johar gave examples of the processing of notarial documents in the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. With e-government, applications could be processed through the ministry's website, eliminating the opportunity for collusion and corruption, because the computer would automatically process the application and a record would be immediately available. Johar, however, said that the idea of e-government had drawn protests from "people who usually take advantage of the practice of collusion and corruption". "People who feel threatened by the implementation of the online processing have even made threatening phone calls to software makers because the system has taken away their 'additional' income," said Johar.
Government departments seem to be hestitating to implement Managed Security Services despite the increasing number of web defacements involving public sector websites. Haji Khalid Ahmad, ICT director of Government Integrated Telecommunication Network Sdn Bhd (GITN), said there is growing awareness of Managed Security Services among the departments, but the implementation of such services by them is still smallscale. GITN (www.gitn.com.my) is the official network provider for Malaysia's e-Government initiative and provides such security services. Khalid said some government agencies were hesitating because the defacements did not impact business operations. ※They think that the thing at issue is reputation rather than disruption to business,§ he said. What these agencies fail to realise, he said, is that the web defacements may only be the beginning of more serious intrusions. ※There needs to be a secure environment because more and more business transactions by government departments are moving online,§ he said. According to him, GITN now provides Managed Security Services to just 30 of the 400 to 500 public sector agencies in the country. ※Most have only basic security systems in place,§ Khalid said. ※A lot are spending on antivirus software and firewalls only.§ He said the weakest link in many of the departments is a lack of staff to run the technology. ※You need dedicated people to implement policies and procedures. (Unfortunately) many tend to look at security as forced expenditure rather than an investment,§ he added. The Malaysian Computer Emergency Response Team (MyCERT) said in its quarterly report, released in April, that there were 231 incidences of web defacement in the first quarter of this year, compared with only six in the previous quarter. And more than two-thirds of the cases involved government websites. Managed Security Services are computer network security services that are monitored and managed remotely using a centralised network. GITN's services include a firewall, an intrusion detection/prevention system, antivirus software, public key infrastructure (PKI) services and business continuity systems. It also offers security training assessment and security policy development services to strengthen a client's existing IT processes and employee skills.
Malaysia will create several new "cyber-cities" to expand its rapidly growing Internet technology industry and spread the benefit to all Malaysians, the government announced. The move is the second phase of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project south of Kuala Lumpur, which has attracted more than a thousand companies, close to 20,000 jobs and a software-driven industry worth 6.5 billion ringgit (1.71 billion dollars) since its inception in 1996.Located in Cyberjaya, the MSC was designed as a hub for multimedia products and services and was the brainchild of former premier Mahathir Mohamad as part of a plan to turn Malaysia into a developed nation by 2020.The main aim during the first phase of the project was to attract foreign IT companies and develop new ideas for software. The MSC's 'Next Leap', spanning 2004 to 2010, would see the setting-up of Cyberjaya-linked high-tech centres throughout Malaysia, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said at the launch Saturday. "This will help bring economic growth to rural areas as well as revitalise other industrial areas around the country," he said. "This will also help to narrow the existing regional economic and digital divide in our country," he said. Initially, the government would create so-called "mini-MSCs" in Bayan Lepas, Penang and in the Kulim High Technology Park in Kedah, he said. Other cyber-cities and cyber-centres would be announced later when their infrastructure was ready, he said. "Eventually it is envisioned that all new and existing cyber-cities and cyber-centres will work as a synergistic network with Cyberjaya as its hub," he said. Selected cities and areas outside Cyberjaya would be wired up during the project's second phase, with rural clinics and hospitals being able to use the 'tele-health' programme, Abdullah said. Blood tests, X-rays and other medical examinations could be electronically delivered to specialists in major cities to analyse for better, quicker and more cost-effective health-care, Abdullah said. "With these applications, we can show them how technology is important. They will begin to understand what the MSC project is really about and they will see why the government needs to invest in the use of computers and ICT," he told a news conference. Abdullah said the government had decided to abandon the 'smart school' project -- building schools from scratch linked to the Internet and using Web-enabled teaching methods. As an alternative, he said the government would equip all 10,000 existing schools in the country with the latest ICT facilities and ensure they used Web-enabled teaching and learning methods by 2005."It costs the government at least 30 million ringgit to build the structure of a smart school. It would cost much less for a normal school to be equipped with ICT facilities that would make the school smart," he said. The 87 'smart schools' which had already been built under the project would, however, continue to operate, he added. A government official told AFP that the second phase of the MSC project would allow more Malaysians to understand what ICT could do for them in their daily lives. "Many Malaysians see the MSC as being for the elite, so now the government wants to show that this is not the case. The MSC is for everyone," she said. Since its inception, the MSC has seen innovations that have created more than 151 patents, 41 industrial designs and 188 trademarks, said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Jamaluddin Jarjis. Malaysia currently generates over 40,000 ICT and computer engineering graduates every year, he added. The MSC has generated some 19,000 knowledge-based jobs, ICT exports totalling 1.2 billion ringgit and 419 million ringgit in RD expenditure. In Cyberjaya, there are already 233 MSC-status companies located in an area currently holding a total of two million square feet of office space.
The Philippines' Board of Investments (BoI) has launched an electronic filing system for companies planning to register with the agency. Trade and Industry Secretary and concurrent BoI Chairman Cesar Purisima [pictured] said BoI's electronic filing system is part of the agency's efforts to streamline procedures to assist investors in the application and submission of their reportorial requirements to BoI. "This is one of the initiatives we are pushing to simplify procedures and to make efficient use of technology," explained Purisima. "This system aims to reduce transactional cost for businessmen such as transportation and mailing expenses. It also saves the investors' valuable time in not having to go physically to the BoI offices for their filing and reporting and requirements." Application for checklisting, the first form submitted by companies intending to be registered with the BoI, can now be done through electronic filing. Annual reports on actual operation can also be conveniently filled up by BoI-registered firms which are required to submit them once a year.
Companies are spending more on IT again as the outlook for businesses brightens and the global economic recovery gathers strength.But as international consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers found out, not all the increase in IT expenditure has been well spent. In fact, it has estimated that on average, 10 to 25 percent of the money companies put into IT has been wasted or poorly managed. Companies have been burnt by the bursting of the dot-com bubble, and so may be more prudent and cautious these days when it comes to IT spending. But IT consultants believe many are still not getting the most out of the money they spent on IT. One key reason is that most firms do not always run their IT divisions like a commercial unit. "I think it's a phenomenon that's happening everywhere and part of the reason for that is the question whether IT is integrated as part of the business," said Mark Lutchen, partner and practice leader (business risk management) at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "It's also whether companies believe IT is cost, or something that helps create revenue for the company. If it's viewed just as a cost, what happens is people contain it and manage it in a certain way, and it's not necessarily for the long-term," he said. Mismanagement of IT units can have serious repercussions. According to global IT consulting firm Gartner Inc, by 2007, 65 percent of companies will grossly mismanage their IT operations and risks. This could translate into an inflation of business costs by about 25 percent, and lead to lower productivity and earnings. So, how can companies better use their IT resources?One way, says PricewaterhouseCoopers, is to start standardising their global IT hardware and software. This could include looking at options like leasing and outsourcing. "I think companies that have not gone that route are seeing very high cost and very big problems when it comes to issues around security, cash management and viruses. Trying to take care of it can be a very cumbersome exercise," said Mr Lutchen.Companies should also not just spend all their money on replacing old equipment. Regular investments in new technologies may cost more in the short-run, but it is necessary if a firm wants to raise its productivity and be able to attract new IT talents. Perhaps the most important but difficult change of all is getting the Chief Information Officer and other IT executives to be more revenue and performance focused.
Khunying Dhipavadee Meksuwan, the Permanent Secretary for Thailand's Ministry of ICT, wants to see the public able to access services through all means of communication, with e-government services covering every aspect of citizens' lives. The Ministry has already begun work developing central e-government standards through its website - www.ecitizen.go.th. The Ministry wants to make the government fully electronic over the space of the next three years - but faces an uphill struggle as the majority of government websites merely offered bare information, and did not allow for customised interaction. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Minister Dr Surapong Suebwonglee urged government chief information officers to accelerate electronic government projects.Addressing CIO's from state agencies during a seminar on the development of e-government, Dr Surapong observed with regret that while Brown University in the US had ranked Singapore second in the world for its e-government work, Thailand had failed to make the top echelons of the list. Thailand was recently ranked 42nd out of 198 countries by an e-government survey from Brown University, placing it behind neighbouring ASEAN countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. However, in the 14 months since the launch of Thailand's e-government promotion, a number of ministries and departments, most notably the Revenue Department, have successfully managed to add to the country's good reputation through the services offered by their websites.
Ho Chi Minh City's Planning and Investment Service has successfully migrated business registration online. Report: Edmund Tan. The number of domestic investors making business registration online for the first time surpassed those applying directly in person at the service: the 432 companies represented 50.2 per cent of the total number of newly-established businesses in April. According to Truong Trong Nghia, Deputy Director of the HCMC Investment and Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC), this is the country's most tangible use of IT to improve the quality of government service delivery.The service began applying online business registration for foreign-invested projects. This is a remarkable progress achieved by the service in using information technology (IT) achievements to render public services. In late 2000, online business registration was first carried out on a trial basis for private enterprises, and the service was able to grant licenses for some 6 per cent of newly-established private enterprises in 2001. In mid-2002, the practice was extended to domestic limited liability and shareholding companies. The initial results were good, as some 40 per cent of investors applied for business registration online in 2003 and 50 per cent in the first four months of this year. Online business registration helps save on much time for investors. After filling up application dossiers and necessary documents as guided on the website, investors will bring the original dossiers to the service for a check and those qualified will be granted licenses within one or two hours later. If sending in applications by post or directly at the service, they have to come to the service at least twice. Given the online service, the time for authorities to deal with a dossier has been reduced by half. Benefits for foreign investors After the service allowed foreign investors to submit applications online on a trial basis two months ago, 30 foreign investors have applied for licenses this way and six of them received licences. This is a remarkable progress in the administrative reform process of the city. Online business registration is now only applicable for projects with capital of less than US$5 million and in the garment and IT sectors only. If the trial implementation is successful, the service will expand the service to foreign-invested projects that need appraisal before issuing licenses.The computerisation assists investors to get necessary information easily. The service opened a website in August 2000 to provide updated information on investment activities, guidelines on business registration procedures and increase exchanges with businesses and individuals. Via this channel, the service has replied 3400 queries of businesses. Joined up governmentThe computerisation also helps the service and the HCMC Tax Bureau better manage operations of businesses. Thanks to information provided by the bureau, the service checked and revoked 471 licences of businesses that did not operate at registered locations in 2003. The interaction between businesses and State agencies is also intensified, making it easier for businesses to have their problems addressed. The city government has opened a dialogue system with businesses on its general website, Cityweb, said Nghia. A total of 222 businesses and 18 domestic and foreign business associations have sent in nearly 400 questions of various themes since the launch of the system ten months ago. Competent State agencies are forced to send feedback to questioners within five days. In case these agencies cannot answer problems deemed to be beyond their authority, they will tell businesses which agencies will have the responsibility of answering their troubles. This is a convenient dialogue channel for businesses as they can send in questions at any time and any places, and it is much less time-consuming compared to sending in questions by post, Nghia said. The city government and local State agencies will continue developing the e-government model in the coming time by creating a direct communication channel and encouraging more people to use public services via the internet. Two difficulties facing these agencies are the low-speed internet transmission line and the lack of an English version for websites of State agencies, which prevent foreign investors from using the services directly.
The city＊s new administrative groups at the district level are expected to cut the amount of paperwork and time needed to process various procedures on residential matters. The groups will work exclusively on public administrative business and be responsible for providing free on-line public administrative services. Model public administrative groups in districts 3,11 and Binh Thanh will begin operation in early July. Nguyen Trung Thong, deputy head of HCM City＊s administration reform steering committee, said these groups will not be involved in state management. "This means that local administration and residents will not only save a lot of time, but it will also eliminate the blame game among various administrative units," he said. "Our groups will operate effectively because they have staff with highly professional skills." Binh Thanh District has already completed the installation of a modern computer system which will be used by a group of workers to settle all administrative issues. Nguyen Manh Hung, an official of Binh Thanh People＊s Committee, said local residents will need only to fill out papers and submit them to the district units. "The public then will only have to wait for approval according to a prescribed time limit," Hung said. The District 11 People＊s Committee said it believes the group will be able to settle administrative issues expeditiously, particularly those relating to construction and property. Nguyen Van Chien, head of District 11＊s public administrative business group, said the group will be allowed to ask local residents to amend or supplement their documents only one time, if necessary. "In case we ask local residents to do this many times, we shall have to bear full responsibility," Chien said. "This regulation will set limits on the bureaucracy and spare local residents trouble". HCM City has been a pacesetter in the country＊s administrative reform. Started in 1986, the city＊s administrative reform programme has been applied to all of its departments since then. Reform has helped improve the capability of administrative channels, make savings on local budgets, increase the salary of public employees, and raise the living standard of city residents. There has been a freeze on new office buildings, a reduction in paperwork, and repeal and amendment of thousands of outdated regulations.
The consortium comprising National Computer Systems Pte Ltd (NCS), a leading regional IT and communications engineering services provider, and Ceylinco Technology Infrastructure (Pvt) Limited, a member of the Ceylinco Group, has been awarded the "e-Government Strategy Consultancy" project by the Information Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA). The Ceylinco Group is the largest conglomerate in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka e-Government Strategy Consultancy project, funded by the World Bank, will map out the e-government framework and flagship projects that will accelerate the realisation of the e-Sri Lanka initiative. The e-Sri Lanka initiative is a government-private sector driven infocomm technology (ICT) initiative aimed at increasing Sri Lanka's overall national productivity and improving her global competitiveness. One of its key goals is to propel the country's long-term economic and social prosperity through the implementation of various impactful e-Government projects. e-Sri Lanka will fundamentally rationalise Sri Lanka's public services, move her up the economic value chain and propel the country into a knowledge-based economy. The NCS-Ceylinco consortium, working closely with the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka and other government departments, will spearhead the development of a comprehensive architecture and roadmap for a national IT infrastructure, flagship e-services and IT policy framework for the Sri Lanka Government. These e-services will strive to raise the quality of life for citizens of Sri Lanka, boost competitiveness of its businesses and enhance public service efficiency. The roadmap will establish the nation's e-Government direction to streamline administrative processes, raise public service standards and ultimately, improve civil service productivity. NCS, the lead consultant, has been involved in e-Government and computerisation initiatives for the governments of Singapore, Mauritius and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HK SAR) since the early 1980s. It will provide e-Government best practices and expertise whilst Ceylinco Technology Infrastructure will impart local content and knowledge. Emphasis will be placed on e-Government best practice localisation and knowledge transfer to improve the technical and governance abilities of catalyst agencies. The ICTA has commissioned the Sri Lanka e-Government Strategy Consultancy project in Colombo. Manju Hathotuwa, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ICTA, said at the commissioning ceremony, "We are indeed pleased to have engaged NCS, a company with a long and proven track record in e-Government to take the lead in Sri Lanka's e-Government initiative. NCS, has after all, taken Singapore to the very pinnacle of e-Government practice in the world and made them the 'best-of-breed'. We hope to leverage on NCS' strong domain knowledge, methodologies and practices to jumpstart our own national flagship e-Government programme for the economic and social prosperity of Sri Lanka." "The Government of Sri Lanka has made great strides in its e-Sri Lanka initiative. NCS intends to draw on its more than twenty years of e-Government expertise in planning, building and managing e-Government projects in the Asia Pacific region for this project, said Dr Chong Yoke Sin, Chief Operating Officer of NCS. "We will work closely with ICTA and other government agencies to develop an integrated blueprint that connects people, businesses and the government."
Finance and Planning Minister M Saifur Rahman has said the government is sincere in doing everything for the development of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. He was addressing a seminar on "ICT leading way for sustainable development" in observance of the World Telecommunication Day here on Monday. Minister for Post and Telecommunications Barrister Aminul Haque was present at the function as the special guest. Secretary for Post and Telecommunications Faruq Ahmad Siddiqi was present. General Manager SM Munir Ahmed and Divisional Engineer AKM Habibur Rahman of the Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) presented the theme papers. The finance minister said the government has given due importance to the ICT sector. For building the capability of the sector, various action plans and projects are being implemented in relevant sectors. Emphasising the need for developing E-voting system for holding all general and local elections, Saifur said like E- commerce, E-governance and E-banking, the E-polling system will be introduced to ensure smooth, faster and reliable voting that will reduce controversy over elections. Pointing to the E-voting system in neighbouring India, the finance minister said if that country can introduce this system, why Bangladesh should not adopt this. "All political parties and civil society members need to feel its necessity and come to a point so that this could be done on consensus, otherwise, it would not function," he added. Saifur has highlighted the role of the private sector in developing the ICT sector and said the government is encouraging strong public-private partnership for further development of the sector. He said if the ICT sector could be well-developed by employing educated and skill youths, the country's economy could grow further. The finance minister said after setting up of the submarine cable by July or August next year, the country will enter into the information superhighway, which would help grow the ICT sector. It will earn more foreign exchange from this thrust sector, he added. Saifur said the government has taken steps to computerise its different sectors and divisions so that E-governance could be established at all levels to bring transparency for ensuring good governance in the country. Besides E-commerce, E-governance, E-business, E-banking and E-commerce, the country should also introduce E-trading in the stocks and E-transactions in the banking sector, he added. Reiterating the Prime Minister's interest in developing the ICT sector, the finance minister said Begum Zia attended the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva on December last year to uphold the interest of Bangladesh and other developing countries. An ICT task force was constituted to explore prospects of telecommunications business in the country and find ways to allow the private sector in the telecommunications sector. The BTTB will have a new chapter after submarine cable is established in 2005, the finance minister said. Barrister Aminul Hoque said the government is committed to building a modern telecommunications network up to upzila levels by replacing old technologies. Some 165 upzilas have been brought under the digital network and the subscribers of these upazilas are getting internet facilities. Faruq Ahmad said eight lakh subscribers have telephone connections from the BTTB and more two lakh will get the connections by the next year.
The Bangladeshi government has plans to establish a Wide Area Network (WAN) in the country to improve civil service efficiency. "It is necessary to introduce the system in trade, licence, registration, legislation and other sectors," Foreign Minister Morshed Khan said. Khan was speaking in a roundtable on implementing e-governance system organised by Board of Investment (BOI). The Minister said e-governance is very important for better services, ensure transparency and enhance efficiency in the management at all levels. Khan explained that the government wishes to see IT applied to all corners of government - from G2B applications, as well as G2C solutions. An example of the latter was the computerisation of land records and registration, the Minister said.
Krishi Quest- the first-ever search engine on agriculture and agribusiness in Bangladesh will be launched at a ceremony in a city hotel today (Monday). State Minister for Agriculture Fakhrul Islam Alamgir will be the chief guest, while USAID Mission Director Gene George will be the special guest at the ceremony. Secretary for Agriculture ASM Abdul Halim will preside. The search engine is the first comprehensive on-line information resource center for agriculture and agribusiness in Bangladesh. ATDP, a USAID and Government of Bangladesh project has developed the search engine in its continuous efforts to support agriculture and agribusiness with comprehensive information. The search engine contains market information, agricultural news archive, data and statistics and publications, manuals, reports related to agriculture and agribusiness. Anyone can access KrishiQuest via Internet. ATDP has established "Search Zone" at its headquarters and regional offices for its clients, especially for those who do not have access to the Internet or needs assistance with using the search engine. "The search engine appears to be an important tool to promote agribusiness through information," stated ATDP spokesperson Gobinda Bar. "In a competitive open market, information is a vital tool for business operation, management and planning. So, KrishiQuest will satisfy the long-felt information needs of the agribusiness and agriculture sector", he said. "The purpose of KrishiQuest is not only to serve the public, but also to work as the information storage for all the documents/ publications of ATDP-II. So, when ATDP-II ends, we have all the documents/publications in one single place," he added.
370 Million E-Voters in Indian Elections
Smart card project bags the top honours at the CSI-Nihilent e-Governance Awards. The smart card project of the Andhra Pradesh Government was judged the best e-government project at the 2004 awards, held in Pune. The 'Card Project', which was implemented in 1998, all offices registering stamps have been computerised. Old data dating back to 1983 was digitised. The runner-up was a voice project by Vijayawada Municipal Corporation. The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation has partnered with the local Siti Cable to present municipal information from the web site on television. The projects were judged on the importance of the service, the quality of customer service, impact on productivity, and return on investment. The panel of judges at the awards included R Chandrashekhar, Joint Secretary, DIT, MC&IT, Dr N Vijayaditya, Director-General, NIC, MC&IT, Dr R Arora, Group Coordinator & Senior Director DIT, MC&IT, Anand Pathak, President CSI, L Singh, President and CEO Nihilent Technologies and Prof. Ramarao, IIM Ahmedabad. The awards, which have become the symbol of excellence in the field of e-governance in India had attracted 70 entries. The Maharashtra Government was rated the `Best e-Governed State (Advanced)', and the Haryana Government was rated `Best e-Governed State (Young)'.
India's District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) will use the internet centres to collect complaints. The DRDA has helped a number of individuals and panchayat offices set up more than 50 internet centres providing web access to e-government services and information. The centres will also provide computer education and meteorological information. The public can now despatch their complaints to the District Collector through these centres using a dedicated email address - firstname.lastname@example.org.
BANGALORE - If earlier the software services sector wanted the government to hardsell software exports, now it is counting on it to spend more on e-governance projects and develop the domestic IT market. Says Nasscom president Kiran Karnik: "We feel the government will continue to support existing policies, but we're hoping it will spend more on e-governance and e-procurement to stimulate domestic IT." Merely bringing down tariffs on hardware is not expected to help in expansion. "Government spend has to increase in all its departments for a true IT effect." Karnik would also like the education sector to be given a status similar to that of a SEZ. According to Ravi Ramu, CFO of MphasiS, tax sops for capital investment would put smaller cities on the software map. "If tax incentives are given to set up operations in tier-II and -III cities, some firms would take advantage. This would greatly reduce pressure on software firms in Class A cities in terms of finding qualified talent." In sync with this is the need to ramp up telecom infrastructure in semi-urban and rural areas. "Bharti, Reliance and Hutch should be encouraged to invest more in these areas and bridge the digital divide," Prakash Gurbaxani, CEO of TransWorks, said. Most captive BPO units are demanding clarification on a CBDT circular stating if an MNC transfers its core operation to India, it will be taxed.
THE government, reportedly, is applying itself with more vigour to restructure the Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB). A high powered body has been formed with the objective of estimating the assets and liabilities of this state-run monolith with the ultimate aim of corporatising its functions so that it can operate on a commercial basis and provide its services in a competitive market. The ultimate objective would be to divest this organisation off its regulatory functions in the telecommunications sector and subject it to competition like other private sector operators in this sector. With this goal in view, BTTB's shares would be offloaded progressively and at least forty-nine per cent of the shares could be made available to members of the public. Under the telecom reforms programme of the government, a telecom regulatory commission (TRC) was formed to take over the regulatory functions of the BTTB. But this is yet to become a functional reality and BTTB retains substantially its undesirable and obstructive regulatory and operational role in the country's telecommunications sector. Thus, it has become imperative to free it from such a role and entrust the TRC with the same. BTTB in its restructured existence is likely to facilitate greater private participation in the sector, accelerate the rate of private investment in it and set the stage for the telecom sector's better supervision or regulation. It is expected that after the restructuring of the BTTB, an effective competitive environment will be created that would encourage many new private operators to enter the fixed as well as mobile telecommunications market and, as a result, the country's teledensity could much increase facilitating the users of telecommunication services. However, in the post-restructuring period of the BTTB, particular attention should be paid to make sure that the amount of competition in the market is a balanced one with investment requirements and likely returns. Allowing a large number of companies to enter the field might be found as counterproductive as the intending new operators might then consider that their market shares will be small. In that case, they might not be motivated to invest adequately within their assigned domains. After its restructuring, the government should ensure that BTTB has adequate incentives left to build up the infrastructure in under-serviced areas. For mobilising adequate investment, BTTB should preferably go for a strategic foreign partner who will channel into the organisation necessary technical know-how and resources for it to expand its network. Many countries adopted policies to invite strategic partners for their national telecommunication providers in order to expand their networks. Such partnership arrangement in most cases proved to be fruitful but some problems were also noted in some cases. These special cases will have to be studied to avoid such problems for the BTTB. But before engaging a strategic partner, government will have to embark on a thorough programme to prepare the BTTB. The same will involve reorganising BTTB completely as a corporate commercial entity, restructuring business units as needed, preparing financial statements and undertaking an IAS audit, refining and developing business plans and undertaking tariff reforms. As digital technology and globalisation move forward, the telecommunications industry is becoming intertwined or converged with broadcasting and media. Thus, the strategy for telecommunications reforms should be also broad-based on convergence of the technology options.
The Federal Government has released a draft of its Electronic Authentication Framework and invited the public to comment on the same by May 21. In a media release, ICT minister Daryl Williams said the draft was aimed at helping Government agencies to establish safer, more secure transactions with the business community. Williams said that given the big increase in online transactions with government, there was a need for a system to ensure that transactions were not intercepted by a third party or that online identities were fraudulently acquired.
An e-business guide launched yesterday will help small businesses sell their wares on the internet, the government says. The federal government-funded program encourages small and medium-sized businesses to join the major retailers already attracting growing numbers of web customers. At the launch, the federal minister for communications, IT and the arts, Daryl Williams, said the guide gave practical advice to boost efficiency and improve productivity. "With major retailers like Coles Myer and Woolworths investing seriously in e-business to better manage and enhance competition, e-business in Australia is beginning to mature," Williams said. "This valuable resource will help smaller enterprises join in." More than 70 per cent of small businesses used the internet, but only 30 per cent placed orders for goods and services online and 19 per cent received orders online, he said.
The Australian Communications Authority and the Australian High Tech Crime Centre have decided to step up cooperation in the fight against spam, a media release from the ACA says. Acting ACA chairman Dr Bob Horton said the organisation had stationed staff at the AHTCC in Canberra, allowing for an exchange of information about cyber offences with police investigators and joint work on cases. Dr Horton, who made the announcement when he visited the centre today to meet its director, Federal Agent Alastair MacGibbon, said several companies - among them Brightmail, Sophos, SurfControl and Microsoft - had also agreed to help in fighting spam by providing technical expertise and information. The Spam Act 2003 came into force on 10 April 2004 and bans sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages with an Australian link. The ACA is responsible for implementing and enforcing the legislation.
THE Australian Communications Authority and the Australian Broadcasting Authority are to be merged into a single entity that reflects the digital convergence of broadcasting and telecommunications. The creation of the new Australian Communications and Media Authority headlined a series of initiatives announced in Peter Costello's ninth budget, which has delivered to the IT and communications industries a research and development resource base that focuses on easily commercialised projects. The budget promises stable funding for the Australian Government Information Management Office , the peak federal advisory body created in April to replace the National Office of the Information Economy, as well as funding to support the Critical Infrastructure Protection program. The Department of Communications, IT and the Arts said the newly created ACMA would provide a better regulatory response to new digital technologies that allowed the previously distinct communications and broadcasting sectors to compete. The department said developments such as 3G mobile technologies could provide traditional voice services, online access, as well as potentially broadcasting type services. It was neither practical nor effective to maintain two separate regulators that both dealt with similar issues, albeit in separate sectors of the communications market. The Government said no immediate savings were expected through the creation of the combined entity, which is to be established and operational by July 1 next year. The ACA was allocated $56.4 million for the 2004-05 financial year, down from $59 million last financial year, while the ABA was allocated $16.4 million, marginally down from $16.5 million. The ACMA will be responsible for regulating telecommunications, broadcasting, radiocommunications and online content, and is to have the same general structure and functions as the two existing regulators. A department spokesman said the establishment of the ACMA would not be accompanied by changes to regulatory and spectrum frameworks for either telecommunications or broadcasting. The budget outlined the detail behind a National ICT Australia funding extension. NICTA, one of the big winners in the budget, will receive $126 million over five years from 2006-07 as a part of the Backing Australia's Ability II package. It will also receive $124.7 million through the Australian Research Council's National Competitive Grants program in 2006-07 to 2010-11, and brings the total funding over the five years to 2010 to $251 million. DCITA says the extended funding will allow NICTA to do for the IT and communications sectors what the Australian Institute of Sport has done for sport. It aims to eventually employ 300 researchers and 100 PhD students. Extended funding of $57 million was also announced for existing ICT Incubators and Advanced Networks programs, also a part of the Backing Australia's Ability II funding package. ICT Incubators, previously known as BITS (Building on IT Strengths) was allocated a further $36 million to extend the program by four years from 2004-05. The extension brings the total funding for ICT Incubators to $122 million since 1999-2000. The Advanced Networks Program targets high capacity and experimental networks that support research into high-bandwidth applications in areas such as e-health, e-science and film post-production. The ANP program is to receive an additional $21 million to extend its projects for another three years from 2004-05. The extension brings to $60 million the total funding the program has received since 1999. (by James Riley)
THE Australian Taxation Office is to publish a "more open" standard operating environment in August that substantially ends the agency's reliance on Microsoft platforms in its front-end systems. ATO second commissioner Greg Farr said the SOE, which outlined technologies the Tax Office would support and those it would not allow on its networks, would include Java runtime for the first time. The ATO has come under scrutiny through the Federal Parliament's Senate estimates process for its apparent reliance on Microsoft platforms. Labor IT spokeswoman Kate Lundy has heavily criticised the ATO's heavy focus on the Microsoft .NET framework for web services at the expense of its J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) competitor. Mr Farr said the SOE was being finalised by joint ATO-Accenture teams as part of phase two of the Tax Office's $350 million Change Program. The ATO was adopting a "more transparent" process for designing its IT architectures, making technology decision-making more open. The Tax Office's new SOE was "much different, much more open" and it would be "totally transparent in the way we go about things with a range of vendors and with the community", Mr Farr said. "It's a pretty new game for us," he said. The changes to the SOE were being introduced following a decision made as part of the Change Program to buy off-the-shelf software rather than develop applications in-house, as the ATO had done in the past, he said. "We are showing through this project that we are using a lot more off-the-shelf products and we are opening up our standards far more than at any time in the past," Mr Farr said. "Without going into specifics, a likely outcome will be that we will have J2EE run-time environments for the first time." The new SOE is a boon for Sun Microsystems, which originally developed Java technology, and IBM, which has invested heavily in J2EE. Mr Farr said it was likely the ATO would operate both J2EE and .NET for its growing base of web services applications. "The new SOE will be built around off-the-shelf software. It will have combinations of products, and combinations of run-time environments," he said. "It will be quite different from what it is now." The ATO's IT executive office had signed off two weeks ago on the agency's open source strategy, which called for the ATO to consider open source alternatives in "all the things we do", he said. As a result of that policy decision, Mr Farr said, the ATO had told Accenture, which had so far won the lion's share of Change Program consulting and design work, it was required to consider open source platform and application options. ATO architecture executives were designing evaluation methods for the agency to use in procuring software, in particular designing ways to compare an open source product with a vendor-based product. Mr Farr said the ATO would probably engage research group Gartner to assist in designing evaluation tools. Gartner conducted the ATO's research on open source software, on which the new policy is based. (by James Riley)
THE Federal Government has opened the door to ICT-skilled migrants, granting more permanent visas in the first eight months of the 2003-4 financial year than in the whole of 2002-3. According to figures from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, up to February 29 this year 6313 permanent visas, or 34 per cent of all permanent visas approved under the General Skilled Migration category, were issued to ICT applicants. In contrast, only 5997 permanent visas, or 25 per cent of all permanent visas, were granted to ICT-skilled applicants for the whole of 2002-3. The figures reflect a recovery in ICT spending and a creep towards the immigration highs of 2001-2, when 7441 visas, or 43 per cent of approvals, were issued to ICT-skilled applicants. The number of 457 temporary, long-stay business visas granted to ICT-skilled applicants also appears to be rising. In 2002-3, 3656 visas were granted, up 1.22 per cent on 2001-2 figures. DIMIA expects the number of 457 visas granted in 2003-04 to total 3740. However, a DIMIA spokeswoman said, an increase in 457s granted "does not necessarily" indicate an increase in the number of ICT workers in Australia on such visas. "Visa grants can be inflated by current 457 visa holders who reapply for a 457 while in Australia." She said this may be the case when a visa holder changed employer. Information Technology Contract and Recruitment Association executive director Norman Lacy said the upward trend for 457 and permanent visas could simply reflect growth in the IT sector and job opportunities. "There are new skills areas in the register. These skills may not be as readily available in Australia as they are from overseas." (by Kelly Mills)
QUEENSLAND will appoint a chief scientist to oversee IT and biotechnology projects as part of a Budget boost for the state's technology sector. Today's Budget commits $1.9 million over three years to establish a Chief Scientist's Office to manage the state's push into the technology sector. The announcement is one of a number of measures aimed at ramping up the local IT industry. The largest initiative is in the news that the state will pump $9.75 million over four years into implementing a biotechnology strategy, including a clinical trials network and support for research collaboration. The Government has also committed an additional $3.6 million over four years to expand the operations of Brisbane's i.lab technology incubator and the Sunshine Coast's Innovation Centre. A further $600,000 will go to technology incubation in Cairns. Further into the future the Government is tipping a $3.2 million teQstart Investment fund, with the aim contributions will be matched by private sector venture capital. (by Simon Hayes)
MORE than a year after former IT minister Richard Alston sought assistance from local chiefs of foreign-based multinationals to help sell Australia as an investment destination, the so-called MultiPLIERS group has met just twice and no formal program has been adopted. According to the Australian Information Industries Association, which has been assigned organisational duties for MultiPLIERS on behalf of the Department of Communications, IT and the Arts, important progress has been made, however, and the scheme has been broadened. The program (Multinationals Promoting Local Investment, Export opportunities and Research Strengths), unveiled in May last year, held its first meeting in August and a second in March. AIIA strategy and policy general manager James McAdam said the 30 largest foreign ICT companies operating in Australia had been invited to join the group. Many had already committed in principle to a proposal that each appoint an "ambassador" to work with Invest Australia to help identify and promote "inbound investment opportunities". Mr McAdam said there was genuine enthusiasm for the program among the 30 multinationals, which represented half of all ICT revenues in Australia. MultiPLIERS meetings, which were hosted by IT and Communications Minister Daryl Williams, provided an important forum for discussion between the industry and government, he said. They also established direct contact between some of the industry's biggest players and Invest Australia, which participated in the program. "MultiPLIERS industry participants have committed to provide an analysis of the top inbound investment opportunities over the next two years, assisting future targeting of proactive investment, and to identify senior Australian employees within their companies worldwide who are willing to act as international ambassadors for the Australian ICT industry," a spokeswoman for Mr Williams said. A formal program was expected to be completed by an AIIA sub-committee for the group's consideration at the next MultiPLIERS meeting in September or October. Opposition IT spokeswoman and longtime critic of MultiPLIERS Kate Lundy said the scheme "was always a ridiculous initiative designed to make it look like the Howard Government was paying industry development in the information technology industry some attention." "It's worse than doing nothing," Senator Lundy said. "It's just a big-end-of-town club, giving the big companies all the access. Meanwhile, SMEs are out there having had no tangible action on any of the ideas that the SME working group has put forward to make federal government contracts more accessible." A spokeswoman for Mr Williams said MultiPLIERS had enabled a valuable dialogue between the Australian Government and industry. "The Minister has encouraged participants to continue to engage with local SMEs and to keep the Government informed of their involvement with SMEs," she said. (by James Riley)
HEALTH Minister Tony Abbott will unveil in Kalgoorlie today a broadband virtual private network e-health pilot that foreshadows an early introduction of high bandwidth capabilities to support HealthConnect. The trial takes advantage of new Health Insurance Commission "real-time" online billing systems to promote broadband use in regional areas. If successful, the platform may prove a useful template for HealthConnect connectivity nationwide. Mr Abbott, who has been pushing the pace of health reform, will launch the Eastern Goldfields Division of General Practice "regional reference test site" today. The division serves a vast area of Western Australia, from Wiluna in the north to Esperance in the south. GPs, specialists, hospitals, remote medical services, pathologists and radiologists throughout the region will use the high-speed connection for video consultations, online delivery of test results and internet telephony as well as access to HIC Online. It is understood a preferred supplier has been identified, and contract negotiations have begun. Mr Abbott hopes the test site will be fully operational by the end of November. It will be funded as part of the Government's $9.2 million access to broadband technology initiative for doctors in rural and remote areas. The Eastern Goldfields project also offers an opportunity to test the Government's $8.4 million broadband demand aggregation brokers program. Brokers are expected to co-ordinate community demand for broadband to create viable markets in regional areas, with health and education key anchors to expanded services. IT Minister Daryl Williams yesterday announced funding for aggregation brokers in 13 regional areas, including Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Health Department information chief Robert Wooding said access to broadband was essential for a national health information system. "We've been working with the HIC on this as both organisations have a role to play," he said. "Increasingly, we feel advanced broadband technologies accessed via secure VPN is a way forward for both HealthConnect and for the HIC's communications needs. "The Government sees this as a terrific opportunity and we'll certainly be looking at it in the HealthConnect context in South Australia and Tasmania in the near future." Dr Wooding said the trial would allow the parties to explore "where we can take advantage of the VPN approach. The Health Department had also been working closely with DCITA on the broadband aggregation brokers program. "This pilot is an example of the aggregation approach in a regional area," Dr Wooding said. Meanwhile, Mr Williams approved last month the first two internet service providers under the $108 million Higher Bandwidth Incentive Scheme. Approved providers will receive subsidies to provide high bandwidth services to regional customers at prices comparable to those available in metropolitan areas. (by Karen Dearne)
German software house SAP has shown the police, customs and immigration its homeland security product which sifts data from many sources to predict possible undesirable outcomes, not unlike the system used in sci-fi blockbuster Minority Report. Geraldine McBride, SAP's Australia and New Zealand managing director, said homeland security combined parts of SAP's enterprise resource planning and customer relationship software to make sense of large volumes of data. The system could act as an umbrella, bringing together data, for example, from customs, immigration, transport and even sporting or cultural events to predict possible scenarios, said McBride, who was in New Zealand last week. Customs might enter information about dangerous goods into the SAP ecosystem so their passage through the national transportation system to their final destination could be tracked and managed, she said. Likewise, the system can also generate a complete inventory of a country's civil defence resources and allocate them to a series of events following a disaster, down to a fine level which might include individual items and transportation. The software would allow the Government and its various agencies to create a portal as the gateway for all the information that is housed across many agencies and bodies. Following September 11, governments around the world were recognising that a large body of information was available that could have been made relevant if it had been analysed in advance, she said. For example, the number of people taking flying lessons increased before September 11 and the system would have noted this in an exception report. McBride said this product was in its earliest stages in New Zealand and no department was yet planning to buy it. Outside this speculative area, she said the company was doing well in New Zealand with plans this year for double-digit growth. SAP made $3.8 million on revenues of $27.8 million in 2002 and McBride expects a strong financial return this year. Companies were starting to spend again but they were pushing vendors harder. SAP was appointing new resellers for its small and medium business product and recently notched up a deal with motorbike company Forbes & Davies through business partner Eagle Technology. McBride said many more deals were in the pipeline and the company expected to take about 15 per cent of its revenue from this market. The remainder of SAP's business would come from traditional big clients such as Telecom, NZ Defence and Mighty River Power. Another recent significant licence gain was with Whitcoulls, which was implementing systems through its Australian possession Angus & Robertson. It also landed a $500,000 deal with technology company Rakon. (by Richard Pamatatau)
Government science company Niwa is upgrading its super-computer -- the nation's biggest and fastest -- to four times its original processing power. A crane will be used tomorrow morning to hoist into place new components for Niwa's Cray T3E-1200E Massively Parallel Processor supercomputer, which was the fastest in the southern hemisphere when it was installed in June 1999. At that time, it was rated as the 60th-fastest computer in the world. Now, even after the installation of add-ons to the computer at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research's Greta Point complex at Wellington, the Cray will be about halfway down the world "top 500" list of computers, even though it will be capable of a massive 500 billion calculations per second. It will have 544 processors (increased from up from 144), 120 gigabyte main memory (up from 20 gigabytes), and 1200 gigabyte high performance disk storage (up from 600 gigabytes). Niwa has not disclosed how much it paid Silicon Graphics for the original computer, except that it was cheaper than the $20 million paid in 1999 by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for a computer doing similar work. This time, the Cray computer company was a partner in the upgrade because of its interest in keeping a supercomputer going at Niwa. The Cray has been running hugely complex computer "models" of environmental systems, such as climate, fish ecosystems, and atmosphere and ocean circulation. But Niwa has also been using the Cray to develop computer models for its hazard prediction service, forecasting extreme events such as the occurrence of heavy rainfall and strong winds, together with their impacts on river and sea levels. It links different computer programmes "modelling" conditions in the atmosphere, ocean, climate and weather and rivers. High resolution weather predictions coupled to river catchment run-off models will lead to improved forecasts of floods, both in terms of the size of the flood-peaks and when they will occur. By linking the atmospheric predictions to tidal and storm-surge models, scientists would be able to make the best available prediction for weather, river flows, floods, storm surges and waves for periods of three hours to 48 hours. Dr Renwick said the Cray was being upgraded because the past five years of work had resulted in the development of a range of complex computer ocean, climate, and weather models. "The catch now is that even though the machine that we've got has a large capacity, we can't do more than one of those things at once -- and we want to be able to run many of the models," he said. "We're getting close to a point where we might be able to go 'live' with some of the stuff, so we're going to start doing some quasi-operational testing." Niwa could now link rainfall and wind data with storm surge and tidal information to predict high and low river flows, and storm damage from winds. The same systems could enable prediction of the dispersal of contaminants such as oil spills, or biological problems such as pests and diseases. Such a capacity could give the nation's planning agencies the longest possible lead time for accurate hazard warnings. Central government and local councils, as well as civil defence, energy, transport and farming and forestry sectors would be able to use information generated by the computer. It was becoming increasingly possible to better forecast events such as the February storms and floods which hit the lower half of the North Island. "The trials we've done to date indicate we should have quite a bit of skill at doing that, over a one to three-day timescale," Dr Renwick said. "Had we been able to run operational forecasts then (in February), we could have been a lot more help". "We were able to provide information ... we could see this kind of event coming, in broad terms, but we weren't quite in a position to really be as helpful as possible. "The February floods were pretty extreme, but the sorts of models we've got should be capable of handling that kind of event." The Cray has been used to develop a prediction system capable of forecasting weather hazards at a local scale, using information from satellites and weather radar. "I think we'll have something going by the end of this year at the 12km-13km scale," Dr Renwick said. At the same time, work was being done on a new model which could increase the resolution to areas as small as 5km. The Cray was also being used to look at regional climate variations in global weather patterns, to provide information on climate patterns, and for planners looking at the effects of longer-term climate changes on soil erosion, landslides, forest fires, soil moisture and plankton growth such as the algal blooms which affect marine farming. Similarly complex research has been carried out in ocean biology, atmosphere composition and transport of greenhouse gases and the marine life and fish stocks. Dr Renwick said the lift in processing capacity would not only ease the queues of Niwa's own scientists wanting access, but there would be capacity available to be rented out to other science companies. (by Kent Atkinson)
SAP and implementation partner Oxygen have won a fiercely contested bid to install a financial management system in Farmers Trading Company worth $800,000 in licences and services. Oxygen account manager Wayne Pohe said Farmers subjected the shortlist, which also included Intentia, Oracle and SSA Global Technologies, to intense scrutiny. "They made us swim for our money," Pohe said. Farmers is a $750 million business with 74 sites. In the past an enterprise accounting system for such a business might have cost more than twice what Farmers is paying, but competitive pressure and smarter implementation systems have brought down costs. Scoping started last week, with the system due to go live in September. Pohe said the rapid implementation was possible because Oxygen would use SAP's new best-practice models, which it had already used for two other projects. "They are great templates, great documentation. They really give you stepping stones to rapid and successful implementation," Pohe said. Farmers chief financial officer Michael Power said the company was replacing a 12-year-old Masterpiece system from SSA which no longer met business needs. "The business has changed, we have more channels, and people want information now, not next week and they want to be able to cut and dice the data," Power said. He said one reason the Oxygen-SAP solution was chosen was because of the retail experience the two companies could offer, and Farmers might consider installing the SAP retail solution once the financials were in place. Phase two of the project includes optimising the accounts payable process, while phase three involves installing an information warehouse and project accounting modules. Oxygen might also provide ongoing support. Oxygen already supports the Whitcoulls SAP application and does its accounts payable processing on an outsource basis. Oxygen chief executive Mike Smith said Farmers would be Oxygen's 57th customer outside its parent Carter Holt Harvey group. He said the company was already ahead of target for the year on its three key measures: earnings before interest and tax, cashflow and return on investment on working capital ahead of planned yield. It had already hired 65 people this year, taking staff numbers to about 360, and had 40 open places to cope with growth. "We are aiming for $85 million in revenue this year, 20 per cent more than last year, " Smith said. (by Adam Gifford)
Internet providers are crying foul over Telecom's proposed wholesale high-speed internet plan before it is even launched, saying they cannot make a profit from it. Telecom has begun seeking comment from internet providers on the terms of its new wholesale product. The final service will be offered to the public from September. One provider, who did not wish to be named, said the new service would have to attract "thousands of customers" to be profitable. "On the basic plan we'd see a profit of about $14 per customer per month. Out of that we have to pay for backhaul, help-desk services, international traffic, any extras we want to offer like anti-spam filtering and so on. It's just not worth it." Providers are also concerned about Telecom's decision to impose a transfer fee of $150 for every Telecom customer who moves to a competitor, with one network operator describing it as a "tax on competition". "It's got to be anti-competitive. Surely everyone will see that," said the operator, who also did not wish to be named. Internet provider Iconz would most likely pass the fee on to end users, said managing director Sean Weekes. "It's not really much of an incentive to deliver thousands of customers." Telecom spokesman Martin Butler said the plans were designed to increase the overall number of broadband users. "We've publicly said we want to reach 250,000 users by the end of next year and that around 30 per cent of those would come from our wholesale product. "We are looking for new customers not a realignment of the existing customer base." Butler said the onus was on internet providers to use the basic service to differentiate themselves from one another and target niche markets. "If they want to offer free national traffic or set up game servers to offer a gaming service then they can." One of the country's largest internet providers, ihug, said the wholesale programme would offer only minimal encouragement to providers to offer new services to customers. "It's only wholesale for the one product," said general manager Guy Nelson. "There's not enough money to make it worth our while and Telecom's already got a headstart on the customers that do want such a service because they're already signing them up today." TelstraClear will discuss the offer with Telecom next week and would not comment until then. Auckland's Orcon Internet, the first company to sign up with Telecom's wholesale agreement, was generally positive about the offer, said chief executive Seeby Woodhouse. "Telecom should be commended for going beyond what the Telecommunications Commissioner recommended to the Government. They've handed control of the customer to the provider instead of keeping it to themselves, which they could have done." But Woodhouse said he was unhappy about the $150 transfer fee, which would inhibit the delivery of broadband services by smaller providers. "There's probably a capital expenditure of around $250,000 to get going in this business and really you need to aggressively target customers from day one. "Having to pay a $150 fee upfront is going to limit the providers in that respect." (by Paul Brislen)
Afghanistan＊s first private television station went on air on Sunday in Kabul, some two years after the fall of the Taliban regime which arrested and punished those caught watching TV. Afghan TV is funded by an Afghan businessman and will have 18 hours of programming a day. Afghanistan has only ever had one state TV channel which broadcasts for a few hours in the evening, but under the Taliban there were no television stations and it was forbidden to listen to music or watch satellite broadcasts. The free-to-air private station run by Ahmed Shah Afghanzai is a major step towards developing a private TV sector and intends to go national within a year, an achievement which will make it the country＊s first national channel. ※Afghan TV has started operations with capital of 200,000 US dollars and the eventual capital to cover all the country via satellite is estimated at three million dollars,§ Afghanzai said. During a one-month testing period the new station will broadcast Afghan, Indian and western music and films and hopes to broadcast 24 hours a day. ※Afghan TV started its broadcast today,§ said Afghan state television director Aziz Ahmed Arifar. ※It is the first private TV and the second Afghan TV registered at the ministry of information and culture.§ Other private channels have registered with the ministry and are to start airing programmes soon. State television, which broadcasts for limited hours at the moment, is also slated to soon become a 24-hour channel aired via satellite all over Afghanistan with financial help from India. Cable television operators began broadcasting in the capital Kabul in late 2002 showing Indian and some English programmes, content strongly criticized by the chief justice as ※un-Islamic§. Cable operators were banned for a while but were soon active again and are now present in some of the largest provinces. The new station has some programmes planned in which women will not be wearing the traditional head scarf or may be wearing western clothes, a stance which could provoke a strong reaction from Islamist groups in Afghanistan which recently protested against broadcasts of women singing on state television. Afghanzai is concerned but said: ※There will be some reactions from certain circles but we will continue to go the way we have chosen.§
Farah Television began broadcasts on 6 June from the city of Farah, the provincial capital of Farah Province, Bakhtar News Agency reported. The television station broadcasts 2 1/2 hours of programs per night and can cover a broadcast radius of around 50 kilometers. AT
With over 300 specialized databases and a data volume of 82 billion bytes, the largest sci-tech databank in China after nearly 20 years' construction, was completed the other day in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. This is learned from the Computer Network Information Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CNIC, CAS) on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the online operation of China Science and Technology Network. Since the China Science and Technology Network came into being as China's first Internet in 1994, the scientific database has provided people with data inquiry and data retrieval service via China Science and Technology Network. It has built over 40 websites successively, and there are more than 200 specialized databases that offer online services in China Science and Technology Network. In 1982, Chinese Academy of Sciences officially put forward the construction project of the Sci-tech Database & Information System. Its purpose was to, by way of constantly developing techniques of computer, database and network, bring together the scattering specialized databases that accumulated from scientific researches for information sharing. This project was started from 1986, and so far there are 45 research institutions taking part in the construction and service of the scientific database. By the end of last October, its total data volume reached 82 billion bytes, and among them the online data volume was up to 43 billion bytes.
The government has reaffirmed its commitment to building Hong Kong as a digitally inclusive society and ensuring that all sectors of the community can benefit from the advancement of information and communications technology (ICT). Officiating at the Joint Web Care Award and Cyberport Website Design Competition Award Presentation Ceremony today (May 15), the Director of Information Technology Services Department, Mr Alan Wong Chi-kong said bridging the digital divide was a major component of the Digital 21 Strategy. "All government websites are in compliance with the international standards with regard to web accessibility, in order to facilitate access and navigation by the visually impaired," he said. A pilot Sound Portal was launched this year to further assist the elderly and visually impaired to obtain government information on the Internet. Employing the latest text-to-speech technology, the portal enables users to "read" out the content of the websites of four government departments in Cantonese, Putonghua or English. These departments are the Department of Health, Social Welfare Department, the Space Museum of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, and the Information Services Department. The government has been working with the industry, academia and social service community in carrying out measures to bridge the digital divide. The Web Care Campaign was one of these collaborative measures. Regular seminars and workshops are organised to encourage the adoption of barrier-free web design in the private sector. Mr Wong expressed his appreciation to award-receiving organisations for their efforts to promote a barrier-free Internet environment. Also presenting awards to students winning the Cyberport Website Design Competition today, he recognised the importance to maintain Hong Kong's competitiveness by grooming future ICT talents locally. Mr Wong added that the government would work closely with the educational and vocational training institutions, as well as the ICT industry, to enhance the training and skills of the workforce and the next generation.
The inaugural ceremony to launch the new generation ID cards was held in No.65 middle school in Dongcheng district Sunday. 1300 locals in the pilot district received the ID cards on Sunday, with the youngest only 7 years old. The new ID cards will be promoted in the whole city this July. And the city plans to take the lead in replacing the current ID cards with the new ones in 2006. The ID card replacement scheme is expected to be completed around the country by the end of 2008. Compared with the current ID cards, the second generation cards use advanced technology to better fight counterfeits.
China started a special website Thursday for people to report illegal and unhealthy on-line information in a bid to create a better cultural environment for juveniles. According to the guide on the website, any Chinese citizen who found illegal or unhealthy information on line can report the website, which must be in China, to the website of net.China.cn. The reporters' rights would be well protected and the Work Committee of Internet News Information Service would deal with the report, said Cai Mingzhao, vice-director of the Information Office of the State Council, at Thursday's opening ceremony. The website was started as part of the efforts to build Internet into an important medium of advanced culture and also an important step to clear the environment around juveniles, said Cai. The tenet of the website is to "report illegal information, protect public interest". Internet has been developing very fast since it came into China ten years ago. By the end of this year, China is expected to have nearly 100 million netizens, said Cai. At present, major news websites and famous commercial websites attracted 95 percent of the on-line visits in China. However, a few other websites post fake or erotic information and spread superstitions. The juveniles are especially vulnerable to these and Internet addiction has become very serious, said Hu Qiheng, board director of the Internet Society of China. The unhealthy information on line not only brought harm to the society, but also harmed the public credit of Internet media, said Cai Mingzhao. Cai urged all the Internet media to improve self management and to be responsible for the society. The website of China Report Center of Illegal and Unhealthy Information is set up and run by the Work Committee of the Internet News Information Service under the Internet Society of China. Established in December, 2003, the work committee is a national organization of Internet news information service.
The Government will continue its efforts to promote the use of information technology (IT) and bridge the digital divide in the community, despite the increase in IT usage in Hong Kong in recent years, the Director of Information Technology Services, Mr Alan Wong Chi-kong, said at the IT Bridge launching ceremony today (June 12). According to the Thematic Household Survey conducted by the Census and Statistics Department in 2003, the penetration rate of personal computers was 67.5%, which had doubled the rate of 1998 (34.5%) while the Internet penetration rate was 60%, which is five times of that of 1998 (11.8%). Mr Wong said building a digitally inclusive society had always been an important part in the Government's IT strategy. In the 2004 Digital 21 Strategy announced this year, one of the main work areas is to bridge digital divide. Over the past few years, the Government has launched various measures to promote the wider use of IT in the community, particularly among women, new immigrants, the elderly and disabled. About 5,300 computers with Internet connection are installed in libraries, post offices, community centres, Community Cyber Points and the Super Cyber Centre. All are open for use by the public free of charge. More than 20 computers are installed with facilities catering for the visually impaired. Computers in the Community Cyber Points have also been upgraded with broadband Internet connection since last year. IT appreciation courses were regularly organised and radio programmes produced to enhance the public's knowledge of and interest in IT. To assist people with IT usage problems, the Government has launched the IT Easy Link hotline enquiry service with the Hong Kong Computer Society. A pilot sound portal was launched this year to facilitate the elderly and visually impaired's access to government information. The portal is being tested by related organisations and associations. Mr Wong said the Government strongly supported computer recycling campaigns and had internally initiated such a drive. More than 1,000 obsolete computers were donated to related organisations, which were then passed to the elderly, disabled or those in need after being updated with relevant hardware and software. "We believe that through the participation and joint efforts of various organisations, we can fully utilise limited resources and enable all sectors of the community to enjoy the benefits brought by advancements in information and communication technologies," he said. Organised by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and Hong Kong Association for Computer Education, the IT Bridge programme aims to encourage and assist children with hearing disabilities to make use of IT and learn more about the world through the Internet. Mr Wong expressed his appreciation to the programme's volunteers for devoting their time to contribute to those with special needs in the community. He also thanked a service provider for providing free Internet connection and other companies for supporting the programme.
To spread Internet use beyond young groups and IT professionals, the capital city is beefing up efforts to help more, especially low-income and laid off people, get access. Aiming to provide the convenience brought by modern technologies to more common residents, the Beijing Municipal Office of Information intends to provide 1 million families with access to the Internet this year. The municipal government is carrying out a three-year programme to disseminate information knowledge to the general public. The programme has eight major goals this year. On top of connecting broadband network to 1 million households, 100,000 residents will be trained with basic computer knowledge and the ability to search the Internet. As many as 100 "digital homelands," or small computer labs for residential communities, will be built and thousands of volunteers with professional knowledge will be encouraged to impart their skills to common residents. According to Mao Wei, director of the China Network Internet Centre, netizens in the capital city make up 28 per cent of its population of about 14 million. That means nearly 4 million Beijingers have had the access to network. "That is higher than the country's average level, which stands at a little more than 6 per cent," Mao said. According to the latest survey, the population of netizens in Beijing accounted for 5 per cent of the total number of Internet visitors across the country. At the moment, only 1.9 million computers in Beijing are connected to the Internet, or 6.4 per cent of the total number of computers linked with the net in the whole country. The survey found that youths between 18 and 24 years old made up the largest proportion among Beijing netizens. They mainly consist of college students, company technicians and IT professionals. Some disadvantaged people such as retired employees, laid-off workers and citizens living on minimum allowances, do not have access to Internet, said the office's website. In addition, a large number of grassroots officials working in residential communities or property management institutions lack the necessary training to equip themselves with computer skills, which greatly lowers their work efficiency. The free training won a lot of acclaim from local citizens. One example is in the Jinyuchi community in southeast Beijing's Chongwen District. ore than 100 residents signed up last month for the 30-hour training course. The course was led by 66-year-old Zhu Dejie, a community official who organized trainees to learn computer skills every week. Also, the course involved a number of activities to spread science and technology among general public. According to Zhou Yun, an official with Beijing Science and Technology Association, a contest on electronic and information technology knowledge and skills was held last week.It attracted 114 participants, ranging from 10 to 65 years old, from 18 districts, counties, and economic development zones. The contest covered skills for taking pictures with digital cameras, surfing the Internet and communicating through text messages. Zhou said it's the first time such an activity has been held in Beijing. He said the activity will continue in the next two years. A 24-hour hotline to provide technical support will also be set up.
Shanghai is using satellite technology to help defend itself against floods this summer. Satellite positioning and communications will be used along with remote sensing to keep track of the city's 85 floodgates and basic meteorological conditions. Data collected through the system is transferred to the city's water, weather and other departments every 15 minutes. This gives the system a good shot at predicting possible flooding and giving time for preventive measures. The system will be connected to a bigger one in the surrounding provinces' Taihu area and the national flood-prevention system. The flood season usually hits Shanghai from June to September, bringing with it high winds, heavy rainfall and high tides.
Guangdong Province in South China launched an English version of its official website to communicate with the overseas Chinese diaspora. Guangdong Overseas Chinese Net (http://gocn.southcn.com/English) is aimed at serving the English-speaking members of the overseas Chinese community, according to Lu Weixiong, Director of Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the Guangdong provincial government. The original Chinese-language site was launched in 2000. Overseas Chinese who claim their ancestry in Guangdong total more than 20 million people. They are scattered in 165 countries and regions, and account for about 70 per cent of all Chinese living overseas. Major features of the English channel include overseas Chinese affairs news, local news, Guangdong impressions, a root search programme, and a local culture and service centre.
Election of the 3rd "Shanghai IT Elite Youth" kicked off yesterday, according to the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese Youth League. Local people aged 18 to 40, who have worked in the city for at least a year, can enter for the election on the committee's Website (www.cityyouth.cn or www.why.com.cn) before July 30. The result will be announced at the end of October.
The Government is committed to sustaining the development of information technology (IT) in education and making efforts to equip the public for the information age, the Director of Information Technology Services, Mr Alan Wong Chi-kong, said today (June 28). Speaking at an international seminar on e-Education and e-Learning, Mr Wong shared Hong Kong's experience in applying IT in education. He said that in the new 2004 Digital 21 Strategy released in March this year, the Government reaffirmed its commitment to prepare Hong Kong people, especially the younger generation, to become self-initiating lifelong learners and IT in education played a major role in achieving the objective. In 1998, the Government promulgated the five-year "Information Technology for Learning in a New Era" strategy. All schools are now equipped with the necessary information infrastructure for Internet connection. On average, there are 247 sets of personal computers in each secondary school and 91 sets in each primary school. They are equipped with broadband Internet connection, and 60% of them are even connected with optical fibre cables. IT Training programmes were provided to 46,000 teachers and 4,600 teaching assistants. To seek public opinion on e-Education strategy, a consultation paper called "Information Technology in Education - Way Forward" was published in March this year. The main themes are the development of "information literacy" for students and the professional development of teachers. The updated strategy will be finalised and announced later this year. Mr Wong cited the successful project of Hong Kong Education City (HKedCity) (www.hkedcity.net). Corporatised in 2002 with financial support from the Government, HKedCity offers information on IT in education, teaching and learning resources and a variety of services to schools, teachers, students and parents. It also aims to forge private and public partnerships for fostering and promoting e-Learning and e-business platforms in Hong Kong. The HKedCity website has become one of the most popular education portals in Hong Kong, with a daily average of more than 3 million page views. "The full power of e-Learning and online education was amply demonstrated by the HKedCity during the SARS epidemic last year", Mr Wong said. Through the website's e-Learning portal and virtual classrooms, more than one million students were able to take their lessons and finish their homework assignments at home. The e-Learning project has also brought HKedCity the Computerworld Honours Medal of Achievement in April this year. To sustain the momentum for e-Learning, the Education and Manpower Bureau's Information Technology Education Resource Centre has designed a series of e-Learning programmes for secondary school students. The Quality Education Fund has also provided $100 million in support of 361 education projects this year, including the development of an e-book learning platform and a game-based learning platform. The tertiary institutions and Vocational Training Council do not lag behind in promoting the use of IT in education. E-Learning solutions and packages were developed for professors, researchers, teachers and students. "The Government has been a keen supporter of e-Learning and the e-Learning culture in the civil service is definitely growing," Mr Wong said. The Civil Service Training and Development Institute set up a Cyber Learning Centre to provide e-Learning facilities and services for all civil servants four years ago. At present, the cyber learning portal offers more than 100 online courses and 60 job aids covering subjects such as languages, management, China studies, personal improvements, health and well-being. The portal boasts 38,000 registered users ranging from senior officers to juniors and staff in the frontline. According to a user survey conducted last February, 93% of respondents were satisfied with the quality of the learning resources. Individual departments have also launched e-Learning projects focusing on business-specific and professional training to provide tailor-made training for IT professionals, engineers, disciplinary officers, scientific officers, social workers and housing officers. Mr Wong said that the Information Technology Services Department was a pioneer in adopting e-Learning. During the past four years, the department has hosted web-based learning programmes on its Intranet and the Internet; set up its own e-library with a good collection of e-books; launched various incentive programmes to encourage e-Learning; and developed its own knowledge management portal for online sharing and collaboration."The Government will continue to work with the IT industry, academia and the community to promote e-Education and e-Learning in Hong Kong," he said. He believed that apart from enabling the public to equip themselves adequately to meet the challenges posed by economic restructuring and the changing needs of a knowledge-based economy, e-Education was also an important means for enhancing social mobility.
An informal group of Chinese volunteers is working to build an online encyclopedia called Chinese Wikipedia to create a free source of information for Chinese Internet users. Chinese Wikipedia is a Chinese-language offshoot of Wikipedia, an online English-language encyclopedia that is also available in a host of other languages. This project started in early 2001 and now has more than 6,000 active contributors working on 600,000 entries in 50 languages, while the English version offers more than 260,000 entries. Wiki format allows any visitor to the Chinese Wikipedia Web site, to modify any of the pages in the encyclopedia by adding, changing, or deleting information, while restores the original page if it is destroyed or defaced maliciously by visitors.
Dalian, a port city in northeast China's Liaoning Province, has launched an ambitious plan to build a super software industry corridor along its southern coastline. The corridor is located in a 133 sq. km area along the city's South Lushun Road, a hilly seaside scenic spot. It has a land area of 8.6 sq. km and a construction area of 4 million square meters with a planned investment of over 15 billion Chinese yuan (1.81 billion US dollars). On this fantastic long and narrow area, a software export-oriented town will be built within four years, where 300,000 IT professionals can be employed. This is a second-phase project for the five-year-old Dalian Software Park. In the last five years, Dalian's software industry has managed to grow over 50 percent annually in terms of sales volume, which reached 4.5 billion yuan (544 million dollars) last year. At present, more than 20 of the world's top 500 enterprises have settled in the software park, such as IBM, HP, GE, Microsoft, Dell, SAP, HP, Sony, Nokia and Accenture.
The revenue of China's Internet advertising rose to 1.08 billion yuan (US$130 million) in 2003, over twice as much as the amount in 2002, according to the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. The market for Internet advertising has a great prospect since China boasts over 78 million netizens, said Wang Jinjie, deputy director with the office of advertising management of the administration. A total of 870,000 people are engaged in China's advertising business with a revenue reaching 107.9 billion yuan (US$13 billion), which is around 0.92 percent of the nation's GDP, Wang said. He said the conventional advertising also achieved steady growth of over 10 percent last year. Statistics indicate most of the ad business still goes to TV and newspaper, which account for 23.64 percent and 22.53 percent respectively. In 2003, TV earned 25.5 billion yuan (US$3 billion) and newspapers got 24.3 billion yuan (US$2.9 billion) from advertising. Radio broadcast and magazines won 2.56 billion yuan (US$308 million) and 2.44 billion yuan (US$294 million), according to the statistics.
From Senior Web, a website set up by Cyber Senior Network Development Association Limited in 2001, one can browse through the personal websites designed by Hong Kong elderly people. The elderly web designers talked about what happened in their daily life: some shared with others their Taiji learning experience and some even posted their photographic masterpieces on the web. The establishment of Senior Web has opened up a new channel for old people in Hong Kong to express themselves. The web provided elderly users with the rudiments of using the Internet as well as a variety of information and services on the net. Cyber Senior Network Development Association Limited has set up a computer learning center in Kwun Tong to facilitate elderly learners, who can gather together at the center to share their learning progress. Learners can also update their computer knowledge by taking courses offered by the center from time to time. Members of Hong Kong Legislative Council responsible for the elderly's welfare said learning Internet can enhance the elderly's psychological health. It is believed that knowing how to use the computer can make elderly people feel that they can catch the trend of the society. It also allowed old people who lived alone to keep in touch with their children who have either moved out or emigrated overseas through e-mail or web-camera. Elderly computer users can widen their social circles and scopes of interest through the Internet. They can also upload or download pictures from the web and produce their own CDs which is generally thought as the patent of young people.
Hong Kong viewers will be able to enjoy high-definition television (HDTV) when digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting begins by 2007 at the latest. Terrestrial broadcasters Asia Television and Television Broadcasts are to begin simulcasting analogue and digital terrestrial television services by 2007, the government announced yesterday. They will extend the coverage of their digital networks to 75 per cent of Hong Kong by 2008. If a national standard for DTT broadcasting has not been established on the mainland before the end of 2006, the government said it will let the market decide on the selection of the technical standard. ATV and TVB have indicated that they will adopt the European DVB-T technical standard for digital broadcasting by 2006 to encourage the introduction of DTT services in the territory. Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology John Tsang yesterday said that the objective of launching DTT broadcasting is to enhance the broadcasting infrastructure in the territory and to make Hong Kong a leading digital city with enhanced quality in communication and broadcasting services. (by Alfons Chan)
Forget Yahoo!, Hotmail and Sohu, Shanghai residents can now sign up for free e-mail boxes set up by the municipal government that offer most of the services the big Web portals do as well as up-to-date information on everything from utility bills to weather reports. Residents can only open one account and must use their own name when applying at the government's Website (www.smmail.cn). The service is open to all city residents, including foreigners, who will need to use their passport and residence permit numbers to apply. Currently, the e-mail platform is only in Chinese, but an English version is in the work. The government plans to send personalized information to the e-mail boxes, such as payment records for medical insurance, the city's pension and housing funds and unemployment insurance. It will also send payment notices for public utility bills. Government officials hope the e-mail boxes will become an essential and efficient communication tool between authorities and local residents in the near future. "It might have taken much less time for the government to track down potential SARS patients last year if this e-mail box system had been established," said Zhang Jianming, director of the city's Informatization Commission. "We won't only rely on the traditional media to publicize emergency information as we can also send e-mail to concerned people as soon as possible," he said. Zhang said the new e-mail boxes will also be used to send weather forecasts and disaster warnings in the future. As it becomes increasingly easy for Chinese people to move to different cities, the new e-mail system may also become the only way to stay in touch with mobile residents, Zhang added. Local landlords should benefit from the new system. "I can easily check if my tenant has paid the water bill in a timely manner just by taking a look at the e-bills sent to my mail box," said Xu Wei, a 33-year-old landlady. However, some industry insiders are concerned about the penetration rate of the new e-mail box, saying that the city's digital literacy is still low. There were 4.32 million Internet users in Shanghai at the end of last year, accounting for 26.6 percent of the city's population, according to a survery conducted by the China Internet Network Information Center.
More than 87 million Chinese were "netizens" by July as China celebrated 10 years of being linked by the Internet to the outside world. The Internet community in China has already multiplied 140 times in more than six years, soaring to its current level from just 620,000 users in 1997, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC)'s latest report. The number was at 79.5 million by the end of last year. China's web savvy population surpassed Japan's by the end of 2002, becoming the second largest in the world after the United States. Although large in size, the current number represents just 6.6 per cent of the country's total population, leaving room for vast growth. The figures were released by the government-funded CNNIC in its 14th semiannual report, which is believed to be the most authoritative data on the Chinese Internet industry. The report, made public yesterday, shows that 36.3 million computers are connected to the Internet, up 17.5 per cent from half a year ago. There are almost 626,000 websites, up 32.2 per cent compared with the same period last year. But the report said the digital gulf remains as about 90 per cent of the websites are in the more developed provinces. Beijing, South China's Guangdong Province, East China's Zhejiang Province and Shanghai are the top four for the number of websites, accounting for 56.8 per cent of the total. In western China, however, many people face cyber difficulties. The report also said government staffers still love to work in the real world despite mounting calls for e-government services. Services are still delivered mainly face-to-face or on paper, despite the mushrooming number of governmental websites. The survey found that only 5.2 per cent of China's government sites are frequently used. Nearly half of the 11,764 governmental sites are simply one-way mirrors and more interactivity is badly needed. The survey also indicated that most people are using the Web to obtain information, including news, e-books and daily life information. Interestingly,using the Internet for leisure ranks second among users, higher than study, getting to know friends, research or sending or receiving e-mails. The centre said there is still a large market in China for Internet information and broadband services. Average users send more than 10 pieces of information by the Internet each week and a majority - about 58 per cent spends less than 10 yuan (US$1.2) each month. Not surprisingly, younger people make up the largest group of on-line customers. People aged 18-24 account for 32.8 per cent of users. People in the 25-30 age bracket make up 29.1 per cent, and those aged 31-35 account for 15.8 per cent, while those above age of 35 make up 16.6 per cent. Most broadband users are male technicians, staff in companies or administrative departments, or employees in tertiary industries and the commercial sector. They are around 30 per cent with high school or college education. Insiders of CNNIC said the many dial-up Internet users may switch in the future, so the perspective for broadband Internet service is promising. (by Fu Jing)
First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Aref here Monday announced Iran's readiness to help establish a regional hub for science, information and communication technology (ICT). Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the International Telecommunications Conference, he referred to the political instability and unrest that has been associated with the region and said that despite the instability and its negative impact on the global economy Iran has been successful in maintaining a high rate of economic growth and increased employment. "Effective laws and regulations, including that governing foreign investment, have been passed that have helped strengthen the national economy and economic institutions, including attracting more foreign capital. Turning to privatization as a measure that spurs economic growth and provides favorable employment opportunities for Iranian and foreign investors, he said that the government will further focus on reducing and eliminating trade obstacles and government monopolies during the period of the Fourth Development Plan (2005-2010). "The communications sector plays a decisive role in materializing the goals set toward national development by diversifying the sources of income and reducing reliance on oil revenues to facilitate long-term and sustainable development. "It also has an effective impact on creating jobs for the young generation. Therefore, investment in the sector will be of high priority," he added. Aref reiterated the need to develop the country's information, communications and technology sector in the interest of national progress and to expand regional and international cooperation. Turning to Iran's potentials in the field, he mentioned the country's capacity to train annually more than 3,000 ICT experts and university majors in the field, its more than 20 ICT research and study centers as well as 50 large production plants with advanced and updated equipment across the country. "Iran is also prepared to provide regional countries with access to its ICT facilities and arrange specialized courses in Iranian universities and research centers for interested foreign students. "We also welcome joint investment in research projects in the field and closer cooperation with interested partners, given Iran's strategic position, its affordable infrastructural facilities and potential for easy transit of goods at competitive prices," he added. The official said that it is high time basic practical steps were taken to establish an IT regional center to further develop the current communication and information technology potential. The International Telecommunications Conference is attended by the communications ministers of Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan and Tajikistan as well as a number of communications experts from Iran and other foreign countries. It is taking place at the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting's (IRIB) international conference hall. Representatives of Germany, Japan, Britain, Denmark, Singapore, Turkey, France, Morocco, UAE, South Africa, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are scheduled to deliver speeches in the ongoing two-day conference. Prior to Aref's speech, Iran's ICT Minister Seyed Ahmad Motamedi and the Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Yoshio Itsumi addressed the audience. Thirty-five officials from 20 countries are expected to address the conference, which aims to facilitate regional telecommunications and investment in developing markets.
KT Corp., South Korea's largest telecom company by sales, announced plans to launch a trial service of land-based digital interactive broadcasting by the end of this month, according to the company on Friday (June 4). The new service, as part of KT's drive to offer home networking services, promises to allow television viewers to communicate with broadcasters interactively, company spokesman Cho Chul-je said.
Online trade among individual investors has played a significant role in the recent recovery of Japanese share prices. Japan's improved economic environment, along with modest brokerage commissions for online trade, have been cited as major factors that have drawn individual investors to the stock market. "The biggest factors contributing to the rise in the number of individual stock investors are improved economic fundamentals in Japan and larger trading via the Internet," said Yutaka Miura, deputy head of the equity information division at Shinko Securities Co. The growing popularity of online trade is reflected by burgeoning growth in the number of online trading accounts. According to the Japan Securities Dealers Association, the number of trading accounts established at 55 brokerages for online trade increased by 706,339 over a six-month period through the end of March, hitting 4,955,151. The association said that the value of online stock transactions carried out by member brokerages on behalf of their clients represented a record 22.5 percent of the value of their total stock trade in March. A large proportion of Internet trade is conducted by individuals. Membership of the Japan Association for Individual Investors has also been growing by more than 100 people each month, said Hisao Oku, secretary general of the Tokyo-based nonprofit organization. At present, 15,000 individuals are members of the association. (by Yukiko Ochi)
Japanese mobile phone giant NTT DoCoMo said it will start selling next month a handset with smart-card electronic cash, train pass and identification card functions. Users would only have to wave the phone near an electronic scanner to make a purchase at grocery stores, pass through gates at train stations or to check-in at airports, DoCoMo said Wednesday. ※We are making a mobile phone inton a virtual wallet,§ said Takeshi Natsuno, DoCoMo managing director of the company＊s i-mode Internet service planning department. The handsets will carry the ※FeliCa§ microchip which was developed by Sony. FeliCa is already used for electronic money systems, corporate identification card numbers, or pre-paid, rechargeable smart-card train tickets in Japan, Hong Kong and elsewhere. With the new mobile phones＊ Internet capability, users can download monetary value to their FeliCa-ready phones using their credit cards rather than having to go to deposit machines to re-charge their smart money cards, Natsuno said. The technology will eventually be licensed to other cellular operators.
The MPHPT has been promoting the nationwide penetration of regional public networks through the project of Intranet infrastructure construction to link a wide range of facilities including city halls, schools and libraries through high-speed networks. This is so as to develop a concrete approach towards becoming the world's most advanced IT nation, as advocated in the e-Japan Priority Policy Program 2004 (adopted in June 2004 by the IT Strategic Headquarters). The MPHPT recently decided to offer subsidies within the fiscal year 2004 budget to regional public bodies to implement construction of regional Intranet infrastructure, construction of wide-area regional info-communications network infrastructure, promoting the introduction of regional Internet, and promoting the installation of an info-communications system.
The Internet is becoming a necessary part of everyday life and the actualization of a "ubiquitous network society" in which anyone can connect to the Internet anywhere and anytime is near, a government white paper on information communications has stated. The paper, presented by Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Minister Taro Aso at a Cabinet meeting on Thesday, predicted that the market promoting such a society will roughly triple from 28.7 trillion yen in 2003 to 87.6 trillion yen in 2010. Boosting the market are the cheapest and fastest broadband Internet connections in the world and the spread of cell phones. The report investigated the amount of time people spent using the Internet each day. The No. 1 spot was "during breaks at home," with people connected for 77.6 minutes on average. Second was "at school or work" with people spending 77.4 minutes. People spent an average 9.4 minutes connected to the Internet "while moving," the paper said, highlighting the role of Internet-equipped mobile phones. The report said 35 percent of people's break times at home was spent connected to the Internet compared with 21 percent of their time at work or school. A ubiquitous Net society would be realized not just through computers, but also through people freely linking terminals close to them with Internet-equipped appliances and other items, the white paper said. As examples, the white paper said a person could be outside and use their cell phone's remote control function to check what was in his or her fridge, ambulances could send high-quality images of patients as they were transporting them to hospitals, and IC tags -- semiconductor chips containing information -- could be used to trace lost articles.
Preliminary figures for Japan's broadband users including digital subscriber line (xDSL), fiber to the home (FTTH) and CATV Internet were announced June 30 by the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications. As of the end of May 2004, the total reached 15,807,952, for an increase of 429,022 from April. Users of FTTH services exceeded 1.3 million. The number rose by 86,840 compared to the end of April. The net increase for the month did not reach 100,000, which had been reached in April. The average net increase since January 2004 was generally around 80,000 subscribers. In the meantime, xDSL subscribers at the end of May registered 11,819,177, for an increase of 304,182 compared to the end of April. CATV Internet users reached 2,661,000 at the end of May, growing by 38,000 from the end of April.
BEIJING (Xinhuanet) -- Japanese cellphone giant NTT DoCoMo has launched the world's first 3G mobile that also works as an Internet Protocol phone within buildings. The N900iL operates as a regular Web-browsing, picture-snapping cell phone, but can also handle IP calls made on wireless local area networks. CRIENGLISH.com reported Thursday. The company says it is the first cellular phone using W-CDMA, or wideband code division multiple access technology, that can also be used as an IP phone.
SEOUL - Samsung Electronics Co. (KSE:005930) has given up a plan to build "Samsung City" south of Seoul in the face of opposition from government agencies wary of a favoritism dispute. In a revised proposal recently sent to the provincial government, Samsung said it would only build LCD manufacturing facilities in Tangjeong and expand the complex's size to 2.15 million square meters. Under the new plan, Samsung intends to pour in 20 trillion won (US$16.98 billion) to build four seventh-generation (7G) LCD production lines in the complex.
Foreign investors and businesses got a glimpse this week of Seoul's dream for an IT complex that will help globalize this capital city and be a model for similar projects elsewhere in the nation. A groundbreaking ceremony for rental apartments for foreigners at the 140-acre Digital Media City attracted about 100 people, mostly from consulting and real estate firms, and they were taken around the site of DMC to see highlights. The DMC project, launched in 2002 with an end completion date of 2010, is a complex which brings together digital media products and cultural activities and is located in Sangam-dong, northwest Seoul, an area favored by foreigners. Unlike other IT clusters such as Pudong in Shanghai, China, DMC focuses on entertainment industries such as broadcasting, games, animation, films and music. Now that companies such as Pantech & Curitel Co., the country's No. 3 handset maker, have filled out contract, the city government is aggressively promoting DMC. James P. Rooney, governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, said "foreigners who are reluctant to come into the Korean market because of taxation and the uncertain labor market" may now be attracted in greater numbers in view of benefits such as low-cost land and tax incentives. Located near the Seoul World Cup Stadium, DMC aims to become not merely a foreign but an international city. "The complex will be helpful actually in getting into step with the local community. It allows a good bridge for local and foreign workers to get together for business," said Trevor Bull, chairman of the Foreign Investment Advisory Council. The foreign residence complex, due to be completed by 2006, will house 200 families and is expected to help members of the foreign community network with surrounding communities. James said Korea has its own distinct character apart from other Asian countries and is a good test market for high-tech goods. Although the IT concept has come to Korea somewhat late compared to other countries, it could be made attractive enough to lure domestic and foreign interests. "A lot of people don't understand how significant this project is," said George Corser, CEO of Princeton Consulting Korea, Inc., urging the city government to let the world at large know understand communicate and to everyone its vision. DMC is only one of an array of ambitious projects being pursued by the Seoul city government. Others include the Cheonggyecheon Restoration and Yongsan foreign school. For more information, visit the website of Seoul Help Center for Foreigners at shc.seoul.go.kr.
The banking system is planning to increase its international operations, a senior official with the Bank Melli of Iran (BMI) said here on Monday. Parviz Moqaddasi, a member of the BMI Board of Directors, told Mehr news agency that international banking industry has now become a single network, stressing that if the country fails to prepare the necessary ground for developing e-commerce, will automatically be deprived of the benefits of the vast international monetary market. Commenting on the prospects of establishing an electronic government, the BMI official said the initiative will certainly fail to produce the desired results unless the banking system is equipped with modern electronic and informatics facilities. He stressed that the BMI is planning to render Internet banking services and prepare the ground for online trade. Moqaddasi further noted that information technology (IT) can help boost banking services efficiency. The need to replace traditional banking methods with modern electronic systems was stressed at a press conference held last week on the sidelines of the Seminar on Electronic Money. Moqaddasi told the seminar that the e-money system will help speed up banking procedures, stressing that more than 80 percent of the banks' time and costs are now spent on utility bills. He further noted that the banks have the highest productivity rate among other state organizations. Moqaddasi said private investments and foreign consultants must be used for creating and developing e-money system.
The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) on Wednesday said it plans to transform Korea into a ubiquitous society by 2007, within the tenure of President Roh Moo-hyun. In a report to President Roh at the ministry headquarters Wednesday, Information-Communication Minster Chin Dae-je unveiled the ambitious plan. ``We will help Korea open up an era of $20,000 per capita gross domestic product (GDP) by materializing the u-Korea vision by 2007 through the 8-3-9 strategy,'' Chin said. The code name, u-Korea, is short for ubiquitous Korea, referring to a futuristic environment that will offer uninterrupted access to the Internet, fixed-line and mobile networks any time, in any location. Earlier in March, the MIC disclosed the 8-3-9 tactics, which stands for eight new services, three infrastructures and nine new growth engines, as an action plan to attain the u-Korea vision. Eight services include offerings like portable Internet or telematics and three infrastructures are next-generation systems while nine growth engines are composed of digital TV, sophisticated robots and imbedded software and so on. Chin said if the strategy is completed as planned, information technology (IT) sectors will create 290,000 new jobs by 2007 and IT exports will reach $110 billion by the same period from $57.6 in 2003. In response to the upbeat initiative set by the MIC, President Roh articulated his full commitment and pledged unwavering support for the plan. ``I was excited to hear the u-Korea project and felt it is not just about business development paths but about the overall change in people's lives. It can be called a revolution of our daily lives,'' Roh said. In an effort to minimize side effects of the drive such as infringements on privacy, Roh also promised to streamline relevant regulations. (by Kim Tae-gyu)
Cities Apply for Company City Project
The Seoul Metropolitan Government will issue a new traffic card named T-Money that will give the public easier ways to paying for their rides. The new pre-paid card will have more benefits than the existing ones, which will be discontinued after July 1, the city government said. For example, Seoul residents can use the card in other cities. The government also wants to expand the card's use in all transportation sectors, including airlines. The government is negotiating with airline and other transportation companies about services. Officials want frequent customers to be able to earn points, or mileage, towards discounted or free trips. This technology is possible through built-in central processing units, or microchips. Customers can buy just the chips to attach them onto their cell phones, PDAs, or specially made wrist watches for quick touch-and-go payments. Passengers can buy the card at newsstands near bus stations or at Kookmin and Woori banks from at the end of this month and use it after July 1. The name of the card, chosen among suggestions from the public and staff, symbolizes traffic, transportation, as well as touch, total and top, said city officials. The new system debuts at the same time when transportation prices will increase. "From July 1, the subway charges will rise and the citizens may think it is a heavy burden for the passengers who have such a long commute," said Park Jong-heon, an official at the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
Microsoft Corp., U.S. software giant will invest 10 billion won (US$8.7 million) in South Korea over the following three years in order to bridge the country's digital divide, according to Microsoft Korea on Thursday (July 1). South Korea's Information and Communication Minister Chin Dae-je and visiting Microsoft chief executive Steve Balmer, signed the investment agreement.
The Ministry of Information and Communication reported on Tuesday (May 18) that Korea＊s information technology (IT) competitiveness has been ranked first among the 30 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). According to an OECD report obtained by the ministry, Korea＊s competitiveness in the IT sector is almost twice as high as the average of its 30 member nations in terms of trade patterns. As of 2002, Korea＊s revealed comparative advantage (RCA) index in the high-tech industry stood at 2.43, followed by Ireland＊s 2.22 and Hungary＊s 1.86. Japan was fourth at 1.64 and the United States ranked seventh at 1.38. The RCA index is calculated by comparing the ratio between a country＊s share in IT exports to OECD member countries and the country＊s total exports to OECD nations. The average RCA was set at 1.0. The report noted that the trade volume of IT products posted an average growth rate of 4 percent annually between 1996 and 2002, outperforming the 3 percent growth rate of general merchandise.
Shinhan Bank on Monday began to provide its corporate Internet banking services in English, allowing foreign businesses easier access to online financial transactions. Under the English-version "BizBANK" program, foreign-based companies can transfer money, check account information and pay bills through a multiple authorization system. The authorization program, provided in English for the first time in the domestic banking sector, can require approvals by up to seven people in one company, helping businesses control Internet transactions more effectively. Currently, about 80,000 companies are using Shinhan's BizBANK service, which was introduced in 2001.
(SEOUL) -- With cell phone use becoming a social norm in Korea, the number of mobile phone users will likely hit 39 million by 2008. The Korea Information Strategy Development Institute (KISDI) announced on July 20 that the total number of cell phone users in Korea will amount to 33.59 million for 2004 and it will pick up momentum, recording 39.43 million by 2008. "In technical terms, up to 80.5 percent of the total population will take advantage of mobile gadgets by 2008, and it all demonstrates the huge business opportunity in this nation," according to a KISDI official.
The Ministry of Information of RK is going to create public television. Altynbek Sarsenbayev, minister of information of RK, has stated this to journalists at a press conference in Almaty. According to A. Sarsenbayev, the public television can be created on the basis of "Kazakhstan-1" TV & radio broadcasting company. "I believe that there is a necessity of creating such television today," he has said.
Supreme Court of Uzbekistan announced launch of its website supcourt.gov.uz. The website is expected to become a primary source of information about the Supreme Court and enhance the transparency of its activities. The new resource will carry information about the publications, activities and plans of the Supreme Court, including its current and historic decisions. It is also planned to establish direct contact between the public and the Supreme Court through an ※Online Legal Clinic§. The website was developed by the court＊s press office under technical support of ABA/CEELI, a public service project of the American Bar Association. ABA/CEELI advances the rule of law by supporting the legal reform process in Central Europe and Eurasia. ABA/CEELI＊s judicial reform program in Uzbekistan are funded and supported by the United States Agency for International Development.
On July 3, 2004 a ceremony took place in ※Zarafshan§ concert hall to award the winners of Uzbekistan championship on computer games. This championship was organized by the information and analytical journal ※InfoCOM.UZ§ with official support of the Communications and Informatization Agency of Uzbekistan. JSC ※Uzbektelecom§ appeared as one of the championship sponsors. The championship was held in two stages. The First stage regional selection tournament took place during May-June in Bukhara, Namanghan, Samarkand, Ferhgana and Tashkent cities. 2300 players from all the provinces of Uzbekistan participated in these games. Players competed in both duel and team games and covered five kinds of them. The Second stage - a national final, was held on July 2, this year in the Tashkent International Business Center, which covered 72 finalists from regional selection tournaments, including 8 teams. As a result of this event they determined the winners, who were awarded with prizes, granted by the sponsors, including Internet access provided by ※UzNet§, the branch of the JSC ※Uzbektelecom§.
Parents visiting senior high schools in Jakarta on Friday to ensure placements for their children found a new computerized admission system that is transparent and practical. The system, applied for the first time in the capital, allows parents to name five preferred schools for their children, who are ranked based on academic performance. Schools will accept students ranked higher than their actual capabilities. "The system is more transparent now," said M. Darwin after checking his son's position at a room on the ground floor of SMA 70 state senior high school in Bulungan, South Jakarta. At 11 a.m., his son, Bob Sumadi, was listed 88th for one of the 400 places available at SMA 70, his first choice. Darwin told The Jakarta Post that it was good that he could monitor his son's position minute by minute through the Internet. Bob's position is bound to change as more student register during the admission period from July 9 to July 12. Should his rank fall to below 400, Bob's details will automatically be submitted to his second choice of school, and so forth. SMA 70 principal Djumadi told reporters that parents were supposed to receive printouts immediately after filling in and submitting admission forms to check their children's data as well as to obtain registration numbers. These numbers are needed to check the students' positions through the Jakarta Junior/High School Education Agency's website at www.dikmentidki.psb-online.or.id. Alternately, people can send the message "unibraw psb jkt (registration number)" to 7890 for Telkomsel users and 5252 for those using Indosat. "However, as the process (of data entry) takes time, we ask parents to come back after 4 p.m. this afternoon or tomorrow morning to get their printouts," said Djumadi. "Otherwise, they will amass here." Officials at each school only enter students' previous national examination numbers and preferred schools. "We send the data to the agency, which will log in the grades," said a member of the admission committee, referring to three subjects students are tested on nationwide -- English, Bahasa Indonesia and mathematics -- used to rank the students. This measure is conducted to avoid the use of fake school diplomas. However, human error in typing in numbers has posed some minor problems. "When my son's exam number was entered, his file could not be processed," said one concerned father. An official answered that it was possible that a typing error had caused the problem and urged the father to report the case to the agency. Agency spokesman Abdul Hamid said that up until Friday afternoon, no complaints had been reported. "Most people phone in to get information," he said. Students not accepted by any of their five preferred schools may resubmit their applications with five new options during the admission period. Final results will be announced on July 13, which will also be the first day of a three-day registration period for accepted students at their respective schools. A second admission period, with a similar procedure, will be held from July 16 to July 17 to fill remaining spaces.
The Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (Frim) is turning its 600ha site into a ※hi-tech forest,§ enabling visitors to get an IT-guided tour via a personal digital assistant (PDA) or other wireless computer devices. Frim director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Razak Mohd Ali said the IT system would start operating in three months. ※We hope to get the system running fully by the end of the year,§ he said after the opening of the World Environment Day themed ※Forest is Fun§ at Frim in Kepong here yesterday. Visitors would be given ※a guided tour§ via the PDA, loaded with information on flora and fauna, their habitats and eco-systems, when they enter certain zones in the forest, he said. On the initial plan for the IT system, he said Frim had planned to have a RM200,000 pilot project which included a museum and nature trails. He said Frim received some 100,000 visitors a year and was committed to improving and adding more educational facilities. ※Very often, visitors see the plants and trees but they do not know their functions. We want to educate them and show them that we are managing our forests. ※The Government is committed to managing our forests,§ he added. Dr Abdul Razak said: ※We must also ensure that we do not destroy our forests and that we can continue to harvest from our forests in the future and benefit from our rich forest resources.§ Citing the herbal industry as an example, he said: ※We can develop Malaysia＊s herbal industry instead of relying on herbal products imported from China, India and Indonesia.§ ※The herbal industry is worth some RM3bil to RM4bil a year and our country is very rich in biodiversity,§ he said. He also said Frim had developed a special nature guide force and had concluded a nature guide course last month for some 20 guides comprising members from the institute, Tourism Malaysia and non-governmental organisations. On the Government＊s plan to turn the Bukit Cerakah agriculture park into one of the largest botanical gardens in the world by 2007, Dr Abdul Razak said Frim was invited to join the working committee as a member to help develop the agriculture park. He said the planning was still in its initial stages, adding that they were still deciding on the tree species which would be planted there. ※We have a lot of information on plants and we will give our help on this. Frim is in itself a botanical garden which houses a huge variety of plant species. ※We have approximately 3,000 species of trees. In the peninsula, there are 8,000 species,§ he said. Dr Abdul Razak added that Frim was in the process of planting more tree species, at about 1,000 to 2,000 species a year.
E-learning in schools should not be implemented at the expense of inculcating moral values in students, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Shafie Mohd Salleh. He said the application of e-learning in replacing the traditional method of ※chalk and talk§ would lessen the burden on teachers. However, he added that strong moral and ethical values could not be inculcated in students without proper guidance from their teachers. ※As such, the students' physical and personality development should be taken into consideration when implementing e-learning methods in schools,§ he said at the launch of the National E-Learning Conference here on Monday night. The three-day conference is organised by the Universiti Sains Malaysia's Multimedia and Teaching Technology Centre, Malaysian Council for Computer-in-Education and the Education Ministry's Curriculum Development Centre. In his speech, USM acting vice-chancellor Datuk Prof Syed Ahmad Hussein said the application of e-learning, if done with haste and without due deliberation, would not bring about its expected returns.
THE SMI Association of Malaysia has launched the small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) e-Solutions campaign aimed at boosting the global competitiveness of local small- and medium-sized industries (SMIs) through the adoption of technology. The campaign was set in motion with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the association and Dignersys Consulting Sdn Bhd, a home-grown ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions provider. About 92% of the manufacturing sector was contributed by SMIs, and the entire SMI segment contributed about 8.99% to the GDP (gross domestic product) growth of the country last year. ※The unrealised potential of this market means that due to the lack of technology awareness and adoption among SMBs, these industries are seriously under-performing. This lackadaisical attitude towards technology adoption will allow SMBs in other countries to catch up and overtake us,§ Datuk Mah Siew Keong, Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry said at the e-Solutions launch in Bandar Sunway this week. He added that local SMBs had no choice but to turn to technology to stay competitive as Malaysia opens up to global markets and that, although they may need to make some investments, the money would be well spent as they would be rewarded handsomely over the long-term. ※The few SMIs that have adopted ICT into their operations have reaped huge benefits from using cost-effective software. It is about time that other SMIs made the same wise move as it will ensure the survival of SMBs in a very competitive business environment,§ Mah added. SMI association president Looi Teong Chye said that many SMIs face challenges in finding ready solutions designed and developed for the Malaysian method of business operations. Securing financing for technology adoption was cited as another barrier. ※The launch of this e-Solutions campaign involves working with a strong local ERP provider with a proven product packaged with an eye on delivering value, and the offer of interest-free financing. We hope this will encourage our SMIs to get on the technology fast-track. ※The health of the financial system is particularly dependent on the performance of SMIs and their ability to meet their loan payments, thus interest-free options will serve a dual purpose of increasing technology take-up and assisting SMIs in repayments,§ Looi added. Dignersys Group chief executive officer Pierre Toh said that SMIs need to increase operational efficiencies and boost productivity, with the technological integration across the entire demand-supply chain being vital to competing globally. He added Dignersys＊ EnterpriseBuilder ERP solution was designed and developed for the Malaysian market and had been used with success by a growing list of 150 Malaysian SMIs including Asia File Corporation Berhad, Slumberland (Malaysia and Singapore), and Sweetape (Malaysia and Indonesia). ※Our EnterpriseBuilder ERP solution will provide a solid foundation for the evolving needs of Malaysian SMIs as we understand local needs across the entire demand-supply chain, and offer peace of mind in the form of value-added services such as a three-year warranty and quarterly enhancements with our standard packages,§ Toh added. Through its smart partnership with the SMI Association, Dignersys expects 50 SMIs to adopt its modular ERP solution initially. The EnterpriseBuilder ERP standard package for SMIs includes ERP, free HP server, Microsoft Windows 2003 server software, and free Sybase or Microsoft SQL server. Prices start at RM88,000.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi launched a portal for the agricultural community last week. Called AgriBazaar, it enables farmers, retailers, wholesalers as well as small and medium scale industries to conduct online trading of their products. Badawi said the portal (www.agribazaar.com.my) would make it easier for those groups to market agricultural products in the country. The other advantages that AgriBazaar would provide include better pricing, as well as reduced administration and inventory costs. Players in the agricultural sector can perform online transactions using AgriBazaar modules, such as e-plan (for market forecasting), e-buysell (to post offers or respond to offers), e-stock (for inventory management, as well as product and warehousing information) and e-logistic (to set up a logistics company to provide online services, access lists of logistics service providers and to manage online bookings of logistics facilities). Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Muhyiddin Yassin claimed that 1,800 members had begun using AgriBazaar since the start of the pilot project in Batu Pahat, Johor, in July last year. He said India, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia, had launched similar initiatives. There is no charge to register at the AgriBazaar portal. Once registered, members get access to announcements and alerts, a summary of products offered, a business directory and search engine, information on the availability of seasonal fruits, news reports, weather forecasts, and market analyses. AgriBazaar is a joint initiative between Mimos Bhd and the Agricultural Department. Mimos president and CEO Dr Tengku Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen said the AgriBazaar initiative was inspired by the success that Mimos had enjoyed with its supply chain management scheme for the electronics and electrical sectors. It was called the Technology Industry Government For e-Revolution (TIGeR) e-Logistics project. TIGeR E&E provides the e-business application and e-Hub services to integrate Malaysian suppliers into local and global supply chains.
The days of judges penning notes of proceedings are numbered, and a new breed of tech-savvy justices is emerging in courtrooms these days. Justice Ian H.C. Chin, who is presiding over the Datuk Norjan Khan Bahadar murder trial, is one of them. Each day he keys in the trial notes into his notebook computer and uploads them into the website www.kotakinabaluhighcourt.com The 57-year-old Sandakan-born judge faithfully updates the site during his lunch break and at the end of the day＊s hearing. He even prints out his notes and gives them to the prosecution and defence lawyers. For journalists covering this case, the notes are always available for counterchecking against their own notes taken at the murder trial of the former Sabah Assistant Minister that entered its 11th day yesterday. He is among the first few judges in the country who are putting the notes of proceedings and judgments on the Internet, said Sabah Law Association IT committee chairman Laurence Chong. Chong said the immediate availability of notes of proceedings allowed lawyers to be better prepared for the following day＊s hearing. He said prior to this when judges wrote their own notes, lawyers had to apply for these notes which then had to be typewritten by judges secretaries. They could only get them the following day or after the trial. Friendly but firm, Justice Chin is seen by the Sabah legal fraternity as an efficient and meticulous judge and journalists seeking a photograph of him are often reminded of his words: Even the faces of British judges are not known to the public? Completing his law studies in England at the Inner Temple, he was called to the Bar in 1969 and became Judicial Commissioner in 1992. He was elevated to a High Court judge in 1993 at the same time as Richard Malanjum, another Sabahan. Justice Malanjum who has moved to the Court of Appeal also records his notes of proceedings on the computer. Like Justice Chin, Justice Malanjum also created a website while serving in the Sandakan High Court. The Kota Kinabalu High Court website was launched in January this year and can be accessed at pages.zdnet.com/ihcchin and kkhighcourt.com
At the click of a mouse, individual taxpayers will know through the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) online calculator the amount they owe in taxes if they choose to submit their Self Assessment System (SAS) form electronically. All you have to do is enter the gross earnings, relief and deductions and click on the online calculator to compute and display your dues within seconds. The e-filing option will be available when the SAS comes into force from next year. IRB principal assistant director Mazlan Wan Chik said, however, the central IRB database required the taxpayer＊s digital signature and 64K MyKad, adding that alternatively they could register with Mimos subsidiary iVest for the purpose. The card reader and other set-up fees would be about RM100. The taxpayer has to just slot his MyKad into the reader, and once the digital signature is verified he will be connected online for submission. Before concluding his online transaction, he can access the online calculator to find out how much he owes, Mazlan said at the IRB-National Union of Journalists Workshop recently. The IRB had launched the e-filing system for corporate taxpayers in April this year as the SAS was introduced for this sector in 2001. SAS for individuals comes into force for income earned this year and filed next year. Currently, individual taxpayers can electronically download the form and send in the form by post. Under the SAS, individuals do not have to file their receipts and supporting documents, and they are required to retain them for seven years and produce them when the IRB officers carry out random audits. He will focus more on field audits when the SAS is implemented for individual taxpayers. Through SAS, the IRB would now focus more on street audits rather than assessment, which was done by them previously. With the introduction of self-assessment, the IRB will no longer issue Form J for individuals from next year. The form B that is filled in by taxpayers will be deemed as correct and accurate information of their tax computation.
The police force took delivery of 55 Proton Waja cars yesterday, all fitted with mobile data terminals, which Inspector-General Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Omar said would help them to reach the crime scene within 15 minutes as he had promised. They had received 20 similar mobile patrol vehicles earlier and are expected to get another 29 soon. The vehicles are part of 500 approved by the Government last year for police use nationwide. The data terminals fitted in the vehicles would enable patrolmen to check online with the Road Transport Department when responding to distress calls, making it more effective to monitor criminal activities. The Malaysian Control Centre at Bukit Aman would also be able to monitor the movement of patrol cars. The terminals have a database on wanted suspects and those with previous criminal records. The terminals would be linked soon to the National Registration Department and the federal traffic police department to check on summonses. With the new additions, the number of police cars nationwide is 1,684. Some 246 cars would be used by the city police, of which 190 would be used for patrol duty. The others would be used for various other functions such as responding to distress calls. They would also be used by tourist police and embassies. More police patrol cars will be on the streets now to fight crime and provide public security, with police present 24 hours throughout the city, Mohd Bakri said at the closing ceremony of a one-week driving course at the Police Training Centre in Jalan Semarak. We hope to achieve our target of responding to emergencies on serious crimes such as robberies or snatch thefts within 15 minutes of receiving calls. Several innocent people have died in the recent spate of snatch thefts in the Klang Valley. We have to increase our patrols to prevent such things from happening again, Mohd Bakri said. He said 175 trainees had undergone a seven-day intensive training at the Police Driving College in Muar. Fifty-three trainers, including several officers, conducted the course. Among the objectives of the course was to educate personnel to set an example to other road users by practising safe driving, Mohd Bakri said.
More people are turning to the Internet to apply and find out the status of their applications for various government posts, Minister in Prime Minister＊s Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said. When the TeleSPA Infoline was first introduced in 2000, it registered 75,214 calls from the public, he said. ※It steadily increased to 88,783 calls from those interested to know the status of their applications and whether they were successful in their interviews. ※However, beginning last year, the calls have declined to 58,489. This is because the Public Services Commission has introduced a similar service via its website. ※Considering that the service is free and candidates only need to be connected to the Internet, it has seen some 900,000 enquiries since its inception.§ he said at the launch of the commission＊s short messaging service here yesterday. The service enables the public to register and check the status of their scheduled interviews, results and place of interviews and examinations at a cost of 90 sen for each SMS message. Commission chairman Datuk Abdul Wahab Adam said that in the first year of the launching of its website, only 585 people applied for government posts using the service. ※But for the last six years, 168,720 people have done so,§ he said.
It has been two years since the police launched the Electronic Police Centre to provide round-the-clock service in some areas. Even though the website had more than 700,000 hits last year, few used it to file online police reports. If your property is lost or stolen, you can file the report online and have it processed within 48 hours. ASP Victor Ho, Service Development and Inspectorate Department, said: "We hope that this group of customers can lodge such reports in convenience of house or office, this will free up the resources at the service counters then the officers can actually focus more on the reports of more urgent nature. "More than 1,000 people did so last year. One elderly man said: "I am a retiree, I do not know anything about this sort of thing." Another man said: "I rather go to the police station because of more direct contact with officer. I can give the facts straight away to him without further clarification. "Still the numbers who do file online reports are growing - from just 188 in the first quarter last year, it has grown to 268 this year. ASP Ho added: "The public should not use this system to lodge a report online if their case is happening now, someone is injured in the process, or it is an urgent case that requires immediate police action. For this instance, they should call 999 or visit a police station immediately." The online service is now only for Singaporeans and permanent residents.
The National University of Singapore (NUS), a leading research-intensive institution, has moved swiftly ahead with the deployment of higher capacity Wireless LAN solutions for its entire campus. Built using Cisco equipment, the new wireless networks are capable of delivering up to 54 Mpbs throughput. This is one of the first large-scale deployments of 802.11g-enabled wireless networks in Asia Pacific. The 802.11g solutions will replace existing 802.11b and 802.11a compliant equipment and increase wireless coverage from 30 per cent to 100 per cent on NUS' 150 hectare campus. NUS has 32,000 students spread over 11 faculties. Staff and students will now be able to wirelessly access the campus intranet from anywhere in the University. NUS is also a member of the IHL-CIO (institutes of higher learning chief information officers) Forum that signed an agreement recently to enable wireless roaming between all the tertiary institutions across the country. "A wireless network gives us the flexibility to respond to fluctuating demand. The increasing area density of access points means we can cater to large number of users within a single location," said Roland Yeo, network manager, Computer Centre, NUS. "Overall, this translates into cost savings and a more efficient deployment and use of critical resources." With simultaneous support for both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios, the implementation provides NUS with a migration path to the 54 Mbps bandwidth with the IEEE 802.11g protocol. Its modular design supports single- and dual-band configuration, plus the field upgradeability to change these configurations as requirements change and technologies evolve. "Cisco's solution is cost effective and has brought us enhanced value on security. We are pleased to work with Cisco who have demonstrated good professionalism in supporting us and helping us in the design and implementation," said Tommy Hor, Director of the NUS Computer Centre. NUS has been working with Cisco for over 14 years, starting with Cisco's routing products in the 1990s. Since 2000, Cisco has been the main provider for NUS' campus network infrastructure with Catalyst 6500 Series Switches and Catalyst 3500 Series Switches forming the core of the network. In 2001, Cisco became the main wireless and firewall vendor for NUS."NUS is a model for how an academic institution can leverage technology to enhance the learning environment and enable its staff to teach and work more efficiently," said Craig Gledhill, managing director, Singapore, Cisco Systems.
StarHub has launched its digital cable service for subscribers. Over 350,000 cabled households in Singapore will have the option of switching to digital viewing, which means more interactivity, games and information about the programmes they're watching. Subscribers pay $4 a month extra to exchange their current analog set-top boxes for digital ones. MediaCorp launched the first digital TV service in 2000 - and is progressively pushing out the service. Digital TV allows for better quality pictures and sound, and more content to be transmitted on the same channel.
School is out, the Great Singapore Sale has begun and it is a public holiday. So if you spent a fair bit of Wednesday cruising the carparks in town hunting for a parking space, you were not alone.But not all parking lots were created equal.It is a common sight -- cars with hazard lights flashing waiting for that elusive parking space to materialise.Others prefer cruising around for the perfect spot."Twenty minutes -- even we have had those kinds of instances where we are waiting for someone to leave a parking lot. Going around in circles; some hotel carparks are really bad," one motorist said."Some of them are so congested. One guy looking for a lot, keeps staring, slowing down; at the back it's piling up," another said.But some carparks, like the one at the Harbourfront Centre, have gone high-tech to keep tempers in check.The new information screens tell you quite accurately where the empty lots are."It's pretty fast. I came in and straight away got a lot; it's like two minutes," said a motorist."We don't want to go round and round for one particular spot and you might be at one end or the other. It saves time and is very convenient," another said."It's good, provided it's accurate. Sometimes it's not accurate. Of course I take chances, it might say it's empty, it's fully occupied, but I'll just turn one round and look for it," said a third person.Mapletree, which owns HarbourFront Centre, spent nearly S$5 million to install the system.With more than 3,000 vehicles coming and going each day, and only a thousand or so parking lots, the system definitely helps.But it is not the only high-tech carpark around.Many motorists say Plaza Singapura probably has the most useful parking system anywhere in town.There are sensors in every lot so the system knows exactly which are free."Without this you probably spend more than five minutes, depending on the size of the car park," one shopper said.But in some carparks, finding a lot is not the end of your problems; it is a tight squeeze just getting in and out of the lots.A motorist at one such carpark said, "I wish it was a bit roomier. It's very tight when you go into corners like this.""Some tend to be very cramped. Some of the passageways are very narrow, especially up the ramp," said another."The spaces are too small. Most probably for all those HDB multi-deck car parks, some of them are quite small," said a third person.Size isn't a problem at Suntec City; its carpark is so big it can accommodate about 3,200 cars.The down side? Well, some drivers it seems just can't remember where they have parked their cars.
The International Air Transport Association or IATA hopes to help its members save US$3 billion by simply dumping the paper ticketing system for an e-ticketing one.Announcing this at an industry conference in Singapore, IATA also called on governments give its members more freedom to operate their businesses.The airlines industry has lost more than $30 billion in the past three years, no thanks to events like September 11, war in Iraq and SARS. And keeping operating costs in check has become a key priority for IATA's members.So the association is looking at every way possible to reduce expenses.And one option is to go for electronic ticketing, instead of traditional paper.IATA hopes all its members will have e-tickets by the end of 2007 -- and has already got some encourage support from industry.Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO, IATA, said: "The savings are enormous as clearly US$3b savings because if you take 300m tickets these are the tickets that IATA is distributing worldwide plus you add another roughly $75m that the airlines directly distribute, the savings there is US$9 per ticket. So here we speak the savings of nearly US$3b."Chew Choon Seng, CEO, Singapore Airlines, said: "We are fully supportive of that move. We are going to attempt to move ahead of the IATA deadline."Besides cutting costs, IATA is also asking governments to give its members more freedom to run their business.Mr Bisignani said: "Governments need to demonstrate leadership for the future, not defend status quo. But they need to give us the freedom to change, and let us run our business like real businesses."On the same note, Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in his keynote address -- also urged governments to free up aviation rules, and remove unnecessary restrictions on air travel.The call has gone down well with IATA members.Wolfgang Mayrhuber, Chairman and CEO, Lufthansa, said: "We should have more freedom in terms of capital ownerships, in terms of traffic rights. And we must ensure that the value chain is organised in a way that not we are doing the flying and others in the value chain are making the money but there is a fair contribution from all in the value chain."Besides getting governments to liberalise the airline sector, IATA is also hoping for them to foot the security bill. Before September 11, the cost of security was only a fraction of the airlines' operating budget. After the attacks in New York and Washington, airlines now pay some US$10 billion for both insurance and security annually.Mr Bisignani said: "Now the insurance market has returned to normal levels but the security cost are increasing, so we really think that this is issue is an issue that has to be addressed by the Government as we have in other parts of the world. The figure for security is roughly US$5b."IATA also raised some concern over preferential treatment some low cost carriers are getting around the world. It says it welcomes the competition but says budget carriers should not get discounts on airport charges because they also use the same facilities as premium airlines.
Computer ownership and broadband Internet access amongst households in Singapore continue to be on the uptrend. More people are using the Internet for work, play and learning. This was the clear message brought home by the results of the latest annual survey released by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore today. The 2003 survey shows that 74% of all households in Singapore now own one or more personal computers (PC). Almost two-thirds of all households (65%) have internet access (either broadband or non-broadband). Home PC ownership has grown steadily over the last few years, rising from 68.4% in 2002 to 73.7% in 2003. This may be attributed to greater awareness amongst families of the importance of IT usage, and also in-part to national programmes such as the e-Celebrations campaign and NEU PC Programme. These programmes promote Infocomm usage amongst the public, the workforce, and emphasize the use of Infocomm technologies in local schools. With increasingly more attractive Internet access packages, home Internet access is also on the rise, climbing 5.2 percentage points to 64.6% in 2003. The increasingly more affordable broadband access plans and promotional efforts have also resulted in 39.6% of all households surveyed having broadband access in 2003, compared with 24.2% in 2002. More Singaporeans are getting connected to the Internet in their daily lives for work, play and learning. At work, the biggest increases include using Infocomm technology for uploading/downloading files from the office (36.8%), online information retrieval/search (64.1%), video conferencing (11.3%) and Internet SMS (38.5%). This could be due to more businesses using internet-related technologies to increase productivity. Telecommuting may also be on the rise. Consumers using more sophisticated internet applications also saw an increase. Notable increases came from the use of online banking (32.6%) and Internet telephony (12.8%). At play or leisure, the most notable increase came from playing or downloading games (48.4%). Online shopping saw a mild decline to 20%. The use of Infocomm technology for streaming/downloading/uploading of videos and music also saw a slight decline (27.5% and 37.1% respectively). With schools emphasizing greater use of Infocomm technology for education and remote learning, there was a marked increase for e-Learning/online education (29.8%), children?s educational content (17%) and online library services (29.9%). Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive for Industry Development at IDA, said," The increasing adoption of Infocomm technologies among Singaporeans at work, for play and learning is encouraging. It shows that Singaporeans are aware of the benefits of going online." Please also see info-graphics attached. e-Celebrations Singapore is an annual campaign that aims to bring the e-Lifestyle to Singaporeans through fun and engaging activities. The theme for e-Celebrations 2004 is "Having Fun with IT!" and this year?s focus will be on online shopping and online gaming. As an introduction to the online shopping experience, an online mall has been launched at www.trustsgmall.com.sg. This coincides with the Great Singapore Sale. Bringing together a host of more than 35 TrustSg accredited websites, it will offer Singaporeans a means to shop online with merchants who have met best-practice standards in business-to-consumer e-commerce. Added Mr Khoong, "The TrustSg Mall is an important step forward for online shopping in Singapore. The IDA has worked closely with the National Trust Council to set up a 'trusted' mall so that Singaporeans can experience online shopping with peace of mind. I hope the convenience and good deals will keep online shoppers coming back for more!" Playing online games can also be a fun way to experience the e-lifestyle. The IDA is supporting a series of upcoming online gaming tournaments organized by private-sector partners such as NCI Leisure, Playworks, Microsoft, SingTel and others all through June and in the coming months. Some of the highlights include a Military First-Person Shooter Game tournament and the PGR2 (driving) tournament on X-Box Live.
An integrated IT platform that manages the flow of trade-related information is set to make Singapore more competitive as a world class port and logistics hub. This platform will enable exchange of information between shippers, freight forwarders, carriers and financial institutions to facilitate the flow of goods within, through and out of Singapore. Revealing this today at the opening of the Infocomm Media Business Exchange 2004 was Dr Lee Boon Yang, Singapore's Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts. "Providing a single web interface for all trade-related IT systems, this integrated platform will help logistics players cut down on multiple data entry steps," said Dr Lee Boon Yang. "This means less duplication of manual efforts and reduction in human errors which will ultimately improve efficiency and time to market. The net effect is increased competitiveness for the logistics industry." This integrated platform will automate the creation and exchange of commercial and regulatory documentation necessary for trade. The government will invest up to S$50 million over five years to develop the platform, which will cover project development expenditure, assistance for industry adoption and other project costs. Existing IT systems such as TradeNet, PortNet, Jurong Port Online, Marinet and the Cargo Community Network which have served the trade and logistics communities well for the past 20 years, will be integrated with the platform. When launched in end 2006, the integrated platform will become the gateway to the new TradeNet system for trade permit applications. Such integration will enhance process and information flow in the entire trade and logistics community which will contribute to improving overall competitiveness of the sector. A study conducted by The Logistics Institute-Asia Pacific estimates that such an integrated platform can potentially save businesses more than S$700 million over a 20-year period when mass adoption is achieved. The study also concludes that an additional S$4 billion over a 20-year period can be potentially generated from new logistics value-added services created around the platform. Examples of such services include reverse logistics, regional distribution and multi-country consolidation hubs. For the logistics sector, this represents new business opportunities and another avenue to enhance its competitive position. An Inter-Agency Steering Committee has been formed to oversee the development, implementation and adoption of the services offered under the integrated platform. A tender exercise will be conducted to shortlist qualified vendors for the development of the platform. This will spin off many opportunities for IT solutions providers to build new and innovative technology capabilities. A User Council, led by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), will be set up to engage the industry throughout the project. This continuous dialogue will ensure the relevance of the integrated platform in meeting industry needs. Members of the User Council will comprise representatives from key user segments such as shippers, carriers, logistics service providers, banks and financial institutions, ports, critical systems, and industry associations. Please refer to the annex on what some users have to say about the integrated trade and logistics IT platform.
Online shopping faces an uphill task of winning over more Singaporeans because many here are still wedded to shopping in stores conveniently located near them. Technology research firm Frost & Sullivan says that is why a recent Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore survey found fewer Singapore households are shopping online. Most people see going to a bank as a hassle; they would avoid it if they could. That is why more Singapore households are doing their banking online, according to the IDA survey. Not so when it comes to shopping; rather than being a chore, it is seen as part and parcel of life on a small island. "Singapore is really a small country and what we see as a whole, Singaporeans love shopping. We take a big amount of our holiday and time for shopping," said Manoj Menon, a partner at Frost & Sullivan. "To add to it there has been no real incentive in terms of prices or better value proposition to move away from the traditional way of shopping to the online shopping experience," he said. The biggest increase was seen in the number of Singapore households using the Internet for e-learning, and that may be due partly to last year's SARS outbreak. "E-learning is one of the killer applications that broadband really enables. In the last year, we also had SARS, which impacted the normal learning process for people and the ability for students to go on a regular basis," Mr Menon said. "The increased impetus to adopt some of these channels, and alternative channels through the Internet and e-learning platforms, has contributed significantly to this significant jump you have seen." Mr Menon adds that there are significant new tools and applications which have made the entire process of learning through the Internet more interactive and more self-paced. These factors have also contributed to the growth of e-learning in Singapore.
Enterprise-wide employee self-service has radically redefined the HR role at the Government Investment Corporation of Singapore. The Government Investment Corporation of Singapore (GIC), established in 1981 to safeguard and manage the country's reserves, has implemented a Staffware-based web-enabled human resources system and has been rolled out to over 600 users.Historically, the Administration and Personnel Department managed an integrated human resource (HR) and administration framework with PeopleSoft HR System. In anticipation of the organisation's growing HR requirements, GIC investigated how these tasks could be further automated through an intranet - to reduce time spent on mundane activities. "This is when we turned to Staffware to help us. Staffware was able to develop a business process that not only matched our growing HR needs, but also integrated seamlessly with our current system," commented Joyce Ng, Manager (Projects), GIC. Staffware developed and implemented a web-based HR system according to GIC policies, validating new entries against the existing policies and entitlements defined in PeopleSoft, thus saving time and manual data entry in updating the master employee database. After initial testing on two departments of 80 staff, the application was rolled out to all 600 staff by simply replacing a URL on the main GIC website. "We are extremely impressed with the capabilities. The system has reduced the time and labour-intensive data entry process and enabled our HR staff to channel their time to administering policies and managing the process instead," added Ng.
The Science Ministry has asked a third party to test an electronic device, "E-Plus", after a senior administrator raised doubts about its claimed efficiency in saving fuel and cutting vehicle emissions. Unveiled in May, the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technology Research claimed its invention could save 10-15% in fuel costs. But its board chairman wanted a formal test, certified by a recognised institution, on its efficiency. Minister Korn Dabbaransi wants the test results by July 15.The announcement drew interest from state agencies and the public and 20,000 orders were made. So far, 628 E-Plus devices have been installed in cars. The ministry will put off any further installation until the middle of this month.
Having applied education on demand by deploying an intelligent classroom and data centre last year, North Chiang Mai University (NCU) recently implemented a Total Campus Management Solution (TCMS) to pave to the way to become an e-university. North Chiang Mai College took just four years to upgrade to be a university and for a private educational institute this was the shortest period to achieve this, according to NCU president Narong Chavasint. NCU has invested some 80 million baht implementing IT infrastructure supporting education on-demand that covers e-workplaces, a data centre and intelligent classrooms. Metro Systems Corporation (MSC) president and CEO Tavit Charuvajana said that NCU had applied the most modern technology, using IT to move from being a college to a university by implementing IT infrastructure over the last seven months. TCMS, which is based on .NET, was like a CRM solution for education, said Mr Tavit, adding that this semester, students could register via the TCMS and data would be delivered to the dean and lecturers. Developed by Malaysian-based IITC Sdn Bhd, the web-based TCMS program comprises several modules including student lifecycle system (SLS), management information system (MIS), library information, hostel management system, TCMS control centre, TCMS security administration, and intelligent timetable scheduling system called iScheduler. In the past, universities had to take at least four months to arrange and match students to lecturers and classrooms, but the TCMS would eliminate those problems. SLS covers admission and records, real time registration, automated registration process, and supports global education programmes. "This will be the first time that parents can access and know about their children's learning over the Internet," Mr Tavit said, adding that over the next six months, an e-university would be developed, of which the administrator and everybody could use the information simultaneously and accurately. TCMS can manage academic operations from admission, finance, examination, student services, administration and academic analysis to alumni relations and beyond and so far, the university has implemented around half the solution, with the whole infrastructure expected to be completed by November.
Thailand can expect to save some 28.5 billion baht in operation costs per year within three years by adopting e-logistics platforms, according to researchers at Kasetsart University. Based on a total trading value of 5.44 trillion baht, the paperless trading system could reduce costs by at least 0.5% and result in the 28.5 billion in savings, according to Dr Somnuk Keretho, director of Kasetsart's Institute for Innovative Information Technology. Dr Somnuk noted that developed countries that have applied e-logistic systems have saved some 10% of GDP, in the case of the US, while countries in Europe have achieved savings of 7-8%. Thailand's Competitiveness Development Commission has put e-logistics on the government agenda and aims to roll out projects in-line with this. For example, the Commission plans to develop an information network that would provide services to a range of organisations including host agency the NESDB as well as the Business Development Department, Customs Department and ICT Ministry. The government has approved an initial budget of 1,250 million baht for the project, said Dr Somnuk, adding that Thailand would share its framework for the initiative with other countries during a symposium this week. Khunying Dhipavadee Meksawan, permanent secretary of the ICT Ministry, noted that the ministry would be the central agency for data exchange and infrastructure, while the functions of other organisations would be set this week. The permanent secretary pointed out that costs for organisations that have not implemented electronic trading are some 20-30% higher than those that have. "The prime minister has a resolution to push Thailand as the centre for logistics in the region, so it has to decrease the costs to local importers and exporters," she said. Dr Somnuk raised the example of Singapore, where importers and exporters had to submit 21 application forms to 23 seperate agencies _ a process that took 15-20 days. Today, with an electronic back office system, they apply once and the process takes 15-20 minutes. As a result, Singapore could save up to US$1 billion a year, he said. Skol Harnsuthivarin, inspector general of the Ministry of Commerce, noted that paperless trading involves everything related to trading, including contracts, letters of credit, shipping, invoicing, export and import permissions and so on. "Importantly, the system would eliminate corruption or bribes," Mr Skol said. Thailand, as the vice chair of the APEC Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), will host an APEC Symposium on ebXML for Internet Paperless Trading and Collaborative e-Business on July 21-23. APEC's goal is to allow for cross-border paperless trading where possible by 2005 for developed economies and 2010 for developing economies. It also aims to implement the 2001 APEC Trade Facilitation Action Plan, targeting a 5% reduction in transaction costs in all APEC member economies by 2006. The meeting will produce a final report outlining participants' recommendations to the APEC ECSG, which will be used as a guideline for establishing standards and interoperable frameworks.
A mixture of passion and doubt appeared after a letter supposedly written by King Rama V 96 years ago was put up for auction on the popular online auction site ebay earlier this month. The one-page letter, initially listed for US$550 (Bt22,569), shows the letterhead seal bearing King Chulalongkorn's initials under the royal crown, as well as his purported handwriting and signature. A seller on ebay.com, identified as "nino00", listed the item with its photo and description as "19 Sept 1908 letter from King Rama V to his brother. Folded. Good conditions." on the auction site on July 13. But the auction offer expired as scheduled on July 20 without any bids. The seller posted a picture of the letter on the auction page but the text appearing in the image was barely legible as the image was too small in size and a part of the letter was covered with a stain. A readable part of the letter indicated that it contained King Chulalongkorn's approval of new guidelines for taxation in Photharam district, Ratchaburi. Deputy director of the National Archives Sureerat Wongsangiam said after examining a copy of the image appearing on the website, that she could not confirm its authenticity but it is likely that it is authentic. She added that official letters should not be auctioned as they should be stored in the National Archives. And if the letter appeared to be personal in nature, the descendants of the person who received it should keep it instead of putting it up for sale on the Internet. MR Malinee Chakrabandu said that the government should buy the letter to keep it as an historical item. "If the letter is authentic, it is of great value," she said. A professional collector of items related to King Rama V, who requested anonymity, said that he doubted the letter's authenticity as there were plenty of fake items on auction websites. "Basically, websites are not a place for real collectors＃. No one could verify the items' authenticity out there," he said. He added that such letters were common among collectors and an authentic King Rama V letter with similar content had been sold for less than Bt12,300.
KARACHI - The Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Shahid Karimullah, on Friday performed the inauguration of newly-built state-of-art electronic and communication labs at Karachi Campus of Baharia Institute of Management and Sciences (BIMS). The labs are specially designed to provide maximum support to students pursuing degree in computer engineering. Speaking on the occasion, Admiral Shahid Karimullah said that Pakistan Navy has always attached great importance and significance to improving standards of education to keep pace with the rapidly changing technology. He said that it is time we should take up the challenge and realize the need of constant upgradation of the curriculum and facilities of our educational institutions to keep them at par with the modern day demands of quality education. In his welcome address, Director of Baharia Institute of Management and Sciences, Ahmed Zaheer, spoke about the details about the newly established labs. He said that nine labs have been established to provide computer assisted support to students. Later, the Naval Chief visited the labs and appreciated the hard work and dedication of the management to maintain highest standards for provision of quality education. He also assured the university management of the whole-hearted support from Pakistan Navy in future as well. The ceremony was attended, among others, by Naval officers and other dignitaries. -APP
Bangladesh's Leading cell phone provider CityCell has launched 'Online Self Care' for online service management at a press conference held at Hotel Sheraton recently. Online Self Care is an innovative new service management system that enables CityCell's postpaid customers to manage a number of services online at their own convenience. In the first instance, Online Self care will allow customers to view their bill status and payment details at any time, including pay date, mode of payment, payment history and amount of payment outstanding. Customers can also lodge service related queries and complaints online with Online Self Care. "Convenient and timely service management is crucial for customers," said Intekhab Mahmud, CityCell's Head of Marketing, at the press conference. "We have introduced Online Self Care as part of our ongoing commitment to provide our customers with innovative services that will make their life easier" he said. Customers can access the Online Self Care via CityCell's corporate website www.citycell.com or directly through www.citycell.com/onlineselfcare
By this time next year, 10 remote communities in Dagana dzongkhag will have Internet connections, through an agreement signed on July 14 between the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the royal government, and Bhutan Telecom. The Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau of ITU, Mr. Hamadoun I. Toure, the Information and Communication Minister, Lyonpo Leki Dorji, and Director of Department of Aid and Debt Management, Nima Wangdi, signed the agreement after a two-day seminar on e-governance jointly hosted by ITU and the ministry in Thimphu. The ITU committed US$ 413,500 of the total cost of US$ 1,654,879 for the low cost based IP telephony network under a ICT infrastructure project. Bhutan Telecom will bear the remaining cost of US$ 1,241,379 from internal sources, a press release from Bhutan Telecom said. The ITU grant will be utilised to provide equipment and expertise for the project. ※We agreed on collaboration with Bhutan Telecom to link 10 remote communities with the new IP telephonic system and the project will, undoubtedly, be completed in another six months,§ Mr. Hamadoun Toure told Kuensel. The Director of ITU also signed another project with the Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) committing to assist in a nation wide television coverage service. ※We discussed the challenges the BBS is facing in reaching its television service throughout the country,§ he said. ※We agreed upon the satellite solution that will give a quick national coverage for BBS television.§ ※The project would cost about US$ 300,000 to start and ITU will commit 50 percent of it from January next year while the rest will be borne by BBS.§ Highlighting ITU＊s plans for Bhutan, the Director also mentioned a major project due with Bhutan Post to initiate e-post. In collaboration with the ITU, International Postal Union, and Ministry of Information and Communications, Bhutan Post will reach postal services with internet facilities to remote villages that remain completely cut-off for about six months around the year. ※Bhutan was under our special programme of Least Developed Countries (LDC) last year where we took the opportunity to put real emphasis to put Bhutan under the spot light for donor agencies,§ he said. ※We sought to portray that Bhutan had good governance and no corruption especially when compared to many other countries around the world or in Asia.§ On information and communication technology, the Director said Bhutan was comparatively far behind and there was a lot to do. ※That is the reason why we are very eager and we are assisting Bhutan every time because the leaders know what they want,§ he said.
Kerala City Corporation is gearing up for a major project to create a ward-level digital survey map of all the premises in the city. The mapping project, which is part of the e-governance programme taken up by the local body, will help it to streamline the tax assessment system and ensure easy verification of records. A detailed ward-level survey will be conducted to categorise houses and create a computerised database. The digital map will feature the revised parameters for tax assessment, based on self-declaration by residents. The project is part of a Government proposal for the premises- mapping of all the urban bodies in the State. The Information Kerala Mission (IKM) has been entrusted with the execution of the project. IKM officials have conducted several rounds of meetings with Corporation authorities to finalise the strategy. The field survey involves a massive house-to-house data collection exercise to be carried out with the help of Kudumbasree volunteers and polytechnic students. The Mayor, J Chandra, said the digital map would be used to help the Corporation crack down on corruption by ensuring a transparent tax assessment system. Corporation officials are, however, concerned over the reluctance of the Revenue department to cooperate with the project. The Mayor said officials in the Survey department had refused to part with the existing survey maps, which will constitute the information base for the project. She said efforts were on to seek the help of the Survey Director to sort out the issue. In the first phase of the project, the physical maps available with the Survey department will be digitised and converted to GIS (Geographical Information System) map format. The second phase involves preparation of ward-level maps showing roads and landmarks. In the third phase, a special software will be used to prepare plot-level maps showing survey numbers, blocks, plots and sub-plots. Every structure will be marked on the digital map with its precise location. The last stage of the project involves the preparation of proper scale maps and field verification. Corporation officials say the digitised resurvey map would make detection of zonal violations easier and minimise the procedure for issue of building permits. The local body is planning to publish the map, to enable transparent assessment of tax, based on objective parameters. The field survey will also cover the details of various welfare schemes availed by the residents. ``This will help expose any multiple utilisation of pension schemes'', an official said. The IKM director, R Unnikrishnan, said the digital map was being designed to revise the outdated land records and streamline the new tax reforms: "While property tax is a major revenue source for the Corporation, factors such as under-assessment, evasion and corruption have led to poor collection. The solution is to have a proper database covering every building". Unnikrishnan cites the example of cities such as Bangalore and Patna, where tax reforms had led to a quantum jump of over 400 per cent in collection, despite a 50 per cent reduction in the tariff. The data entry of back records and staff training courses are progressing on schedule. The Mayor said the project was expected to go on stream by early July, clearing the decks for the digital mapping programme.
A computer built by an Indian-American company has been adjudged the second fastest supercomputer in the world, second only to the Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan, built by NEC. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory＊s ＆Thunder＊, built by California Digital Corporation, has been named the second-fastest supercomputer in the world by the Top 500 Project, which provides twice-yearly lists of the 500 most powerful computer systems in the world. ※This is something that will change the face of high-performance computing as we know it,＊＊ an ecstatic B J Arun, founder and CEO of California Digital, said over the phone from New York. ※I think this is going to be extremely ground breaking.＊＊ For years, supercomputers have been a high-tech, exclusive domain for big players with deep pockets. The lowest estimate of Japan＊s Earth Simulator is $350 million. Arun said. ※For a small-size company like ours〞 we are just about 100 people worldwide〞for a company of our size to have done this, I can＊t explain to you how thrilled all of us were.＊＊ Arun said California Digital had managed to cut down the cost of supercomputing by a factor of 10. ※What we have been able to do is we are bringing supercomputing to the massesscientists, educational institutions, things like that,＊＊ he said.
Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) hopes to go digital to give a better service to its viewers. With this system, the SLRC will be capable of launching eight more TV channels and an FM radio service. Nishantha Ranatunga, Director General of SLRC told the Sunday Observer its first step, an 18-month project worth Rs. 600 million, will be launched within three months. By the end of this year, Rupavahini viewers in Colombo and suburbs will be able to experience the new technical system with clearer images and sound. The public could avail themselves of this facility by adjusting a special digital unit, which will be available in the market. At present, only monologue facility is available on our TV sets. The new TV channels will be utilised for educational, sports and other important areas. "At present India is the only South Asian country that has adopted digital techniques for television networks. Sri Lanka will be the second country in the region to have this new network. We hope Sri Lanka Rupavahini will be able to cover the whole country with this service by 2010," said the Director General. He further said that the SLRC would expand its scope worldwide with the new system. The first step will enable viewers in the Middle East and Europe to view Rupavahini, in three months. The second step will provide the opportunity for expatriates in the US to view the national channel. The Director General also said that the new SLRC Management will strictly adhere to the rules and regulations imposed socially and culturally when selecting its programmes. "Being a national channel, the public expects us to be more responsible and cautious, especially when selecting teledramas," he said. "We have already appointed a special Board for this purpose. No teledramas that will harm the cultural, religious, social and moral values, giving bad examples like scenes with smoking and drug addiction, killings and terrorism, sex and violence against women, uncouth words and deeds that are not suitable for children, disgracing disabled citizens or any kind of faith or community and matters that would harm international relations will not be shown," explained Ranatunga. Working with the theme 'With dedication towards responsibility,' the SLRC hopes to telecast programmes that would enhance the morals and values of society such as respecting parents and elders. "Rupavahini will be the channel which all members of the family could sit together and watch without any unease," said Ranatunga. He further said that though there is excess staff at the SLRC, the new Management does not consider terminating anyone's service on unreasonable basis."Instead, we are trying to assign all of them with some kind of work within the institution," he claimed (by Lakmal Welabada)
Electrification of 12 Islands Put on Tender
Digital Telephone Exchanges are being installed at 21 upazilas of Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari Hill districts. If everything remains normal these Upazilas are expected to be brought under digital telephone network within the tenure of the present government. People of the hill districts have been demanding digital telephone exchange replacing the ancient system for a long time. According to the reliable sources eight upazilas of Rangamati district 每 Baghaichhari, Kaukhali, Bilaichhari, Barkal, Naniarchar, Razasthali, Jarachhari, Longda and in Khagrachhari District, Lakshmichhari, Ramgarh, Manikchhari, Matiranga, Dighinala and Pass Chhars and in Bandarban district, Alikakadm, Lama, Ruma, Thanchi and Roangchhari will be brought under digital exchange. These exchanges will have the capacity of providing 100 lines in minimum and 300 lines in maximum. According to another source uninterrupted power supply is required to ensure the commissioning the digital telephone exchange located at the stated 21 upazilas of the three hill districts. As the machinery and equipments of digital telephone exchange are to be preserved in air conditioned rooms arrangement of uninterruption power supply is essential. On the very ground, where there is no possibility of extending power supply facilities decision of launching digital telephone exchange in these upazilas may be cancelled. Besides, establishment of digital telephone exchange at upazila level another telephone exchange of 1000 lines is expected to be installed at Kaptai Upazila under Rangamati district. It is worth mentioning despite bringing the three hill district headquarters under digital telephone exchange programme, the very age-old telephone exchanges are still in operation in other upazilas of Chittagong Hill Tracts region. These telephone exchanges remain out of commission during maximum period of the year. As a result telecommunication facilities between district and upazila level are hardly available.
AUSTRALIAN IT professionals are among the top 10 earners globally, with the exception of those in senior manager ranks, who receive almost $US10,000 ($14,000) less than their counterparts in 10th-ranked Mexico, according to a global salary survey. Australian senior managers came in about mid-way (14th) on a survey of IT earnings across 32 countries, but middle managers came in at the bottom of the scale of the 10 highest-paying countries, according to research by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Switzerland is the place to earn big bucks in IT. According to the survey of 43,000 internal IT professionals in nearly 3300 companies, Switzerland topped the table by at least $US10,600 in all four career levels: team leader ($US75,100), supervisor ($US97,600), manager ($US126,900) and senior manager ($US164,900). Wage increases in Hong Kong for IT workers higher on the corporate ladder were also significant. It ranked number 10 for team leaders ($US44,700), sixth for supervisors ($US66,100), third for managers ($US97,700) and second ($US144,300) behind the Swiss at the senior manager level. Average salaries for Australian IT team leaders were $US48,400, supervisors $US62,100, managers $US74,700 and senior managers $US91,800. Mercer principal Rob Knox warned against using the research as a basis for offshoring decisions. "Offshoring decisions shouldn't be made on a wage comparison. Things like political instability and tax breaks should be taken into consideration." Despite having lower levels of remuneration than counterparts elsewhere, Australian IT workers were still better off than other skilled professionals, Mr Knox said. IT graduates started on higher salaries compared with other skilled graduates and continued to earn more for several years, he said. According to a database of salaries, from graduate to chief executive level for different job groups, experienced IT professionals 〞 those with at least three years experience 〞 could earn in excess of 20 per cent above the general market. However, Mr Knox said, the salary gap between industries closed as individuals progressed through their careers. There was strong demand for IT workers with project management skills and internet security skills in the marketplace, Mr Knox said. Mercer has been recording salary data for the past 25 years. (by Kelly Mills)
NATIONAL IT research flag bearer National ICT Australia (NICTA) is to open a new $50 million research and development facility at the University of Melbourne. The Melbourne node will join other NICTA facilities at the Australian National University in Canberra and the Australian Technology Park at Redfern in inner-city Sydney. The new Melbourne node would conduct research in a purpose built terabit networking laboratory, Victorian ICT Minister Marsha Thomson said. "It builds on Victoria's excellence in telecommunications research and on the internationally acclaimed work already being undertaken at the University of Melbourne in photonics research - as well as the Centre for Ultra Broadband Information Networking," Ms Thomson said. The Victorian Government tipped $8 million into the venture, which also received $20 million in funding from NICTA and $25 million in cash and kind support from the University of Melbourne. "NICTA aims to build the laboratory into a fully operational ICT research facility with 80 researchers and PhD students by the end of 2006," Ms Thomson said. NICTA announced new research priorities in May, saying it would emphasise technology that had commercial potential rather than concentrating in pure research. Wireless network security and making better use of available data would be two key priority areas, NICTA chairman Neville Roach said.
TWO Sydney twenty-somethings cashed in on curiosity over the weekend when their school reunion website sold to a British company for a sum of almost $3 million. Rob Barron, 27, and sister Vicki Dawson, a 29-year-old mother of two, sold their www.schoolfriends.com.au to British competitor Friends Reunited for what industry experts estimate was at least 1million pounds ($2.7 million). Established in October 2000 as "pretty much a hobby" when Mr Barron was living with Ms Dawson and her husband, Trevor, schoolfriends now has more than 1 million members in Australia and New Zealand. British husband-and-wife team Steve and Julie Pankhurst of Friends Reunited bought the company from the Dawsons and Mr Barron, but will let them keep running it. Mr Barron, a computer programmer, was just 24 when he approached his sister, who was working at direct marketing company Amway, with the idea he had seen in the US. The site reunites school friends, and similar ideas overseas have reputedly led to marriage break-ups and illicit love affairs. "We haven't heard of anything like that here -- the main thing is people finding their old loves," Ms Dawson said. "Anyway, it's just a service -- people can use it any way they like," her brother added. At first, the company operated out of the study of the family's modest outer-suburban brick home in Stanhope Gardens in Sydney's northwest. "It was pretty quiet until about February 2001," Mr Barron said. But then a Melbourne newspaper wrote a story about the site and it took off in a big way. "It was just crazy -- we had 100,000 people signing up a month at one stage," Mr Barron said. It eventually expanded to South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, as well as Britain and Ireland. The site derives 98 per cent of its income from subscriptions and is run as a family business, with their mother looking after customer service and Trevor a company director. Ms Dawson said running an internet company from home was ideal for a young mother. Daughter Crystal is now 7 1/2 years old and son James is seven months. She said the key to the success of schoolfriends was the same formula that coaxed people to high school reunions -- wondering what path your alumni took and whether they were more successful than you. "It's definitely curiosity -- you know, 'what's so and so up to? Have they realised all their dreams?'," she said. The pair's advice to budding dotcom millionaires is "be prepared to put in a lot of hard work and long hours". "Oh, and make sure you have a good accountant." (by Louise Milligan)
THE NSW Government has made official its push into open source, launching a $1.5 million deployment of what may be the state's largest-ever rollout of open source software on the desktop. The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority -- traditionally a big Microsoft user -- is tipping savings of $2 million a year from the rollout of Sun Microsystems' Star Office package to registry managers and the Mozilla browser and email client to 1500 computers used by the authority's front counter staff in vehicle registries across the state. The deployment of the open source office productivity suite represents a real threat to Microsoft's dominance of the desktop through its Office package. The authority has already indicated its preference for open standards by installing Apple's iMac G4 across the registries earlier this year. The rollout will be a limited deployment of the software, with a further commercial rollout to half the organisation's 7000 desktops promised over the next few years. The RTA had identified the need for email and desktop computer facilities for 1500 motor registry staff. "Given the significant cost of such a large-scale deployment for registry staff, the RTA wanted to explore alternative open source email systems in order to reduce costs," said NSW Commerce Minister John Della Bosca. "The new system will be based on a centralised server model and one of the key benefits the RTA hopes to achieve is reduced labour costs due to lower support travel costs associated with a distributed system." The move represents one of the first concrete steps in Commerce Minister John Della Bosca's stated aim of using policy rather than legislation to create opportunities for open source products. Mr Della Bosca said earlier organisations would be encouraged to use open source where a tender evaluation of open source and proprietary products showed they were roughly equal. Prior to the RTA pilot, most public and corporate-sector Linux projects have been server-based, replacing Unix. Corporates are also looking at open source, with Telstra revealing in September last year that it was piloting Linux, the Gnome graphical user interface, the Mozilla browser and Star Office on 250 desktops. (by Simon Hayes)
REGIONAL telecommunications services are to receive a boost under a five-year broadband network agreement between Telstra and the Queensland government. Police, doctors and other service providers will be able to access high-speed voice and data technology in regions including Rockhampton, Gladstone, Townsville and Toowoomba. "Police will be better able to transfer high-quality identification data such as mug shots and fingerprint information between centres," said Telstra managing director for government and state sales, Tony Henshaw. "Regional health practitioners will be better able to securely transfer and access patient information and deliver enhanced services locally. "For patients this may minimise the need to travel to Brisbane for specialised medical advice or services." Mr Henshaw said the technology would also help deliver educational programs in a virtual way, removing geographical barriers to learning in regional areas. Telstra aims to connect up to 128 government agency sites to offer the new technology under an existing panel contract arrangement with the government.
SEVEN hundred South Australian schools will be linked via a new $20 million private broadband network. The Telstra-supplied network, announced by SA Minister for Education and Children's Services Jane Lomax-Smith, will allow schools to share learning resources and information. Thirty-one exchanges would be upgraded to provide data at up to 2Mbps, with Telstra also supplying REG TV multimedia broadcast equipment. The new schools network would also allow local communities access to broadband, Telstra SA regional director Michael Luchich said. "Upgrading the 31 telephone exchanges across the state with BDSL ("business grade DSL") will mean businesses in these areas will also have the opportunity to access high speed data services," he said. Schools would begin being connected next month, with the rollout expected to be completed by the end of the year, Telstra said. (by Chris Jenkins)
MELBOURNE'S new $300 million technology park would become an important part of the state's future, Prime Minister John Howard said. Officially launching the completion of the first stage of Digital Harbour in Melbourne's Docklands, Mr Howard predicted a big future for the park. "This particular technology park will as the years go by become an absolute hub for high technology," Mr Howard said. "Over the years as it develops and brings together not only academia, but business, cooperation between the Commonwealth government and state government (and) the commitment of the City of Melbourne, it will become a very, very, lively part of the future of this city." Telstra Technology Innovation and Products was also announced as the anchor tenant of the first building constructed on the site, called the Innovation Building. Other tenants occupying the five-storey complex will come from information technology pharmacy, film and television and digital media industries. Digital Harbour Holdings chairman Leon Kempler said the precinct exemplified a new culture where technology-based businesses could collaborate and leverage off one another's success. "Our society is learning to promote the flow of knowledge and find new and better ways to collaborate," Mr Kempler said. "We are learning to be open (and) Digital Harbour will foster this new method of thinking and operating." The technology park, on a 4.4 hectare parcel of land on the northern corner of the Docklands, was kicked off in 2001 with a $22.5 million grant from the federal government's Federation Fund. Other companies backing the technology park include KPMG, Microsoft, Cisco Systems Melbourne University, Baulderstone Hornibrook, Edgate and Jones Lang LaSalle. When finished, in about 10 years, it is expected to accommodate a workforce of up to 10,000 people.
A WORRYING industry-wide surge in cyber fraud has prompted Bendigo Bank to offer upgraded security to its 70,000 internet banking customers, by way of a device that generates a one-off user password. Bendigo Bank spokesman Owen Davies said the bank expected to inform customers this month but had not decided which party would foot the bill for the devices, which cost $10 to $15 each. "But we are certainly going to introduce them," he said. The move is aimed at tackling the industry-wide problem of "phishing", in which fraudsters send out emails requesting customers to register their password with a lookalike website. The password is then used to siphon the customer's account using the "pay anyone" function. The Bendigo Bank tokens, which fit on a keyring and are a similar size to a remote car-locking device, generate a new identification number every time the customer logs in. Fraudsters therefore need the customer's details and access to the token to steal the funds. "With our current levels of authentication and access we are limited to reacting to what is happening," Mr Owen said. "Tokens are a proactive way of tackling the problem." While the tokens are not new technology and have been used by most banks' business customers, the banks have objected to the cost of offering so-called secondary identification to its retail base. The National Australia Bank last week announced plans to pilot the cheaper approach of offering a one-off code to its 1 million retail customers through a mobile phone short messaging service. Other banks are also considering following suit, but so far have decided the losses incurred from compensating customers who fall victim to the frauds do not yet justify the cost. Tony Burke, the director and co-ordinator of the Australian Banking Association's fraud taskforce, said the banks were seeing new fraud variations "nearly every day". "Barriers to entry are pretty low, you only need a PC and a bit of knowledge," he said. However, hackers are yet to infiltrate the banks' own systems, which are subject to multi-level encryption. The weak link in the chain remains the customers' PCs, especially when virus and spam mail protection are not kept up to date. (by Tim Boreham)
TELSTRA hopes to save at least $300 million by sharing the third generation (3G) mobile network of rival Hutchison Telecommunications as part of a comprehensive mobile and wireless strategy to be announced next week. Next Thursday, Telstra technology chief Ted Pretty will unveil a new wireless network plan for Telstra, under which the company will attach wireless local area network (WLAN) antennas to its metropolitan payphones in a bid for a blanket wi-fi network in Australia's biggest city centres. People familiar with Telstra's plans said negotiations between the two companies had reached the final stages, although there was still some uncertainty over whether a deal could be reached. Analysts have estimated that a new 3G network would cost an Australian operator about $750 million. By the end of last year Hutchison had spent $1.3 billion on its 3G network and planned to spend a further $1.7 billion, including a heavy marketing program by the end of 2005, in an effort to grab at least a million Australian customers. "The deal would be based on current new network prices which have fallen by 30 per cent to 40 per cent since Hutchison built its network," Telstra sources said. Telstra and Hutchison earlier this year broke off talks on a complex deal that would have seen Telstra buy Hutchison's Orange network, which is based on less popular CDMA technology. On June 24 the Australian Stock Exchange queried a sharp rise and heavy trading in Hutchison shares and the company referred the ASX to a statement it made on April 20: "Consistent with previous public statements, Hutchison remains open to discussions with all mobile carriers on 3G network co-operation for rational deployment and utilisation of WCDMA infrastructure." Now the deal is understood to have broadened to include new shared services such as a future roaming agreement and network management. Hutchison's 3G network is only deployed in the wireless licence areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane/Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth, so customers using it outside those areas roam to Vodafone's network. It is understood that if an agree ment between Telstra and Hutchison is reached, Telstra will eventually replace Vodafone. Telstra is understood to be reasonably satisfied by the reach to Hutchison's 2000 base stations, but negotiations are also in train over a plan for Telstra to build 3G on a further 2000 sites in major regional centres. In addition, Telstra is expected to complete the $100 million deployment of its CDMA EV-DO network by the end of this calendar year. EV-DO offers data-only 3G speeds and will be targeted at corporate mobile data users. Telstra is also trialling proprietary wireless technology from US vendor Flarion, which is intended for very high speed data services in central business districts. Telstra also intends to have its consumer mobile data service i-Mode on the market before Christmas. A deal with Hutchison would please financial markets which have focused on Telstra's capital spending budget - expected to be about $3billion for 2003-04 - since the company revealed its plan to return a further $4.5 billion to shareholders. (by Michael Sainsbury)
Junk emails plague most small businesses - but almost one-third don't bother with anti-spam technology, according to a NSW government study. More than half of the state's small businesses receive more than five spam emails a day, NSW Small Business Minister David Campbell said. Almost three-quarters of the 300 businesses surveyed said they considered spam a timewaster, and another eight per cent said they felt upset or even threatened by the emails. Campbell said he was concerned 29 per cent of those surveyed had no anti-spam technology tools in place to protect their businesses. The minister said he knew it was annoying to have to spend money to protect a business from a cyber gatecrasher but he encourages small businesses to get such barriers in place. "Unsolicited emails have a terrible impact ... because it cuts productivity and causes stress," he said. The survey, conducted in April and May, also found 36 per cent of businesses believed staff spent more than 30 minutes a day dealing with spam. Spam cost 25 per cent of businesses more than $5000 a year, he said.
Those with IT skills are still enjoying a wage premium over others, says the New Zealand 2004 Remuneration Report. Compiled by Auckland's Strategic Pay, a remuneration and performance management consultancy, the report says higher bonuses are increasingly being paid to keep staff. The report surveyed nearly 200 organisations from industries including manufacturing, distribution, retail, finance and the public sector. John McGill, a senior consultant at Strategic Pay and the report's author, said the data confirmed 2 to 3 per cent overall wage rises in the last twelve months. The modest increases were not surprising considering the 16-year low in unemployment rates of 4.3 per cent, the fourth-lowest in the OECD, he said. But the most significant findings were the trends, which suggested underlying wage pressures. John Nevill, principal of recruiter Gaulter Russell, said the IT industry still paid well, but that might not last as IT-trained graduates flooded the market. "Potentially, those people with biotech skills might be the next area of development," he said. Gary Reid, Auckland manager at Neil Andrews, an IT headhunting firm, said people with specific skills could command good salaries but the bubble had burst for the really high salaries. There was less money to be thrown into higher wages, but some contractors could still command up to $110 an hour. His company has just placed a person with good skills in a one-year contract worth about $200,000. "There are still a few of those positions around," said Reid. Last year, Java skills were in hot demand, whereas this year it was Microsoft in the .Net area. Good software developers and network experts could earn between $70,000 and 90,000 a year, or more if they had exceptional skills in specific areas, he said. Many companies looking for IT sales staff offered packages worth well over $150,000, with the potential to double that if they were successful. McGill said the Government seemed to be moving cautiously with its five-year strategy for the employment taskforce to address pay issues in the public sector. Many employers felt it was ignoring the realities of the labour market. Different industries paid differently. For example, the finance sector paid more than the public sector, and some jobs such as IT functions paid more than other jobs. (by Richard Pamatatau)
Telecom has spent $2 million on a communications upgrade for Great Barrier Island which will increase calling capacity and bring Jetstream to the island for the first time. The upgrade is expected to improve the sometimes patchy telephone service, with the linking of the settlements at Claris and Tryphena to a new microwave radio system at Tokatea on the Coromandel Peninsula. The project, which started in March last year, also involved laying 11.5km of fibre optic-cable and 10.5km of copper cable, and creates 120 new telephone connections. Telecom's internet and online marketing manager, Chris Thompson, said the upgrade would probably mean better quality dial-up internet services. About 90 customers around Claris would also be able to subscribe to Jetstream. The service would have the same quality Jetstream users in central Auckland enjoy. "They have to be within range of the Claris exchange," said Thompson. "We're considering extending it to Tryphena if there is demand." He expected businesses around Claris to take interest in Jetstream, as well as remote workers who wanted to avoid travelling to the city. Previously, the only service available to the island other than dial-up internet was ihug's 128Kbps satellite service which still depends on a phone line for upstream data traffic. Both Telecom and Vodafone have limited mobile phone coverage on the western side of the island. Work was under way to build new telecoms services to the housing subdivision at Schooner Bay. That project is expected to be completed this month. (by Peter Griffin)
Hopes for rural broadband competition have been dealt another blow with Telecom revealing it is using its Project Probe funding from the Government to slash the price of its wireless broadband services. The result is, in effect, a subsidy. It spells cheaper connections and lower monthly internet charges for consumers - an intended side-effect of the Government's scheme to get high-speed internet to rural schools - but it effectively strangles broadband competition beyond the main centres. The move has Telecom rivals ihug and Iconz re-evaluating their rural broadband offerings, and ihug is looking to ditch it completely. It is understood that Telecom is receiving a few million dollars per Probe region from the Government. Woosh Wireless' Project Probe aspirations have collapsed and it withdrew last week from three of the four regions it had won Government money to service. Telecom has claimed Canterbury, Wairarapa and Northland and the funding that goes with them. It now has 11 of the 15 Probe tenders and can spread the subsidy effect nationwide. Telecom spokeswoman Helen Isbister confirmed that the Probe grant had enabled it to reduce the cost of the Wireless 1000 and 2000 services provided by its internet provider arm, Xtra. Thanks to the Probe grants, Telecom can halve the $1475 installation charge and can provide the Xtra Wireless 1000 and 2000 plans at $60 and $70 per month respectively. Other providers selling the service are charging about $105 and $115 per month. Telecom is also flagging its $475 installation fee in a deal running until the end of the month. Telecom and its competitors wholesale the same service from government-owned broadcasting and telecoms operator Broadcast Communications, which reaches rural communities with its network of transmission towers. BCL gives them all the same wholesale rate. The Herald understands that rate is $55 plus GST per month and per customer, which would bring the customer cost for the cheapest plan to $62 dollars a month for the provider. A spokesman for a regional internet provider, who did not want to be named, said his company had started setting up a service with BCL but could not compete with Telecom's heavily subsidised pricing. His two entry-level services used equipment from wireless vendor Airspan. The entry-level deals run at 256Kbps downstream, and 128Kbps upstream, which is equivalent to Telecom's Jetstream Surf ADSL plans. Isbister said the two entry-level wireless services were available for residential and business customers, but added that the Probe grant did not apply to the faster Wireless Plus plans. Although BCL announced with much fanfare the support of internet providers ihug and Iconz as an endorsement of its wholesale model, ihug is no longer actively pitching the wireless services to customers. Ihug's general manager of networks, David Diprose, said the decision to award Telecom the Probe subsidies was "against the goals of the project". Diprose said a wholesaler should have been given the Probe subsidies instead. This happened in the Auckland region where Counties Power network subsidiary Wired Country is deploying a wireless service on a wholesale basis to internet provider partners. Asked if ihug would continue deploying the BCL wireless service, Diprose said that there was "no point in trying to compete [against Xtra] on these terms". Diprose said that ihug would no longer actively market BCL, as the provider did not "consider it a viable commercial opportunity". Instead, Ihug will work with Wired Country, as it sees that as the greatest chance of providing a price-competitive service to customers. Iconz is providing wireless services through BCL in some of the regions awarded to Telecom. General manager Sean Weekes said he was "not happy per se" with Telecom's aggressive price-cutting, but that Iconz would still offer the service. Iconz, however, would not be matching Telecom's price cuts. Weekes added that he was been on record as saying that BCL's choice of technology was too expensive for consumers. Like ihug, Iconz's focus was on providing Wired Country wireless service, which Weekes said had "seen a strong uptake in Auckland". The Probe debacle: Telecom claims all * Telecom is using millions of dollars in Government grants to undercut competitors in rural areas. * Woosh's withdrawal from three Probe regions - Wairarapa, Canterbury and Northland - means Telecom instead receives grants for those areas and can extend its subsidies to more of the country. * Telecom's rivals cannot afford to match the price cuts, with ihug ditching the wireless service. (by Juha Saarinen)
Venture capital firm Intellectual Capital Partners (i-cap) has invested $35 million in wireless broadband provider Woosh Wireless, with a view to being on board for a possible float next year. Tony Hannon, managing director of i-cap, said Woosh's business plan calls for a listing in around 18 months' time. "That will be reviewed as a strategic initiative by the company, part of the brand development and also to continue broadening the base of investors," Mr Hannon said. There has been talk of IPO (initial public offer) fatigue in the market, following a spate of new floats this year, but Mr Hannon said Woosh was different from other new offerings. "When we go to list we will not do it without strong market demand for Woosh. It's quite a different company from the ones that have listed in the last few months, and plan to list....with a different focus and different feel," Mr Hannon said. Woosh chief executive Bob Smith said that despite the size of the telecommunications sector there was very little choice of investment vehicles in that market. "There's demand from investors for choices other than just Telecom in the sector," Mr Smith said. Mr Hannon said the board would start looking at the IPO in the last quarter of next year. In the meantime, he said i-cap's funding will help Woosh broaden its network and build its brand awareness and customer base. Woosh is looking to grow coverage within its current network in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Southland and step up its sales and marketing activities. The company's ultimate goal is nationwide broadband coverage, but Mr Hannon said this would take several years to develop. Woosh has signed on 5000 customers since it changed its name from Walker Wireless and launched its commercial high speed wireless internet service in September last year. Mr Hannon said only about 2 per cent of New Zealanders had broadband coverage, but this was growing as pricing becomes more competitive. Of the New Zealanders signed up to broadband, Mr Smith said Woosh had captured about a 30 to 40 per cent market share in its coverage area. Woosh caters to both the traditional broadband market as well as the portable broadband market. The Auckland-based company's existing shareholders include founder and chairman Rod Inglis, Todd Capital, Sky TV co-founder Craig Heatley, The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall, and US private equity firm Clarity Partners. I-cap manages about $400 million, through five funds which focus on Australasian investments.
A desire to keep a critical database of land information in New Zealand hands is behind the decision by Dunedin's Animation Research Holdings to buy out the other shareholders in mapping company Terralink International. Animation Research has doubled its stake to 80 per cent. The remaining shares were bought by Terralink management. Out are Australian mapmaker Aspect North, which gained its shareholding through its acquisition of New Zealand Aerial Mapping, and Mike and Lesley Bundock. Animation Research is mainly known for its contribution to the development of the Virtual Spectator internet viewer for America's Cup races, but has pioneered a range of new applications involving data visualisation. It teamed up with New Zealand Aerial Mapping and the Bundocks in late 2001 to buy the assets of state-owned mapping company Terralink from receivers for $7.2 million. The consortium shifted a further $10 million of assets into the company in the form of eMap, an electronic mapping and viewing system with associated databases which Aerial Mapping had built on the Smallworld GIS data management software platform developed by Mike Burdock. Animation Research managing director Ian Taylor said the shareholders had different priorities for the business. "We initiated this buy-out so we could keep the focus in the direction we wanted it to be," Taylor said. "Our vision is to find new ways to deliver this data and make sure it is complete and accurate." Key to this was the decision to put Terralink's locality database of 1.4 million addresses and place names into a new Emergency Services Trust. Terralink is trying to convince the Government to adopt this database, which is already used by the main emergency services, rather than spend millions of dollars developing its own. "To do that we had to ensure the land database was 100 per cent New Zealand-owned," Taylor said. Terralink will continue to work with Aspect North on civilian and defence mapping work in Australia for the Australian Federal Government GeoScience panel. In the 13 months to the end of June 2002, Terralink lost $4.78 million on revenue of $15.1 million, with asset write-offs and restructuring of more than $1 million, high computing costs and $2.1 million in depreciation accounting for most of the loss. In 2003, aggressive depreciation of intellectual property and goodwill again pushed the company into the red with a $3.69 million loss on revenue of $10.59 million. Chief executive Mike Donald said there were similar write-offs for the year just ended. He said the share buy-out was welcomed by staff, as was a promise of a staff share scheme later in the year. (by Adam Gifford)
New Zealand businesses are taking internet security seriously but need to work harder in some areas, according to a survey released today. The NetSafe Internet Security survey, conducted by business software maker MYOB and non-profit agency the internet Safety Group (ISG), surveyed around 2000 businesses to assess a range of online security measures. ISG director Liz Butterfield said one area the survey showed was in need of work was the implementation of an acceptable use policy. Only 45 per cent of respondents had such a policy, which governs the use of the internet and computers in the workplace. "We need to clearly articulate why such policies and procedures are essential and what they should contain, in order to promote both workplace safety and information security," Ms Butterfield said. MYOB general manager David Lowe said several other areas where education was needed were also exposed by the survey. "In particular the survey showed that the majority of businesses didn't regularly change their administrator password and, although most backed up their system, almost half didn't regularly test the backup," he said. He said the survey showed New Zealand businesses were heeding security warnings about potential risks to their computer systems, but that it was important to maintain education and support for these businesses as threats become increasingly sophisticated. Over 70 per cent of respondents had installed a firewall and 98 per cent had anti-virus software -- which 71 per cent of respondents said they had updated the previous week. Only a quarter of the businesses surveyed had experienced a computer failure or loss of data over the past year. Large businesses were more likely to have experienced a systems failure, with 46 per cent of surveyed businesses with more than 50 employees reporting a crash in the past 12 months. Unsolicited junk mail -- or spam -- was a major annoyance for 22 per cent of businesses surveyed, but only 4 per cent of respondents said it was seriously interfering with their business online. The majority of businesses estimated that less than 10 per cent of their daily email traffic was spam, with only 7 per cent reporting that unsolicited junk emails made up well over half of their daily traffic.
More than 60,000 New Zealanders could be given cellphones and free local calls under proposals before the Government. Communications Minister Paul Swain is considering farming out Telecom's legal obligation to provide free local and emergency calls for unprofitable customers in rural areas. Arch-rival Vodafone, Woosh Wireless or BCL would step into the breach. Swain has asked his officials to examine if these companies could provide a reliable service and expects a recommendation "real soon now". Telecom's competitors pay a share of the costs of maintaining a service for marginal customers but say they could do it for much less. "Clearly the issue of Vodafone paying Telecom to compete in areas where Vodafone itself has spare capacity is one that needs looking at," said Swain. Companies would be invited to bid for the right to provide service in as many as 15 marginal regions. It is not clear how quickly the handover from Telecom would occur if Swain gave the green light. The Commerce Commission claims 62,000 customers are not profitable. But the figure is hotly disputed by the industry. Telecom claims it services many more, while rivals say the actual figure is much less. Telecom has already warned that any re-allocation of the service would be a complex and difficult move. Telecom public affairs manager John Goulter said the process ran the risk of making unprofitable customers more unprofitable. "Some customers would want to stay with Telecom and that means duplicating networks in areas that are already economically difficult." Goulter said Telecom would expect the Government to call for submissions on the matter before making any decision. Vodafone, which paid Telecom $12 million to cover its portion of the free service obligation, is threatening legal action if it is billed once again. Vodafone public policy manager Roger Ellis said: "We would offer service in those areas if it were contestable and we had cell sites available, but it would depend in large part on whether we would be further penalised for driving up Telecom's costs by taking customers off them." Eight of Telecom's competitors have to stump up for the TSO payments. At least two are trying to back out. CallPlus has split itself into two separate companies and claims it no longer meets the criteria to be billed. Compass Communications has said its bill should be less because most of its traffic travels on TelstraClear's network rather than Telecom's. Vodafone, which has the largest bill, has argued that it shouldn't be charged at all as it already pays Telecom an interconnection fee to connect with its network and that the bill amounts to a tax on competition. (by Paul Brislen)
Auckland City Council and Auckland University have launched an ambitious plan to create 10,000 high-paid, high-tech jobs around the university's Tamaki campus. The council's implementation planning manager, Ian Maxwell, told a seminar at Tamaki on Friday that the redevelopment was aimed at transforming the fairly rundown industrial area between the old Mt Wellington quarry and the Glen Innes shops into New Zealand's answer to Singapore, or to Britain's Cambridge science park. "Our vision is 10,000 jobs - five times the number that exist now," he said. We have looked at Singapore, parts of Australia and Europe and that sort of figure is not out of the way. "We are looking at knowledge workers. "They can choose Cambridge or Brisbane or San Francisco or wherever, so we have to make this development something special. "We are talking about an integrated development right across the Tamaki area." Planners propose three separate zones in the area: * The 32ha Tamaki university campus itself, which includes space at the southern end on Morrin Rd for public and private sector partners with close links to university researchers. * A 10ha "technology park", also on the western side of Morrin Rd just south of the university campus, which may be bought by the council so that it can be leased only to firms that fit into the campus's six research themes. * A much larger area of about 100ha comprising the existing industrial zone between the quarry and the Panmure railway where business development will be unrestricted apart from possible requirements for higher "amenity" to attract "knowledge workers". Campus head Professor Ralph Cooney said the six campus themes spanned health, sports and community; information and communications technology and electronics; information management; food and biotechnology; environment, energy and resources; and materials and manufacturing. He said the university had agreed to build five new buildings of 20,000 sq m each for companies in areas related to these themes, such as health computing firms, resource management companies and high-tech businesses generally. "I am now in negotiation with 20 organisations to locate here," he said. "Right now our situation is not a lack of interest. It's a lack of capacity to respond to demand." Mr Maxwell said the city council was about to appoint a Development Enterprise Board to buy land in areas such as the proposed Morrin Rd technology park and lease it to appropriate businesses. "The aim of being able to vet firms locating in the innovation precinct, so that they can contribute to links with the university and the downstream commercial research, is important," he said. "It means picking winners." Other parks springing up around the country Auckland's other technology park, Smales Farm at Takapuna, expects to announce an anchor tenant for its proposed third building in the next month. The 12ha site, which houses the head offices of TelstraClear and Toll Rail and the local branch of Electronic Data Systems (EDS), aims to employ 5000 to 6000 people in 17 buildings - almost as many as the planned Tamaki high-tech zones. Like Tamaki, it is associated with a university. In this case, Massey University sits on the park's governing board along with members of the Smale family, which once owned much of the North Shore from Takapuna to Campbells Bay. The third building, due for completion late next year, will be on Taharoto Rd just south of TelstraClear. It will have about 10,000sq m over five storeys, including a cafe, gym and meeting rooms. Down at Ruakura, near Hamilton, the Waikato Innovation Park completed its first 3600sq m building last year and is building its second, in which the anchor tenant will be British-based Nupharm, which makes up drugs for testing. The Ministry of Research, Science and Technology's director of innovation and commercialisation, Dr Chris Kirk, said Palmerston North also planned a $2 million "Biocommerce Centre" as the centre of a proposed technology park, and the Auckland University of Technology had a "park" in a former Fletchers office building in Penrose. But he said none of these developments were big enough to qualify as true technology parks on a global scale. "In New Zealand we now have 12 high-growth incubators. What we don't have is any grow-out space," he said.
The 7th China Beijing International Hi-tech Expo (CHITEC) is being held in Beijing from May 21 to 26. Initiated in 1998, China Beijing International High-tech Industries Week was officially renamed China Beijing International High-tech Expo at its fifth session in 2002, and given its abbreviated name, CHITEC, in 2003. Great changes have taken place in Beijing since the first China Beijing International High-tech Industries Week. Eight new concepts promoted at previous six expos played a significant role in boosting the development of the capital city's economy:
High-risk technology investment: Speculative technology investment has been one of the most influential concepts at all six previous CHITECs. In the early years of CHITEC, the shock waves of the Asian financial crisis were still reverberating. Banks were very cautious about any investment and the stock market drop frightened off many other potential sources of funds. Against this backdrop, the new Internet economy arrived on the scene, and a crowd of high-tech enterprises was looking eagerly for financing. Venture capital investment overseas was booming at that time.
Government procurement: Government procurement has become a specialty of CHITEC. Market reforms and privatization of industry meant that China's government had to develop a procurement system in the 1990s. The central government launched its system in 1996 and Beijing Municipality followed a year later. The new concept of government procurement was a magnet for attention at the 1998 High-tech Industries Week, and interest continued to grow. Leaders of Beijing economy and trade have begun to consider making the capital city the nation's procurement center. They believe that CHITEC has built a super stage with Beijing at the center of culture, logistics and capital circulation.
Headquarters economy: It was at last year's 6th CHITEC that the concept of a headquarters economy was first proposed. "The so-called headquarters economy concept envisions an assembly of multinational companies, creating attractive conditions and forming a rational division of labor," said Zhao Hong, deputy chief of the Economic Research Institute, Beijing Academy of Social Science, at last year's CHITEC. Although the success of a regional economy depends on the local environment and policies, together with dynamic and innovative enterprises and products, the concept of the headquarters economy has been an influential one. By July 2003, 24 multinational companies had set up their regional headquarters in Beijing; in Shanghai, there were 41.
Standards economy: The standard economy was a favorite topic at last year's CHITEC, in connection with the numerous lawsuits that Chinese enterprises had encountered overseas concerning intellectual property rights (IPR) in recent years. Chinese enterprises began to take a new look at standards and their importance of encountering some severe situations abroad. Large corporations in France, Canada and the US began requiring domestic TV makers to pay them patent fees. Later, other corporations required Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei Technologies, Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group and Nanjing Iron and Steel to pay huge sums for licensing. At last year's CHITEC, people reached a consensus that the era of the standards economy has arrived.
Overseas listing: No other domestic gathering rivals CHITEC in its ability to attract representatives of major world stock exchanges to come and woo Chinese enterprises. Through face-to-face communications, Chinese companies can learn more about listing overseas. Chinese people are generally familiar with NASDAQ and Hong Kong's Growth Enterprise Market. But at CHITEC, representatives from the American Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, Singapore Stock Exchange and Canadian Stock Exchange gave many enterprises invaluable tips on listing overseas that may eventually save them substantial time and money.
Digital Beijing: Digital Beijing first became a hot topic at CHITEC 2001, and as the concept of a digital Olympics continues to grow the topic is heating up even more. Informationization is one of Beijing's important city development strategies. The digital Olympics demo at CHITEC 2003 gave viewers a glimpse of what digital Beijing is all about. People could choose to watch any game at home through an information terminal, with such realistic sound and imaging that they felt they were on the field. They could call up kinescopes from previous competitions and check background materials on athletes while watching the game. CHITEC has led the informationization of Beijing to center stage and turned on the spotlight.
Incubator: The enterprise incubator is an organization that provides various feasible and creative ideas for companies. Incubators have a short history in China: the first was set up in 1987 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in central China. By 2002, the framework of Beijing's enterprise incubation system was basically formed. There were 47 incubators in Beijing, 15 percent more than the total in the rest of the country. The number of incubating sci-tech enterprises and projects reached 1,100. People referred to Beijing as the "hi-tech incubator" at the 5th CHITEC. The Sci-tech Enterprise Incubator Forum held at previous CHITECs attracted the attention of hi-tech specialists around the world. The big incubator of Beijing is hatching a thriving hi-tech industry. Some 30 percent of the added value of Beijing industry is derived from the hi-tech industries. High and new technologies have contributed an average of more than 2 billion yuan (US$241 million) in added value every month.
E-government: E-government is a household name nowadays, but when the 5th CHITEC held China's first E-government and public executive forum in 2002, few people knew much, if anything, about it. "E-government will not only lead to great reform of China's government administration, but also will create a huge industry," said one expert. The business opportunities that will appear for the IT industry when governments at all levels fully implement the concept are astounding. Already, e-government has become a hot industry with annual output worth several billion yuan.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences, together with the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Information Industry, will hold an electronic governance technologies and application conference from Aug. 3 to 5 in Beijing. Shi Guangliang, vice secretary-general of the conference, said here Wednesday that eGovChina 2004 would include forums, symposia,an exhibition and other events. The focus of development for e-governance in China has already shifted from infrastructure building to application and service providing, Shi said. Experts estimated that China has an e-governance-related market valued at 40 billion yuan (4.8 billion US dollars), including 14 billion yuan worth of software products and service. Shi said that the exhibition will show network, audio and visual and memory products, as well as high-speed broadband telecommunication technologies. The organizers will also set up an on-line exhibition at the official website, www.egovchina.org. This is the third such conference since it was launched in 2002.
The Tehran Telecoms Summit will be held from 12-13 July 2004 in Iran. It will focus on the rapid and far-reaching changes that are transforming the telecommunications sector in the Middle East and Central Asian Regions. The event is sponsored by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies, Iran. Foreign dignitaries who are expected to participate in the telecoms summit include ministers from Afghanistan, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan and Tajikstan. Dr Mohammad Reza Aref (First Vice President, Iran), Dr Seyed Ahmad Motamedi (Minister of Communications, Information and Technology, Iran), and Mr Yoshio Utsumi (Secretary General, ITU) will speaking at the opening session. Twenty leading experts in telecommunications will make presentations at the sessions which follow the opening. (by Chin Saik Yoon)
The MPHPT is working towards Japan's specialists achieving the very best results in the formulation of international standards at international conferences held by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the like. It will therefore hold seminars on August 5, 6 and 30 to train specialists who attend international conferences, inviting lecturers experienced in the work of formulating international standards. Purpose: Along with developments in the globalization of communications standards, the formulation of international standards and the assignment of frequencies have come to have a major effect on the development of international competitiveness of Japan's communications industry. In these circumstances, and in order for Japan's opinions to be reflected to a maximum in the formulation of international standards at the ITU and the like, working towards an increase and improvement in the specialists who attend these meetings has become an important issue. The MPHPT will be holding seminars with lecturers experienced in the work of formulating international standards at the ITU and the like, thus offering knowledge-based support to young and mid-level specialists.
Chief executive officers of global IT corporations doing business in Korea set up a forum of their trade on May 27. Shin Park-je, CEO of Philips Electronics Korea has been chosen to head the forum. The forum will lead the efforts to lure R&D centers of multinational IT businesses and foreign capital, which the Korean government has been pursuing as a priority task. On hand at the meeting held at Hilton Hotel were Information-Communication Minister Chin Dae-je and CEOs from Philips, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Texas Instruments and 19 other electronics companies operating in Korea. In a congratulatory speech, Minister Chin asked for the forum`s cooperation in luring R&D centers and expanding IT investment, saying Korea`s national task of ushering in an era of $20,000 per capita GDP through the successful promotion of IT839 strategies would be feasible if public and private sector efforts were combined.
Forum for five-year development plan of Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province was held at Pohang University of science and Technology in Pohang on July 16, 2004. At this Forum about 170 celebrated people attended including President Roh, President of National Balanced Development Research Center, Seong Gyeong-ryung, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy, Lee Hee-beom, Minister of Construction & Transportation, Gand Dong-seok, Daegu City Mayor, Cho Hae-nyoung, and Governor of Gyeongsangbuk-Do Province, Lee Eui-geun. The President of National Balanced Development Research Center, Seong Gyeong-ryung reported on the progress of the five-year plan on national balanced development and City Mayor Cho addressed the plan on regional renovation plan by making Daegu a hub city of R&D of southeastern region. President Roh repeatedly stressed on the necessity of an administrative capital construction by suggesting the revitalization of the economy through an extension of the construction market.
The Mongolia Development Gateway (MnDG) will organize the five-day regional workshop on "Internet usage in rural areas" jointly with the local government of Umnugobi aimag on May 23-26 in Dalanzadgad, Umnugobi aimag. The main goal of this workshop is to raise ICT awareness of people in the countryside, improve their ICT usage, expand partnership and identify the potential content providers in rural areas. More than 50 domestic representatives will attend this workshop to discuss the rural development issues, ICT usage in rural areas in Mongolia and its future. S.Sumiya, Governor of the Umnugobi aimag, will do the opening speech. Will be presented "Internet and Intranet usage of the local government of Umnugobi aimag" by the Governor B.Zandraa, "Mongolia Development Gateway in rural area" by Ya.Tsetseg-Ulzii, Executive Director of the MnDG, "Internet usage In England" by Sarah Telford, Business Consultant of the Umnugobi's Internet Center, "ICT in rural development" by R.Oyun, Member of the MnDG Steering Board and Coordinator for the Risk Study working group. Also Member of the MnDG Steering Board and Member of Mongolian Parliament N.Togtokh will attend this workshop.
A republican seminar ※Development of small business and entrepreneurial activity in communications and informatization sector§ was held on June 11, 2004 in Samarkand city. On June 11, 2004 a seminar aimed at further development of small business and entrepreneurial activity was jointly organized by the JSC ※Uzbektelecom§ and the Communications and Informatization Agency of Uzbekistan in Samarkand city. The purpose of this seminar was to create opportunities to share ideas on condition, perspectives and challenges in development of small business and entrepreneurial activity in the sector of communications and informatization. Reports on current activity and future plans of the companies which enter the structure of the Agency were presented during this seminar. In this reports the following topics were considered: creation of SMEs, principles of regulation in SMEs＊ development, system of privileges in providing credits to SMEs. In addition to these reports the representatives of state departments and organizations made their speeches too. This seminar was also participated by the representatives of other telecommunications companies, the Ministry of Finance, the State Committee on De-monopolization and Development of Competition as well as representatives of other organizations.
Tashkent will host business forum on ※Information technologies: introduction and development in Uzbekistan§ on 12 August. The aim of the forum is to assist cooperation of state and private sectors for the development of ICT-related business, as well as to familiarization with the latest tendencies in ICT sector in Uzbekistan and its influence on social-economic process. The forum will provide an opportunity for direct contacts between representatives of state structures, regulating ICT development in Uzbekistan, and private sector. Digital Development Initiative program (http://www.ddi.uz) is one of the main organizers of the forum.
The annual Indonesian Robot Contest is into its sixth year this year, but both organizers and participants realize that it is still more a display of creativity than a stepping stone for the robot technology industry. "Is it possible for some a manufacturing company to organize a robot contest and later give the winner a chance to produce the robots for the company?" asked a participant in a seminar on robot technology development on Thursday. The seminar was held at the University of Indonesia (UI) campus in Depok ahead of the Indonesian Robot Contest 2004, sponsored by the Ministry of National Education and UI, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday on the campus. Another participant added that the robots they created for the contest would only sit in museums and had no further use after the contest was over. One of the speakers at the seminar, Hesti Purwanto, from state-owned shipping producer PT PAL, replied that it was possible to link robot-making with the appropriate industries. "We'll take this as an input". "However, even in the technology-intensive company I work for, I am the only person who specializes in robot development," he added. Indeed, the demand for robot-operated machinery in Indonesia is still low. "Only strategic industries like PT PAL and airplane maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia use robots," said Finarya Legoh, the assistant to the deputy for the utilization of technology campaign at the Office of the State Minister for Research and Technology. Finarya, who is also one of the speakers, added that most manufacturers in the country still used labor-intensive methods. However, as a member of the organizing committee of the contest, she said her office realized the need to make the contest more than just a robot-making talent contest. "We're appraising the possibility of connecting the contest participants with the wider public, particularly industry players, so the invention could have some use," she said. "Perhaps, we will display the robots in the Science and Technology Exhibition Center at Taman Mini for the public to see." Another speaker, however, saw the contest as just that, which he said was not a bad thing. "It is a talent contest and it's not bad at all. Just don't expect too much from it," said Taufiq Rohim, the director of the Metal Industries Development Center of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. "Robot technology in developed countries accelerated due to the need to create a more efficient working system, a system which minimized non-productive procedures by applying more precise and accurate machinery. Taufiq argued that the condition of Indonesia's industries did not yet support the development of robot technology. Even Japan, he said, the leading country in robot machinery technology, needed 20 years to develop robot intensive industries. "So we have 10 to 15 years more of development and we need the money and serious effort." Taufiq said serious efforts included fostering an education program that would support the robot industry because the resources Indonesia had now were not adequate. "We have to see the big picture of the robot industry. It's not enough to just have talented people who can create robots. The country needs a shifting of perspective about industry management to have a robot industry," he said.
Advise your children to study their way to university and be competent in science and technology, Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud urged Dayak parents. He said younger Dayaks, especially those living in rural areas, needed to master information and communication technology (ICT) and be conversant in English and other languages. Good education would ensure that other communities would not leave them behind and they would help develop the state and nation, Taib said in his message to mark the Gawai Dayak celebration. His deputy Tan Sri Alfred Jabu delivered the message on behalf of the Chief Minister over state radio yesterday. More than 800,000 Dayaks are celebrating their harvest festival on a grand scale at the longhouse, district and divisional levels. In a similar message, Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin said rural Dayak children could make it in higher education if their parents were serious in helping them. He said a rural secondary school in Betong Division had shown the way by scoring about 90% passes in the SPM examinations every year. Salahuddin said good ICT knowledge was vital in developing work efficiency and competitiveness and helping one to increase productivity and income. He said the state would need to produce some 10,000 engineers and other technical professionals by 2010 to meet its industrial demands. On the Gawai Dayak festival, declared state holidays on June 1 and 2, Salahuddin said the community had been accorded high respect as the festival was listed as a national festival. ※The celebration has uplifted the Sarawakian spirit in reviving the colourful and captivating culture which has been an attraction to tourists,§ he added. Salahuddin was among several thousands of well-wishers who thronged to the Gawai Dayak Open House hosted by Dayak ministers and assistant ministers at the Civic Centre here yesterday. The open house featured cultural performances and visitors were treated to traditional Dayak food.
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) officers are being trained in computer forensic investigations as part of an effort to enhance its capability and capacity. ACA director-general Datuk Zulkipli Mat Noor said selected officers had to undergo a three- month course in forensic accounting and forensic engineering. He need to keep up with the times to ensure that the ACA is truly an able and professional agency capable of carrying out its investigations thoroughly. He have also set up several new divisions including a forfeiture of property unit and also an international unit,'' he told members of the 5th Steering Group Meeting of the Anti-Corruption Action Plan for Asia-Pacific here yesterday, attended by 23 countries and organised by the Asian Development Bank and the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development. Others in the Malaysian delegation are ACA acting director of investigations Zakaria Jaafar and from its planning unit Abdul Razak Hamzah. Zulkipli also said Malaysia was seriously pursuing efforts to sign the Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters treaty with Asean member countries to improve anti-corruption efforts in the region. He said that the Malaysian Attorney General's chambers had drafted the text of the treaty that was acceptable to all member countries. Two meetings were held in Kuala Lumpur on the matter and almost all member countries have agreed with the text. Aalaysia's political and administrative leadership are strongly committed to fighting corruption as can be seen with its strong anti-graft drive taking centre stage in the national agenda,'' he said, adding that the treaty was expected to be signed soon. Zulkipli also briefed member countries of the action taken by the Government including declaration of assets by MPs and civil servants and the launching of the National Integrity Plan. He said that the corruption level in Malaysia was low and its strategy to eradicate corruption, abuse of power and malpractices through punitive and preventive measures would not waver.
Top students from the Singapore-MIT Alliance Computer Science programme have unveiled new technological breakthroughs in the gaming arena. The gaming applications - used on HP iPAC pocket PCs - are the first in the region.It took the students just six short weeks to come up with the innovations. The innovations employ sound, movement and gestures.And if these students are right in their research, computer gaming in the future will no longer be desk-bound. In fact, one may even get to play against someone on the other side of the world.Donny, a masters student in the Singapore-MIT Alliance programme, said, "This game is different. You get to interact very physically with the game, you get to move about to control the characters. That's bringing the person back to the game itself..."Donny is one of the 30 students selected to take part in the "Pervasive Human-Centric Computing" programme.Jointly pioneered by National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and US-based renowned computing school, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it is the world's first distance learning programme for developing advanced interface uses for handheld devices.One of the aims of the distance learning programme is to illustrate how advanced technology can be used to bring people together.Cham Tat Jen, Fellow and Associate Professor, School of Computer Engineering, NTU, said, "Currently, they are just putting these technologies into games...but what gives them sense is how these technologies can be used in other kind of applications, like eldercare. (For example), how do you monitor the elderly with all the variable senses, and also in retail, smart homes?"A total of nine multi-networked games were developed by the distance learning students.
More Singaporeans are going online to search for jobs and information, do their banking and get an education, according to a survey on household Internet usage by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.But the survey also found that fewer of them are taking to online shopping, investing, insurance services or downloading music and video.Also fewer are e-mailing, chatting online and engaging in instant messaging.The most popular use of the computer in Singapore homes is still for e-mail; some 92 percent of households use e-mail.Next comes online information retrieval and search, followed by downloading or playing online games and online chatting or instant messaging.But the biggest jump in usage is for e-learning, up a hefty 14 percentage points to almost 30 percent.And in a sign that more people are bringing work home from the office, uploading and downloanding documents from an office server jumped 8.4 percentage points.Also, it seems the craze over sending SMS on mobile phones has spilled over into the PC -- Internet SMS usage has surged 7.7 percentage points.But losing the most ground are online chat and instant messaging.Also a big loser was audio streaming or downloading and uploading music online.
Imagine cabbies learning how to drive, using Formula One technology. After scoring an F for safety at their last audit, isn't this just going to give the Traffic Police a bigger nightmare? The F1 technology is actually helping to pick up bad habits and should make new cabbies better drivers. Ever wondered how Michael Schumacher trains? Well, some Formula One technology has been adapted to build a state-of-the-art driver training system for Singapore cabbies. But instead of bringing out the speed demon in them, it is doing quite the opposite. Mr Tay Choon Chua, Taxi Driver from Comfort Cabs, said: "During this test I managed to make a few mistakes, like following vehicles too close and also not frequently checking on my blind spots." Using an array of global positioning systems, sensors and cameras, the highly portable Vigil Vanguard system developed in Australia can spot bad driving habits even in the most seasoned drivers. And the Comfort Driving Centre has just spent $350,000 to install the equipment in four cars - the first in Asia to use the technology. Mr Huam Chak Hoon, CEO of Comfort Driving Centre, said: "This system is introduced to help professional drivers to upgrade their competency...identify their unconscious incompetency, if left unchecked may lead to accidents." Comfort and CityCab, both of which scored an F for safety at their last audit, are sending drivers for this hi-tech assessment. Prior to this, there were no driving tests for new drivers. There will also be remedial classes for old hands. Mr John Lee, CEO of Comfort Transportation, said: "If we find that they have more than two accidents a year, we will determine to see if they are at fault and if they are at fault, we will certainly put them through a test like this to make sure they know what their bad habits are. "But just how good is the system? The system is, however, not ready to replace an instructor because with the instructor at the side of the trainee, he can point out the mistakes the trainee makes on the spot. The system can only be shown to the trainee for review after completion of his lesson. There are no plans yet to introduce this system for regular driving tests, but it may be extended to the Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Police.
NEW DELHI - Unfazed by their fast-inflating wage bills, IT companies are on a strong recruitment drive. The employee bases of IT bigwigs swelled by 45% last fiscal and the growth story is believed to be equally robust in the first quarter this year. In comparison, the slowdown period of December ＊00 to June ＊02 saw companies like Infosys , Wipro and Satyam add only 10% people. Infosys, for instance, has added over 8,000 people, thus adding 52% of ＊03 employees during ＊04. Wipro added close to 6,000 new employees, thus expanding its base by more than 40% in the year. While Satyam added 44%, HCL saw its employee base expand by close to 70%. Overall, top-rung IT companies like Infosys, Wipro, Satyam, HCL, Hughes Software, i-Flex, Mastek and Patni have added over 26,000 people in the financial year ＊03-04. Till recently, salary pressures were not building up as resources were easily available post-slowdown, but now companies are facing salary pressure and have seen a raise of about 10-15% since April ＊04. Infosys has seen an increase of 10-15% with offshore salaries increasing by 15-17%, but analysts feel the overall increase is not more than the one-time bonus in ＊04, as the $1bn revenue milestone was reached. Wipro has selectively increased salaries, however the annual raise is expected around October. Salary hikes in onsite jobs at Satyam stand at 3-4%, but their offshore salary increase is not likely before a month. Most companies have affected a 10-15% salary increase for offshore employees and 3-5% for onsite employees. Increased salary bills are definitely going to impact the margins but unexpected rupee depreciation and a fall in general sales and administrative costs is expected to help cushion the margin fall. Top Indian IT companies differentiate themselves from their western counterparts on their ability to train fresh engineers and quickly make them billable. IT companies had resorted to hiring laterals over the past two years due to an easy availability of experienced skills and a slowdown in IT services. But now, a majority are hiring freshers in bigger numbers.
UNB, DHAKA - The newly instituted Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) plans to establish e-management in its administration alongside traditional, but effective, measures to protect consumer rights on essential utilities like electricity, gas and petroleum. In the developed countries, there are such online systems where a consumer can directly post a complaint and the top office of the regulatory body can monitor, even from his laptop, what his officials are doing to deal with the allegation. ※One major criterion of the BERC officials will be whether they have proper IT knowledge to handle the matters,§ Acting Chairman of the Commission Md Mosharraf Hossain said in his first public appearance since his appointment. He was addressing a ※meet the press§ programme on ※Bangladesh Energy Sector and Energy Regulatory Commission§. Forum for Energy Reporters, Bangladesh (FERB) arranged the meet also addressed by BERC Member Md Showkat Hossain. Mosharraf said that the Commission would have a competitive monitoring cell and ensure effective complaint centres in energy utilities. ※The energy utilities will have to make weekly report on receipt of complaints and progress of their disposal.§ Still, the Acting Chairman considers that the country needs a pragmatic law to protect the consumers＊ rights, which he said would be one of the major tasks of the BERC alongside ensuring a competitive market, as in case of other countries. Member Showkat Hossain said the BERC would ensure the pricing through a transparent way where there will also be downward revisions. ※We＊ll fix the tariffs after reviewing the real costs in generation, transmission and distribution as well as universally accepted profit margins.§ The BERC Act was passed by Parliament on March 13, 2003 and it was made effective from April 27, 2004. The Commission has begun initial work and now under process of developing the institution. It will be fully functional after having operational rules and regulations, now in the making. Apart from executing a market-based pricing regime, the BERC is assigned to ensure quality services by controlling licensing and ※energy audit§ in gas, power and petroleum sectors. The only job out of its jurisdiction is gas exploration and production.
BSS, DHAKA - The Directorate of Continuing Education (DCE) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) has recently launched an e-learning (electronic learning) programme for the professionals and its academic activities will formally begin on July 25 through an overview of the learners. Explaining the objective of this programme, DCE Director Professor Dr M Imtiaz Hossain said Friday that BUET had undertaken this initiative to teach the professionals through the latest technique of distance learning to help them disseminate their knowledge more easily. In the first phase, DCE will conduct two courses titled ＆Overview of Energy Sector Technology＊ and ＆Contract Management＊. BUET teachers Dr. Md. Tamim and Dr. Mohiuddin Ahmed designed the course materials for the e-learning programme. Imtiaz Hossain also said that DCE would devise more courses with facilities for direct interaction between teachers and learners.
Thimphu: In its course to obtain a fully electronic archive of the Dharma texts, the national library of Bhutan has received a hard disk containing about 4,000 volumes of treasured religious texts as a ※gift§. Gifted by the executive director of the Tibetan Buddhist resource centre (TBRC) in New York, Mr Gene Smith, religious texts like Kangyur, Tengyur, Rinchen Tenzoed and several other collected works of numerous Buddhist scholars have been scanned and stored in a single hard disk. Mr Smith, who previously worked at the US library of Congress, New Delhi, as the field director had collected thousands of Buddhist texts, scanned, and stores it in computer hard disks. ※We are grateful to Mr Smith and the board of directors of the TBRC for the valuable gift,§ said the director of the national library, Mynak Trulku. ※This will greatly enhance the great collection of the library in Bhutan which already has a computerised archive system. For the time being the hard disk will be installed in one of the computers at the national library where it will be open to public. ※Anyone can come, browse the contents and take page print outs,§ said Mynak Trulku. The contents of the hard disk will not be put on a website as the volume is too large and would prove expensive. However, with a programme called the Pelri Parkang (meaning the glorious mountain printing house), the director said that books can be printed in the form of pechas (traditional books) and potis (volumes) with prints on both the sides. Pelri Parkang was established on November 2002 with the intention to develop cost-effective print-on-demand techniques that utilise the TBRC digital archives to produce high-quality texts for use by lamas, scholars and practitioners. According to the director, the library may acquire the software, which will also be a gift, by September this year with someone coming over from the TBRC to train the personnel and install the software. ※With this new kind of technology, one can print the particular ritual books in the collection easily,§ he added. The hard disk was presented to the director of national library, Mynak Trulku by the minister for labour and human resources, Lyonpo Ugen Tshering who initiated the whole proceeding. The prime minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley who inaugurated the hard disk expressed his appreciation for Mr Smith＊s donation and also commended Lyonpo Ugen Tshering for his initiative. The CD ROM of some of the editions of the texts had already been brought in the country by Lyonpo Ugen Tshering during his recent visit to New York. The Tibetan Buddhist resource centre, Inc. was established with the sole purpose to promote research and scholarship in Tibetan Buddhism and advance the preservation of the Tibetan cultural heritage by making its literary tradition widely available in the form of digital images.
Drukcom, the first private firm in the country that can provide satellite communication links and high speed internet services, has already found a customer. Drukcom is setting up a V-SAT (very small aperture transmission) satellite link for the Bhutan national bank for data transmission between the head office in Thimphu and the Paro branch. ※The link up will provide the bank a secured data network that can be accessed only by bank staff,§ said Rinzy of Drukcom. BNB＊s system administrator Namgay Phuntsho said that the idea was to provide connectivity in all the BNB branches to a central database. ※Account holders can transact from any place where a BNB branch is established and in future automatic teller machines (ATM) can be located anywhere unlike the two ATMs in Thimphu and Phuentsholing branch which are today independent of each other.§ The connectivity will come through the 2.4 diameter V-SAT dish which will receive the satellite signals. One of the two dishes at the BNB in Thimphu will be installed at the Paro branch. Each dish costs an estimated US $ 11,500 which was supplied to BNB by Drukcom. Once the service is ready, BNB will have to pay monthly charges for bandwidth use and a one time installation charge of Nu 20,000 to 25,000. Drukcom has subscribed to the Loralskynet satellite service based in the US. According to Drukcom, the monthly service charges will be determined by charges of the teleport operator and not by the service provider in Bhutan. The dish can also provide high speed internet connectivity which is the second service that Drukcom specialises in but has yet to find any takers. The bank＊s internet service is provided by Druknet, the local internet service provider in the country under Bhutan Telecom. ※In terms of (internet) service it is the same as Druknet but it wll be much faster as it is directly connected to the internet back bone without having to go through a local provider,§ said Rinzy. Drukcom high speed service starts at 128 kbps (kilo bytes per second). But the Drukcom management told Kuensel that it was not in competition with Bhutan Telecom in providing connectivity services. ※What prompted us to take up this business was to address the requirement of wide area networking coverage of different organisations, private and international agencies,§ said Rinzy. ※V-SAT, unlike telecom service networks does not require physical wiring and distance does not matter, which makes the establishment of links all over the world possible. It is also cheaper as a bigger bandwidth can be shared.§ An official of the Bhutan communications authority (BCA) said that Drukcom was given a license to provide communication services to add value to the service and provide customers with an option to Bhutan Telecom, the sole internet lease line provider in the country.
BANGALORE - A hall dedicated to electronics was inaugurated by governor T.N. Chathurvedi at the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum on Tuesday. The venture, created at a cost of about Rs 2 crore, is partially sponsored by Bharat Electronics Limited. The hall on the third floor of the museum features exhibits on basic electronics, digital electronics, communications, tele-medicine and virtual reality. National Centre for Science Museums (NCSM) director general, I.K. Mukherjee, termed it a lan-dmark event "because a progressive PSU has come forward to showcase electronics". The ONGC too, has expressed desire to collaborate with the NCSM, which has 28 science museums and centres, he said. "We hope others will come forward to showcase other areas of science as well," Mukherjee said. BEL director Y. Gopala Rao said museums are an ideal environment for learning. BEL's aim in sponsoring nearly Rs 150 lakh for the hall is to promote the spirit of enquiry, he said. Nearly 30 percent of the space in the electronics hall is dedicated to the transistor and integrated circuit technology. BEL's contributions at the museum include night vision goggles, a chip-making technology showcase and radars.
NEW DELHI - India urgently faces a shortage of around two lakh IT and ITeS professionals. The shortage is bound to grow to 3.6 million in the next eight years. According to a Nasscom-Mckinsey study, India needs at least 630,000 IT professionals in 2004, but it still lacks 175,000 in manpower. By 2006, there will be another 430,000 fresh demand to be met. It will increase to another 990,000 in 2009 and by 2012 it will reach 3.6 million. And if Morgan Stanley estimates are to be believed, Indian offshoring industry is expected to increase by more than triple to 24 per cent from eight per cent currently. Expressing concern over the dearth of getting qualified professionals according to the need of industry, those in the industry say as there exists a shortage in the supply of manpower, India has to urgently address the situation "by focussing more attention on the education system." The IT training institutes are tuning themselves to the emerging scenario in BPO industry, which is supposed to grow by at least 54 per cent, by introducing new programmes co-designed with the industry to meet their demands.
PATNA - The new chief general manager (CGM) of BSNL, Bihar circle, A K Arora, plans to concentrate on meticulous planning for fast development of telecom network in Bihar with the objective of bridging the digital divide. Talking to TNN, Arora said that ※fire-fighting without meticulous planning will serve no purpose in development of telecom infrastructure in Bihar, where telephone density is very low, just 1.34§. He said that out of 1.15 lakh-strong waiting list for phones, at least 80 per cent applicants are in rural areas of Bihar. This huge demand has to be catered to by extending the telecom network in rural areas with detailed meticulous planning, he said.He added that he has sought district-wise details of the waiting list, so as to plan extension of telecom network on a war footing in order to cut substantially the backlog in providing phones to people. The stress is also on extending the BSNL's cellular phone network in the state with the objective to add 2.78 lakh mobile phone connections to the existing 1.64 lakh mobile phone connections in the current financial year, he added. Arora said that equipment for providing 63,000 cellular phone connections in the state are expected shortly. Moreover, equipment for providing 4.55 lakh cellular phones in Bihar will start coming from September. This will speed up the extension of telecom network in Bihar, he said. To meet the massive demand for prepaid mobile phone service, Excel, the BSNL has decided to give 80 per cent Excel connections and 20 per cent CellOne connections, he said. To a query about the measures to be taken to check black marketing of Excel connections by private agenecies, the CGM said that BSNL would keep vigil and inquire into the matter on receipt of complaints about black marketing.
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI), a private think-tank, has recommended allowing revenue budget for recruitment of ICT human resources in government offices. "It is important to recruit ICT (information and communication technology) human resources through the revenue budget to ensure the sustainability of eGovernment projects, many of which are launched under the development budget through financial assistance from donor agencies," the BEI said in a recent study of eGovernment in Bangladesh. The BEI study highlighting the potential of the ICT as vector of economic growth placed some specific action proposals for addressing many of the existing weaknesses in governance in the country. The proposals include establishing an eProcurement system, creating incentive for championing ICT, establishing a maintenance team to be shared by different offices, building internet kiosks around the country, creating one-stop government portal, developing a scheme for national ID, creating online payment gateway, introducing cyber laws and setting up eGovernment resource centres. On the recommendation of establishing eProcurement system, the BEI study said the online procurement system is one of the most popular eGovernment initiatives in neighbouring countries to address corruption and lack of transparency in government procurement. Malaysia's eProcurement system, known as e-Prohelan, has over 4,000 government procurement points and over 30,000 suppliers are registered with the system. It supports the entire procurement cycle from request for quotations, through request for tender, to direct purchase. It provides easy procedures for comparing quotations and specifications of goods and services offered. Besides accountability and transparency, other benefits of e-Prohelan include increased efficiency, reduced time for processing and reduced operational costs due to electronic retrieval and submission of quotations. Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea and Singapore governments have also introduced the online procurement system to increase transparency, reduce corruption and minimise time and cost of processing tenders. On creating incentive for championing ICT, the BEI said an incentive structure should be introduced for the promoters and champions of ICT in the government. The existing ICT policy that states 'ICT-literacy shall be evaluated in the annual confidential report of officials' should be implemented to ensure utilisation of ICT in the public services. On introducing cyber laws, the BEI said the enactment of cyber laws is becoming increasingly important. "Some of the issues to be included in the legal framework are laws to protect intellectual property, laws for acceptance of documents in electronic format (such as downloaded documents), cyber-terrorism laws for protection against unauthorised hacking and laws to enable electronic authentication." There is a further need for an Electronic Certification Authority designated by the government, which should have the authority to provide electronic certification to organisations and individuals. On establishing a maintenance team, the BEI said the government should appoint a technically competent maintenance team, possibly located within the ministry of science and ICT, that can be called up for maintenance and other ICT-related needs when required. "The ICT Policy should incorporate this idea of a shared ICT Cell rather than one for each government office," the study said. On Iinternet kiosks, the BEI said building such kiosks for community access has been an effective model in other countries such as India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka where penetration rates are low. "The government should develop partnership with NGOs and the private sector to establish such kiosks," it said. On creating one-stop government portal, the BEI said the government should create a one-stop government portal that is designed to serve the specific needs of citizens and businesses. The portal that is now touted as national portal of Bangladesh is not comprehensive and also not genuinely user-friendly in assisting users to access necessary information and services. "Though this is not a high-priority item for the present time, it will become an important issue in the next few years as an increasing number of e-Government services go online and a single entry-point to various services becomes increasingly needed," the study commented. Mentioning the importance of the study, BEI President Farooq Sobhan said the growing and expanding use of ICT through the use of informatics can help improve governance in multiple ways. It can also serve as a tool to enhance productivity and improve the quality of government services.
The internet is beginning to have a revolutionary effect on the 700 million people who live in villages in India - and the charge is being led by women. A project set up by one of India's leading technology institutes has put women in charge of forging the way across the digital divide as the proprietors of a fast-growing number of internet cafes or kiosks around the sub-continent. In total 80% of these new kiosks are run by women, many of whom have had very little or no acquaintance with technology before. Asha Sanjay, of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Madras that established the scheme, says that while in some places people are not able to get a bus to the next village, the net allows them to connect to the world. "Here they can do it at the click of a button," she told BBC World Service's Everywoman programme. It's really something." Video doctors In Ms Sanjay's village, women over 60 queue up to be linked via video-conferencing technology to an eye specialist thousands of miles away. None of them has ever left their village, but many say they are captivated by the new world. There are 1,000 kiosks in the southern state of Tamil Nadu alone. "We realised women are much more focused - they picked up stuff much earlier," Gram Annand, from Enlog, the company set up by IIT to run the programme, told Everywoman. "They were able to give it their best in terms of dedication to their work." He said that the benefit of using women operators became clear very quickly, with many coming in at 6.30 in the morning. "Even in the city, we come to our office at 9.00, 9.30," he said. "That's the kind of dedication we find in women." He explained that they looked for women with basic schooling and who are enthusiastic, and keen to set up the kiosks. One example is Ananti - at 21, the only woman in her village to have a diploma and now also the only woman in the village to have a paid job. She said that she was "very proud" to be responsible for bringing her community into contact with the outside world. "As a girl I found it very difficult to go out, study and come back," she added. "It took quite a lot of hardship to get my diploma. But I felt more proud when I got to do the centre." She also said that she wanted to use her job to help people in the village get educational certificates and empower them to have a better life. She runs after-school clubs for local girls helping them use the net, as well as overseeing video conference diagnoses, with a hospital councillor who does free surgeries for the poor at the other end. Ravia Mar, 67, who had diabetes and was unsure whether she could undergo a cataract operation, said she was very grateful to have the kiosk on her doorstep. "I hate travelling, so I'm very impressed," Ms Mar said. "I never even thought something like this would happen in life."
THE organisers of Australia's largest IT trade show, CeBIT, are planning a technology event in Melbourne this year as part of a push to make its Australian operations profitable. CeBIT Australia - run by German trade show giant Deutsche Messe through its Australian subsidiary Hannover Fairs - is set to reach break-even this year. Organisers hope it will be profitable from 2005. Now in its third year, the show features big names such as Microsoft, Panasonic, LG and Hewlett-Packard. It has leased 6000sqm of exhibition space this year but needs 8000 to be profitable. "The first two years were pure investment, but there is a sign things are getting positive," Deutsche Messe's CeBIT managing director, Jorg Schomburg, said. "From our perspective things are pretty good." The company plans to hold the Intelligent Home Show, a home automation event, in Melbourne in mid-October. The show will be consumer oriented and is expected to attract 300 exhibitors showcasing the latest in home technology products -- an area growing rapidly thanks to smarter technologies and the home renovation craze. The extra show will give Hannover Fairs better economies of scale. "As soon as we have the second show, then profitability is here," Mr Schomburg said. CeBIT Australia is expected to host 25,000 visitors over the current three-day event, which ends today. Last year 18,500 visitors attended. Exhibitor numbers are also up, with 508 companies hosting stands at the show, up from 427 last year. Fresh off a successful CeBIT Hannover -- which attracted 510,000 visitors and 6411 exhibitors -- Mr Schomburg was touting promising growth figures for the industry and his trade show. Statistics from the European Technology Observatory, which he chairs, forecast worldwide IT industry growth of 4.3 per cent this year and 6 per cent in 2005, up from 0.07 per cent in the low of 2002. While that is a long way from the 13 per cent improvement of 2000, Mr Schomburg is confident growth is back on the agenda. "More positive growth is expected for the ICT industry this year, when the IT market is forecast to return to clear growth," he said. "(It will be) driven by a stronger demand for software and services and by a surge in capital expenditure on hardware, as installed systems need replacement." Mr Schomburg said the Australian IT industry had not suffered as badly from the tech slump as other places. "Because of your links to the Pacific rim, Australia was not as badly hit by the IT recession," he said. "In Europe it was the deepest recession in the industry ever." (by Simon Hayes)