Spring 2006 Issue 13
Contact Us:  apcib@apcity.org
  ITU Workshop to Survey RFID Standards
Gates: Beating Piracy in Asia Will Take 10 Years
APEC Symposium on Information Privacy Protection in E-Government and E-Commerce
Regular Computer Users Perform Better in Key School Subjects, OECD Study Shows
Public Sector Creativity: Getting Out of the Comfort Zone
Taiwan, Korea Lead in Adoption of Consumer Technologies
Telecoms World Looks to China for 3G Boost
The Internet of Things: The Next Technological Revolution
Assemblers Require New Technologies on Five-Yearly Basis, Says DEK
Asia-Pacific Is the Largest Region for Broadband Access Accounting for 40% of the World's Total User Base
CDMA2000 Adds 25 Million New Users on 4Q 2005
IBM in Information Management Push
Sidebar: Chambers Eyes Network Rivals in Asia
Asia PC Shipments Up 32.6 pc in Q4: Gartner
Government Technology World 2006
World Telecommunication Development Conference 2006: to Agree on Telecommunication Development Priorities to Bridge the Digital Divide
Government Technology Forum 06
6th Global Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region (CIAPR VI)
 
  AZERBAIJAN: TV Advertising of Alcoholic Drinks to Be Banned in Azerbaijan
CHINA: China Defends Internet Policies
Ministry of Information Industry Drafts Plan for Next 5 Years
HK Advisory Committee Discusses Implementation of Digital 21 Strategy
Online Publication of Lawmakers' Proposals Shows Democracy in Action
HK Starts Consultation on Anti-spam Law
Personal Credit Information Database Starts to Operate
Rules Issued on Electronic-Banking Operations
China Stands Firm in Fighting Internet Piracy
Chinese Copyright Administrations Handle 172 Online Piracy Cases in 2005
China 3G to Begin Massive Test
IRAN: ICT Minister Outlines Achievements
Iran Confirms Blocking Of BBC's Persian Website
JAPAN: Health Ministry Plans Online System to Monitor Use of Controversial Drug Thalidomide
Easier Copyright Rules Eyed for Isps
Japan Debates on Internet TV Patent Law
SOUTH KOREA: Aiming to Be World's Top E-Learning Powerhouse in Five Years
Korea Takes Step on Road to MS-Free World
Writers of Abusive Internet Reply Comments to Be Punished
South Korea Unveils Mobile Technology Roadmap
Will Bundling Services Save Telecom Firms?
KAZAKHSTAN: Plan of Telecommunications Development for 2006 - 2008 Adopted
 
  INDONESIA: Draft Law on Cybercrime Hung Despite Rising Scams
SINGAPORE: Bloggers, Podcasts Online May Be Subject to Parliamentary Elections Act
VIETNAM: Minister Calls for Strong IT Sector
Deputies Turn Eye on Law to Develop Nation¡¯s IT Sector
 
  BANGLADESH: Regulator Calls for Crackdown on Naughty Midnight Callers
Govt Approves Telecom Law Amendment to Tap Cell Phones
INDIA: Government 3G Spectrum Decision by March
Regulators Clear Tata¡¯s Digital TV Joint Venture
Mission 2007: Taking ICTs to Every Indian Village
Reliance Embraces a New Mobile Tariff Plan
NEPAL: Nepal Telecom to Release New Pre-paid Mobile Lines
PAKISTAN: Government Wants New IT Policy
PTA Urges Operators to Expand
Telecom Reorganisation Act Amended
Cabinet Approved to Give Etisalat 5 Years for PTCL Payment
Pakistan¡¯s Privatisation Committee Has Approved the Sale of PTCL
 
  AUSTRALIA: Victorian ICT Minister Announces Five-Year ICT Plan
Feds Launch Online Service Directory
Federal Government Announces Review of Privacy Act
Feds Promise Extra $130m for E-Health
New Standards Aid E-Health Timeframe
Vic Govt Awards $1.1m ICT Scholarships
NEW ZEALAND: Government Coy on Plan to Boost Net Uptake
New Web Guidelines for NZ E-Govt
SA Government to Streamline Tender Process for SMEs
 
  CHINA: 3 Communication Networks to Be Merged in 5 Years
HK Government Invites Private Sector Participation in the Provision of E-Cert Services
Govt Announces Successful Launch of Broadband Global Area Network
Website Launched to Safeguard Workers' Interests
China's 2005 E-Commerce Sales Leap 58% to Record US$66 BLN
Chinese City Awards US$35 Million E-Govt Contract
ICBC Reports Record ATM Business Turn over in 2005
Internet Firms Queried on China
China Expert Technology Awarded Two New E-Government Contracts to Set Up Unified Command System in China
China's IT Service Market Expected to Grow 20% Annually
E-commerce Booms in China
E-commerce Chalking Up Strong Growth
IRAN: E-Commerce Knowledge Poor
JAPAN: Eyes Making Firms' Accounts Receivable Tradable on Net
Japan Leads the Way in Spam Relay Prevention
Japan's Pension Plan Info to Go Online
Japan Plans Own Internet Search Engine
SOUTH KOREA: MOU Signed for Project to Build Networked Towns
Mobile Spam Troubles Consumers
Korea Ranks 5th in UN e-Government Standing
100,000 Web Sites to Be Checked for Name Theft
 
  MALAYSIA: E-Judiciary System 40 Weeks Behind Schedule
Government Dealings Just a Click Away
Have Your Say Via E-Poll
PHILIPPINES: Developing an Emergency Ambulance Communications Network in Penang
The Philippines to Redesign Govt Portal
SINGAPORE: To Develop New National Broadband Network
VIETNAM: New Website Set to Boost Public Access to the State
 
  BANGLADESH: Bangladesh Considering Pre-paid Handset Registration Scheme to Combat Terrorism
INDIA: India Releases Plans for Urban E-govt
¡®Smart Card¡¯ Will Be Introduced for Emigrant Workers
MCH Bags E-governance Award
MTNL Launches Mobile Line Tender
Indian National E-govt Meeting Raises Prospects for PPP
SRI LANKA: Sri Lankan E-govt Centre Passes 6-Month Milestone
 
  AUSTRALIA: Business Will Carry High Cost of National ID Card
Australian Social Services Agency Turns to New Outsource Partner
Police Take on Bad Boy Role in WA's Shared Services Plan
NSW Education Dept Ups Network Analytics
SA Launches Broadband Network
NSW Traffic Authority Eyes Open Source Thin Clients
NT Fast-Tracks $200m IT Contract
Victoria's Mobile Radio Network Completed in Record Time
NSW Ambulance Extends Wireless Net
WA's Tech Truck Bridges Digital Divide
Queensland Transport Saves with Jboss
NEW ZEALAND: Ministry Launches New Website
NZ Web Site to Address Labour Shortages in Horticultural Sector
2006 NZ Census Forms to Be Online for 1st Time
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Government Launches New Website
 
  CHINA: Alcatel Inks Deal to Upgrade China Telecom's Network For Triple Play
Researchers Develop Local Digital Code System
Mobile Base to Top 440 Million in 2006
Beijing and Yunnan Top Internet Obsession: Survey
EU to Help China Bridge Digital Gap
China Has 111 Million Internet Users
Broadband Subs Top 35 Million
China Has 111 Million Internet Users
China Plans Building 3G Telecom Network by Itself
Telecoms Sector Receives 3G Boost, Gov't Sets TD-SCDMA as National Standard for Industry
Personal Credit Information Database Starts to Operate
Gates Said China is Set to Become the Biggest User of Broadband
China Telecom Shanghai Expands Network with Juniper Routers
Beijing Mobile Suffers RMB3.7 Million Loss From Hacker's Attack
Internet Access Improves
Iranians in SIM Card Buying Frenzy
IRAN: 25m Mobile Phones by 2010
JAPAN: Stayat.jp Launches Online Hotel and Japanese Inn Reservation Site for Overseas Travelers to Japan
Cell Phones Fast Becoming E-Wallets
Softbank to Establish 'Cyber College' in Fukuoka
Softbank Plans Video Broadcasts for Cellphones in 2012: Paper
Mapion Lets Users Point and Click Around Japan
Japanese Banks Select RSA Securid Tags, and More
Japan Gets High-Def Super Bowl Coverage via IP Link
NTT Develops Secure IM System
Japan Telecom, Softbank Join in Broadband
Japan¡¯s Law to Favor Online Shoppers
E-Money Gains Further Ground in Japan
CSR, PortalPlayer Bring Wireless Connectivity to Personal Media Players
SOUTH KOREA: DMB, Wibro to Make Inroads to Canada
Daum to Show World Cup Via Web, Mobile
E-Textbooks to Debut in March
Korea Plans to Build `Mobile Paradise'
Terrestrial- DMB Adds Color to Korean Lifestyle
SOUTH KOREA: Planning to Build Linux City, University
Skin Becomes Wire for KAIST Gadgets
Mutes Can Order Products by Telephone
T-DMB Sputtering With Weak Signals, Prices
MONGOLIA: 1.09 Million Mobile Customers at End-2005
UZBEKISTAN: UNDP Office in Tashkent Presents CD on UN
 
  INDONESIA: Cell Phone Registration Launched
Banks Gear Up for ATMs, On-line Banking Services
INDONESIA: Bakrie to Provide '3G Services' Using CDMA Technology
MALAYSIA: TM to Provide Broadband Access to Housing Project
Wanita MCA Wants Members to Gain ICT Know-How
Starjobs Online Attracts Thousands in First Week
MALAYSIA: E-Mail Scams Stoop to New Low
SMS Your Power Problems
Three E-Ways to Help JPJ Improve Delivery System
One-Form System to Be Used Soon
Promoting ICT Usage in Travel Industry
3G Technology in Malaysia Gains in Popularity
SINGAPORE: Mobile Operators Looking to Grow Data Usage
Singapore to Get E-Commodities Derivatives Bourse by Next Sept
SINGAPORE: Industry Professionals Say Funding Will Boost Digital Media Sector
S'pore IT Sector Sees Commercial Software as Pricier, More Secure
Mediacorp Starts Online Broadband TV Trial Run
THAILAND: BBL Aims to Make Finance Fun with New Website for Children
Visitors Get an Online Alternative
3G Picture Begins to Clear as Well as Brighten for AIS
VIETNAM: New Cable Internet Service Goes Online
Customs Modernisation Project to Be Funded by WB
Computer Association, PC World Magazine Publish IT Directory
Ministry Calls for Automation of Animal Husbandry Production
MobiFone Expands Network to Cover Border Areas
 
  BANGLADESH: Aktel Launches Country's First Full Bangla SMS Service
Private Telecom Sector Witnesses Strong Growth
INDIA: Top Chip-maker Intel to Invest $1 Billion in India
Indian Customers to Benefit from International Cable Projects
Indian Long-distance Operator Prepares to Light a Land-based Cable Link
Galloping Wireless Growth Drives Indian Telecoms Sector
Reliance Infocomm Expands Tamil Nadu Fixed Wireless Services
NEPAL: Nepal Telecom Launches CDMA Phone Service
PAKISTAN: Telecoms Sector to Receive USD4 Billion
Pakistan Mobile Market Grows 150%
 
  AUSTRALIA: Highlights Potential for Rural 3G
Calls for Probe into Mobile Service
Siemens Wins Federal Government IP Contract
Australian Media Giants Eye Internet
Website Gears Up for Cyclone Season
Online Search Recognised at Australian State E-Govt Web Site
Three NZ and Australian Software Firms Merge
Will the Real Truelocal Please Stand Up?
Broadband Prices Set to Rise
NEW ZEALAND: Using the Net to Get the Story
NEW ZEALAND: Huawei to Construct 3G Network in New Zealand
Minister Keeping Eye on High-Speed Internet Deal
Broadband Sales Not Enough for Government
Schools Website Splits Parties
NZ Broadband Internet Uptake "Unsatisfactory"
NZ Second Biggest Web User in World
 
  AZERBAIJAN: Azerbaijan to Open Information Technologies University
CHINA: The First Annual Forum of Informatization and Shanghai Expo
IRAN: Isfahan Hosts E-Commerce Seminar
SOUTH KOREA: Electronics Industry Poised to Lead Digital Renaissance
MONGOLIA: Mongol Software-2006 Trade Fair to Take Place
UZBEKISTAN: UNDP Assists Women's Committee to Improve ICT Skills
SoftLine and Citrix Hold Seminar for IT-specialists
 
  INDONESIA: ICT Focuses on Human Resources Development
MALAYSIA: Vital to Manage E-Mail Properly
MALAYSIA: Campaign to Increase 3G Awareness
Singapore Urges Clearer Goals for e-Government Success
SINGAPORE: NUS Launches Its First Web-Based Radio Station
THAILAND: BI is Key to Business
VIETNAM: IDG to Partner with Vinasa to Promote IT Sector
 
  BANGLADESH: Bill Gates Promises Training in IT -- 10,000 Teachers, 200,000 Students to Get the Microsoft Facility
Bridging the Gap Between Academia and Industry
Bangladesh Knowledge Fair Upholding ICT Skills of Schools
BHUTAN: Taking ICT to Remote Schools
INDIA: IT, Business Process Outsourcing Facing Big Challenges to Maintain Growth
Infocomm Negotiating Lower Interest Loan to Restructure USD300 Million Debts
Infocomm to Double Coverage, Expand Rural Ops
Focus on Innovation, Global Mindset, Diversity
IT Sector Needs to Log into Innovation
Indian IT Firms Chant Innovation Mantra to Stay Ahead
SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka Telecom Picks Juniper for Network Upgrade
Dialog Concludes MTT Network Buyout
PAKISTAN: Paktel Contracts Alcatel for GSM Expansion
Interconnect Operator Telenor Selects Azure for Billing Solution
 
  AUSTRALIA: ATUG Celebrates 25th Anniversary at Annual Conference
NEW ZEALAND: Hosts Asian ICT Meeting
     
 
 
     
 

ITU Workshop to Survey RFID Standards

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is the much-touted system that enables data to be transmitted by a tiny portable device, called a tag, which is read by an RFID reader and processed according to the needs of a particular application. Analysts predict that RFID will revolutionize areas of industry including supply chain management, security and mobile telecommunication services. Additionally, RFID is expected to play an important role in the realization of the Ubiquitous Network Society. All this will create a yet unquantified demand on telecommunication networks. Currently, the market for RFID standards is extremely fragmented. Special standards for certain limited fields of applications exist as well as quasi-proprietary or proprietary standards. Many RFID applications still lack global standards for data formats, compatibility, interoperability, interference problems, personal information protection, authentication, key management and others. The workshop will serve as a survey of the market in terms of standardization and identify new areas for work; it will also begin work on a standards roadmap and provide a starting point for coordination of future work.


From 01/23/2006



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Gates: Beating Piracy in Asia Will Take 10 Years

JANUARY 27, 2006 (REUTERS) - Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates said today that beating software piracy in China and India and getting compliance up to U.S. and European levels will take 10 years. "In India and China, it will be a decade before we get to that level," Gates told business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "But as long as there is year-by-year progress, it holds a great opportunity for us in terms of scale, which helps us do more, and it's a great place where we have people working for us," he said. Gates said sales of the company's software in both countries are increasing every year and he is optimistic that China and India will eventually adopt proper licensing practices, just as Taiwan and South Korea have. Piracy was once standard in Taiwan and South Korea, but both addressed the problem as they grew richer and produced their own crop of local software firms, he said. Microsoft has been achieving more than 30% sales growth in China in recent years and has increased its investment in the country substantially, as it has done in India as well. Industry analysts have long dubbed China the world's de facto capital of piracy. Illicit copying is a plague for software vendors and other manufacturers of high-tech products, such as pharmaceuticals. In the long term, Gates said, both China and India will respect intellectual property as they shift from being simply low-cost manufacturing centers to developing their own technologically advanced products. "We'd like to see more rapid progress on that," he said. The rapid emergence of China and India is a dominant theme of this year's Davos meeting, and Gates said it is inevitable that high-tech business will gradually shift to these new economic powerhouses. "There have been sectors that the richest country, the United States, has been very unique in driving -- computer technology, aerospace, biological products," he said. "But if you take the things that create innovation, like people trained in science and engineering, and compare it, we've had this huge shift." The U.S. produces 75,000 engineers a year, and that number is rapidly falling in the U.S. In contrast, India alone trains 325,000 engineers per year, he noted. Still, the shift won't happen overnight. Gates said in 10 years' time, Microsoft will still do most of its research and development work in the U.S.


From 01/27/2006



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APEC Symposium on Information Privacy Protection in E-Government and E-Commerce

This Symposium will take place in 20-21 Feb, Hanoi, Viet Nam. In recognition of the importance of effective privacy protections, that avoid barriers to information flows, to continue trade and economic growth in the APEC region, in 2004 Ministers endorsed the APEC Privacy Framework and the Future Work Agenda on International Implementation of the APEC Privacy Framework. In November 2005 APEC Ministers endorsed the International Implementation Guidance Section of the APEC Privacy Framework and commended the Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG) for its completion and publication of the APEC Privacy Framework, taking note of the two successful technical assistance seminars on domestic and international implementation of the Framework. This symposium aims to build on this endorsement by APEC Ministers. The project also builds on the decision by Ministers to encourage efforts aimed at enhancing the digital capabilities of all APEC economies and acknowledged the need for continuing APEC's work in this increasingly important area, and looked forward to future progress that enabled all APEC economies to better participate in the Digital Economy, and the need to fully implement the Brunei Goals on internet access.


From 01/10/2006



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Regular Computer Users Perform Better in Key School Subjects, OECD Study Shows

School students who are established computer users tend to perform better in key school subjects than those with limited experience or a lack of confidence in their ability to perform basic computer functions, according to a new OECD report. The study ¡°Are students ready for a technology-rich world?" provides the first internationally comparative data in this area, based on OECD¡¯s PISA 2003 assessment of educational performance by 15-year olds. It backs up previous OECD analysis about the importance of computers in schools. While access to computers in schools has increased in most OECD countries, there are some where large numbers of students still have only limited opportunities to use them. Moreover, even though access to computers is more universal at school than at home, 15-year-old students use their computers at home more frequently. Nearly three out of four students on average in OECD countries - and in Canada, Iceland and Sweden nine out of 10 - use computers at home several times each week. In contrast, only 44% use computers frequently at school. In some countries, the discrepancy between home and school use is marked: Germany has the lowest percentage of frequent computer users at school among OECD countries (23%) but a high proportion of frequent users at home (82%). The relationship with student performance in mathematics is striking. Students who have used computers for several years mostly perform better than average. By contrast, those who don¡¯t have access to computers or who have been using computers for only a short time tend to lag behind their class year. According to the OECD study, students who had been using computers for less than one year (10% of the total sample) scored well below the OECD average. By contrast, students who had been using computers for more than five years (37% of the total sample) scored well above the OECD average. In general, the poor performance of students who have only recently had access to computers is partly influenced by their home backgrounds: students with low home access, in particular, are likely to come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Even taking account of socio-economic factors, however, a sizeable positive effect from regular computer use is evident. This is particularly clear in Australia, Belgium, Germany, Korea, Switzerland and the U.S.


From 01/24/2006



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Public Sector Creativity: Getting Out of the Comfort Zone

Civil servants needs to get out of the comfort zone in order to raise their game, says Kathy Harris, Group Vice President of Gartner Research. Government exists to serve the people, so you have to be sensitive to the fact that you deliver services according to the expectations of the recipients. As the generation that has grown up with the power of the web pass into adulthood they will pull agencies into new ways of doing things. Government owes it to its stakeholders - individual and corporate taxpayers - to be effective, efficient, and to provide excellence in their services. These kinds of drivers should compel governments to be more creative. That alone should be sufficient to break through internal obstacles to creativity. There is nothing inherent in any organisation that prevents them from having a creative approach to their processes, the way they do business, the partnering they do. It is possible and feasible to have creativity in any type of organisation, and there can be more perceived constraints than real constraints in government agencies. If you forget the stereotypes you will realise that there are groups in the public sector that are already very creative, very open to innovation. Many defence and science agencies around the world are not just good - they actually represent global best practice. One example would be NASA in the United States - they have a pretty amazing innovation programme. Last year they decided to redesign their innovation programme, and have begun to experiment with contests to encourage their private sector partners to participate in generating solutions to business issues. So they have found a way to broaden their innovation base at reasonably low cost. I think that when you look at the value that is returned for these kinds of initiatives - they are different in the public sector than in the private sector. Any kind of innovation is looking for effectiveness and efficiency, but in the public sector you also have to look at the political return. There is probably a lot more diversity in the political return that is sought by public sector managers than you would ever find in the private sector. It is relatively straight forward for innovation programmes in the private sector to focus on clear cut goals. These might be linked to driving brand value, share value, or a shared value with their customers and partners. The range of value is more defined, in terms of products and services for example. If government agencies want to move forward to a ¡®better place¡¯ then they need to take a look at themselves in the mirror and really assess what it is that is standing in their way - and then put some things in place to get past those issues. Often the initiatives that public sector organisations take on are funded individually, and that can constrain their freedom to be innovative. If this is the case then the agency needs to work through that and look at places where they can collaborate across boundaries, and share funds across projects. Open to ideas There are many things that are very good about a strong process of management and control. It is good for security and budgeting for example, but it is not good for innovation. To open up to innovation organisations in Asia need to look at the companies and countries that have become very innovative, and take lessons from some of the cultural changes needed. If you think for a moment about the nature of brainstorming and idea generation - you want people to feel unbounded by constraints. It is fine to shift back into command and control mode once the ideas have been generated, because an idea is only going to be as useful as an organisation¡¯s ability to implement it. Providing the right kind of leadership and management support for generating and implementing ideas is vital. Any person in an organisation is potentially capable of great ideas. Not to tap into this means that you are wasting assets. Government agencies need to get into the habit of seeing that they are not just paying people to do a job - they are paying people to think, and add value, and be a change agent within the organisation. It is an effective use of your HR assets to get the creativity flowing. Organisations all over the world recognise the power of collaboration, and they recognise that the mechanics of collaboration: you need to have access to the internet. You need to be plugged into all these connected opportunities. The ¡®power of two¡¯ - that two perspectives are better than one - is the foundation of creativity. In the United States there is a lot innovation by universities and private enterprise, and there is a lot of public funding for some of that innovation. In my view the public sector plays two roles in this. Firstly the agencies supporting this innovation are themselves innovators and the result of their innovation can be shared and pushed into the private sector to grow the private sector. Secondly the funding for private sector innovation also comes back into the public sector from the way the government agencies partner with the private sector. Innovation in any kind of organisation feeds the human spirit. It makes it a place where people want to work. It attracts more talent. Making the public sector the kind of place that is competitive with the private sector for brainpower and creative talent has to be a goal of every government agency.


From 02/03/2006



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Taiwan, Korea Lead in Adoption of Consumer Technologies

December 28, 2005 -- Taiwan and Korea lead the world in the adoption of consumer technologies, according to a new international study from Parks Associates. The study, called Global Digital Living (GDL), surveyed over 10,000 households in 13 countries and regions and ranked the countries/regions according to their proclivity to adopt and use MP3 players, video-on-demand (VoD), home networks, computers, online services, and similar advanced technologies. The US proved the most receptive to TV-related technologies (such as DVRs and digital cable) but fell behind Taiwan and Korea in the adoption of computer-related technologies. European countries generally placed behind North America and developed Asian countries like Japan in the adoption of all categories surveyed. "Each nation has particular strengths and weaknesses in terms of technology adoption," said John Barrett, director of research at Parks Associates. "Canada, for instance, is a very impressive market for home networking while Japan is the undisputed champion for mobile phones, with over one-half of all Japanese households using mobile phone features like e-mail or photo messaging every month. Of course long commute times in Japan encourage the use of mobile phone entertainment features."


From NE Asia Online 12/28/2006



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Telecoms World Looks to China for 3G Boost

China's long march to third generation mobile phone services could be nearing an end, with the roll-out of new 3G licences seen this year as Beijing prepares to set up systems in time for the 2008 Olympics. Participants at the 3GSM mobile trade fair in Barcelona this week were buzzing with the likelihood that China will issue 3G licenses as soon as the first half of this year, amid increasing signs of movement from Beijing. Equipment vendors such as Siemens, Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia are eagerly awaiting the development, which is expected to unleash up to $12 billion in spending on new equipment. Siemens and Nokia executives told Reuters they expected a decision by June. Many have cited the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a key time constraint, since China would like to have cutting-edge mobile systems in place for the global event it hopes will showcase its arrival onto the world stage. "I would put my money on this year," said analyst Edward Fung at Kim Eng Securities, although he added that China has been unpredictable on the subject. Siemens told Reuters it should make at least 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) as operators scramble to roll out networks for the Olympics and beyond. The German conglomerate is betting on homegrown Chinese standard TD-SCDMA, which received a boost last month when the Xinhua news agency said Beijing would build a complete stand-alone network based on the technology. Most industry watchers believe China will build networks based on the world's two most popular 3G standards, the WCDMA standard popular in Europe and CDMA 2000, backed by U.S. giant Qualcomm Inc. .But TD-SCDMA's status was less certain, with some guessing the largely untested technology might be used more for support rather than as a stand-alone system. ROADMAP Trumpeting their position, the TD-SCDMA Industry Alliance, whose members include most major Chinese players, unveiled a roadmap in Barcelona to show how the technology would develop. The alliance said it is conducting a dress rehearsal for a commercial launch, expected to be ready by year-end. It is confident Beijing will approve its standard, and foreign firms tend to agree, as most major players have formed alliances with Chinese operators to support the technology. Siemens has co-invested around 170 million euros to help develop the standard, and Nokia is co-investing $111 million. Most other major firms have also jumped on the TD-SCDMA bandwagon, including Motorola, Ericsson, Nortel Networks, Alcatel and Lucent Technologies. The mobile community is banking on Chinese orders for 3G networking equipment and handsets to help dampen global prices as China, the world's biggest mobile market, brings its nearly 400 million subscribers to the table. So far, less than 10 percent of the world's more than 2 billion mobile phone users have switched to 3G -- despite years of hype about its multimedia possibilities and massive investments in licenses and networks -- with many put off in the past by expensive, bulky handsets and poor battery life. The price gap between a 2G and a 3G phone is now around $40. "We want to make 3G handsets cheaper. After China's participation, prices will come down," Wang Jianzhou, chief executive of dominant mobile carrier China Mobile (Hong Kong) Ltd, told Reuters at 3GSM. Struggling Lucent Technologies also hopes a new 3G market in China will help revive its fortunes. Strategy chief John Leonard told Reuters he believed CMDA 2000, WCDMA and TD-SCDMA would all get licenses. The only question, he said, was who, if anyone, would be awarded a fourth license.


From Reuters 02/13/2006



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The Internet of Things: The Next Technological Revolution

Geneva, 13 February 2006 - A workshop on Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) hosted by ITU, 14-15 February 2006, brings the spotlight on the emergence of a so-called "Internet of Things", enabling ubiquitous network connectivity, anytime and anywhere. With the use of key technologies such as radio tags and wireless sensor networks, real-time communications and the free exchange of information between users and the intelligent objects around them firmly leave the domain of science fiction. Early evidence of the growing ubiquity of networks can be found in the widespread use of mobile phones: The number of mobile phones worldwide surpassed 2 billion in mid-2005 and is now taken for granted by most users in their daily life. The internet, too, has grown at a phenomenal pace. From its origins as an academic network for a small elite, the worldwide network now boasts almost a billion users. And this is only the beginning. "We are on the cutting edge of a new communications era that will radically transform the internet as we know it, and with it, our corporate, community, and personal spheres" said Lara Srivastava, lead author of "The Internet of Things", a report recently released by ITU. "As an unparalleled tool for communication between people, the internet is now set to enable connectivity between people and all kinds of objects, as well as between objects and other things", she said. Innovations like RFID tags herald the dawn of a high-tech future in which ¡®users¡¯ of networks will be counted in the billions and where humans may become the minority as generators and receivers of this traffic. Instead, most of the traffic will flow between inanimate objects, thereby creating a much wider and more complex ¡®Internet of Things¡¯. By embedding short-range mobile transceivers into gadgets and everyday items, the Internet of Things stimulates entirely new forms of communication. Not surprisingly, the ¡®Internet of Things¡¯ creates exciting opportunities for a wide array of players - from mobile operators to retailers, from equipment manufacturers to car manufacturers. For everyday users, the connection of individual things to a network will mean that the real world will become increasingly easier to manage by virtual design. It means greater convenience, whether it is keeping kitchen inventories, shopping, or cooking. It also means enhanced quality of life with better lifestyle applications and healthcare. Access to information and knowledge may also foster improved farming practices and streamlined business and manufacturing processes through the ability to track components and products. In developing economies, RFID and related technologies could play a major role in reducing poverty and overcoming the digital divide. In general, the Internet of Things could well become a catalyst for sustained economic growth and technological development. For the telecommunication industry, the expansion of the internet is not only an opportunity to capitalize on existing success stories, such as broadband, mobile and wireless communications, but it also provides the possibility to explore new frontiers. In the longer term, the Internet of Things will create market opportunities outside the traditional purview of the telecommunication sector. But will the next technological revolution make the world a better place? And what does it all mean in a concrete sense for citizens of the future? What will encourage them to embrace or reject these developments? In a world increasingly mediated by technology, the human core to our activities can remain untouched through people-oriented strategies that exhibit tighter linkages between those that create the technology and those that use it. But such ubiquitous technologies also raise issues such as privacy and protection of personal information, and authentication. How to create market opportunities through global open standards that will enable compatibility and interoperability while addressing privacy concerns will be the subject of a workshop to be held at ITU Headquarters in Geneva 14 to 15 February.


From 02/13/2006



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Assemblers Require New Technologies on Five-Yearly Basis, Says DEK

February 14, 2006 -- DEK has set out a vision for the future that demands wafer level accuracy, six-sigma repeatability and first-time print as fundamental capabilities for next-generation screen printing in SMT and semiconductor assembly. One way in which DEK is achieving these goals is by innovating intuitive software residing between the user and the machine itself. The company's Instinctiv and Interactiv software tools support remote monitoring and diagnostics, on-board error recovery and internet-based help, to enable faster setup, changeover and troubleshooting of complex, precision processes. In practice, users are finding that this function-rich software layer enables first-time print when setting up a new process. By reducing the setup process to a series of menu selections requiring minimal experience on the part of the operator, Instinctiv allows operators to setup complex processes that traditionally require the experience and confidence of senior technical staff. This allows assemblers to introduce new products more quickly and ensure faster turnaround. Alongside the Interactiv software, which is the company's Internet-based support package, the new Instinctiv user interface combines with its latest machine control infrastructure based on controller area network (CAN) technology to support remote diagnostics. This intelligent scalable CAN (ISCAN) infrastructure supports sophisticated communications with all machine subsystems, sensors and actuators across a network, enabling remote diagnostics. ISCAN also eliminates the traditional wiring loom thereby also reducing machine build time. According to DEK, future progress will also require solution providers to challenge accepted wisdom on aspects such as motion control and inspection, and to innovate radically new solutions. Rich Heimsch, president of DEK International, outlined another example where this approach has directly influenced product development at DEK. "By distilling the inspection process down to the purest quality objective -- that of isolating defective units implementing high-speed verification -- we created the new DEK Hawkeye system. Hawkeye secures powerful savings in cycle time for our customers, while preventing faulty boards from passing through to downstream processes." Hawkeye provides a rapid pass-fail indication much faster than a full quantitative inspection routine, which minimizes the time overhead to scan each board. This affords a high degree of control over the cycle time for individual processes and allows all boards to be screened effectively within a pre-calculated line beat rate. The company has also introduced cutting-edge techniques to its motion control systems, to meet process requirements for wafer-level assembly including semiconductor packaging and direct chip attach. New position encoding techniques and motor drives capable of maximizing excursion speeds without setting-up excessive vibrations within the machine chassis. Large vibrations due to inertia and motor rotation can easily impair accuracy and repeatability at fine resolutions, leading to large numbers of defects in advanced processes.


From NE Asia Online 02/14/2006



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Asia-Pacific Is the Largest Region for Broadband Access Accounting for 40% of the World's Total User Base

DUBLIN, Ireland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 15, 2006--Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c32893) has announced the addition of World Broadband Access Market to their offering. 180 million broadband subscribers around the globe in mid-2005: a steady growth momentum being sustained from year to year. We are publishing the 6th edition of its Atlas of the world broadband access market (an annual report which is updated quarterly). This is the chance to gain a comprehensive view of the state of the access market, by country and type of technology, along with the state of competition around the globe and the major industry trends. Asia-Pacific still in the lead, but Europe closing the gap. The Asia-Pacific zone is still number one in terms of broadband access, accounting for over 40% of the globe's user base. In the meantime, Europe is now home to more broadband subscribers than North America. The US is the country with the largest base of broadband subscribers, but reporting declining growth rates. And China is expected to take the lead in 2006: China's broadband user base virtually doubled during the period running from mid-2004 to mid-2005. Among the world's largest developing countries, Brazil, Russia and India are at last emerging on the broadband stage, and all are reporting very healthy growth rates. Meanwhile, in Europe, France, the UK and Germany are in a dead heat for the largest broadband base, each one having more than 8 million connections. South Korea still the benchmark in broadband penetration Despite being near saturation, South Korea is still ahead of the world's other mature markets (the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada) by a nose. France and the UK, which have being enjoying significant growth rates, are reporting penetration rates comparable to the one found in the US.


From 02/15/2006



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CDMA2000 Adds 25 Million New Users on 4Q 2005

February 16, 2006 -- The CDMA Development Group (CDG) has reported that the CDMA2000 subscriber base reached 225 million users worldwide at the end of 2005, a 25 million increase over 3Q and 78 million more than the previous year. The number of CDMA2000 1xEV-DO subscribers nearly doubled in the past year and reached over 24 million, as CDMA2000 operators continued to deploy and expand their broadband services. Driven by the strong demand for CDMA2000, the total CDMA subscriber base grew to 302 million worldwide. "2005 was a record year for CDMA2000 in terms of the number of networks deployed and subscriber growth," said Perry LaForge, executive director of the CDG. "CDMA2000 now serves more than 10% of wireless subscribers worldwide, adding new users faster than any other wireless technology in the past. CDMA2000 has been the driving force behind the commercial success of 3G and now, with 1xEV-DO, it is leading the way in wireless broadband." Since its launch in 2000, CDMA2000 has dominated the 3G market and greatly contributed to the growth of CDMA worldwide. Today, CDMA2000 is said to control 82% of the 3G market and to be adding new users at a rate of 8 million per month, faster than WCDMA and GSM in the first years of their introduction. More than 74% of CDMA users access 3G today, compared to 61% last year. CDMA2000 is deployed in 67 countries across all continents, and while Asia and North America remain the largest markets for CDMA2000, 27 million (>10%) of CDMA2000 subscribers reside in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, and this number is growing rapidly, especially in Latin America. In Asia, with 111 million users, CDMA2000 commands 14% market share. In North America, CDMA2000 has 88 million subscribers, or 40% of the market share, and in Latin America, with 24 million users, the technology has captured 10% of the market. The CDMA2000 industry has entered a phase of rapid transition to advanced broadband wireless services, with 29 systems already commercial and 41 more being deployed. With wider coverage and broader range of devices, the number of 1xEV-DO users surged from 12 million in 2004 to 24 million at the end of 2005, and the number of users is growing at 4 million per quarter. As the trend continues, the percent of CDMA2000 users who access broadband will increase this year from 11% to 20%. The high demand for CDMA2000 has greatly contributed to the continuous advances of CDMA worldwide. Last year the CDMA base grew by 26%, and in the past five years CDMA market share increased from 11% in 2000 to 14% in 2005. In some markets, like India, CDMA has captured 30% in less than three years. Asia remains the largest market for CDMA with 131 million users, followed by North America with 108 million subscribers. The Caribbean and Latin America region added over 16 million CDMA users last year, which represents a 38% increase from the previous year.


From NE Asia Online 02/16/2006



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IBM in Information Management Push

17 February 2006 Computer giant IBM hopes to take advantage of the growing interest in information management, pledging to invest $1 billion over the next three years in related projects. The investment will see a closer alignment of IBM's middleware and consulting divisions as it addresses the convergence of search, database and collaboration software - a market which is estimated to be worth $69 billion globally by 2009. "The value of information can't be realised if it's not effectively managed and delivered to the right people, business applications and processes," said Steve Mills, senior vice president of IBM software. Businesses can currently use a wide range of point solutions to tackle data held in structured and unstructured formats, but they really need a "holistic approach" if they are to turn all corporate data into valuable information, he added. The first phase of the project will begin with the release of IBM's WebSphere Information Server in mid-2006. According to IBM this will ensure data quality, transformation, movement and federation, as well as metadata management. IBM will dedicate 15,000 consultants to the information management project over the next three years. "Tying together data across disparate business processes provides a holistic view of enterprise operations, and enables the company to innovate at a business model level," said Ginni Rometty, senior vice president of IBM Enterprise Transformation Services. "To do this requires data integration skills, business consulting skills and mathematical and science expertise."


From 02/17/2006



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Sidebar: Chambers Eyes Network Rivals in Asia

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Cisco CEO John Chambers discussed topics such as competition, network security and emerging markets in a question-and-answer session with reporters at the company's analyst conference here last week. Excerpts follow: On the competition Cisco faces: "There is a logical evolution of competitors. Every five years, there's another set. We've been in China for 21 years and have always been comfortable and No. 1. [But] most of our competitors in the future will be in Asia. Today, Dell is our toughest competitor." On Cisco's newly announced focus on emerging markets in 129 countries: "We'll sell architectures and systems in emerging markets, as opposed to products, and work with a country's leaders to drive the success of [that] country, because the success of the country is success for us. Emerging markets are now 10% of our revenues and represent 30% to 45% of our future growth. That's how strategic this is." On security vulnerabilities in Cisco's products, including one publicized earlier this year by security researcher Michael Lynn: "We made the decision 10 years ago that security was an architectural play, and we acquired 15 companies to handle the problem -- and now we have over 1,500 Cisco employees in the security area. We have begun to build self-defending networks. "Like any architecture that works end to end, there are elements you add to constantly improve, and [security is] a constant battle. Do we have issues we have to address with security? Yes. And we encourage security researchers. But you don't get ahead by putting [a vulnerability] on the front page of a paper, because you hurt everyone. Let us address it and find the right way to go about [fixing a security flaw]. "Most security researchers want to help and don't intend to hurt people. We don't want anybody to take this tremendous asset and cause exposures, to bring down hospital networks and 911 networks."


From 12/12/2005



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Asia PC Shipments Up 32.6 pc in Q4: Gartner

SHANGHAI, FEBRUARY 16: PC shipments in Asia, excluding Japan, soared 32.6 per cent in the fourth quarter, fuelled by strong demand in India and China and bringing growth for the year to 26.2 per cent, according to data released on Thursday. PC makers shipped 11.6 million units in the fourth quarter of last year, according to market research firm Gartner. "It was a phenomenal year for PCs, with growth rates not seen since 2000," said Gartner analyst Lillian Tay in a statement. "Economic confidence in the region and significant promotions on notebooks were the catalysts that drove demand, especially from the home market," he said. For the year, PC shipments for the region grew to 41.8 million units from 33.1 million in 2004. China's Lenovo was the region's top seller in 2005, with its market share rising to 18.7 per cent for the year from 18.3 per cent in 2004. It became the world's third-largest PC maker after its $1.25 billion purchase of IBM's PC assets in 2005. Hewlett-Packard Co was the region's second biggest player, with its share rising to 10.6 per cent last year from 9.7 in 2004. At number three, Dell Inc saw its regional share rise to 7.4 per cent from 6.7 per cent. Taiwan's Acer Inc saw its share rise to 5.6 per cent from 4.4 per cent, making it the region's fourth biggest player. The big makers gained at the expense of smaller companies and ¡®gray box¡¯ computer makers that have no brand. That group saw their collective share drop to 52.7 per cent from 56.4 per cent for the year.


From 02/16/2006



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Government Technology World 2006

Dates: 05 April 2006 to 07 April 2006 Venue: National Convention Centre - Canberra Government Technology World 2006 delivers leading strategic presentations, case studies, discussion panels and networking opportunities for executives and IT implementers responsible for evaluating, selecting, deploying ICT solutions within the public sector. Government Technology World 2006 brings together global government IT thought leaders, practitioners and industry experts to discuss key issues in the how the face of service delivery is evolving and the kinds of technologies that can be adopted internally and externally to enhance it. Government Technology World 2006 provides an excellent opportunity for stakeholders across Australia to meet and discuss the challenges that face the public sector ICT industry.


From 01/10/2006



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World Telecommunication Development Conference 2006: to Agree on Telecommunication Development Priorities to Bridge the Digital Divide

Geneva - The first world development conference following the landmark World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is due to open in six weeks in Doha, Qatar. The purpose of the conference is to focus on development priorities in telecommunications and agree on the programmes, projects and initiatives to implement them. It will take into account the WSIS Geneva Plan of Action and Tunis Agenda, which aim at bridging the digital divide. A key objective is to promote international cooperation, regional initiatives and partnerships that can sustain and strengthen telecommunication infrastructure and institutions in developing countries. The Doha Action Plan will set out ways to implement these goals over the next four years. Over a thousand policy-makers and practitioners from government, the private sector, international and regional organizations are expected to attend WTDC-06 to fast-track ITU¡¯s objectives of bridging the Digital Divide in all its dimensions - technical, societal and economic - and to harness the power of ICTs for socio-economic development of the widest number of people, particularly the world¡¯s most deprived. Following the opening ceremony on 7 March, the conference will focus on new action lines for global and regional development of telecommunications and ICT, the role of ITU in the post-WSIS paradigm and promoting new initiatives and partnerships to give concrete shape to the global vision enunciated in the WSIS process. In addition to the adoption of a comprehensive strategy to achieve balanced telecommunication development worldwide in cooperation with development partners from both governments and private sector, the Conference will consider two new global initiatives benefiting persons with disabilities, and telecommunications for disaster prevention. Several regional initiatives that have been tabled by countries through a regional preparatory process are also being considered.


From 01/24/2006



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Government Technology Forum 06

(Incorporating Government Technology Showcase) 26-27 October 2006, Singapore. Talk, listen, learn at the second annual Government Technology Forum. Organised by Public Sector Technology & Management, Asia¡¯s only government IT magazine, the Government Technology Forum is a two-day event bringing together senior regional administrators and policy-makers. The unique format of the event - two days of roundtable discussions held behind closed doors in front of a Director- level audience of regional officials - provides an effective platform for a frank exchange of ideas and genuine peer learning. A series of networking opportunities throughout the day will enable delegates and speakers to build new relationships of lasting value. Delegates to Government Technology Forum 06 will benefit from interacting with twelve focused panel discussions, each of which features leading government officials and opinion-formers from around Asia Pacific and beyond. Key themes for Government Technology Forum 06 include: ? Optimising Enterprise Architecture for Government ? Calculating and managing operational risk ? Technology, transparency & the reform of governance ? Collaboration across tiers ? Citizen-centric government ? Proprietary vs. Open Source Software ? Public Private Partnership ? Securing government systems ? Procurement Policy. As part of our mission to contribute to the development of better governance in the region, and working with our event sponsors and partners, readers of Public Sector Technology & Management are invited to attend the conference for free. All delegates will receive lunch, refreshments, an invitation to an early evening networking session and full forum documentation across two days.


From 02/01/2006



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6th Global Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region (CIAPR VI)

The 6th Global Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region (CIAPR VI)will take place in 18-20 October 2006, in Shanghai, China, with a theme of "Bridging Digital Divide - Innovation ¡¤ Harmoniousness ¡¤ Development". Contact: Ms. Liu Haiying, E-mail: hyliu@siecc.org.


From 02/02/2006



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AZERBAIJAN: TV Advertising of Alcoholic Drinks to Be Banned in Azerbaijan

The advertisement of alcoholic beverages on all television channels in Azerbaijan will be banned in 2008-2009, says head of the senior body regulating the work of the local media. The National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council chairman Nushiravan Maharramli said in parliament on Wednesday that such advertising is allowed on TV after 11 p.m., which is mainly due to the fact Russia airs unlimited broadcasts [on Channel 1 and RTR Planet channels] in the country. Maharramli said the financial standing of local channels is unsatisfactory, and the Council has therefore not forbidden such advertising so far. ¡°But this concession will be lifted in the coming as it improves," he pledged. (by AssA-Irada)


From 02/16/2006



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CHINA: China Defends Internet Policies

The Chinese government has defended its Internet policies in light of recent attacks from the US government. In a press conference yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said that its internet policies were aimed, like any other country's, at developing the internet 'in a healthy and orderly way to the benefit of the general public'. Over the last month, the a US House of Representatives Subcommittee has launched attacks on US companies - namely Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco - for cooperating with China's internet regulations. The US government claims that the companies have corroborated in limiting free speech in the country by returning censored search results and shutting down controversial blogs. Yahoo has also been accused of handing over Chinese political dissidents who are Yahoo e-mail users. Mr Gang said that each country governs the Internet slightly differently, according to its own laws and values, and that in doing so, 'China draws on the experiences from such countries as the US and we have no difference in our fundamental goal.' Mr Gang added that companies must follow the local laws and regulations of a country in which they operate, even if they are not based in that country. The US government thus has no jurisdiction over American companies' activities in China, he said. China's Internet policies have been particularly spotlighted since the launch of Google's China portal in January. The search engine aroused controversy by adhering to China's Internet regulations, including censored results for queries such as 'Tiananmen Square', 'human rights' or 'democracy'. Google has been accused of placing profits over its principles, unwilling to sacrifice its place in the Chinese market with its over 100 million Internet users. Mr Gang emphasised that China's practices are not drastically different from any other country's, including the US (the US has censored search results for Muslim cartoons, for instance). 'We hope some Americans can take an objective, unbiased and fair attitude.


From digitalmediaasia.com 02/17/2006



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Ministry of Information Industry Drafts Plan for Next 5 Years

The Ministry of Information Industry (MII) has completed a draft plan for the 11th Five-Year Plan Period (2006-2010).By the year 2010, the added value in the Chinese information industry will hit 2.26 trillion yuan, accounting for 10 percent of the GDP. The share of the exports of electronic products in the nation's total will be maintained around 35 percent. There will be one billion telephone users and 200 million Internet users. Telephone and Internet will be available for all villages nationwide, according to Wang Xudong, the Minister of Information Industry. Wang said, in the plan, software, integrated circuit and components of new types are listed as core basic industries. The government will offer substantial assistance for the development of software and integrated circuit industries. Enterprises will be guided to pay more attention to R&D, brand building and international business. The government will strengthen coordination with departments concerned, give more policy support for major transnational mergers as well as speed up cultivating China¡¯s own multinationals. Talking about 3G (third generation) mobile telecom services, Wang said China will integrate the development of 3G with deepening telecom reform, optimizing competition, improving monitoring policy, promoting the industrialization of technologies to which China has its own intellectual property rights and forming new industrial chain, so as to formulate relevant policies and ensure quality services for Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.


From People¡¯ s Daily 12/29/2005



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HK Advisory Committee Discusses Implementation of Digital 21 Strategy

The Digital 21 Strategy Advisory Committee reviewed the progress made in the past year in implementing the 2004 Digital 21 Strategy and discussed the targets and actions plans for the coming year at its meeting today (January 20). Members noted that the Government had made good progress in the eight main areas of action under the Digital 21 Strategy, which is the blueprint for driving the development and adoption of information and communications technology (ICT) in Hong Kong. Apart from taking stock of the progress made in 2005, the Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO), who is tasked to measure and report progress on the Strategy, has also identified areas requiring further work and proposed new initiatives to be undertaken in 2006. These include launching a three-year pilot scheme to open up the intellectual property rights in Government IT systems for commercial exploitation in the first quarter of 2006, rolling out a new One-Stop Access Portal in mid-2006 to deliver citizen-centric e-government services, and putting in place a new mechanism to strengthen the governance of IT projects with effect from April, 2006. Members also noted that the Government had commenced preparatory work for the next round of Digital 21 Strategy review. To deepen and broaden the support of bureaux and departments (B/Ds) and the relevant stakeholders for the Digital 21 Strategy, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) will initiate discussions with them in the first quarter of 2006, with a view to coming up with a draft document for public consultation in late 2006. The updated strategy, to be promulgated in early 2007, will be the blueprint for further ICT development in Hong Kong for the period from 2007 to 2010. At today's meeting, the committee also discussed the outcome of the business review of the Hong Kong Post Certification Authority conducted in mid-2005. Members noted that Hongkong Post would conduct a Request for Proposal exercise in the first half of 2006 to invite the private sector to participate in running the e-Cert services and to come up with new value-added services/businesses so as to engender a self-financing public certification authority operation. Members were also briefed on the results of the 2005 surveys on IT Usage and Penetration in the Household and Business Sectors in Hong Kong. According to the results of the Household survey, personal computers (PC) and Internet connections were very common among the households in Hong Kong. Among all the domestic households in Hong Kong, 70.1% of them had PC at home in 2005. Among those households with PC at home, 92.2% had their PC connected to the Internet, representing 64.6% of all domestic households in Hong Kong. This is similar to the situation in 2004. According to the Establishment Survey, the percentage of business establishments using PCs and having Internet connection in 2005 had increased over 2004, being 60.5% and 54.7% respectively. The corresponding figures in 2004 were 58.4% and 50.4% respectively.


From 01/20/2006



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Online Publication of Lawmakers' Proposals Shows Democracy in Action

CHENGDU, Jan. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Chen Gang, a 33-year-old cab driver, never expected he, too, could read the proposals submitted by lawmakers in his home province Sichuan, let alone to make a comment. Until he found, on a portal website he often visited, a special column about the annual session of the Sichuan Provincial People's Congress that lists all the deputies' proposals and welcomes comments from the Internet browsers. "We used to think the lawmakers' job was rather mysterious and had little to do with us commoners," said Chen. "Media reports were all about how many proposals were received and how many from the previous year had been implemented, but rarely gave details." During this year's lawmakers' session, the provincial legislature posted all proposals on a local website -- www.scol.com.cn before they were deliberated. The long established practice in China is for deputies' proposals to be deliberated by the national or local legislatures before they were included in the recent legislative plans. "In most circumstances, our proposals were published only after they had been mulled, reviewed and confirmed by the presidium," said Zhai Feng, a deputy to the Sichuan Provincial People's Congress. Zhai's proposal that calls for new regulations to satisfy the citizens' basic needs appeared on the website a few hours after he submitted the document on Jan. 16. In this proposal, one of a dozen submitted by the lawmaker from Guangyuan city, Zhai said the provincial legislature needs to spell out in legal terms the building of a social security system to meet the citizens' basic needs and safeguard the basic rights of the disadvantaged people -- laid-off workers in cities, surplus laborers in the countryside and handicapped people, for example --for education, medical services, housing, childbearing, employment and pension. By Friday morning, this proposal had received the most extensive attention from the netizens with more than 1,500 clicks. "Very good proposal," reads an anonymous netizen's comment. "The proposal represents the ordinary people's interests. It's also innovative to publish the proposal online." Zhai said he spent two months and interviewed nearly 100 people to write the proposal. "It's there for everyone to see and evaluate my job." A proposal from Han Zhicheng, another deputy, which calls for laws to rein in the staggering medical expenses has also been applauded by the netizens. Publication of the proposals online will urge the lawmakers to carry out more in-depth research in their respective spheres and contribute more constructive proposals, said Guo Dan, a political science researcher at the Sichuan Provincial Academy of Social Sciences. "It shows our lawmaking process is more transparent and democratic." The online publication was initiated by Li Shangzhi and his peers at the Sichuan Provincial People's Congress, "The purpose is for the general public to tell whether the deputies have represented the people's rights and interests," saidLi, deputy secretary-general of the legislature's standing committee. Li said his organization has entrusted the website to poll all the netizens' comments, which they will refer to in their future lawmaking process. To enhance transparency in administrative work also represents the endeavors of the Chinese government, says Prof. Li Yingsheng, a sociologist of the Beijing-based Renmin (People's) University. The opening of China's central government website at www.gov.cnon Jan. 1 marks a major step forward in building a transparent government that serves the people, he acknowledged. "The declassification of lawmakers' proposals is another constructive move."


From www.chinaview.cn 01/20/2006



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HK Starts Consultation on Anti-spam Law

Hong Kong government Friday launched public consultation on the legislative proposals to contain the problem of unsolicited electronic messages. Highlighting key aspects of the proposed Unsolicited Electronic Messages Bill at the InterChambers of Commerce luncheon Friday, Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology John Tsang said it would only regulate electronic messages of a commercial nature, ensuring that regulation is needs-driven. Non-commercial communications from governments, political parties, religious groups, charities or individuals will not fall within the Bill's ambit, Tsang said. In view of technology's rapid development, the bureau proposes adopting a technology-neutral approach and bringing generally all types of electronic messages within the ambit of the Bill. "This will not only bring the notorious spamming problem areas, such as e-mail, fax and pre-recorded voice messages, within the regulatory framework, but will also cater for new types of electronic messages that may spring up in future in response to technology and service developments," Tsang said. Since Hong Kong salespeople regularly make personal phone calls to promote certain products or services, and this practice is generally accepted as normal and legitimate marketing, the bureau proposes excluding normal person-to-person telephone calls from the Bill's ambit. Tsang said the proposed regulation has adopted the "opt-out" regime after thorough consideration, which requires senders of commercial electronic messages to stop sending further such messages to a recipient if the recipient asks them to. "An 'opt-out' regime would provide companies with room to promote their products, and in turn facilitate the development of small and medium sized enterprises. It also provides opportunities for recipients to browse through promotion information before deciding whether to receive further messages," Tsang said. Investigations will be based on complaints. Victims can seek in court remedies from the spammer within six years. Convicted spammers are liable to a maximum fine of 100,000 HK dollars (US$12,903), and 1,000 HK dollars (US$129) per day for repeated offenses.


From Xinhua News Agency 01/21/2006



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Personal Credit Information Database Starts to Operate

In recent years, the People's Bank of China has been organizing commercial banks to build a nationwide personal credit information database in line with the decisions adopted by the 16th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party and the 3rd Plenum of the 16 the CPC Central Committee as well as instructions from the State Council with regard to building a social credit registry system. As a vital part of the infrastructure of corporate and personal credit registry system, the nationwide personal credit database has officially started its operation in January 2006. Corporate and personal credit registry is a major component in a social credit system and serves as the cornerstone of a well-functioning modern financial system, and a basis for preventing financial risks, maintaining financial stability, promoting financial development and social harmony. The availability of a full-fledged credit registry system is an important measure of a mature market economy. This database of personal credit information, as a platform shared by commercial banks, collects and keeps personal credit information such as borrowing from and repaying commercial banks, credit card transactions and tendering guarantee, as well as personal identity information, provides personal credit information online inquiry service to commercial banks to satisfy their need in preventing and managing credit risks, and serve the need of monetary policy conduct and financial regulation. The personal credit information database enables information sharing among commercial banks, facilitating borrowing and preventing credit risks; at the same time, privacy and information security will also be protected. Inquiry can be made through the personal credit information database only with the authorization in writing by the person involved when personal loan application or credit card application is being reviewed, offer of guarantee by an individual assessed, or personal loan or credit card monitored for credit risks on a continued basis. The database was initiated in early 2004; in December 2004, the system started to operate on a trial basis, with a network covering 7 cities and participated by 15 national banks and 8 city commercial banks. In August 2005, all the national banks and rural credit cooperatives that were technically ready joined the network and the trial operation. After one year of trial operation, the system was officially launched in January 2006.The database now contains personal identity information of 340 million natural persons, out of which 35 million have credit record. At end 2005, the database contained information of a total of 2.2 trillion yuan worth of personal loans outstanding, accounting for about 97.5 percent of the total consumer credit outstanding in the country. Wherever a natural person borrows or repays loan in the country, provides basic information when opening a settlement account with a bank, the information thus generated will be kept in the database and can be accessed by credit review staff of commercial banks with written approval from the person in question. Many commercial banks have made inquiry with personal credit information database part of the established pre-lending assessment procedure. Personal credit information database has opened 52,000 user terminals at commercial bank branches throughout the country, and the number of credit report inquiries averages at 110,000 daily. This system has contributed to higher credit review efficiency, more convenience in borrowing, prevention of non-performing loans occurrence and over-indebtedness on the part of borrowers, and helped to set interest rate on the basis of credit risks. The People's Bank of China will strengthen consultation and cooperation with other government agencies and institutions, continue to improve the personal credit information database by gradually including complete personal identity information and relevant credit information from social security department, house providence fund, tax authorities, schools, courts, and other public institutions, consolidate the debt information scattered in all these institutions and turn them into personal wealth that can better serve individual citizens and the whole society. By establishing personal credit files and having the past credit behavior of a person affect his/her future credit activities, the database uses institutional constraint to help individual citizens to have better credit awareness, respect contract and abide by law, thereby building a social atmosphere that values honesty and credit-worthiness. The operation of the database will greatly promote the building a social credit system and improve credit culture in China.


From www.pbc.gov.cn 01/26/2006



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Rules Issued on Electronic-Banking Operations The banking regulator has issued rules to strengthen its supervision of the nation's

electronic-banking business. The rules take effect March 1 and apply to domestic and foreign banks, as well as asset management companies, financing companies and trust companies, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said in statements published on its Web site. E-banking includes internet banking, telephone banking, mobile phone banking and other banking business that requires electronic equipment and networks, it said. Under the rules, financial institutions must have set up full risk-management and internal control systems before applying to open an e-banking business. They should also have set up and tested the infrastructure and operating system for the e-banking business. Also, foreign financial institutions must have operational branches in China before they can apply to start an e-banking business. CBRC or its branches must decide whether to approve an e-banking business application within three months of receiving it, according to the rules. Financial institutions must also carry out regular security spot checks and tests, and update those measures as necessary, the regulator said. CBRC said financial institutions should guarantee the safety, confidentiality, integrity, accuracy and verifiability of the data being transferred. Additionally, they should keep records of e-banking data using appropriate technology. The rules also regulate the transfer and exchange of e-banking data, technology outsourcing and cross-border e-banking business. CBRC said it also issued guidelines on assessing the security of e-banking businesses, but didn't elaborate.


From xinhuanet 02/08/2006



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China Stands Firm in Fighting Internet Piracy

BEIJING, Feb. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPA) have separately sent letters to the China National Copyright Administration (NCA) to praise a special operation to crush Internet infringement and piracy as "hard but effective." They also expressed their hopes for enhanced cooperation with NCA, which closed 76 websites, confiscated 39 servers used for piracy and ordered 137 websites to delete contents that infringe upon regulations in an operation carried out between September and December last year. "This special operation has achieved its purpose and has been favorably looked upon by the public and overseas rights-holders' organizations," NCA deputy commissioner Yan Xiaohong told a press conference on Wednesday. The administration also fined 29 websites 789,000 yuan (98,625 U.S. dollars) and transferred 18 suspected criminal cases to judiciary courts during the operation, Yan said. According to Yan, the administration had received letters of complaint about piracy of literary works, music, TV series, films, software and computer games by Oct. 31, 2005, of which 172 have been resolved. Out of the 172 cases, 14 were reported by overseas right-holders or right-holders' organizations, including the IFPI and the MPA, he said. However, Yan also acknowledged one special operation was not enough to eliminate Internet infringement, because like many other countries, China has not found a right approach yet. "The Internet is boundless, with a huge memory and rapid transmission speed, so the evidence is hard to grasp," Yan said, adding, "The NCA is addressed to setting up a long-standing mechanism of copyright protection in the Internet context. We still have a lot of work to do." The State Council is expected to issue a statute on Internet information spread rights to regulate networks and fortify the defense of private and non-profit Internet websites, Yan said. "We will continue to cooperate with the right-holders, social agencies and international organizations - including the IFPI and the MPA," he said. China joined the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1980 and its two international treaties out of the total six - the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of their Phonograms. Yan told the conference that China is considering joining another two - the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, both enacted for copyright protection on the Internet. "China's government will keep up its seriousness about Internet infringement and piracy," he acknowledged, saying that. "Our goal is to create an environment favorable for both copyright protection and the product dissemination, and thus leave Internet information on hand for the public's study and entertainment."


From www.chinaview.cn 02/15/2006



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Chinese Copyright Administrations Handle 172 Online Piracy Cases in 2005

Chinese copyright administrations handled 172 online piracy cases from September to December in 2005, said sources with the National Copyright Administration Wednesday. In a national campaign to curb online privacy, out of the 172 online piracy cases, 28 were major cases handled with much efforts, and 14 of them were reported by overseas copyright holders or organizations.


FromCRIENGLISH.com 12/15/2006



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China 3G to Begin Massive Test

The construction of the experimental network for 3G standards will start at the end of February, according to TD-SCDMA Industry Alliance. The test, mainly focused on homemade 3G handsets, is set to fix 3G handset's problems such as instability and backward compatibility. "The test is the biggest one ever," insiders of the 3G Alliance said. Aside from China Unicom, three major operators -China Mobile, China Telecom and China Netcom will all participate in the test. The equipment used in the test will be provided by Datang, ZTE and TD Tech. It is estimated that up to 10,000 handsets will be receiving the test. The Ministry of Information Industry implemented two outfield tests earlier, but both of them are small tests based in central cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The construction of the experimental network for 3G standards will be conducted in three other cities except Beijing and Shanghai. The three cities will be selected from Qinhuangdao, Tangshan, Qingdao, Baoding and one city in Zhejiang Province.


From People's Daily Online 02/20/2006



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IRAN: ICT Minister Outlines Achievements

Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Mohammad Soleimani said here on Wednesday that the telecoms sector has grown significantly in the past three decades, stressing that 5,000 projects are ready to become operational in the next few days. The minister told Fars news agency that the projects include expansion of fixed and cellular phone networks as well as creation of information technology (IT) centers across the country. ¡°We have asked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to inaugurate these projects officially but have not yet received a response,¡° he said. He further noted that the number of fixed phone lines has increased from 850,800 in 1979, when the Islamic Revolution triumphed, to 19.6 million last month. ¡°Some 2.3 percent of the population had access to fixed phones in 1979,¡° he said, adding that the figure has now reached 28.8 percent. Soleimani said while only 312 villages had access to fixed phones in 1979, the number of rural areas covered by telecoms services has now reached 46,842. He put the number of mobile phone SIM cards operational nationwide at 8.5 million, saying the cellular phone network covers 997 cities. ¡°Some 12.4 percent of Iranians use cellular phones,¡° he said, adding that the number of Internet users has exceeded seven million. The minister said some 33,171 kilometers of fiber optic has been laid throughout the country.


From 02/02/2006



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Iran Confirms Blocking Of BBC's Persian Website

The Iranian government has confirmed that it has blocked access to the BBC's Persian news website. Iran said the British news service is pursuing "anti-Iranian" interests. The Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mohammad Hossein Safar Harandi, said today the length of the ban depends on the BBC's and its Persian site's "attitude towards the Islamic world and Iran." The BBC reported on 24 January that the Iranian authorities had blocked BBCPersian.com. The website receives around 30 million hits a month. Over the past year, Iranian Internet service providers have blocked access to hundreds of political, human rights, and women's sites deemed pornographic or anti-Islamic by the authorities. (AFP)


From 02/13/2006



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JAPAN: Health Ministry Plans Online System to Monitor Use of Controversial Drug Thalidomide

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has decided to introduce a system to monitor individual imports of the drug Thalidomide, which was responsible for numerous illnesses in the 1950s and 1960s, it has been learned. The ministry plans to introduce the monitoring system in May to prevent further illness caused by Thalidomide. Individuals have been importing the sedative in large quantities to treat cancer and other illnesses. At the end of 2004, an academic society introduced guidelines on the use of the drug, but they were not fully adopted at all medical institutions. The online monitoring system, referred to as SMUD, asks doctors and other medical workers who import Thalidomide by themselves to register patients' ages, illnesses and dosage levels on the Internet. This information is then screened by the University Hospital Medical Information Network (UMIN). If major side effects occur from use of the drug, they will be reported immediately to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. In guidelines created at the end of 2004, doctors were asked to fax or e-mail information on patients, but as of December last year the number of registered patients stood at just 278. In fiscal 2004, some 538,500 Thalidomide pills were imported by individuals, suggesting that the registered number of patients was merely a fraction of the number actually taking the drug. In one case uncovered during investigations by the Mainichi, a doctor at a cancer treatment center in Saitama Prefecture failed to heed guidelines and gave 280 Thalidomide pills to one patient. In order to prevent importers slipping past the online monitoring system, the ministry is reportedly considering requiring doctors to register on the system when they acquire the identification necessary to import the drug. Members of the group "Ishizue," which includes patients who have suffered side effects from Thalidomide, are calling for the registration system to be made compulsory, and for registration details to be made public at least once a month.


From 01/27/2006



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Easier Copyright Rules Eyed for Isps

The government plans to simplify the copyright procedures that have saddled broadcasters and Internet services providers (ISPs) to spur the distribution of TV programs over the Internet, sources said. The government's Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters, headed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, is pushing for drastic revisions of the Copyright Law to smooth out the copyright obstacles that have hindered TV program distribution over the Internet. The goal is to enable ISPs to provide television programs over the Internet as easily as it is done for TV, the sources said. However, the process of revising the law is expected to be bumpy because local TV broadcasters and cable television operators are opposed. In addition, copyright holders have expressed concerns that their rights may be adversely affected. Under the current Copyright Law, broadcasters only need to pay fees to all copyright holders in a TV program, such as record companies, singers and others, after the program is aired. But broadcasters and ISPs must receive permission from all actors, performers, singers and copyright holders for other items, before the TV program is shown on the Internet. Many in the industry have complained that such time-consuming procedures have blocked the spread of the Internet services. The strategy headquarters suggests revising the Copyright Law to redefine the distribution of TV programs offered to homes through communication facilities, including fiber-optic cables and broadband services, as "wired broadcasting." Under that definition, digital terrestrial broadcasts will simultaneously become available over the Internet because broadcasters and ISPs will be allowed to obtain permission from the copyright holders after the programs are shown. "Necessary measures should be swiftly taken, including revising the law," the sources said the final report will say. The report is being worked out by an expert panel that is part of the strategy headquarters. The strategy headquarters intends to come up with details in its 2006 promotion program for intellectual property, which will be finalized in June, and submit a bill to revise the Copyright Law to the regular Diet session in 2007. The Council for Cultural Affairs, an advisory body to the Agency for Cultural Affairs, is also expected to discuss the issue starting in February. KDDI Corp. and three other companies have registered with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to provide TV programs over the Internet. Such services are expected to cover areas where digital terrestrial broadcasting is not available. By 2011, digital services will replace terrestrial analog broadcasting across Japan.


From The Asahi Shimbun 01/31/2006



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Japan Debates on Internet TV Patent Law

The intellectual property strategy committee which reports directly to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said that intellectual property right has a profound impact on the broadcasting industry, and the current law regarding Internet protocol multicast broadcasting remained unclear in many areas. As a result, the group called for a revision of existing laws that will make it easier for broadcasters to put programs on air via the Web without fear of legal repercussions of potentially violating intellectual property rights .


From http://www.physorg.com/ 02/20/2006



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SOUTH KOREA: Aiming to Be World's Top E-Learning Powerhouse in Five Years

The government held the ¡°e-learning industry development committee meeting" on Dec. 26 to finalize its basic plan to develop and vitalize the nation's e-learning business in the five years to come. The committee comprises vice ministers of related ministries and experts from private companies. E-learning means a learning that is accomplished over the Internet, a computer network, via CD-ROM, interactive TV or satellite broadcast and typically involves some form of interactivity, which may include online interaction between the learner and their teacher or peers. South Korea has a full potential to develop a world-best e-learning system thanks to its established infrastructure for information technology. At the meeting, participants have confirmed the nation's e-learning industry as one of the nation's next generation growth industries, integrating related policies of nine ministries and agencies including the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development and the Ministry of Information and Communication. It has also set up two strategies to sharpen competitive edge and create demands for e-learning, along with six policies: standardization and establishment of e-learning authentication system, fostering capability to develop e-learning technology, rearing e-learning specialists, assistance for starting or managing e-learning business, support for vitalization of e-learning and spread of knowledge through e-learning. The government plans to implement the policies by 2010 on a gradual basis and detailed measures to put them into practice will be established in January.


From http://www.mic.go.kr/ 01/12/2006



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Korea Takes Step on Road to MS-Free World

The Korean government starts coming up with various measures to counter Microsoft, which plans to stop providing security patches for the Windows 98 operating system. The nation's six ministries including the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) convened of late to discuss ways of reducing dependence on Microsoft, the world's biggest software maker. ``We agreed to cut down on our heavy reliance on Windows while promoting open-source programs such as Linux as an alternative,'' an MIC official said. As action plans, the six ministries agreed to make Internet banking services and programs dealing with public grievance operable on a Linux-empowered system. Up until now, the programs could be run only through Windows. ``To secure broad-based adoption of non-Windows programs, the government will evaluate ministries regarding how much they brace for open-source programs,'' the official said. Linux is dubbed an open-source program since the code is shared freely by developers across the world. With wide grassroots and government support, it is challenging Microsoft's core business as no rival ever has. He added the new policy was spawned due to Microsoft's scheme to stop offering security patches for Windows 98 beginning this July. The Korean government has asked for Microsoft to delay the policy a year but the software titan refused to do so. This has angered many Windows 98 users. Experts predicted the Windows 98 patch-stoppage plan will cause serious security loopholes because millions of personal computers here are now embracing the outdated operating system. ``Windows 98 is still widely used. Some people would replace their programs with advanced systems like Windows 2000 and XP. But some will continue to bank on Windows 98 even after this July,'' Seung Jae-mo, the researcher at the Korea Information Security Agency, said. He expected hacking and virus attacks would rage in the latter half of this year as global crackers would launch full-throttle attacks on Windows 98-outfitted computers that will not be updated regularly. Seung estimated about 10 percent of Korean PC users depend on Windows 98 and just half of them would migrate to newer versions, which are relatively safe from glitches, in this July. Useless Security Patch? In response, Microsoft Korea contends its policy on the patch was announced four years ago and not so many Windows 98 users pay attention to the security reconfiguration. ``We announced the scheme in 2002 and postponed the start day twice due in no small part to requests of the Korean government,'' Microsoft Korea spokesman Kwon Chan said. ``We cannot keep offering security patches forever. Furthermore, merely 10 percent of Windows 98 users download them presently,'' he said. Kwon went on to argue that the decade-old operating system must be substituted with the latest versions for the very reason of the online safety. ``Windows 98 was designed and developed in the mid-1990s when engineers didn't take the Internet into consideration seriously. Subsequently, it is vulnerable to online hackers,'' Kwon said. ``It will not cause any problem to employ the Windows 98-enabled computers on a stand-alone basis without logging on to the Internet. But the system does not go well with the Web,'' he said. Kwon claimed that the security updates for Windows 98 becomes practically impossible as application developers do not support the out-of-date system. ``We do care about the security. Nothing could be further from the truth than claims that Microsoft ignores the security worries to just deepen its pockets,'' Kwon said. ``In fact, Microsoft picks its Korean affiliate as the best practice of putting forth efforts for securities in the world, which demonstrates our commitment to the issue,'' he added. Kwon said that via clearing away the misunderstanding Microsoft wants to make a good partner with Korea's high-tech item vendors, which earn money by exporting top-of-the-line IT merchandises. ``I think we will be able to make a win-win formula with domestic IT entities by incorporating our software to their products shipped to overseas markets,'' he said. ``Only we are eligible for the tasks because our software is widely deployed around the world and we feel required to play a key role for the brisk outbound shipment of local products,'' he said.


From the Korea Times 01/20/2006



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Writers of Abusive Internet Reply Comments to Be Punished

Prosecutors have decided to take legal action against citizens who post abusive comments on the Internet in response to cyber newspaper articles. The action sends a warning to those who make abusive comments in cyber space in other situations. It is the first time for prosecutors to attempt to punish people who post abusive replies to newspaper articles on the Internet. According to criminal law, those who commit contempt can be imprisoned for a maximum of one year or fined 2 million won.


From http://www.mic.go.kr/ 01/24/2006



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South Korea Unveils Mobile Technology Roadmap

(Asia Pulse via NewsEdge) South Korea's information ministry said it is pushing for the nation to become a leader in mobile technologies by 2010. South Korea plans to pursue the "M-1," or Mobile Number One, project by targeting five specific industry sectors, South Korea's information minister Chin Dae-je said in a meeting in Seoul. The five strategies include developing special zones for next-generation mobile communications technologies, development of a cheap and stable mobile environment and acquisition of technological competitiveness to lead in the global mobile technologies market, Dae-je said. The other fields are building a new environment to develop new mobile communications businesses and developing the market to allow stable growth in the local mobile industry. Further details of the M-1 project will be announced by the Ministry of Information and Communication, the officials said. According to the plan, the ministry plans to boost South Korean firms' share of the global mobile equipment market to 50% and the high-end terminal market to 30%.


From http://www.telecomasia.net/ 02/07/2006



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South Korea Unveils Mobile Technology Roadmap

(Asia Pulse via NewsEdge) South Korea's information ministry said it is pushing for the nation to become a leader in mobile technologies by 2010. South Korea plans to pursue the "M-1," or Mobile Number One, project by targeting five specific industry sectors, South Korea's information minister Chin Dae-je said in a meeting in Seoul. The five strategies include developing special zones for next-generation mobile communications technologies, development of a cheap and stable mobile environment and acquisition of technological competitiveness to lead in the global mobile technologies market, Dae-je said. The other fields are building a new environment to develop new mobile communications businesses and developing the market to allow stable growth in the local mobile industry. Further details of the M-1 project will be announced by the Ministry of Information and Communication, the officials said. According to the plan, the ministry plans to boost South Korean firms' share of the global mobile equipment market to 50% and the high-end terminal market to 30%.


From http://www.telecomasia.net/ 02/07/2006



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KAZAKHSTAN: Plan of Telecommunications Development for 2006 - 2008 Adopted

A draft plan of events to implement the Programme of Telecommunications Development for 2006-2008 has been adopted at a meeting in the Agency for Computerisation and Communications, the Agency has advised Kazakhstan Today. This plan is directed at further development of telecommunications in conditions of the liberalisation and accession of Kazakhstan to the WTO. It also suggests creation of conditions for the accession of the country to the top 50 competitive countries of the world. Currently the Agency is going to launch procedures to coordinate the programme with state authorities. Representatives of the Agency, operators of intercity and international communication, and the National Telecommunication Association participated in the meeting.


From 02/17/2006



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INDONESIA: Draft Law on Cybercrime Hung Despite Rising Scams

Cybercriminals can rest easy in the knowledge they will not have to spend a maximum of 10 years in jail or pay a fine of as much as Rp 2 billion (some US$200,000). At least for another three months. A draft law on cybercrime was submitted to the House in July, to serve as a legal basis for e-commerce and activities involving the utilization of information technology, but House members say the draft lacks "focus" and will review it before deciding whether to enact the law. The earliest this would happen is three months from now. "The scope of the draft law ranges too wide from e-commerce to cybercrime," Dedy Djamaludin, a member of House Commission I, which oversees information affairs, said on Monday. Dedy said it would be better for this draft law to focus on e-commerce and e-business, and a separate draft law could be introduced later to deal solely with cybercrime. In recent years, since the use of information technology has become so widespread, there has been a marked rise in the kind of computer-related crimes previously only seen in developed countries, like credit card fraud and computer hacking. An Internet Security Intelligence Briefing issued by VeriSign of the U.S. in January last year placed Indonesia third -- behind the United States and Canada -- in terms of countries with the highest volume of cyberfraud. The absence of a legal basis for engaging in e-commerce here, as well as a lack of sanctions for cybercrime, has in part contributed to the large amount of cyberfraud and the lack of investment to develop the IT sector. The draft law on cybercrime, formally known as the Electronic Transaction and Information Law, was drafted in March, 2003, but was not submitted until July, 2005. The draft covers a wide range of topics, from electronic signatures and cyber intellectual property rights to the definition of cybercrime. IT observers, including the Indonesian IT Federation, have highlighted the urgent need to pass the draft into law as a legal basis for e-commerce and e-government. The Ministry of Information and Communication's director general for ICT applications, Cahyana Ahmadjayadi, said IT had proven to be a useful tool to boost efficiency and productivity, but also created opportunities for criminal acts. "Both are strong enough reasons for pushing it (the draft)," he said. The head of the team that drafted the law, Mieke Komar, said earlier the draft was meant as a kind of "umbrella provision" and that splitting it up, as suggested by House members, could cause inconsistencies. "We do not want to rush things before consulting with experts and making sure that the needed revisions are done," lawmaker Dedy said.


From 12/27/2005



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SINGAPORE: Bloggers, Podcasts Online May Be Subject to Parliamentary Elections Act

Come election time, bloggers and podcasts online may be subject to the Parliamentary Elections Act. The Media Development Authority has reminded Internet content providers to comply with Singapore's laws, including those relating to political content. It says changes to the law, if necessary, will be announced at an appropriate time. In the previous election in 2001, cyberspace was smaller and less active, and so was the Internet community. Podcasts and blogs were not common terms at that time, but things have changed over the past five years. Online political discussions have become more common, especially with the General Election due by the middle of next year. One anonymous blogger called "SGRally" has even set up a website and asks for volunteers to record rally speeches and post them online. "That site, whoever set it up, is trying to push the boundaries, the envelope a little bit by making people think about what these definitions are. It could present a problem, it could not. We will see how it pans out, and what type of videos that people actually end up sending in," said blogger Benjamin Lee, who is better known as 'Mr Miyagi'. But is this blog allowed under the Parliamentary Elections Act? "They can say that it contravenes the law in the sense that rallies are meant to persuade voters towards the speakers' cause. The aim is to influence people. So under existing regulations, it would seem as if it is covered," said Tan Tarn How, research fellow at IPS (Institute of Policy Studies, Singapore). "There are several questions in this - first of all, whether people would really bother to put up the video tapes, transcripts of the speeches and rallies. Secondly, whether people would bother to go download the rallies and speeches." Many also argue that while the Internet's influence is increasing, most Singaporeans will not be heading online. "I don't think that the audience is very big for this kind of material, (though) they have been doing it for years. In the last GE, there were a lot of materials but not many went to the SDP and WP websites to download materials," said Tan. "People are just not interested enough to put in the effort to look for information. Unless it's cast in a form that is closer to entertainment than politics." Bloggers agree that not many out there want to listen to political podcasts. "I'm sure there is room for listening to political podcasts. The only problem is that a lot of the stuff out there is dry and boring. So you are basically asking the man on the street, for 20 mins or half an hour of his time to tune into your programme. But if it's not interesting, I won't waste my time," said Lee. But bloggers also point out that current laws aren't clear enough. "Some things need to be defined, to make it clearer. There are a lot of laws covering online offline activities that didn't seem inadequate till the advent of blogging and podcasting. Right now, you have bloggers and podcasters wondering how often they will fall foul of the law," said Lee. There are still many unanswered questions - like how to get bloggers to take responsibility for their actions especially with anonymous postings or if the website is hosted out of Singapore. So it remains to be seen whether the law will change before the next General Election. But one thing's for sure, political watchers say it's still the heartlanders who will decide the outcome of the next election, not the online community.


From 02/19/2006



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VIETNAM: Minister Calls for Strong IT Sector

Viet Nam needs to create a favourable environment for the development and application of telecom and information technology (IT) by 2010, said Minister of Post Office and Telematics Do Trung Ta in his recent interview with a Viet Nam News Agency correspondent. According to Ta, the Government should make it a priority to readjust and perfect legal documents such as the Civil Code and Trade Law, and promulgate laws on e-transactions, IT, intellectual property and related treaties such as e-government, e-commerce, digital signature and e-certificate. On the other hand, he said, Viet Nam should open its telecom and internet market, integrate with the international market and expand its IT market abroad, giving due attention to attract investments from the overseas Vietnamese community. Ta also mentioned policies to assist and encourage all agencies at all levels, especially at the State level, to develop capacity for applying, developing and managing IT. In addition, the State should issue policies to attract investments from economic sectors and international organisations in developing the IT industry and building hi-tech training and research centres in Viet Nam. Investment capital should focus on prioritised IT projects at national and sectoral levels, he said. The minister also touched on the development of IT human resources, and co-ordination between IT businesses and research institutes and universities. He said priority in the IT development strategy should be given to people in rural, remote and isolated areas and disabled people in order to narrow the gap between them and others. Regarding outstanding achievements in 2005, the minister said the sector had finalised a legal framework for telecom and IT, submitted a telecom and internet development scheme for 2010, an e-government development master plan and a national programme for IT application and development during the 2006-2010 period to the Government. Also in 2005, the Government decided to reorganise the Viet Nam Post and Telecommunications Corporation (VNPT) into a holding company. The sector, which developed post and telecom networks, added an additional 5.1 million phone subscribers in 2005, bringing the country¡¯s total number of telephone subscribers to 15.38 million, or 18.4 telephones per 100 residents. All communes across the country now have telephone access. The year 2005 also saw a boom in mobile phone subscription, with around 4.5 million new subscribers, double the previous year¡¯s figure. In 2005, Viet Nam had more than 2.68 million internet subscriptions, with approximately 9.9 million users. The number of Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) subscribers had increased four-fold over 2004 to 200,000. Over 8,000 out of the 9,000 communes nationwide have post-cum-cultural centres. Regarding international co-operation, the minister said that for the first time in 2005, Viet Nam hosted the fifth ASEAN Telecom and Information Technology Ministers¡¯ Meeting (TELMIN 5). The ministry also attended the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS 2) that was held in Tunisia last year.


From 01/13/2006



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Deputies Turn Eye on Law to Develop Nation¡¯s IT Sector

Many full-time National Assembly deputies expressed support for the State¡¯s policy to prioritise the application and development of information technology as they continued their conference yesterday in advance of the next legislative session. Debate yesterday turned to the draft Law on Information Technology, as deputies met for the fifth day of a 12-day conference during which they will set the agenda for the next meeting of the full National Assembly in May, when it is expected that deputies will consider a total of eleven draft laws. Deputies Le Minh Hong from Ninh Binh Province, Nguyen Nghiem from Binh Phuoc and Tran Thanh Khiem from Ca Mau Province said the policy to encourage and give priority to investors in information technology sectors should be more specific, allowing technology to develop more comprehensively and sustainably. The State should have preferential policies to serve application and development of information technology to serve agriculture, rural areas, remote areas and the disabled, deputies variously suggested. But many wondered about the feasibility of using information technology in rural agricultural production due to farmers¡¯ lack of access to computer facilities and education. Tran Thi Huong from Quang Nam Province agreed with the draft law¡¯s provisions to attract investment in IT infrastructure and boost the modernisation of rural, mountainous and island areas. Many said the draft law should clearly state the legal bases for organisations and individuals of many economic sectors to develop IT in these areas with the encouragement of preferential State policies. The deputies said Article 65 in the draft law was necessary to serve development of agriculture and rural areas. This has been proven in reality, as last year, among over 9,000 communes nationwide, there were 7,600 post offices also used as cultural clubs, with many equipped with computers and Internet access, allowing the public to access information on advanced technology to serve agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. Many agreed that the State should encourage and give favourable conditions to the disabled to participate in the application and development of IT. Deputies Le Minh Hong, Nguyen Nghiem and Tran Thi Huong said that, while the State builds a national strategy for information technology development, this strategy should have content to assure that the disabled can integrate into the community. The strategy should also have preferential policies on taxes and credit for giving the disabled greater access to information sources. The State should encourage organisations and individuals to manufacture and supply information technology, equipment and services to meet the needs of the disabled, they said.


From 02/18/2006



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BANGLADESH: Regulator Calls for Crackdown on Naughty Midnight Callers

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has written to the country¡¯s five mobile network operators telling them to cancel promotions offering subscribers free calls after midnight. The reason given by the regulator is that the free calls are being ¡®abused¡¯ by youths indulging in ¡®vulgar conversation¡¯ throughout the night. The offer was also allegedly seriously affecting school pupils¡¯ studies and promoting ¡®immoral relationships¡¯ between boys and girls, the BTRC added. The directive was prompted by scores of complaints from concerned parents.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/17/2006



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Govt Approves Telecom Law Amendment to Tap Cell Phones

The cabinet Monday approved the Bangladesh Telecommunications (Amendment) Act 2006, providing for control on the use of mobile phone as a measure for breaking crime networks, reports UNB. A meeting of the Cabinet in the Cabinet conference room of the Prime Minister's office gave the approval for amending the law with the phone-control pro vision. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia presided over the meeting. In the wake of violent crimes across the country, particularly countrywide simultaneous bombings by militants, the government has taken the move to prevent such syndicated criminal acts. And the President recently promulgated an ordinance with a provision for tapping phones to check "the misuse of mobile phone for committing criminal act". The Ordinance was promulgated on December 11, 2005 with immediate effect. It amended the Bangladesh Telecommunications (amendment) Act 2001, allowing the intelligence and law-enforcing agencies to tap telephone conversations of any individual. Later the Ordinance was placed in Parliament on the first day of its 20th session on January 23. But the government later found flaws in the Ordinance and felt the urgency for further amendment, as there was no punishable clause in it. In Monday's meeting, the cabinet also endorsed the draft of the Court Reform Implementation (complementary provisions)(Amendment) Act 2006 for extending the timeframe for execution of the Court Reform Implementation Act 2004. Furthermore, the cabinet approved the draft of the Chittagong Veterinary University Act 2006, upgrading Chittagong Government Veterinary College to a university for "creating and extending opportunities of higher education and research in veterinary science", said an official announcement. It also gave the seal of approval to the draft of the Birth and Death Registration Act 2006 for amending the Birth and Death Registration Act 2004. In yet another legislative business the council of ministers approved the National Social Welfare Policy to conduct social welfare activities in a "well-planned way" in the country. Cabinet members and state ministers of ministries concerned attended the meeting. Besides the Cabinet secretary and the secretaries concerned were present.


From http://www.financialexpress-bd.com/ 01/31/2006



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INDIA: Government 3G Spectrum Decision by March

The Indian government will decide on a strategy for allocation and pricing of 3G mobile spectrum by March 2006, telecoms minister Dayanidhi Maran announced yesterday. The new deadline is expected to intensify lobbying from CDMA and GSM players, as both want the government to adopt specific spectrum standards to suit their needs. Regulator the TRAI released a new set of spectrum policy recommendations in May 2005 dealing with issues including the allocation of 3G spectrum. Its recommendations included rejecting earlier proposals by CDMA operators to use the US PCS standard 1900MHz band, and instead awarding spectrum in the IMT-2000 2GHz band (requested by GSM-based cellcos) by the end of 2006. The TRAI's proposed usage of the 2GHz frequency band, for both GSM and CDMA networks, is designed to support both W-CDMA and CDMA2000 1xEV-DO 3G development.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 12/02/2005



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Regulators Clear Tata¡¯s Digital TV Joint Venture

India¡¯s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Wireless Planning Commission (WPC) have approved a proposal by the Tata-Star partnership to provide direct-to-home (DTH) digital television services. Tata-Star recently signed an agreement with the Indian Space Research Organisation to lease all twelve KU-band transponders on the new INSAT 4A satellite, due to be launched later this month. The satellite deal enables the transmission of around 150 digital channels to homes across India, including those in the most remote regions. The planned DTH service is slated to become the country¡¯s largest digital TV platform, offering consumers a wide array of programming choices and interactive features. Prior to receiving clearance from the telecoms authorities, the INR16 billion (USD347 million) project was approved by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB). Tata-Star was established in 2004 with the Tata Group holding 80% and the Star Group holding 20%.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 12/09/2005



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Mission 2007: Taking ICTs to Every Indian Village

A national policymakers¡¯ workshop on July 9-10, 2004, organised by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation and OneWorld South Asia, agreed on an action framework to take the benefits of ICTs to every village in India by 2007. The workshop was supported by the Nasscom Foundation, International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The objective of ¡°Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre" is to facilitate and accelerate the setting up of knowledge centres in each village to generate knowledge-based livelihoods.


From http://www.digitalopp ortunity.org/ 12/14/2005



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Reliance Embraces a New Mobile Tariff Plan

Indian telco Reliance Infocomm has announced the launch of One Nation, a new mobile tariff plan for pre-paid subscribers offering calls to any mobile or fixed number anywhere in India for INR1 per minute. The tariff is available to pay-as-you-go Reliance IndiaMobile customers purchasing top-up credit of INR1,100, bundled with 1,100 free SMS messages. Similarly, post-paid subscribers can make calls across India at the same flat rate, and may also call Reliance fixed wireless (WiLL) numbers for INR0.4 per minute. By introducing the new tariffs, Reliance claims to be the first operator to embrace the government¡¯s 'One India' policy ¨C a scheme to introduce a single tariff level for all domestic fixed and mobile calls in the country regardless of the distance. Currently, most calls are charged at varying rates depending on which telecoms circles they originate and terminate in.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/06/2006



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NEPAL: Nepal Telecom to Release New Pre-paid Mobile Lines

State owned national telecoms provider Nepal Telecom (NT) is planning to release new pre-paid cellphone lines in the capital Kathmandu Valley, from 14 January. In a statement, an official for NT said the company would issue around 29,000 new numbers in the week commencing 14 January to customers who successfully completed application forms in October last year. If successful, NT says it hopes to begin distributing new numbers on a regular basis from mid-February, to meet pent-up demand. Despite a long waiting list, the telco has only been able to issue 22,000 lines since pay-as-you-go services were resumed in the Valley in August 2005. NT says some 120,000 people have pre-registered for SIM cards and hundreds more are waiting for it to start distributing new lines. The company has issued around 200,000 pre-paid SIM cards since August 2003.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/11/2006



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PAKISTAN: Government Wants New IT Policy

Regulatory body the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) has said it wants to make changes to the country¡¯s telecoms policies to promote the use of internet services in the country. The broadband penetration rate in Pakistan is currently one of the lowest in the region, mainly because of the high price of both connection and service. The government has not commented on whether it will introduce new rules.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 12/12/2005



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PTA Urges Operators to Expand

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has advised operators to expand their network of services in the country and launch new technologies in order to meet the growing needs of the market. According to the regulator, around a million new customers are signing up to various telephony services each month, and operators will need to expand their offerings to keep up with demand.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 12/14/2005



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Telecom Reorganisation Act Amended

The National Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill to amend the Pakistan Telecommunication (Reorganisation) Act, 1996 [The Pakistan Telecommunication] (Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2005) while the opposition termed it a bid to pave the way for the multinational companies (MNCs) to multiply profit. It was for the first time that the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal members, though hesitatingly, joined the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy legislators in the walkout against 'media trial' of Benazir Bhutto. Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians leaders Khurshid Shah and Naheed Khan demanded of the chair to take notice of Information Minister Rashid Ahmed's statement in a television show that the Swiss case was a question of life and death for the PPP chairperson. Taking up the legislative business, the chair asked Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunications Ali Asjad Malhi to read out the bill clause by clause. He defended the piece of legislation, saying that it would not only encourage foreign investment, but would also boost network of telecommunication across the country. He said that due to the government's prudent policies, the telecommunication sector had witnessed unprecedented growth and attracted billions of dollars investment in the shortest possible time. During the clause by clause reading of the bill, after the members from both sides had made speeches the other day, the opposition called for head count on clause 2 and clause 9 of the bill as a result of which 91 and 92 members were in favour of the bill while 62 and 66 respectively opposed. The members from both sides showed less interest and majority of them had left the assembly before the bill was put to final vote. Opposition members Farid Paracha (MMA), and Ghulam Murtaza Satti and Zafar Ali Shah (PPPP) opposed the bill and contended that the proposed legislation was aimed at exposing over 150 million consumers to multinationals to multiply their profits. They charged that the move was to create a tribunal in place of the involvement of the High Court would open many 'negative ways' to fleece consumers and it would go strongly in favour of foreign investors. The members asked to what extent the government would be in control of the telecommunication sector vis-¨¤-vis defence and security aspects. An explanation was also sought from the government about the allocations from the proposed Universal Services Fund under the PTCL for services and for provision of telecommunication facilities through out the country. They also strongly objected to enlargement of the board of directors and inception of MP-I and MP-II grades for giving representation to bureaucrats. "Is this the promise General Musharraf made to the nation that the government size will be cut and the bureaucracy de-politicised," asked Zafar Ali Shah, referring to President Musharraf's first address to the nation. Paracha complained that four amendments had been incorporated in the bill after it was vetted by House Standing Committee on Telecommunications. "This amounts to neutralising the committee's recommendations on this important matter," he added. Satti said he saw in the legislation, among others things, a bid to facilitate Eitisalat that had apparently backed out from the deal to buy 26 percent shares of PTCL. Before the legislative business, Naheed asked Speaker Amir Hussain to review his decision of allowing points of order after the orders of the day was done away with. She drew House attention towards the minister's remarks about political future of PPPP leader. She expressed fear that the government was bent upon political victimisation of her leader. The MNA requested the chair to stop ministers from issuing statements against Benazir Bhutto, adding that despite her media trial spread over seven years, she would come out clean. She led the walk-out, joined by PML (N) and later by MMA members, who were persuaded by Tehmina Daultana and Saad Rafique to follow suit. Khurshid Shah condemned the minister's statement, calling it a shameful act, and demanded of the chair to take notice of it.


From http://www.brecorder.com/ 12/15/2005



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Cabinet Approved to Give Etisalat 5 Years for PTCL Payment

The federal cabinet on Wednesday approved rescheduling of United Arab Emirates firm Etisalat's bid for the sell-off of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL). "The matter has been resolved amicably," Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sheikh Rashid said newsmen after the cabinet meeting. Meanwhile, Etisalat Chief Executive Mohamed Hassan Omran said on Al Arabiya TV on Wednesday Pakistan has given his company five years to pay for 26 percent stake in the PTCL. "There were several pending issues... part of the deal between us, and the Pakistan government was to pay part of the amount over the next five years," Omran said. He gave no further details of the deal. An Etisalat team will fly to Pakistan next week to finalise the transaction, which the two sides said on Tuesday would be completed in January. The negotiators have been trying to salvage the deal since the October 28 payment deadline lapsed, leaving Pakistan facing a huge hole in its $18.4 billion budget for the year to June. Etisalat shares dipped 1.41 percent in Wednesday's trading on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange to close at 28 dirhams ($7.62). Analysts said the deal was expected to have little on Etisalat's earnings. In Karachi, PTCL shares closed 0.3 percent higher at Rs 66.70.


From http://www.brecorder.com/ 12/20/2005



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Pakistan¡¯s Privatisation Committee Has Approved the Sale of PTCL

Pakistan¡¯s privatisation committee has approved the sale of a controlling 26% stake and management rights in fixed line incumbent PTCL to Etisalat of the UAE. Etisalat will purchase its stake via staggered payments. It has already made a USD260 million down payment and a further USD1.14 billion of the USD2.6 billion sale price will be paid imminently, with the remainder due over the next five years. Etisalat agreed to buy the stake in July last year, but failed to meet the initial deadline for payment. Meanwhile PTCL has announced that it has connected with the iBasis Network for international VoIP services. The interconnection enables PTCL to route international voice traffic over the global VoIP network, and complete calls for iBasis over its own network in Pakistan in return. PTCL has deployed the iBasis DirectVoIP interoperability solution to implement a direct IP connection between its Huawei IP Backbone infrastructure and the iBasis Network, which comprises direct routes to more than 100 countries.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/09/2006



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AUSTRALIA: Victorian ICT Minister Announces Five-Year ICT Plan

Victorian Information and Communication Technology Minister Marsha Thomson launched a five-year plan for the Victorian ICT industry yesterday that includes $1 million to grow local ICT clusters and a further $1.9 million for industry skills packages. Thomson said the plan had identified new initiatives to support industry growth, in particular the area of government procurement, export and investment and workforce development. "With worldwide investments in ICT tipped to grow beyond $3 trillion, it is vital the Victorian ICT industry thinks globally," Thomson said. "The Bracks government is committed to fostering the immense pool of ICT talent and innovation in Victoria and will continue to work with industry to help it become a truly world class and globally competitive ICT industry. Key features of the plan include whole of government ICT procurement policies allowing contractors to retain intellectual property (IP) they develop under Government contracts, $1 million dollars over three years to establish and grow ICT clusters and networks, develop emerging market strategies to assist Victorian ICT companies to identify new export opportunities and doubling the commitment to ICT trade fairs and mission programs. A motion capture facility for the computer game industry will also be developed under the Victorian ICT Industry Plan 2005 -2010. The launch of the plan yesterday coincided with a world first demonstration of an RFID system for tracking cyclists developed by Victorian ICT companies' iCrystal and Victorian Machine Vision. The RFID system, named RISE-C (Radio Frequency Identification in Sports Events - Cycling) can be attached to a cyclists' back to print race results locally, and even straight online. iCrystal Director and head of the RFID Association of Australia, Mike Clarke said there is even scope to combine the chips with a smart RFID Licence Cards that can be scanned for cyclist details when officials record entries. ""RISE-C can provide real-time tracking of cyclists throughout a race and can publish live information to a computer for display to officials, to a screen for spectators, team managers, coaches and for printing results locally and even to the internet," Mr Clarke said. Race finishes and placings can be captured by a high speed camera triggered by the RFID readers. (by Michael Crawford)


From 12/14/2005



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Feds Launch Online Service Directory

Improved service delivery to citizens is the aim of a new federal directory service announced today by Special Minister of State, Senator Eric Abetz. Abetz said the Federated Service Finder (FSF) is the first project developed under the auspices of the National Service Improvement Program, a program for assisting governments to develop collaborative agreements to improve service delivery. Development of the new online service directory will include information from both the federal and state governments. The collaborative head agreement for the FSF was signed last week by the three parties involved - Centrelink, the New South Wales Department of Commerce, and the South Australian Department of Health. "The FSF will be used by service providers, such as general practitioners, and non-government community service organizations," Abetz said. "Service providers will be able to easily and quickly find information about service providers in other jurisdictions, allowing quicker and more appropriate referrals of clients and improved service delivery for Australian citizens." Abetz labelled the initiative as a "significant step" towards more collaborative service delivery between tiers of government and better online services to Australian citizens. He also anticipates the FSF will lower costs in collecting and maintaining data, while protecting personal information. "This important milestone would not have been reached without the commitment by the three parties towards cross-jurisdictional collaboration," Abetz said. "I would like to commend Centrelink, and the NSW and South Australian governments for leading the work in this area." The FSF project is still in a trial phase and it is expected that other jurisdictions will join the project. Abetz said The Online and Communication Council of Ministers - made up of representatives from the federal, state, and territory governments - has endorsed the NSIF as the preferred agreement-making framework for collaborative service delivery arrangement across jurisdictions.


From 01/19/2006



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Federal Government Announces Review of Privacy Act

The Federal Government today announced a major review of the Privacy Act. The review, which will be undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) will examine changes in technology since the laws were first introduced. Attorney General Philip Ruddock said the review was necessary given the rapid technological advances in information and communication storage and surveillance. ALRC president Professor David Weisbrot said the review was crucial given the scope for greater intrusion of privacy. "We potentially give away private, personal information every time we shop over the Internet or with a credit card, apply for a job, go to the doctor or other health professional or even enter a competition," Weisbrot said. "There are now real issues as to how securely information is stored, how it is used and who has access to it." The inquiry will also look at how to minimize the red tape burden on business which the privacy privacy regulations impose. The ALRC is seeking public submissions and is expected to deliver a final report by March 2008.


From 02/01/2006



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Feds Promise Extra $130m for E-Health

Prime Minister John Howard has approved an additional $130 million in joint funding to further push electronic health initiatives. On Friday, February 10 at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, Howard and state premiers announced the funding to create a common language for electronic communications in healthcare and identifying numbers for individuals and healthcare professionals. As part of the initiative, every one of more than 400,000 healthcare practitioners in Australia will receive a unique identifying number. Creating a common language for electronic communication would not only ensure interoperability and security but aid in Australia's bio-surveillance projects. COAG also announced commonwealth, state and territory governments will promote compliance with national e-health standards. Dr Ian Reinecke, CEO of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) said the initiatives will result in rapid progress in e-health. "The decision is a clear commitment by all Australian governments to reforming outdated communication practices in health," Dr Reinecke said. "Studies have shown the clear link between avoidable patient deaths and poor communication and record-keeping by healthcare practitioners. "E-health allows doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to communicate quickly, reliably and securely by electronic means ... these decisions by COAG recognize NEHTA's unique ability to foster consensus amongst governments on e-health matters."


From 02/13/2006



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New Standards Aid E-Health Timeframe

The National E-Health Transition Authority is diving deeper into the first building block for e-health interoperability this year, developing the SNOMED (Systematized nomenclature of medicine) messaging standard, which was chosen in the latter half of 2005. Selection of the messaging standard has made the introduction of a working electronic health record system in the next 12 months a reality. Dr Ian Reinecke, chair of the National e-health Transition Authority (NEHTA), said establishing common clinical terminology is only one of a number of building blocks essential for a shared electronic health records system. Reneicke said NEHTA's work in other areas, such as creating individual and healthcare provider identifiers, standards and specifications for clinical information and securing messaging and user authentication, will also contribute significantly towards putting other building blocks in place. "The decision [to use SNOMED] means that those developing and purchasing health software products can be confident that, if the product contains SNOMED as its clinical terminology, it will be consistent with the clinical terminology used in any future shared electronic health records," Reinecke said. "It also means that the software developer doesn't have to spend time and effort developing or updating their own clinical terminology, as SNOMED's standards development organization will take on that task. "SNOMED is, in its current form, appropriate for use in Australia. What NEHTA is doing, however, will make sure that it better meets the needs of the healthcare environment. This is something that each country which adopts SNOMED will do, and NEHTA is confident that we have the capability to do the job well." The electronic healthcare identifier (EHI) system is expected to be up and running by the end of 2007 as well as the healthcare provider identifier. Both will be in place by mid-2008. According to NEHTA, this is a realistic timeframe for the basis of a working e-health system. Reinecke said although the timeframes are tight, he believes the goals are achievable.


From 02/21/2006



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Vic Govt Awards $1.1m ICT Scholarships

The Victorian government today announced $1.1 million in university scholarships to boost skills under the ICT Industry Plan. Minister for Information and Communication Technology, Marsha Thomson, said the scholarships are spread across five universities and aim to attract high-quality students in ICT postgraduate research. Thomson said the government is working with industry to develop specialist skills and ICT research. She said most of the scholarship winners will begin research projects in one of five ICT priority areas, including telecommunications, ICT hardware design and manufacturing, business solutions and creative content. The Victorian government has identified future access to skilled graduates as one of the major challenges to the growth of the industry. "If Australia wants to grow a vibrant, innovative and internationally competitive ICT industry, then there needs to be an aggressive program to boost skills at a national level," Thomson said. "Seven of the 19 scholarship recipients are women, which is fantastic in an industry which is currently made up of 80 percent men." The scholarships program is part of the Victorian Government's Industry Plan 2005 - 2010, released in December.


From 02/01/2006



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NEW ZEALAND: Government Coy on Plan to Boost Net Uptake

Communications Minister David Cunliffe will take action to accelerate uptake of broadband internet services next year, but has left room to retreat from the prospect of tougher regulation for Telecom to achieve that aim. New Zealand's uptake of broadband, which the Government regards as a key ingredient in the country's economic development, has remained low by international standards. Critics say that is because Telecom's near-monopoly on the phone lines used to deliver most broadband services keeps prices too high. Yesterday, Cunliffe confirmed the Government would take action next year to address the problem. "We don't know what yet and whether it's a little bit, or a lot, or the action is to say the market is working just fine. "We haven't made those decisions just yet," he said at the Digital Cities and Regional Networks conference in Wellington. However, Telecommunications Users Association chief executive Ernie Newman said the minister's words showed he understood the mood of the public and was getting ready to regulate. "I think he's going to take action. "The pressure mounting is just too hard for a politician not to take action," he said. "There are too many people around the country who are seriously angry and concerned about slow broadband speeds and poor performance generally." Cunliffe said he was reflecting on the debate about local loop unbundling and although it was too early to identify any action, "the next year is going to be important in that regard". Local loop unbundling would force Telecom to rent its copper lines network to other companies, allowing them to supply combinations of voice, ADSL or other data services. "The Government made a decision 18 months ago not to unbundle the local loop," Cunliffe said. "It did so on the basis of certain expectations and we're monitoring carefully how those expectations bear fruit." Telecom has committed to having a total of 250,000 broadband internet customers by the end of this year, with a third of those coming through competitors reselling the Telecom service. But that target of 83,000 wholesale customers by year-end looks unlikely to be achieved, as Telecom had only 47,059 wholesale customers at the end of September. Meanwhile, Telecom denied yesterday that it had received a bid from Optus for its persistently troublesome Australian unit AAPT. A report in an Australian newspaper said Optus had made an opening bid of A$650 million ($693 million) in a deal that could be wrapped up by Christmas. It was believed Telecom was looking for A$1 billion for AAPT, which it bought in three tranches between June 1999 and December the following year for a total of $2.2 billion. Commenting on the reported Optus bid, Telecom spokesman Phil Love said there were "no proposals on the table", although the company was open to alternatives. He would not comment on whether discussions were taking place or whether AAPT was for sale. Telecom reported first-quarter revenue this month of A$296 million for its Australian businesses, including AAPT, down 9 per cent. The book value for its Australian operations, which includes TCNZA, an operating entity for large corporate accounts, is $1.4 billion. An attempt by Optus to buy AAPT in 1999 was blocked by the Australian anti-monopolies authority. A spokeswoman for Optus said the company made "no comment on market rumour and speculation". Shares in Telecom closed down 1c at $6.04 yesterday. Wholesale deal * Telecom has committed to having a total of 250,000 broadband internet customers by the end of this year. * But the target of 83,000 wholesale customers by year-end looks unlikely to be achieved. * It had only 47,059 wholesale customers at the end of September.


From 11/24/2005



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New Web Guidelines for NZ E-Govt

As of the beginning of this month, all of the country's public service web sites are expected to comply with the Government Web Guidelines. The State Services Commission (SSC) recently hosted a forum for Public Service agencies to clarify what this means for the agencies and to map out an agreed course of action for the next two years. While all agencies have worked hard to improve the usability and accessibility of their websites, there is still much to be done. Agencies can use the Self Audit Checklist to accurately determine the degree of compliance of their web site or sites and report back to the SSC by April 2006. In June 2006, the SSC will compile a report on the results of this round of self-assessment and make it available to the agencies and other interested parties. Later in the year, the SSC will commission an independent accessibility audit of all Public Service web sites and make this report available before the end of the year. Those agencies that have non-compliant sites can request assistance to prepare a development plan that will allow them to meet their obligations within the shortest possible time. The policy for seeking exemptions is also available on the e-government web site. As part of the continuing round of review of the Guidelines, in the first half of 2006 the multi-agency working group will complete the first draft of the new version of the Government Web Guidelines. This will be made available for consultation in the latter half of the year and Version 3 will be published in January 2007.


From 01/05/2006



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SA Government to Streamline Tender Process for SMEs

The South Australian government is moving to streamline its procurement processes for information and communications technology (ICT) to reduce the high opportunity cost of bidding for government contracts, especially for small to medium enterprises (SME)s. The move includes changes to intellectual property rulings, liability capping and insurance requirements. Grantly Mailes, South Australia's chief information officer (CIO), said that a new eProjects Panel, due to begin in the second quarter, would also cut the time taken for smaller companies to apply for projects valued up to AU$750,000. Responding to tenders can take a week or more out of the business for a small business managing director, who is usually also the business owner. Mailes said that the idea of the e-marketplace is that all government agencies and enterprises would be able to request a quote from companies registered on the eProjects Panel. "The agencies can go to the panel, and, based on dollar value, require two or three written quotes to get the jobs done," he said. "We will already have on record each vendor's skills and capabilities, key personnel and financial and insurance status to assist agencies in vendor selection." Agencies will be able to release their work specifications to selected vendors, who will only be required to submit suggested staff for the work, methodology and price. The Web marketplace will provide templates for agencies putting the work out as well as templates for vendor responses. "We are also seeking concessions on limit of liability and insurance levels and we are looking to make sure that the panel contracts are appropriate to the scale and nature of the work categories," he said. Currently there is a requirement of unlimited liability even for the provision of relatively low-cost services to government. "What we are trying to do is align the limit of liability so that it's more sensitive to the risk profile of the work being done," he said. David Raffen, chair of the ICT Council for South Australia, said he would support anything the government could do to reduce the cost of dealing with red tape and give more firms access to government ICT spend. "All end of guarantees are required for companies to engage with government, and they are well and truly beyond the means of small business," Raffen said. "Unlimited liability insurance is a large cost that doesn't bring any other benefit to the organisation. The current process marginalises smaller companies from being able to demonstrate their product to agencies." The state government is also considering a relaxation of some ICT intellectual property arrangements. Currently, the government owns all the IP rights in work carried out by ICT contractors. "We might consider some form of joint ownership of the technology, so that if it can be commercialised, government could have a view on how that might be done," Mailes said.


From 02/17/2006



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CHINA: 3 Communication Networks to Be Merged in 5 Years

China plans to merge three major networks, namely Internet, telecommunication network and broadcasting network into one in the five years, said a telecommunications expert in Beijing Tuesday. The merger of three networks has been included into the 11th Five-Year Guidelines (2006-2010), which is still in the making, said Song Junde, professor at Peking University 's School of Post and Telecommunications, at a forum on telecommunication networks. However, with the broadcasting network under one supervisor and the other two under another, their integration is expected to receive resistance from vested-interests. As proposed in the five-year guidelines, China is to enhance the construction of its broadband, digital television and next generation internet, so as to achieve their merger in the future, said Song. The merger, Song said, will optimize the structure of China's telecommunications industry and facilitate the upgrading and reform of the networks. The prospect of a network merger has boosted the network-related market. Statistics with the China Center for Information Industry Development show that China's network equipment market reached 22.77 billion yuan (about US$2.84 billion) last year, up 33.1 percent over the previous year.


From Xinhua News Agency 11/30/2005



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HK Government Invites Private Sector Participation in the Provision of E-Cert Services

The Government will conduct a Request for Proposal (RFP) exercise to invite the private sector to collaborate with the Hongkong Post Certification Authority (HKPCA) in providing digital certificate (e-Cert) services or to provide them on its behalf. Speaking at a press briefing today (December 6) on the outcome of the business review of the HKPCA conducted by the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau earlier this year, the Deputy Government Chief Information Officer, Mrs Betty Fung, said the ultimate aim of the RFP exercise was to engender a self-financing operation of the e-Cert services through collaboration with the private sector. "The Government has come to the view that the current mode of operation of and funding for the HKPCA, which requires substantial funding support through cross-subsidisation from Hongkong Post¡¯s (HKP) other trading fund operations or from the Government, is not sustainable in the longer term. "We have decided to explore the feasibility of having the private sector operating the e-Cert services and the possible synergy that can be unleashed. We hope the RFP exercise will help identify a suitable business partner or contractor for HKPCA, who will be better placed to develop new value-added services and e-commerce applications that can drive the utilisation of e-Certs and engender a self-financing operation. "To attract private sector participation in providing the e-Cert services, we will consider ways to enhance the business case of the RFP exercise. For example, bidders may propose their preferred collaboration and business models for consideration by HKP, and provide value-added services and applications under separate commercial brands to generate other income sources, in addition to running the e-Cert scheme," Mrs Fung said. To facilitate the development of e-commerce by instilling trust in the security and integrity of electronic transactions, the HKPCA was set up in January, 2000, to issue recognised digital certificates under the trading fund operation of the HKP. HKPCA currently issues seven types of recognised digital certificates to individuals and organisations in Hong Kong. Its e-Certs are accepted for close to 70 types of e-government services and more than 20 types of e-commerce services. As at mid-November 2005, HKPCA has issued about 1.47 million personal and organisational e-Certs, including over 1.2 million free personal e-Certs embedded in smart ID cards. "The HKPCA has supported the Digital 21 Strategy by spearheading the development of the public key infrastructure (PKI) to facilitate the development of e-government and e-commerce in Hong Kong, and helped ensure that a recognised CA is in place to serve the community upon the enactment of the Electronic Transaction Ordinance in 2000. "Through the provision of the e-Cert service, the HKPCA has also successfully raised the awareness of the community of the importance of conducting e-business transactions in a secure manner," Mrs Fung said. She pointed out that the HKPCA had implemented various measures to promote the adoption of the e-cert and to enhance its user-friendliness. The usage rate, however, remained unsatisfactory. According to a survey conducted by HKP in November, 2004, among the citizens who obtained their e-Certs embedded in smart ID cards during the period from June to August, 2004, only about 10% had used the e-Cert. "Experience shows that the e-Cert is more readily used for those government to government (G2G), government to business (G2B) and business to business (B2B) transactions that have high security, integrity and authentication requirements. However, for the majority of business to consumer (B2C) and government to citizen (G2C) electronic transactions, there is no absolute need to use e-Cert to meet the security or authentication requirements. It is thus understandable that the general public and the businesses would prefer using simpler authentication methods such as one-time password or PIN. "While the PKI is still recognised as the most mature technology available to address the full range of authentication, confidentiality, integrity and non-repudiation issues of electronic transactions, and the e-Cert can be used in a broad range of e-government and e-commerce transactions, most of the applications are used only by a small segment of the population and its use at the individual level is mostly optional," Mrs Fung explained. Hongkong Post will issue the RFP in the first half of 2006. If a successful bidder is identified, HKP will award the contract before end of 2006 to enable the selected bidder to take over its CA operation in early 2007. In the event there is no successful bidder, the Government will support the HKPCA¡¯s operation until end March, 2008, to allow sufficient time for the existing subscribers of e-Certs and business partners of HKPCA to complete the necessary transitional arrangements and switch to the service of other recognised CAs or other authentication solutions.


From 12/06/2005



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Govt Announces Successful Launch of Broadband Global Area Network

BEIJING, Dec. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- China Transportation Telecommunication Center (CTTC), an agent of the International Mobile Satellite Organisation (Inmarsat) in China, announced here Wednesday the successful launch of a Broadband Global Area Network(BGAN) in China. BGAN is a new service that Inmarsat started to provide to the world on Dec. 7. Six years in development, BGAN is the world's first mobile communications service to provide both voice and broadband data simultaneously through a truly portable device on a global basis. It is also the first to offer guaranteed IP data rates on demand. Delivered via the Inmarsat-4 satellites - the world's most advanced commercial communications spacecraft - the service was initially available across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Following the successful launch of Inmarsat's second I-4 satellite on Nov. 8, network coverage will be extended to North America and South America in 2006. The two I-4 satellites will deliver seamless broadband coverage across 85 percent of the world's landmass and be available to 98 percent of the world's population. "BGAN delivers broadband where other networks can't," said YangHongyi, director-general of the CTTC. "It enables anyone to set up a broadband mobile office in minutes and remain fully productive -wherever they are on the planet." BGAN offers IP data speed of up to 256 kbps, with the option of guaranteed data rate up to 492 kbps. The service is designed for mobile users who want dependable, secure broadband access when working in locations with an unreliable or non-existent telecom infrastructure. BGAN enables users to access their corporate network via a secure VPN connection, use e-mail and other office applications, browse the Internet, send large file attachments, stream video or audio - and make a phone call at the same time. It also supports arange of encryption standards for secure communications. he service is accessed through a range of lightweight satellite terminals - the smallest is about half the size of a laptop and no more than two kg.


From www.chinaview.cn/ 12/21/2005



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Website Launched to Safeguard Workers' Interests

BEIJING, Jan. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- A professional website was launched here Tuesday to safeguard legitimate rights and interests of rural migrant workers working in the cities throughout the country. The website, operated by the Beijing Workstation of Legal Aid for Rural Migrant Workers, publishes laws and regulations on safeguarding interests of migrant workers as well as typical lawsuits against those who infringed on migrant workers' interests,said Dong Lihua, director of the website. It also lists 10 lawyers with the workstation who specialize inhandling the cases involving migrant workers. Migrant workers in need of help can dial the hot line for legal aid from the lawyers. There are about 140 million migrant workers who have come from rural areas to seek fortune in cities. Though rural migrant workers have been playing a vital role in construction and development of cities, their social and political status remains relatively low. According to statistics, 48.1 percent of rural migrant workers have had the experiences of payment default. As many migrant workers do not know how to protect themselves in legal ways, some of them even turned to violence and illegal methods instead. As soon as the website was opened on Tuesday morning, some rural migrant workers called in for legal advices, Dong said. "The website is a new way to help migrant workers," Dong said. "Besides offering legal help and advices so that migrant workers could solve their problems quickly in a low-cost way, we also hope they can raise awareness of safeguarding legitimate rights and interests and then help themselves and others." The website provides not only help and legal information for migrant workers, but also a platform for the whole society to care about them and learn related laws, said Li Dajin, the chairman of Beijing Lawyers' Association. Since its establishment in September 2005, the Beijing Workstation of Legal Aid for Rural Migrant Workers, a non-profit organization, have offered professional legal aids on 2,007 law cases and benefited 15,000 migrant workers with legal advices.


From www.chinaview.cn 01/17/2006



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China's 2005 E-Commerce Sales Leap 58% to Record US$66 BLN

China's e-commerce sales in 2005 hit a record 553.1 billion yuan (US$66.2 billion), an increase of 58 per cent over 2004, found a study released Sunday by the China Internet Development Research Center (CIDRC) under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.Such a momentum is set to continue in 2006, it said.With a turnover of 13.5 billion yuan, triple the volume in 2004, the consumer-to-consumer market has become a new growth point in the country, reported Monday's China Daily.A CIDRC survey conducted last December among 3,483 netizens in five giant Chinese cities also showed that by the end of 2005, more than 71.3 per cent of netizens had shopped online, while the same proportion in the Asia-Pacific region stood at an average of 70 per cent.About 95 per cent of the respondents said they were optimistic about the future of online business, according to the study.Though enjoying more than 60 million online items, about 43 per cent of the respondents expressed concern over the quality of online goods and after sales service, said the study.


From asia.news.yahoo.com 01/20/2006



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Chinese City Awards US$35 Million E-Govt Contract

China Expert Technology, a company that specialises in providing large scale network infrastructure construction mainly for e- government projects in China, has been awarded a US$35 million contract to establish an e-government system for Licheng city government in Fujian province . The project will start in November 2006. Licheng's e-government project is aimed to integrate with the national e-government system, in which the existing and expecting government networks and applied systems can be combined to form united technology standard and regulation and consequently a united national government service platform. "This new project will reinforce the company as the leading e-government service provider in the Fujian province, and will enhance the continuous growth of the company. In addition, amongst 82 cities and counties in the Fujian province, only 6 of them have started their e-government construction, the business opportunities for e-government project are tremendous," said Huang Tao, Chairman of the Board of Directors of CXTI.


From 01/24/2006



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ICBC Reports Record ATM Business Turn over in 2005

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), a leading state-owned commercial bank in the nation, reported an all-time high 515.3 billion yuan (63.5 billion U.S. dollars) in ATM (automatic teller machine) business turnover last year. The figure was 181 billion yuan (22.3 billion U.S. dollars) more than the year-earlier level, according to the latest data provided by the ICBC. Last year, the bank realized 1.62 billion ATM deals, up 510 million from the previous year. The total included 128.05 million inter-bank deals, up 39 percent year-on-year. A bank official said e-banking services now account for more than one fourth of the ICBC's total business turnover.


From english.eastday.com 02/05/2006



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Internet Firms Queried on China

For Internet companies doing business in China, a piece of a booming market has not come without compromises. A series of episodes showing that the companies were bending to the restrictive demands of Beijing - filtering words like "democracy" or "human rights" from Chinese versions of a blog or censoring their China-based search engines - has leaked out from users inside China.And as questions were raised after each new revelation, companies like Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Cisco Systems invariably offered a variation on a common chorus."Just like any other global company," as Mary Osako, a Yahoo spokeswoman, put it in September, "Yahoo must ensure that its local country sites operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based."Now the companies are being pressed in Washington for fuller answers about their business practices in China and the implications for human rights. That pressure was set to escalate on Wednesday when the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations questioned officials of the four technology companies, along with other witnesses critical of their activities.The subcommittee's chairman, Representative Christopher Smith, Republican of New Jersey, plans to introduce legislation by this weekend that would restrict an Internet company's ability to censor or filter basic political or religious terms, even if that puts the company at odds with local laws in the countries where it now operates.Although some advocates have argued that the companies may actually be violating existing trade laws, most experts in the field say that does not appear to be the case.Smith's legislation, called the Global Online Freedom Act, however, would render much of what the Internet companies are currently doing in China illegal.Among the act's provisions is the establishment of an Office of Global Internet Freedom, which would establish standards for U.S.-based Internet companies operating abroad. In addition to prohibiting companies from filtering out certain political or religious terms, it would require them to disclose to users any sort of filtering that they undertake.Separately, the U.S. State Department announced the formation of a Global Internet Freedom Task Force on Tuesday, charged with examining efforts by other governments "to restrict access to political content and the impact of such censorship efforts on U.S. companies."Recent statements by Microsoft and Yahoo suggest that it is not their role to promote human rights abroad. Still, the Internet titans are finding it harder to avoid some tough questions, and a new note of contrition is likely to be heard.Of the four companies, whose activities in the Chinese market differ, Yahoo faced the toughest grilling.The company, which has been providing Web services in China since 1999, has been criticized for filtering the results of its China-based search engine. But its bigger problems began last autumn when human rights advocates revealed that in 2004, a Chinese division of the company had turned over to the Chinese authorities information on a journalist, Shi Tao, using an anonymous Yahoo e-mail account. Shi, who had sent a government missive on Tiananmen Square anniversary rites to foreign colleagues, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.Last week, Reporters Sans Fronti¨¨res, a group based in Paris, revealed that a Chinese division of Yahoo had provided information to authorities that contributed to the conviction in 2003 of Li Zhi, a former civil servant who had criticized local officials online. Li is serving eight years in prison. The recent absorption of Yahoo's Chinese operations into Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce company in which Yahoo now holds a 40 percent stake, also worries some critics. They fear that the move allows Yahoo to reap the benefits of China's booming market while escaping responsibility for what happens there.For its part, Cisco, which has won annual contracts from China Telecom since 2000 to provide the hardware for the country's growing Internet backbone, has been criticized for selling its routers and equipment, which the Chinese government has used to monitor and censor communications.Microsoft hit snags almost immediately after beginning its MSN China portal last spring, when users discovered that the accompanying MSN Spaces service, which provides tools for building personal Web sites and blogs, forbade blog titles containing what were deemed inappropriate concepts like "human rights." Later last year, the company came under fire for shutting a Beijing blogger's MSN Web site at the request of the Chinese authorities.It was amid the fallout from that incident that Google stepped gingerly into the China fray three weeks ago. The company tried a different tack, announcing that search results would be filtered according to Chinese government specifications.That sort of transparency was a welcome change, said Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet governance at Oxford University and a co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. But the larger questions that have led the companies to Capitol Hill remain."I think this is a very ripe time to take on some of the hardest questions," Zittrain said. "It's not a crazy position to say that these companies should not be there at all, but that's not my view, and I think there are ways to begin drawing lines so that there are ways that the companies can make the world better by being there."Just what those lines might look like is difficult to say.The Commerce Department, under the Export Administration Act, does restrict the sale of "crime control" equipment to repressive governments, but Internet technologies have not been considered under that rubric. The activist Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in Chinese labor camps and who is scheduled to testify at the hearings, plans to ask why not."The bottom line is, no one is being compelled to sell to China," said Smith, the subcommittee chairman.


From www.iht.com 02/15/2006



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China Expert Technology Awarded Two New E-Government Contracts to Set Up Unified Command System in China

China Expert Technology, Inc. a company that specializes in providing large scale network infrastructure construction mainly for e-government projects for communities and municipal governments in China, has been awarded two e-government contracts respectively worth $679,000 and $664,000 for Jinjiang City and Dehua City, Fujian province to construct their 1st phase Unified Command System. The Unified Command System is aimed to link up the Police Department, Fire Department and Road Traffic Department respectively for these two cities. Under the contracts, CXTI will be responsible to provide system planning, hardware platform setting, software development and system installation. The Jinjiang project has been commenced in December 2005 and will be completed in March 2006. The Dehua project will be commenced in March 2006 and completed in July 2006. Mr. Huang Tao, Chairman of the Board of Directors of CXTI stated, ''In China, the public needs to dial 110 for police, 119 for fire and 122 for road accidents. The Ministry of Public Security has urged to set '110' to be a unified emergency number by the end of 2006 throughout China. The Unified Command System designed by CXTI helps to enhance public convenience and corporation among different departments so that the city government can response faster and more effectively to emergency calls. CXTI will vigorously explore and obtain more e-government related projects in other municipalities.'' About the e-government project: The e-government project is aimed to establish a national electronic government system, in which the existing and expecting government networks and applied systems can be combined to form united technology standard and regulation and consequently a united national government service platform. The term e-government is a process in which the government is able to take advantage of modern information and communication technologies to integrate the management and service on Internet, optimize and reform the government structures and working processes, and provide good and standard international administration and service to the society beyond time and space limit. About China Expert Technology, Inc: CHINA EXPERT TECHNOLOGY, INC. ("CXTI") is a company listed on the OTC BB in the USA (Trading Symbol: CXTI), with its subsidiaries (collectively the "Group") situated in Hong Kong and China. The Group is specialized in providing large-scale network infrastructure construction (mainly e-government projects) for communities and municipal governments in China. The Group also utilizes its network with experts from various universities in China to deploy business and IT consultancy services to corporations in Hong Kong and China. The Group's existing major clients includes municipal governments, government authorities and other technology firms in China. Its income is derived mainly from four areas, e-government, technology achievement appraisal, expert consultation and project database. Safe Harbor under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: The statements which are not historical facts contained in this press release are forward-looking statements that involve certain risks and uncertainties including but not limited to risks associated with the uncertainty of future financial results, regulatory approval processes, the impact of competitive products or pricing, technological changes, the effect of economic conditions and other uncertainties as may be detailed in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


From biz.yahoo.com 02/16/2006



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China's IT Service Market Expected to Grow 20% Annually

China's IT service market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 20.6 per cent between 2006 and 2010, the China Economic Times reported Sunday.The paper quoted a report of the China Center of Information Industry Development (CCID) as saying that in 2005 China's IT service market volume hit 82.27 billion yuan (about US$10.2 billion), up 20.1 per cent year on year, according to CCID statistics.The network services, special IT services and supporting, maintenance services in China grew 21.4 per cent, 19.8 per cent and 18.5 per cent year on year respectively in 2005, the CCID said.In 2005 about 19.897 million PCs were sold in Chinese market, with sales volume totaling 121.09 billion yuan, up 18.8 per cent and 8.7 per cent year on year, according to CCID figures.


From asia.news.yahoo.com 02/20/2006



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E-commerce Booms in China

A survey conducted by the China Internet Development Research Center under the Chinese academy of Social Sciences sys Chinese consumers made more online shopping than the average level for the Asian-Pacific region in 2005. 71.3 percent of Chinese netizens have tried online shopping. The average in the Asian-Pacific region is 70 percent. Online transaction in China soared 158 percent to 553.1 billion yuan last year from 350 billion yuan in 2004. The turnover last year reached 13.5 billion yuan, nearly tripling that of 2004. The survey report released Sunday also predicts a surge of e-commerce in the five years to follow. More than 60 million items are available online to 22 million B2C and C2C consumers. Books, digital products, computers and mobiles still are good sellers while products for sports, education, office work, and household necessities have gained increasing popularity since last year, showing consumers' growing interest in new varieties. Only 4.7 percent of netizens receiving the survey said they would not try online shopping now, indicating that "more than 95 percent of Chinese netizens may become consumers of e-commerce in the future", said the report. The report also states the possibility that conventional enterprises will further boost the e-commerce which is monopolized by IT companies. Supermarkets, manufacturers, as well as services like photo printing and flower delivery, will receive and handle their orders online. Security is no longer a problem for online deals due to the development of online payments. The survey has found that some 70 percent of online shoppers prefer online settlement to cash. However, online shoppers are concerned about the quality of online goods and after-sales service. In Beijing, for example, the local consumers' association handled more complaints about online shopping in October last year than the same month in the year before.


From People's Daily Online 02/20/2006



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E-commerce Chalking Up Strong Growth

Chinese e-commerce sales last year hit a record 553.1 billion yuan (US$68.72 billion), an increase of 58 per cent over 2004; and the momentum is set to continue this year, says a new study. The consumer-to-consumer (C2C) market has become the new growth point, with a turnover of 13.5 billion yuan (US$1.68 billion) triple the 2004 volume according to the study released yesterday by the China Internet Development Research Centre (CIDRC) under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Domestic online auction site Taobao.com, which has 70 per cent of China's C2C market users and conducted transactions worth 9.7 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) last year, has beaten the Chinese unit of US auction service eBay to become the No 1 C2C website in the country by offering free services. As part of the study, a CIDRC survey conducted last December among 3,483 netizens in five Chinese cities Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Xi'an and Jinan showed that by the end of last year, more than 71.3 per cent of netizens had shopped online, while this proportion in the Asia-Pacific region stood at an average of 70 per cent. And about 95 per cent of the respondents said they were optimistic about the future of online business, which indicated there would be continuous growth in the coming years. The great variety of commodities available online and reliable payment methods are regarded as two major contributors to the increase, said Ma Haitao, a CIDRC researcher who led the study. The number of items available online has exceeded 60 million in China, says the study. "Online shoppers are offered more alternatives, which is a great stimulus to the market," Ma said. Book, audio and video purchases topped the online shopping list, but sales of computers, mobile phones, digital cameras, mp3 players, airline tickets and accessories have increased by a large margin. The development of online payments, such as Paypal and Alipay systems, has eased worries about security the survey shows that about 70 per cent of online shoppers prefer online transactions to cash payments. Ma said the payment change would facilitate online trade and was "a landmark in the development of Chinese e-commerce." However, 43 per cent of respondents expressed concerns over the quality of online goods and after-sales service. Ma admitted that a lack of a supervision mechanism might hinder the development of e-commerce, and a growing number of customer complaints are testimony to the trend. The Beijing Consumers' Association announced that it handled 76 complaints about online shopping last October, an increase of 66 per cent over the same period in 2004.


From Chinadaily 02/20/2006



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IRAN: E-Commerce Knowledge Poor

Some 70 percent of those involved in economic activities are still unfamiliar with e-commerce centers, said the head of E-Commerce Information Center here on Saturday. Morteza Deylan told Moj news agency that the center is planning to organize training workshops in cooperation with Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines to educate business owners on numerous economic opportunities offered by these centers. He said the center is trying to protect small trading units nationwide by dispatching catalogues containing information on business rules, trading opportunities and tourist attractions as well as profiles of export and production companies and technical specifications of their products. He said that the Commerce Ministry is the main official body in charge of promoting e-commerce in Iran. Experts blame the banking system¡¯s traditional modus operandi for lethargic economic development. The banking sector has always been accused of not doing enough to support the private sector. Experts have also expressed concern about the significant increase in Internet-based financial offenses in Iran following efforts to establish electronic banking. Earlier, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) governor refused to rule out the possibility of the country¡¯s electronic banking system being hacked, saying, however, that the CBI has employed modern technologies to prevent hackers from accessing its systems. Ebrahim Sheibani said the country¡¯s banking system is striving to combat hackers. A major obstacle to the development of e-commerce in Iran seems to be the continued lack of credit cards. US sanctions do not allow Iranian banks to establish links with major international credit card institutions, most of which are based in the United States.


From 12/11/2005



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JAPAN: Eyes Making Firms' Accounts Receivable Tradable on Net

(Kyodo) _ Japan is considering making companies' accounts receivable tradable on the Internet to make it easier for small businesses to manage cash, government officials said Wednesday. At present, accounts receivable can only be traded in the form of paper certificates. The Justice Ministry asked an advisory panel to examine a set of legislative proposals the same day. The Legislative Council is expected to come up with recommendations, possibly at the beginning of the next year, officials said. A legal amendment, based on the panel's recommendations, is to be drawn up to clear next year's regular Diet session, the officials said. The Justice Ministry, teaming up with the Financial Services Agency and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, will also devise measures to prevent falsification of accounts receivable electronic data, the officials said. One of the Justice Ministry proposals, submitted to the panel, calls for defining the concept of "electronic credits" that could be traded on the Internet -- how they will be put and sold on the Net, or be erased under certain terms. Another proposal calls for making it a pre-requisite for parties to such deals to file applications with an envisioned government-backed authority, tentatively called the "electronic credit supervision organization," if they are to book or sell such credits.


From http://asia.news.yahoo.com/ 02/08/2006



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Japan Leads the Way in Spam Relay Prevention

Computers in Japan are much less likely than those in other nations to harbour spam-spreading viruses and Trojans, according to vnunet.com 's analysis of recent data on unsolicited email sources. However, the reasons for this remain unclear. Recent data shows that the amount of spam coming from a country appears closely related to the number of broadband internet connections in that country. For example, the US has 21 per cent of the world's broadband lines, and accounts for 24 per cent of the spam relayed worldwide, while China is home to just under a fifth of broadband connections, and emits about a fifth of all of spam. Japan, however, clearly bucks the trend. While the country has more than 11 per cent of the world's broadband connections, it is producing only two per cent of global spam. This is despite the fact that 100Mbps fibre internet connections, which are especially attractive to spammers, are common in Japan. The most likely reason for the correlation between broadband connections and spam output is the tendency for PCs on broadband lines to be taken over by malware and turned into so-called 'zombies', generating or relaying large quantities of spam. Zombie PCs are believed to produce over 60 per cent of spam, according to security software firm Sophos , which gathered the data on the geographic origins of spam from its global network of spam detectors. Anecdotal evidence supports Japan's surprisingly low ranking in the spam charts, according to the Japanese subsidiary of Sophos, which develops software to combat virus infections, spam and malware. "Despite our customer base in Japan expanding very significantly since we established the subsidiary in 2000, the number of calls to our support department regarding infections in general has fallen," said Alan Broderick, director of the company's Japanese office. "If the proportion of machines in Japan which are infected at any one time is lower than in other countries it would certainly have a positive effect on the relay figures." Sophos suggested a number of possible explanations for Japan's apparent status as the world's leading spam fighter. It could be down to more savvy internet users, according to Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Maybe more Japanese PC owners are running antivirus and proper security, and preventing their computers from being turned into bots. But we don't have any data to prove this." Several Japanese residential ISPs are blocking outbound data on port 25, which is used to send mail from a server. This could also help control spam, Cluley said, pointing out that major ISP Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ) began blocking port 25 last September. A coalition of some 40 Japanese service providers, including IIJ, has mooted port 25 blocking as an effective spam countermeasure. At least seven of them have already put this policy into practice, according to a presentation given in October by Dr Kazu Yamamoto of IIJ's research laboratory. Port blocking has drawn some criticism because it prevents tech-savvy home users from running their own mail servers, and is seen as a potential precursor of more widespread restrictions on communications.


From 02/10/2006



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Japan's Pension Plan Info to Go Online

TOKYO, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Japan's social security agency will provide information about individual pension plans from March, a local daily reported Monday. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun said that taxpayers will be able to keep tabs on their pension plans online, and alert the agency of any mistakes they think might have been made. The agency is expected to accept registration for the new system from the end of March.


From http://www.upi.com/ 02/20/2006



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Japan Plans Own Internet Search Engine TOKYO - Japan's government, high-tech firms and universities will team up to develop their

own Internet search technology, an official said Monday, amid soaring profits for US giant Google. A study group will meet this month with participation from more than 20 companies and universities, said the information policy official at the trade ministry. The companies will include leading electronics firms Matsushita Electric Industrial, Hitachi, NEC and Fujitsu as well as telecom carrier Nippon Telegraph and Telephone and public broadcaster NHK, he said. "Information searches have become a source of wealth," he said. "We want to consider what Japanese companies can do in the current situation where overseas forces are dominant." "Japanese companies should have competitive power," said the official who declined to be named. The group aims to decide on outlines of the project by around July next year, he said. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported Japan's concerted effort was aimed at competing with Google. The project will stretch over a few years from the fiscal year starting in April 2007 with a total budget of several billion yen (several tens of millions of dollars), the economic daily said.


From http://www.turkishpress.com/ 12/18/2005



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SOUTH KOREA: MOU Signed for Project to Build Networked Towns

Two South Korean government agencies joined forces on Monday (Feb. 6) to boost efforts to build "U-cities," next-generation towns designed to allow residents to log onto the Internet anytime, anywhere. The Ministry of Information and Communication and the Ministry of Construction and Transportation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in the ¡°U-City" project, the two agencies said. Under the MOU, the two will cooperate in many areas, such as the enactment of regulations and development and standardization of new technologies needed for the new cities. The government has been pursuing the project for the past year in an effort to enhance convenience for residents and generate more demand for information technology. South Korea boasts the world's highest Internet penetration rate, with 12 million Internet users out of a population of 48 million. The MOU follows an agreement between the two ministries in October to jointly push for the U-city project. In November, they formed a joint task force. In December, KT and the state-run Korea National Housing Corp. agreed to establish a U-city in Unjeong, northwest of Seoul. A consortium of companies, including KT, Samsung SDS and LG Electronics, also unveiled plans in the same month to build a U-city in Daejeon starting in 2006, with its completion slated for 2009. ¡°The concept of U-cities has yet to be clearly defined, and there are not enough regulations to support the construction of such next-generation cities," one Information Ministry official cautioned however.


From http://www.mic.go.kr/ 02/07/2006



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Mobile Spam Troubles Consumers

Unwanted text messages or phone calls continue to plague mobile phone users in South Korea, prompting the government to take emergency measures to bring the headache under control. To tame the mobile spammers, the Korea Communication Commission (KCC) on Sunday said it would take the unusual step of punishing the country's telecom companies today, along with unlawful marketers. ``Up until now, we have checked just spam senders. But we are required to take punitive actions against fixed-line telecom entities, which are partially responsible,'' KCC secretary general Kim In-soo said. Included in the operators at issue are KT, the predominant landline carrier, as well as the smaller players of Hanaro Telecom, Dacom and Onse Telecom. ``They did not comply with the order to suspend the numbers of mobile spam senders. Our committee is expected to fine or warn them,'' Kim said. Telecom carriers are supposed to discontinue the numbers of illegal mobile marketers within three to five days after being instructed to do so. But some refused to obey regulators, even 100 days after such an order, Kim said. Mobile spam showed signs of subsiding early last year, thanks to the so-called opt-in system, effective since March 31, 2005. The opt-in formula prohibits marketers from placing promotional calls or sending advertising messages to handset users who do not give their explicit permission in advance. Violators are subject to a maximum of 30 million won in fines. However, elusive marketers have figured out a new way of making numerous computer-generated calls to mobile phones that hang up after one ring. Should curious recipients call back to the number, typically with a dialing prefix of 060 and featuring obscene content, they will be charged premium rates. (by Kim Tae-gyu)


From 02/19/2006



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Korea Ranks 5th in UN e-Government Standing

South Korea ranked fifth this year in the United Nations¡¯ evaluation for e-government readiness among 191 countries, thanks to its advanced information technology (IT) and nationwide broadband network. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs said Sunday that the country¡¯s e-government standing remained at the fifth spot in 2005 for two years in a row, the highest among Asian countries. The U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) announces an ``E-government Readiness Index Ranking¡¯¡¯ every year since 2002 to evaluate member nations¡¯ use of their Web sites and IT in administering state affairs. The agency whose mission is to promote higher standards of living around the world also examines each country¡¯s information and communication infrastructure, including the extent of wireless communication and broadband networks, and human resources engaged in the IT sector. The United States topped the list, followed by Denmark, Sweden and Britain, according to the UNDESA. Singapore took seventh place and Japan 14th. In subcategories, the Korean government ranked fourth in the use of Web sites after the U.S., Britain and Singapore, while the country ranked ninth for IT infrastructure, up three notches from last year. In terms of IT human resources, its raking rose by three spots to the 12th. Korea¡¯s e-participation index, which assesses government efforts to reflect public opinions in its decision-making process, ranked fourth, up from sixth in 2004 and 12th in 2003. A ministry official said the current policy to reflect more on public opinion through the Internet contributed to raising Korea¡¯s standing. ``The government plans to promote public relations activities abroad to showcase our experience and expertise in the e-government sector,¡¯¡¯ the official said. He added the government will spare no efforts to create a world¡¯s top e-government infrastructure in which citizens can easily make use of a wide array of e-services.


From http://search.hankooki.com/ 12/18/2005



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100,000 Web Sites to Be Checked for Name Theft

The Ministry of Information and Communication said Thursday that it would launch an anti-identification theft campaign by reviewing subscription policies of 100,000 local Web sites to check whether they leaked resident registration numbers and other personal information. In addition, the ministry is considering banning Internet sites from using the resident numbers for confirming identification of new subscribers. The move followed the mass theft of private information from tens of thousands of people that was linked to the popular online game, Lineage. NCSoft, the operator of the game said earlier Thursday that it will adopt a mobile-phone certification system after receiving severe damage to its credibility. NCSoft, South Korea¡¯s largest game company, said the new system will become active from next week, which will prevent hackers from using other peoples¡¯ personal information to create game accounts. The new system will ask for a password, which will be sent to the users¡¯ mobile phones when applying for new accounts. The corrective action, however, came a bit late to negate the damage to the reputation of the company. From Monday to Wednesday, more than 13,500 cases of personal information theft were reported and the number keeps increasing, NCSoft said. Since the news broke on Monday, the company has faced a barrage of protests from its users for having been indifferent to strengthening the screening process. The stock price also dropped by 16 percent this week, even though the company reported a 10-percent increase in last year¡¯s revenue on Tuesday. ``Lineage¡¯¡¯ is a mega-hit multiplayer online game where hundreds of thousands people form a virtual society. It has more than 2 million registered users in South Korea and around 100,000 users play it simultaneously during the daily peak time. Hackers and even ordinary gamers have often used others¡¯ personal profiles in online games in South Korea, as such information is easy to obtain on the Web. According to Internet security company egis.com, a total of 92,037 cases of personal information theft were reported last year. The Korea Information Security Agency (KISA) also estimates that the private information of some 130,000 Koreans is openly available on the Web. NCSoft and police suspect that hacking groups in China acquired the victims¡¯ personal information from one or more Internet shopping malls in South Korea in December and January. While cooperating with Police to track down the hackers, NCSoft also said that it is considering legal action against some of the Korean media for making negative and fraudulent reports regarding the issue. On Wednesday, several daily newspapers including Chosun Ilbo carried articles that described the case as ``Lineage ID theft.¡¯¡¯ As the victims had their names and resident registration numbers stolen from other Web sites, not the game¡¯s IDs, the firm is mulling over ``several corrective actions¡¯¡¯ including lawsuits, said Kim Ju-young, public relations manager of NCSoft. (by Kim Tae-kyu, Cho Jin-seo)


From 02/16/2006



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MALAYSIA: E-Judiciary System 40 Weeks Behind Schedule

Implementation of the e-Judiciary system, aimed at bringing information technology into the courts, is 40 weeks behind schedule. However, Minister in the Prime Minister¡¯s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said the delay was not a serious problem and would not result in extra costs. The delay, he added, was due to fine-tuning of the system and training of staff. ¡°When it comes to the courts, the system has to be precise, especially when dealing with the numbering of the cases, to avoid glitches. ¡°All this has to be implemented properly," he told reporters after witnessing a demonstration of the Case Management System (CMS) at the Palace of Justice yesterday. The minister added that the CMS - the second phase of the e-Judiciary system - would be operational and used in the Court of Appeal by February. According to Mohd Radzi, the Court Recording and Transcription (CRT) system - the first phase - was now being used at the Commercial High Courts at the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the Civil High Courts at Wisma Denmark in Kuala Lumpur since December last year. Both systems will be introduced to 11 courts in the Klang Valley by the end of next year. The RM23mil project started in September last year and was supposed to be implemented by March next year. On the current backlog of 8,000 cases, Mohd Radzi hoped the implementation of the CMS would help to reduce the time for filing cases. ¡°However, if there is a need, we will increase the number of judges as the Government is very serious in wanting to clear the backlog," he said.


From 12/09/2005



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Government Dealings Just a Click Away

Thinking of paying your utility bills and traffic summonses, or getting an application form for a passport? You need not drive to the post office or police station or Immigration Department to do these things anymore. Just log in to the myGovernment portal (at www.gov.my ) and 325 types of online services offered by 844 government agencies and departments are at your fingertips. Among other things, the portal has news, a government calendar of events, information on job vacancies, tender notices, advertisements, announcements and public complaints. Businessmen can access it to register companies, conduct bankruptcy searches, and enquire and apply for licences. The portal allows the downloading of some 2,930 different forms. From February until Sept 30, the portal recorded 1.6 million visits with 17,535 forms of various types downloaded and 185,776 services transacted. Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Samsudin Osman launched the portal at the Public Sector Chief Information Officers 2005 Conference here yesterday. ¡°ICT (information communications technology) is the enabler in enhancing our delivery system and this will help attract foreign investors. ¡°We want the public service to be an administrative system that is transparent, efficient, hassle-free, customer-friendly and without hidden cost. Delay is one of the hidden costs," he said. Samsudin said the Global IT Report 2004/2005 by the World Economic Forum placed Malaysia 27th out of 104 countries on e-readiness and internet literacy. However, the Global e-Government Survey 2004/2005 by Brown University in the United States, covering online information and services and access, ranked Malaysia 157th out of 198 countries. Samsudin said although the results of the studies varied, they should be considered as benchmarks, to improve weaknesses.


From 12/14/2005



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Have Your Say Via E-Poll

THE public is being given a chance to voice their opinions on how they want Pulau Jerejak to be developed. urfers can vote for a water theme park, eco-tourism, a zoo and safari, or a casino and entertainment heaven on the state Tourism Action Council¡¯s website. To get an idea of what some people have in mind, check out the e-poll conducted on the website at http:// www.tourismpenang.gov.my. As at Dec 12, the poll revealed that most respondents were in favour of the isle becoming a casino and entertainment heaven. There were 853 votes for a casino (28%) compared with 811 votes for eco-tourism (27%), 784 votes for a water theme park (26%) and 570 for a zoo and safari (19%).


From 12/28/2005



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PHILIPPINES: Developing an Emergency Ambulance Communications Network in Penang

No one in the Malaysian state imagined that the first test of its ambulance communications network would be last year¡¯s Indian Ocean Tsunami, says Dr Teo Aik Howe, Head of the Emergency Department, Penang Hospital. By training I am an emergency physician, so if two years ago you had mentioned ¡®radio¡¯ I would have thought you were talking about FM radio! However as an emergency physician I know that the real basis of pre-hospital care is communication. Therefore everything is built upon the communications base. It needs to be as widely linked as possible, have broad coverage and be able to support contingencies where the need arises. The Penang Emergency Ambulance Radio Link (PEARL) communications network was established in 2004 to link the communications of all emergency ambulance providers for the state of Penang . Before establishing PEARL the various ambulance service providers in Penang could not talk to each other, and there was a lack of coordination in the deployment of ambulance resources. Typically in the event of an accident different people would ring up different ambulance providers leading to many ambulances responding to a single event. Obviously this represented a very poor use of resources. This network was set-up by Motorola for the emergency ambulance service and as a community service to the people of Penang. Currently this network links all bases and ambulances from all six hospitals in Penang Island, selected health clinics, the Malaysian Red Crescent Society, St John Ambulance and the ResQ 991 bases of Butterworth and Penang Island. Established as a self-owned, self-administered network, PEARL aims to achieve full accessibility, wide coverage areas, comprehensive functionality, be easy to use and have an adequate level of transmission security. On top of all this, the software and hardware needs to be upgradeable at a reasonable cost with minimal recurring costs. Our network is based on two VHF repeaters stationed on Penang Hill, allowing two channels with an area of coverage over more than 90 per cent of populated areas of Penang; extending north of Alor Setar and south to Taiping. The main control centres are situated at the Emergency Departments of Penang Hospital and Hospital Seberang Jaya. Further developments for the PEARL network includes widening the end-user pool to include all community ambulance services, inter-agency links with the Royal Malaysian Police, as well as extending the network to other states, thus enabling a national emergency ambulance communications network.


From 02/09/2006



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The Philippines to Redesign Govt Portal

The National Computer Centre is now accepting private sector bids for the re-design contract. The Filipino government plans to revamp its central web site www.gov.ph. The Commission on Information and Communications Technology has allocated 110 million pesos (US$2.1 million) for the site re-design and the development of a payment gateway for the portal. A 60 million pesos (US$1.2 million) contract to develop the payments gateway was awarded to the Development Bank of the Philippines-Data Centre Inc last year. Until now, private sector volunteers have been maintaining the government portal for free. The e-payments system is expected to launch this month, and the re-designed site is due to be finished later this year.


From 02/15/2006



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SINGAPORE: To Develop New National Broadband Network

Singapore will develop a new national broadband network that is much faster than what is available currently. This was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his Budget speech on Friday. He says the broadband network will offer fast, efficient connectivity to all schools, offices and homes and even to those on the move. Mr Lee says Singapore needs to plan ahead beyond present needs and keep pace with rapid technological change. He notes that other countries and cities are already implementing ultra-high speed broadband and wireless networks. And some are laying fibre to homes, in anticipation of future demand. Mr Lee said: "It will help us plug into the global knowledge grid and stay competitive with other cities. The cost is significant, but we can develop it together with the private sector progressively over several years, adjusting to demand at each stage. MICA will announce more details at the Committee of Supply."


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 02/17/2006



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VIETNAM: New Website Set to Boost Public Access to the State

Prime Minister Phan Van Khai pressed the button to launch the Government website yesterday in Ha Noi. At the inauguration ceremony PM Khai said Viet Nam Party and State laid down a policy to intensify the application of information technology into the country¡¯s modernisation process and its international integration. Despite the State coffer¡¯s limited finance, Vietnamese Government over the years has focused on investing in many information technology application projects including the development of a Government¡¯s website. Khai said the website would become a focus of providing information on administrative bodies at every level and work toward development of public service and build on-line relations between the Government and people and businesses, thus contribute to effectively implementing administrative reforms transparently with a view to serving the public and business community. The Prime Minister believed that the launch of the government website would narrow the gap of space and timing in contact and dialogue between the Government and the public in the country, overseas Vietnamese, businesses and investors so as to work together to find out best solutions to make the country more prosperous, democratic and civilised. In addition, the website would contribute to the global knowledge basket via Internet that make international friends further understand and co-operate with Viet Nam, he added. Khai asked managers and staff of the website to raise their professional skills in an effort to make the website both reliable and accurate, as well as to ensure network security to minimise any breakdown that may occur. Speaking at the ceremony, Minister and Director of the Government Office Doan Manh Giao emphasised that the setting of the website would mark an important event and Government¡¯s efforts in the process to reform administration through carrying a strategy to build an e-government in Viet Nam. The establishment of the website showed the Government¡¯s determination and commitment to renovate and raise effectively of the State apparatus and take the best use of information resources and help the government to reach its targets and minimise social expenditures. He said the website construction was divided into two stages. The first phase was to create a database and make it become a tool of information dissemination on the Government¡¯s policies and its activities. The website would become an on-line forum between the Government and the public and business community. The second phase aimed to unite information, management activities of ministries and localities towards a public service activity. In the second phase, the website will publish its English version in September this year. The government website has updated 24 accounts comprising information on Vietnamese government, ministries, cities and provinces and businesses and social economic development projects, State administrative reforms. The website has updated more than 20,000 pages of information and linked with 1,500 accounts. Visitors can access the website at www.vietnam.gov.vn and www.chinhphu.vn.


From 01/11/2006



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BANGLADESH: Bangladesh Considering Pre-paid Handset Registration Scheme to Combat Terrorism

Bangladesh is planning to introduce a scheme to register all pre-paid mobile handsets so that the government can track their ownership. The move is being promoted in an effort to clamp down on the use of unregistered mobile phones by local terrorists. The country's five network operators were told of the state¡¯s plan last Thursday, at a meeting attended by the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission and intelligence officials. There have been reports that the illegal militant group Jamayetul Mujahideen has used mobile phones to plan their terrorist activities. The group has been blamed for more than 400 synchronised blasts across Bangladesh last August, and a series of subsequent bombings, including several suicide attacks. A total of 28 people have died, including four suicide bombers.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/23/2006



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INDIA: India Releases Plans for Urban E-govt

The Ministry of Urban Development has issued plans for extending e-government into India's towns and cities. A National Mission Mode Project on e-Governance in municipalities is being formulated by the Ministry of Urban Development (MUD). The plans cover 423 cities and towns having population of 10,000 and above, for implementation during the period 2006-2010. Although the details of the project are yet to be finalised, a memorandum on the project has been circulated to all concerned ministries for their comments. The delay in finalising the project is because of the consultation process with selected urban local bodies, State Governments and concerned Ministries/Departments of Government of India for designing the project, and the preparation of cost estimates. However officials say that the project is likely to be finalised and launched by the end of this financial year.


From http://www.pstm.net/ 01/04/2006



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¡®Smart Card¡¯ Will Be Introduced for Emigrant Workers

The Centre will shortly introduce `smart cards' for emigrant workers containing all information regarding their employment and insurance. A round-the-clock helpline at 13 identified missions, commencement of pre-departure orientation programmes for overseas workers with the help of State governments and insurance cover for the entire period of employment are some of the welfare measures being initiated by the Union Government. This was stated by Protector-General of Emigrants (PGOE) R. K. Singh while addressing delegates at a session on "Indians in Gulf" on the concluding day of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here on Monday.


From http://www.hindu.com/ 01/10/2006



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MCH Bags E-governance Award

The MCH has bagged the Golden Icon National Award 2005 for its project `Hyderabad First' for exemplary innovation in e-Governance under the category of `Professional excellence for process re-engineering,' according to a press release. The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India, has instituted the award.


From http://www.digitalopportunity.org/ 02/01/2006



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MTNL Launches Mobile Line Tender

State-run Indian telco MTNL has opened a global tender for a contract to supply two million new 2G and 3G mobile lines. The contract, worth around INR7.5 billion (USD170 million), will be split into two phases: phase one will provide for the installation of 750,000 GSM and 250,000 UMTS lines, whilst phase two will supply a million lines split equally between 2G and 3G. The scope of the contract includes the planning, engineering, supply, installation, testing and commission of the entire network.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 02/07/2006



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Indian National E-govt Meeting Raises Prospects for PPP

India's 9th National E-Governance Conference has advocated greater adoption of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to spur the country's development of e-governance. The event, attended by heads of State IT departments and representatives from key IT vendors, also saw calls for legislative changes to boost the take-up of PPP. "There should be legislative sanction to the process of changes in the sector. There is also a need for amplifying the sections on e-Governance in the IT Act," Joint Secretary of the Department of IT at the Centre, R. Chandrasekahar said. "There is the need to develop more core infrastructure service delivery and roll out the concept to local bodies and courts further, besides setting up more citizen service centres across the country." He went on to explain that the Union Government (central government) was planning to launch IT-enabled service delivery centres in 100,000 villages in the next four years, with an investment of US$1.36 billion. Kerala Governor R.L. Bhatia said the e-Governance index of the country was very poor, ranking 37th among the 133 nations, despite having a high number of IT professionals working in and outside. "What is imperative is to implement institutional mechanisms aimed at providing the right governance by setting up core infrastructure and policies," Bhatia said. "In the wake of Right to Information Act, the activities of the Government have become much more transparent than ever before. Meanwhile, the spread of information technology has added to the propagation of administrative policies and practices through different portals."


From http://www.pstm.net/ 02/08/2006



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SRI LANKA: Sri Lankan E-govt Centre Passes 6-Month Milestone

Six months in, the country's Centre of Excellence for E-Government (CoE) has successfully raised awareness and competencies in Sri Lanka's public sector. The CoE began operations in June 2005 as a result of a unique public private partnership between the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA), along with Oracle Corporation, PC House and Millennium Information Technologies, through whom Sun Microsystems and Cisco Systems are also represented. The CoE has played the role of supporting the Re-engineering Government Programme of ICTA by engaging the Chief Innovation Officers (CIOs) of various government agencies, such as the Health Ministry, Police, Divisional Secretariats, Department of Pensions, Ministry of Finance and Treasury, providing a platform for development of e-Government solutions and showcasing successful applications currently used by both Sri Lankan and international government bodies. Recognising the need to showcase existing initiatives as well as have a platform where quick experimentation of new solutions could be performed, the CoE has harnessed the global expertise and knowledge of Oracle Corporation. Through its own CoE in India, Oracle has been providing key solutions and prototypes already developed and deployed in India and the region. These include Collaboration tools for e-Government, Workflow Management, Citizen Data Hub Solution, and Petition Management Services. Petitions Management Services, initially deployed in India in a native language, has now been ported to English with plans to make available in Sinhala in the near future. The CoE is also planning to deploy proven applications supporting Pensions and Police Automation. To enhance e-government capability in the government and to support the CIOs, the CoE, together with ICTA and Oracle Corporation facilitated a national workshop on e-Government with experts from both Sri Lanka and abroad during its first quarter of operations. This and future workshops will discuss important issues of e-Government such as change management, models of IT implementation with public private partnership to minimize major investments and the legal framework necessary for effective e-government. The CoE also conducted an Editor¡¯s Roundtable involving the print and electronic media to share the different facets of adopting e-government for efficient delivery of citizen services. Both the print and electronic media have played a strong catalytic role in keeping the citizen community abreast with new developments and success stories in e-government and ICTA¡¯s initiatives.


From http://www.pstm.net/ 01/25/2006



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AUSTRALIA: Business Will Carry High Cost of National ID Card

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) today said a national identity card would cost the economy up to $15 billion and may do little to stop terrorists. The ACCI warned the cost of the card would be largely borne by the business sector, over and above the estimated $750 per person it would cost to introduce the system. The warning follows a proposal by Attorney General Philip Ruddock to have an inquiry into the introduction of a national identity card. Ruddock said the inquiry will examine what information the card should contain, what legislation was needed and how much it would cost to implement. He said privacy fears are misplaced as the Tax Office and Centrelink already hold large amounts of personal information. While the move has been supported by Prime Minister John Howard, many coalition MPs including Treasurer Peter Costello are sceptical. Another stumbling block is Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce who feels the government is already too intrusive. Democrats Senator Natasha Stott Despoja also opposes the introduction of an ID card and called for privacy laws to be strengthened. "Privacy laws are inconsistent, confusing, full of exemptions and years behind technology," she said.


From 01/17/2006



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Australian Social Services Agency Turns to New Outsource Partner

The 45,000 annual calls to New South Wales government's Seniors Information Services is to be handled by a third-party outsourcer. The Department of Ageing, Disability & Home Care (DADHC) has chosen Australian call centre outsourcing firm LinkQ to handle all incoming calls to the Seniors Information Services (SIS). The SIS is a completely confidential Information and Referral Service that caters to the needs of older NSW residents, and it receives approximately 45,000 calls annually. These calls relate to concessions, leisure activities and SIS-specific information such as fact sheets. The SIS also maintains a database of 5000 service providers and community organisations, and uses the database to provide callers with accurate information and appropriate referrals. The role of the SIS is to complement other service access points and information services such as Carelink, as well as the array of seniors¡¯ web sites.


From 01/26/2006



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Police Take on Bad Boy Role in WA's Shared Services Plan

The Western Australian government's ambitious shared-services plan to standardize more than 100 agencies on the Oracle platform has hit a snag with the Police Department stubbornly refusing to make the transition by sticking with SAP software. Despite the hiccup, pilots are well under way with the first round of government agencies set to go live in May; the rest of the rollout will take place over the next two years. Under the shared services model, which will save taxpayers $50 million a year from the 2007-08 financial year, the government will consolidate 21 different finance management solutions and 12 disparate payroll systems across 49 of its largest agencies. Three shared services centres will also be established as part of the 10-year, $66.8 million deal with Oracle. The WA government's Office of Shared Services (OSS) executive director Ron Mance confirmed WA Police has been excluded from the Oracle model with no immediate plans to migrate. While unable to provide full details of the contractual arrangements with SAP by Computerworld's deadline, Mance said migration just isn't feasible at this time. "The Police Department has been with SAP for a while and is currently extending the software's functionality; it is a long and staged rollout," he said. "We had to draw a line in the sand and allow Police to remain on SAP software." Mance admitted the obvious timeframe for any migration would be when contracts are renegotiated and the Police Department is due for an upgrade. "When the department is due for an upgrade, we will expect a strong business case around any further investment," he added. Upgrade timeframes were not immediately available but a SAP spokesperson did confirm that the software was introduced at WA Police in 1998. Another agency that has also been excluded from the Oracle plan is the Education Department which is sticking with PeopleSoft for HR and payroll. However, with Oracle's acquisition of PeopleSoft this isn't likely to create any real problems, according to Oracle managing director Ian White. To date implementation of the plan, which will cost the government more than $80 million, has been such a success it will be used as a blueprint for other states. White said Oracle is looking to pitch the blueprint to both state and federal governments with South Australia and Victoria the vendor's first targets. In fact, the OSS will be presenting the blueprint at an Interjurisdictional Group meeting to be held in Brisbane in May. The event will be attended by IT representatives from every state and territory in Australia. The OSS confirmed the federal government has also been invited to attend. Established four years ago, the group meets twice a year to discuss shared services across government. Large service providers such as EDS and IBM have not had a strong presence in WA with the market dominated by Oracle, Fujitsu, Unisys, CSC and the ASG Group. Oracle won the WA deal over SAP which submitted multiple bids in the tender process. (by Sandra Rossi)


From 02/03/2006



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NSW Education Dept Ups Network Analytics

In addition to welcoming in the 2006 school year, the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) began operating its new network analytics software last week, which is set to service some 2600 sites and 1.3 million users. The project represents a win for the local IT industry as DigiToll, developed by Sydney-based software company IdeaData, was chosen by the DET over imported products. The department confirmed that the project to install and operate the software had begun but was unwilling to divulge any specifics at this time. "DigiToll is being installed and we are therefore unable to comment on its effectiveness," a DET spokesperson told Computerworld. It is unlikely the department's ICT project team working on the installation will be able to comment before at least six months of operation. A statement from IdeaData said DET has selected DigiToll to deliver "transparent control of Internet usage, network accountability for traffic content, and [WAN] optimization to the largest government network in NSW". The software will give network administrators access to usage information of network-connected resources across departments and schools. DigiToll will enable DET to make "significant savings" on its current WAN spending and "regain control over content" travelling across its network, according to the company. "[The] IdeaData win is especially impressive, as DET selected DigiToll after [an] extensive market appraisal and testing against leading product suites supplied by national and multi-national [vendors]," the statement read. DigiToll customers include BHPBilliton, ac3, Macquarie Bank, the Commonwealth Bank, and IBM. (by Rodney Gedda)


From 02/07/2006



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SA Launches Broadband Network

South Australian Minister for Science and Information Economy Karlene Maywald will this week launch a new broadband network worth more than $1.1 million. Established as part of the state government's $7 million broadband development fund, the network is a joint initiative between the government, City of Salisbury and telecommunications provider Amcom. The government is contributing $550,000 to the "Connecting Salisbury" network, which is the first metropolitan council to offer broadband services. City of Salisbury Mayor Tony Zappia said it will allow businesses in the area to compete more effectively. "It was imperative that we eliminated significant blackspots affecting a proportion of businesses that were either too far from the telecommunications exchanges, or operating on incompatible infrastructure," he said. "As the fastest growing city in South Australia, it makes sense that we are working to gain strong economic development infrastructure that will assist our city to grow." The government is encouraging other councils to develop similar projects.


From 02/07/2006



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NSW Traffic Authority Eyes Open Source Thin Clients

In an effort to reduce its desktop TCO by at least 25 percent, the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority will start implementing open source thin clients as early as June this year. According to documents obtained by Computerworld, the project aims to achieve the "maximum degree of open standards [and] open source" with an eye on cost reduction. However, the "Centralised Desktop Project" should maintain current functionality and interoperability" with Microsoft desktops for as many features as possible in the long term, the documents say. The move is consistent with CIO Greg Carvouni's vision of standards-based computing at the RTA, which has already seen the migration of part of core messaging infrastructure from Microsoft's Windows to Sun's SunOne environment, as announced in mid-2004. While no specific reference to Linux was made in the document, one source familiar with the RTA's plans said Linux vendor Novell is "most likely" to win the contract. If so, it will tie in with the RTA's existing installations of Novell identity and client management products such as Zenworks. With around 5500 office PCs and notebooks running Windows 2000 Professional and 1200 Apple iMacs in motor registries, the move to thin clients is earmarked for the office environment. "The RTA would like to review the market for centralized desktop systems prior to deciding on the long term desktop strategy for non-registry users," the document stated. "Within ICT, desktops are seen as commodity items with significant potential for cost reduction due to emerging technology and dated existing systems." The document described the new thin client centralized desktop as a "more radical approach" with "stretch targets that will only be achieved over some time". These targets include centralizing all servers, minimizing server count as the RTA's Fujitsu-managed data centre costs are "essentially server-driven", comprehensive remote management, and software that conforms to open standards and "preferably be open sourced and supported by the proponent". Additional technical objectives include a desktop interface "as rich as" and "similar to" the existing Microsoft environment, and that no data be stored locally on the desktop but in the data centre. It is anticipated that user profile and site-related data will be downloaded when the user logs on. An RTA spokesperson told Computerworld that by June this year the RTA will have deployed thin client open standards on about 1500 Apple iMacs, up from 1200 now. "It is anticipated another 1500 to 2000 Windows desktops [will] be converted to thin clients with the solution, bringing thin client desktops to about 3000 to 3500 representing half of the RTA total of 7000," the spokesperson said. In line with the centralized desktop project, the RTA is also implementing a centralized backup and archival solution which is leading to a removal of backup devices from local offices and about 40 to 60 percent of data in the distributed environment. This data is being moved to EMC Centra storage systems in the data centre.


From 02/13/2006



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NT Fast-Tracks $200m IT Contract

The Northern Territory Government's $200 million IT contract is up for renegotiation, with incumbent supplier CSC and Fujitsu the expected frontrunners. The Government wants to finalise the contract, which takes in a large part of the NT's computing and network infrastructure, next month, three months ahead of the current five-year expiry date. The scope of the new agreement has been substantially changed, with responsibility for much of the territory's network infrastructure handed to Telstra as part of a $140 million outsourcing agreement signed last year. "Telstra needs control of the local area network to supply voice over internet protocol services so we purposefully migrated that out (of the desktop contract)," the Government's project director Brad Irvine says. The value of the desktop contract is expected to dip as a result, although Mr Irvine says it is too soon to say what cost reductions might be achieved. The NT Government has increased service levels in the new arrangement, with metropolitan, rural and remote agencies allocating their own benchmarks. In recognition of the pace of commoditisation in IT product and services, the Government has increased the service levels in the contract's third and fourth years. "It's designed to make them (the service provider) reach further and keep some tension in the deal," says Mr Irvine. In a surprise move, local service provider Connected Solutions Group, which was part of the previous consortium providing desktop services to the NT Government, is now bidding with Fujitsu. CSG managing director Denis Mackenzie would not comment on the reasons behind the move. CSG is a key player in the provision of IT services to the NT Government, having secured a $25 million, five-year messaging contract in 2004. It is believed local industry is pressuring the Government to stipulate that more IT services be provided by home-grown NT suppliers. Mr Irvine insists the Government will continue to balance the involvement of big multinationals with that of local industry. "You need the strength of the big companies alongside the participation of local companies," he says. Meanwhile, the NT Government hasdecided to extend two of its remaining major technology contracts until October to give itself more time to evaluate and plan future requirements. The first, which was scheduled to expire in December last year, is a $10 million arrangement covering application development, web services and project management, and is serviced by a panel of about 18 suppliers. The other, a $15 million mainframe agreement held by Fujitsu, was to end in April this year. Mr Irvine says the delay will give the Government time to "get our house in order. We want to make sure in the next round of tenders that we're sourcing them the best way possible. We want to give ourselves appropriate time to seek advice from industry and government agencies on what the best way forward is." The Northern Territory is not the only body entrenched in a, overhaul of its IT provisioning strategy. The South Australian Government's $650 million plan to exit a statewide outsourcing arrangement with US giant Electronic Data Systems is running at least six months behind schedule. The SA Government has signed only one of eight computing contracts required in the transition out of its 10-year outsourcing arrangement, scheduled to end in January next year. (by Agnes King)


From 02/14/2006



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Victoria's Mobile Radio Network Completed in Record Time

Victoria's upgrade of its StateNet Mobile Radio (SMR) network has reached completion in a record time of 10 months. Conducted by Tait Electronics, under subcontract to Telstra, the contract was worth more than $18 million to the Brisbane-based company. Tait Electronics was responsible for providing Telstra with network switching and radio technologies as part of the carrier's contract extension to replace Victoria's trunked radio network. The SMR upgrade was one of the largest infrastructure projects managed by Telstra last year and covered 101 sites, 500 channels and four switch nodes, which supports more than 17,000 terminals. The upgraded network and channel capacity can be leveraged by the Victorian government for world-class events such as the forthcoming 2006 Commonwealth Games. Tait managing director, Dr Peter Baines, said the network was designed and built using open standards, enabling interoperability and increased coordination between state-wide emergency service and essential services. The upgraded network also provides enhanced data application capabilities to help support the increasing requirements of information management in the field. "The successful completion of the network upgrade in record time is testament to Tait's ability to develop and deliver public safety technologies," he said adding that despite the size and complexity of the project it did not impact on existing operations. "We are now working with Telstra to offer value-added solutions on the new network." Telstra's director of strategic business, Keith Richardson, said the network will significantly improve emergency response systems in Victoria well into the next decade. "The network has built-in redundancy and to ensure ongoing availability, network performance is constantly monitored live by Tait technical staff from their global headquarters in New Zealand. Telstra will also add additional features and functionality that will be provided as part of the new infrastructure," he said.


From 02/14/2006



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NSW Ambulance Extends Wireless Net

The NSW Ambulance service announced Tuesday a rollout of 690 additional wireless communication units for ambulances state-wide, with a go-live date of this October. The systems use a prioritized mixture of private communication networks from Telstra, CDMA, GSM and satellite in remote areas. The communications platform was initially trialled in six ambulances in Tamworth 18 months ago. Now, 400 ambulances around metropolitan Sydney are using the service; however, this phase will roll the system out to the rest of the NSW ambulance fleet. Panasonic, Global Star, Data 911 and Technisyst are all partnering on the project, which is estimated to cost $14 million. Technisyst chief executive Bill Delaney said the system works by continually tracking and monitoring ambulances so urgent calls can be routed instantly to the ambulance closest to the call's origin. Delaney said once the dispatch operator makes the decision on which vehicle will attend which job, call and patient data gets fed across the state network, with all necessary details appearing on a display in the ambulance. "The computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system is already in place and Technisyst has a contractual responsibility for the message delivery, which in NSW is that 95 percent of messages must be delivered from the gateway to the ambulance in eight seconds and 98 percent in 10 seconds," Delaney said. "The system logs and records the time between job allocation and when the vehicle arrives at the [destination], because ambulance drivers push a status button when they get out of the vehicle. "In the past the ambulances were activated from the station, or dispatchers had to try and keep track of ambulances through voice traffic, which can sometimes be garbled; in this case all job details appear in text on the screen inside the ambulance." NSW Minister for Health, John Hatzistergos said the system will be fully managed by Telstra under a Delivery Traffic Indication Message contract spanning five years. It will help to lead to faster response times in ambulances in regional NSW, he said. "Another benefit of the use of GPS technology is that ambulance officers will be able to pinpoint exact co-ordinates to reach rescue helicopters in rural and remote areas during emergency operations," Hatzistergos said. (by Michael Crawford)


From 02/15/2006



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WA's Tech Truck Bridges Digital Divide

While government departments in the Eastern states grapple with ways to promote technology adoption among young people, Western Australia's Department of Industry and Resources (DOIR) has stopped talking and taken IT trucking. Established with a number of sponsors including DOIR, Telstra BigPond, and truck company Scania, the roadshow began visiting regional centres in the state's South late last year as has been a great success according to the department's infrastructure division manager, Kevin Russell. "It's been a huge success because people in region are crying out for this," Russell told Computerworld. "The acceptance is terrific and absolutely amazing." The truck has so far made its way through farming centres, mining towns, schools, TAFE colleges, and universities. With most of the South finished, the truck will head North in April and complete its journey around September. "The technology roadshow is taking technology to the regions of WA to bridge the digital divide [and] there is a huge demand," Russell said. "We're informing people about the use of the Internet and how they can do business, and basically pointing people to better technology. For example, about using a content management system over a standard Web server." Russell said the feedback from business people has been "excellent"; one person in the process of starting a company discovered about $15,000 in software savings after visiting the roadshow. The roadshow also aims to heighten awareness of how the Internet can assist with communications for distance-learning, employment, and health. In addition to the demonstrations and advice, the roadshow has given out "thousands" of copies of Ubuntu Linux and TheOpenCD - a collection of popular, open source applications for Microsoft Windows. "We're not aligning ourselves to any one vendor; we can demonstrate what you can do with open source," Russell said. Russell said while the TheOpenCD is "really good" it doesn't have some applications which people need, so the team is looking at creating its own distribution of open source software. "It will be a mixture of business and education applications to cater for the diverse range of people out there," Russell said. "I was surprised at the number of people in the region already using open source software, [because] the whole roadshow hasn't been an open source promotion. Some really smart kids out there have been using Linux which is really enlightening and it's good to see them getting involved in a global project. They have a great opportunity to be part of a global system in some way." Other IT initiatives in WA include next month's "Go Girl Go for IT" two-day event for school students in Perth, which the state's Women in IT chapter has organized. "The number of women in IT is as not as high as we would like so we are introducing IT to schools and expecting 2500 people [at the event]," Russell said.


From 02/16/2006



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Queensland Transport Saves with Jboss

Not having to pay for a J2EE development environment thanks to JBoss is proving to be a boon for many local enterprises, including Queensland Transport. According to one source familiar with application development infrastructure at Queensland Transport, which oversees the all state's road and motoring matters, JBoss has saved the organization around $100,000. The department has installed the software on about 40 developers' PCs. With Oracle's recent acquisition of DB vendor Sleepycat Software, rumours within the industry are rife that JBoss Inc is also a target. "Queensland Transport uses it because it's easy, free and it works," the source said. "If Oracle killed JBoss, you may have to buy a licence, but there would be nothing to stop people from forking JBoss." Queensland Transport uses Borland's proprietary J2EE application server in production, but is enjoying the flexibility of being able to develop and test with JBoss so the applications are "tested on two different apps". The source said Queensland Transport uses Oracle's database as its chief database, and the developer applications that come with it. Regarding Oracle bringing more support options to the open source JBoss, the source said this "would be beneficial". "Oracle can put a lot more into JBoss to make it viable," the source said. "The downside is because Oracle is so big, you will have to deal with it. It's the leading open source application server by far and a lot of investment was done by JBoss." According to the source, the savings JBoss brings can be equivalent to an extra developer for the organization. Forrester Research senior analyst Sam Higgins said due to the "fierce independence" of the open source community, it would not be surprising to see open source software 'forked' into an independent project in the event of an acquisition by a large vendor. Forking aside, Higgins expressed uncertainty over "what JBoss would give Oracle". "It has established itself as a reasonably strong application server environment," he said. "One consideration is that it does give it an easy way to offer a better price point. If you don't have the cost overhead of R&D, and you don't manage a large partner network, it will be price-pointed better." Higgins believes if Oracle was going to take on the OS community in that way with a "if we can't beat them we will destroy them" attitude, there are many people that could create a safe harbour "even before the dust settles". On the positive side, Higgins said the advantages of Oracle 'owned' open source projects is end users do have the option of obtaining support directly from a large vendor.


From 02/17/2006



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NEW ZEALAND: Ministry Launches New Website

The Ministry of Women¡¯s Affairs today formally launched a new-look website with many new feaures and resources. The site ? www.mwa.govt.nz ? has been built with assistance from the State Services Commission (SSC) and is the first site by another government agency to use the open source code and content management system SSC is making freely available to the whole state sector. We were delighted to be the first government agency to use the Government Web Guidelines compliant version of the content management system Plone which SSC has had developed by 3months.com,? said Ministry Chief Executive Shenagh Gleisner. Is a small government policy agency it was great to have the support of the Commission and to contribute to something which should be of great benefit to other public sector organisations.? The site contains much new content, including features that users of the previous Ministry site said would be useful. The top two items requested were information on women in New Zealand? and research / statistics on women in New Zealand?,? said Shenagh. When we were building the new site, we tried to reflect that interest with a new Women in New Zealand section. It includes a great timeline which gives an overview of the history of women in New Zealand, and brief information presented under the headings people tend to ask for - such as Pacific women, or women with disabilities. For statistical information on all women in New Zealand we link to the excellent and up-to-date information on women on the Statistics New Zealand site and other government sites. This is part of trying to take a whole-of-government approach ? if another part of government has produced the information and already has it available on the web, we link to it rather than recreate it on our site.? Shenagh also thanked stakeholders such as the National Council of Women, PACIFICA, the M¨¡ori Women¡¯s Welfare League and Rural Women New Zealand that had helped with user feedback.


From 12/05/2005



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NZ Web Site to Address Labour Shortages in Horticultural Sector

Government officials and horticulture industry executives in December launched plans for a ¡®PickNZ¡¯ web site to promote seasonal workers to participate in the country¡¯s key horticultural sector. The national web site will list the work available in various regions, so that pickers, pruners, packers and other seasonal workers can move from apples in the Hawke's Bay, to kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty, and grapes in Marlborough, provide sequential seasonal work for itinerant workers, including backpackers on working holidays. The project has already been trialled in Hawke's Bay. The PickNZ web site is part of a strategy to counter labour shortages in the horticulture sector, which earns over NZ$2 billion (US$1.37 billion) a year in export revenues. Expansion of orchards and vineyards has significantly boosted demand for seasonal labourers at a time when low unemployment has meant a drop in local labour supplies.


From 01/17/2006



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2006 NZ Census Forms to Be Online for 1st Time

People will be able to fill out their New Zealand Census forms online for the first time this year. The census will be held on Tuesday, March 7, 2006. Government Statistician Brian Pink says the census is the largest peacetime activity New Zealand carries out and it provides the most complete picture of life in New Zealand's cities, towns, suburbs and rural areas. Forms will be delivered to around 4.2 million people and 1.6 million dwellings by 6,500 collectors. This year, people will also have the option of answering the questions online; using an ID number of the form and a household pin number. Statistics New Zealand believes up to 20% of respondents will fill out this year's census online. 2006 Census general manager, Nancy McBeth, says research shows about 15% - 20% of people find it easier to fill out forms on the Internet. She says it also means they don't have to keep the forms safe and secure while waiting for them to be collected. Census held every 5 years The Census is held every five years and everyone in New Zealand on Census Day must take part, including visitors to the country. The first New Zealand Census was held in 1851.


From 01/10/2006



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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Government Launches New Website

The Solomon Islands Government has launched its first official website www.pmc.gov.sb - with assistance from the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The site was official launched today by the secretary in the prime minister¡¯s office, Fred Ganate and UNESCO Advisor, Information and Communication for the Pacific Region based in Apia, Samoa, Abel Caine. In line with developments around the Pacific region, the Solomon Islands Government is aspiring to enhance its information and communication technologies in order to enhance its services to the people and to promote transparent and effective government.? The Solomon Islands was one of the few Pacific countries that had no official government website. We are delighted that this has now changed, Mr Ganate said. He said the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet through the Government Communications Unit will be in charge of the overall maintenance of the website. Is rural and provincial links are developed and internet access generally increases in the country the audiences will change and the ICT facilities will provide a greater focus for the development of e-Government with the delivery of online services and the means by which the local people can be better informed of and consulted about important public policy issues.? UNESCO representative, Mr Caine said his organization was proud to be able to assist the Solomon Islands Government to set up its official website. This is the first government website in the Pacific which UNESCO has been able to assist and we committed to assisting the Solomon Islands Government in this post-conflict period, Mr Caine said


From 02/14/2006



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CHINA: Alcatel Inks Deal to Upgrade China Telecom's Network For Triple Play

China Telecom has selected Alcatel to upgrade its existing broadband DSL network to prepare for triple play service delivery.The agreement was signed through Alcatel Shanghai Bell, Alcatel's flagship Chinese company. China Telecom is already the largest fixed telecommunication service provider in China, and will continue to expand with this recent partnership. The DSL network will be accessible over 26 provinces in China, including South China's 18 provinces and North China¡¯s eight.China Telecom subscribers will have access to broadband services such as high-speed Internet access, videoconference, IPTV and other multimedia services. This will be made possible by deploying the Alcatel Intelligent Services Access Manager. It will enable China Telecom to offer user-centric broadband services at triple the speed of conventional ADSL technology."As user demand for high speed Internet access services grows in China, service providers need to enhance and expand their broadband service offerings to better serve their customers," Gerard Dega, President of Alacatel Shanghia Bell said in a statement.


From news.yahoo.com 02/15/2006



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Researchers Develop Local Digital Code System

The Ministry of Information Industry (MII) has given the green light to an audio-video coding standard (AVS) developed in China. It has been developed by a special group comprising Chinese companies, research institutions and government agencies. Commercial use of the technology is expected to start by the end of this month with mobile TV services offered by the country's major mobile operators. "The MII's appraisal results indicate that the AVS is mature in technology and ready for application," Huang Tiejun, secretary-general of the AVS working committee, said on Tuesday. "We expect it to be widely used in domestic industries and hopefully become the national standard." The AVS committee, set up in 2002 with support from the MII and the Ministry of Science and Technology, has been aiming to develop new technology in digital audio-visual coding and decoding, as the existing standards available grow obsolete. AVS allows digital visual and audio data to be compressed so it can be stored and transmitted. This new AVS technology will help China save more than US$1 billion in royalty fees over the coming decade, according to Huang. Digital audio-visual coding and decoding technology is widely used in digital TVs, laser discs, digital video, video conferencing and is also needed in 3G-based data services. It is estimated that China needs between 300 and 500 million coding chips over the next ten years to use in various multimedia digital devices. In addition to AVS technology, a AVS-based digital audio-visual broadcasting system, compatible with the existing MPEG-2-based systems, have also been developed, backed by the Computing Institution at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "Our successful trial with Hong Kong's 3G network paves the way for massive commercial use in the near future," said Huang. AVS-based real-time streaming media services were applied to Hong Kong's 3G network last month. It is the first time that AVS has been successfully used in a commercial 3G network. "We are in talks with domestic companies over possible applications," noted Huang. "We are already co-operating with China Mobile and China Unicom, and soon we will launch AVS-based mobile TV services with them, probably by the end of this month." However, AVS needs to be used widely for it to have been worthwhile developing, according to Sui Xueqing of the Computing Institution at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In its 11th Five-Year Strategy, China stated clearly that the development of digital audio-visual sectors would be given priority up to 2010. The government wants to encourage self-innovation. China Central Television (CCTV) has decided to adopt MPEG-2-based systems in its prepared HDTV (high-definition television) programs by signing deals with Toshiba and Panasonic last month. Most domestic TV makers, including TCL, Haier and Changhong support AVS technology. The prevailing international standard, MPEG-2, made a decade ago is now outdated, many believe. Its upgraded version, MPEG-4, performs better, although it has been widely rejected due to high user fees.


From China Daily 12/08/2005



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Mobile Base to Top 440 Million in 2006

China¡¯s official Xinhua news agency says the number of people with mobile phones in the country will reach 440 million in 2006. According to Yang Qing, an official from the China Academy of Telecommunications Research under the Ministry of Information Industry (MII), the number of mobile phone users grew by 4.79 million a month in the first nine months of the year, and China had a total of 383 million cellular users by 31 October. Yang added that fixed line growth also continues to rise, with the country reporting 348 million fixed line users at the same date - a figure that is expected to rise to 380 million in 2006.


From 12/19/2005



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Beijing and Yunnan Top Internet Obsession: Survey

The China Youth Association for Network Development has released the first survey results showing how much teenagers in China crave the Internet. The survey which itself used the Internet to gather its results from 22 000 completed online questionnaires, reveals that 13 per cent of the teenage population in China is obsessed with the Internet. In Beijing, that figure is 24 per cent, second only to the Yunnan province in south-west China. The survey results surprisingly have little to do with economic or regional factors. Shanghai rated the lowest in terms of Internet obsession. This survey does give the first clear definition of Internet obsession. There are three characteristics: always longing to be online; feeling anxious or upset when something obstructs the network; feeling happier and getting self-esteem from the fictitious net world.


From 11/29/2005



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EU to Help China Bridge Digital Gap

China and the European Union (EU) on Friday officially launched a cooperative project to help China enhance on-line government services. The EU-China Information Society Project, running from July 1 of 2005 to June 30 of 2009, is funded by both sides, with 18.75 million U.S. dollars from the EU and 8.75 million dollars from China. This project aims to promote Chinese economic and social reform through information society development and to help bridge the digital gap between developed areas and less developed ones, said Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for information society and media. Five cities have been chosen as demonstrations of this project,including Chengdu, in central China's Sichuan Province, Baotou, in north China's Inner Mongolia and Yantai in east China's Shandong Province. Governments of the selected cities will improve on-line service networks, such as emergency health response systems and public service systems, said Reding. In the project, government officials will be trained with advanced experience from the EU, she said. The State Council Informatization Office (SCITO) and the EU delegation of the European Commission, representing each side of the government, are taking charge of the project. In China, 96.1 percent of government departments at the state level and 81.3 percent of local governments have started portal websites, according to a recent report released by the SCITO. However, most of the websites lag behind in terms of on-line services and lack public participation, said Zhang Xianghong, senior vice-president of a consulting company under the China Center for Information Industry Development (CCID). "Participation is the real goal of e-government," said Reding.


From Chianview 01/14/2006



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China Has 111 Million Internet Users

BEIJING, Jan. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- The number of Chinese netizens rose to 111 million at the end of 2005, an increase of 17 million from a year ago, according to statistics released Tuesday. This means 8.5 percent of Chinese people have become netizens, namely people that use the Internet for at least one hour each week. The ratio, however, remains behind the global level of 15.2 percent. Statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) also reveal that 64.3 million Chinese netizens have broadband access to the Internet, up 50.2 percent from a year ago. There exists a wide gap between Internet use in cities and rural areas, the statistics show. There are 19.31 million netizens in the rural areas, making up only 2.6 percent of the rural population. There are around 91.69 million netizens in cities, making up 16.9 percent of the urban population, according to the CNNIC. Internet users had paid 100 billion yuan (12.5 billion U.S. dollars) for the services last year, said China Internet Information Center. The report said the actual Internet expense of each netizen amounted to 103.6 yuan (12.9 U.S. dollars) per month on the average, excluding the charges of various kinds of services like the e-commerce provided many websites. Currently the Internet popularization ratio in China is 8.5 percent, much higher than the world's average of 1.52 percent.


From www.chinaview.cn 01/17/2006



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Broadband Subs Top 35 Million

According to China's telecoms regulator, the MII, there were 35.01 million broadband subscribers in the country at end-September 2005, representing an annual growth rate of 48%. Of the total, 70% (24.65 million) were DSL subscribers. China Telecom, the country's number-one fixed-line operator, recorded 53% annual growth for its broadband subscribers, to 19.17 million at end-September, while China Netcom claimed 7.73 million broadband subscribers at end-June 2005, representing 85% growth.


From 01/18/2006



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China Has 111 Million Internet Users

The number of Chinese netizens rose to 111 million at the end of 2005, an increase of 17 million from a year ago, according to statistics released Tuesday. This means 8.5 percent of Chinese people have become netizens, namely people that use the Internet for at least one hour each week. The ratio, however, remains behind the global level of 15.2 percent. Statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) also reveal that 64.3 million Chinese netizens have broadband access to the Internet, up 50.2 percent from a year ago. There exists a wide gap between Internet use in cities and rural areas, the statistics show. There are 19.31 million netizens in the rural areas, making up only 2.6 percent of the rural population. There are around 91.69 million netizens in cities, making up 16.9 percent of the urban population, according to the CNNIC. Internet users had paid 100 billion yuan (12.5 billion U.S. dollars) for the services last year, said China Internet Information Center. The report said the actual Internet expense of each netizen amounted to 103.6 yuan (12.9 U.S. dollars) per month on the average, excluding the charges of various kinds of services like the e-commerce provided many websites. Currently the Internet popularization ratio in China is 8.5 percent, much higher than the world's average of 1.52 percent.


From chinaview 01/19/2006



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China Plans Building 3G Telecom Network by Itself

China will build a stand-alone national mobile network based on TD-SCDMA, a home-grown standard for third-generation (3G) wireless telecoms service, the Xinhua news agency reported. "The Chinese Ministry of Information Industry (MII) ... has set ... TD-SCDMA as national technology standard for the telecommunication industry," Xinhua said on Friday. "The technology is already mature and ready for manufacturers to move ahead with production. ... A stand-alone network for TD-SCDMA will be built for the home-grown technology." Xinhua quoted a senior official with the Ministry of Information Industry as saying that TD-SCDMA would have a place in China's 3G market, and would be run by a "competent telecom operator." Industry watchers were expecting China to build a complete or partial network based on the technology, which was developed in China but has encountered numerous bumps in the road in the process of its commercialization. The announcement could signal that China is preparing to issue one or more 3G licenses in the near future, paving the way for licensees to build networks based on TD-SCDMA and the world's two most widely accepted standards, WCDMA, popular in Europe, and CDMA 2000, the standard developed by U.S. wireless technology giant Qualcomm Inc. The field of licensees is expected to include some or all of China's four major telecoms operators, mobile carriers China Mobile (Hong Kong) Ltd. and China Unicom Ltd., and fixed-line carriers China Telecom Corp. and China Netcom Group Corp. Most industry watchers expect China to award its 3G licenses in the first half of this year, a move expected to unleash up to $12 billion in spending as the country sets up the high-speed data networks in time for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Most of the world's major telecoms equipment makers are hoping to get a piece of the action, and have also entered into various partnerships to support TD-SCDMA to curry favor with Beijing. Major investors in TD-SCDMA include European firms Siemens and Nokia, while others who have formed alliances to support the technology include Motorola, Ericsson, Nortel Networks and Lucent Technologies.


From China Daily 01/21/2006



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Telecoms Sector Receives 3G Boost, Gov't Sets TD-SCDMA as National Standard for Industry

TD-SCDMA, a home-grown standard for third generation (3G) mobile communications, is already mature and ready for manufacturers to move ahead with production, the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) said in a statement. The Chinese Government has issued specifications for TD-SCDMA, as part of its efforts to facilitate the development of the standard for 3G mobile communications. The standardized specifications for the infrastructure will help speed up network trials and interconnection tests, as well as the eventual commercialization of Chinese 3G technology, MII said in a statement released late on Friday. 3G telephony offers higher mobile data speed, supporting bandwidth-hungry applications such as full Internet access and video calls. TD-SCDMA time division synchronous code division multiple access competes with Europe-initiated WCDMA and US-backed CDMA 2000. The decision comes at a time when TD-SCDMA, which has lagged behind rival standards, is gaining increasing momentum. In the past months, a number of industry players including Ericsson and Nokia have jumped on the TD-SCDMA bandwagon. For instance, the TD-SCDMA Industrial Alliance, formed in 2000, now has more than 420 members. Deputy MII chief Xi Guohua has said TD-SCDMA networks should be run by "competent" operators such as incumbent fixed-line giant China Telecom or the world's largest mobile operator China Mobile . However, another senior MII official also acknowledged that "there are a lot of uncertainties" over TD-SCDMA, given the slow negotiations between China and foreign technology vendors over patents. China's Datang Telecom, the major developer of TD-SCDMA, owns most of the core patents, but some foreign companies also claim some patents. China needs to give substantial support to TD-SCDMA to reduce reliance on foreign technology vendors, the anonymous official said. "Chinese companies need to pay royalties to foreign vendors which amount to 15-20 per cent of sales of their WCDMA equipment," he said. "That makes domestic firms much less competitive as the average profit margin of these companies is only around 5 per cent." TD-SCDMA, once commercially operational, will offer big opportunities due to the large mobile phone subscription base in China. According to statistics released by the MII late Friday, 58.6 million mobile phone users were signed up in 2005, which brought the total number of subscribers in the country to 393.43 million. The number of fixed-line subscribers had hit 350.43 million by the end of last year. Fixed-asset telecoms investment decreased by 4.8 per cent to 203.34 billion yuan (US$25.42 billion) last year. The number of broadband Internet subscribers was 37.50 million.


From China Daily 01/23/2006



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Personal Credit Information Database Starts to Operate

In recent years, the People's Bank of China has been organizing commercial banks to build a nationwide personal credit information database in line with the decisions adopted by the 16th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party and the 3rd Plenum of the 16 the CPC Central Committee as well as instructions from the State Council with regard to building a social credit registry system. As a vital part of the infrastructure of corporate and personal credit registry system, the nationwide personal credit database has officially started its operation in January 2006. Corporate and personal credit registry is a major component in a social credit system and serves as the cornerstone of a well-functioning modern financial system, and a basis for preventing financial risks, maintaining financial stability, promoting financial development and social harmony. The availability of a full-fledged credit registry system is an important measure of a mature market economy. This database of personal credit information, as a platform shared by commercial banks, collects and keeps personal credit information such as borrowing from and repaying commercial banks, credit card transactions and tendering guarantee, as well as personal identity information, provides personal credit information online inquiry service to commercial banks to satisfy their need in preventing and managing credit risks, and serve the need of monetary policy conduct and financial regulation. The personal credit information database enables information sharing among commercial banks, facilitating borrowing and preventing credit risks; at the same time, privacy and information security will also be protected. Inquiry can be made through the personal credit information database only with the authorization in writing by the person involved when personal loan application or credit card application is being reviewed, offer of guarantee by an individual assessed, or personal loan or credit card monitored for credit risks on a continued basis. The database was initiated in early 2004; in December 2004, the system started to operate on a trial basis, with a network covering 7 cities and participated by 15 national banks and 8 city commercial banks. In August 2005, all the national banks and rural credit cooperatives that were technically ready joined the network and the trial operation. After one year of trial operation, the system was officially launched in January 2006.The database now contains personal identity information of 340 million natural persons, out of which 35 million have credit record. At end 2005, the database contained information of a total of 2.2 trillion yuan worth of personal loans outstanding, accounting for about 97.5 percent of the total consumer credit outstanding in the country. Wherever a natural person borrows or repays loan in the country, provides basic information when opening a settlement account with a bank, the information thus generated will be kept in the database and can be accessed by credit review staff of commercial banks with written approval from the person in question. Many commercial banks have made inquiry with personal credit information database part of the established pre-lending assessment procedure. Personal credit information database has opened 52,000 user terminals at commercial bank branches throughout the country, and the number of credit report inquiries averages at 110,000 daily. This system has contributed to higher credit review efficiency, more convenience in borrowing, prevention of non-performing loans occurrence and over-indebtedness on the part of borrowers, and helped to set interest rate on the basis of credit risks. The People's Bank of China will strengthen consultation and cooperation with other government agencies and institutions, continue to improve the personal credit information database by gradually including complete personal identity information and relevant credit information from social security department, house providence fund, tax authorities, schools, courts, and other public institutions, consolidate the debt information scattered in all these institutions and turn them into personal wealth that can better serve individual citizens and the whole society. By establishing personal credit files and having the past credit behavior of a person affect his/her future credit activities, the database uses institutional constraint to help individual citizens to have better credit awareness, respect contract and abide by law, thereby building a social atmosphere that values honesty and credit-worthiness. The operation of the database will greatly promote the building a social credit system and improve credit culture in China.


From www.pbc.gov.cn 01/26/2006



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Gates Said China is Set to Become the Biggest User of Broadband

China is set to become the biggest user of broadband in the world, Bill Gates said Friday. "No one will catch up (except) maybe India in 50 years," the chairman and co-founder of Microsoft Corp. said at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting. He said that despite the disparity between China's urban and rural areas, the country was on track toward reducing poverty, meaning more people would be able to afford broadband Internet access. "The greatest surprise in poverty reduction ... is China," Gates said. China's Internet population, already the world's second largest after the United States, rose to 111 million in 2005, according to the official China Internet Network Information Center. Earlier this month, the agency said the number of people with broadband Internet access rose by more than 50 percent compared with 2004, to 64 million. China encourages Internet use for education and business.


From CRIENGLISH.com 01/28/2006



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China Telecom Shanghai Expands Network with Juniper Routers

China Telecom Shanghai is expanding its core IP network with Juniper Networks T-series core routing platforms, including the TX Matrix multi-terabit router. The T-series platforms will be added to Shanghai Telecom's existing base of Juniper Networks E- and M-series routing platforms to provide the additional capacity, reliability and scale. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Shanghai Telecom currently uses Juniper Networks M-series multiservice platforms in smaller core sites and previously deployed the E-series Broadband Services Routers. The E-series routing platforms support Shanghai's ADSL subscribers, providing the advanced routing capabilities that will enable Shanghai Telecom's IPTV service.


From telecompaper.com 02/17/2006



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Beijing Mobile Suffers RMB3.7 Million Loss From Hacker's Attack

A Beijing court has accepted a lawsuit against Cheng Zhihan, an engineer from UTStarcom's (UTSI) Shenzhen branch. Cheng allegedly brought a RMB3.7 million loss to Beijing Mobile after hacking into the telecommunications company's recharging center. Cheng reportedly cracked Beijing Mobile's database many times, starting in March 2005. After altering the original data of the recharging cards and stealing the related PIN codes, he sold the cards for a profit. When he was identified, he had already sold recharging card worth about RMB3.7 million. The case is currently being processed by the court and a decision should be reached in a few months. UTStarcom, itself, has not been implicated in any of the crimes.


From ChinaTechNews.com 02/20/2006



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Internet Access Improves

An official said on Saturday after the fiber optic network between Iran and the UAE was cut off, the decline in Internet access has improved from 90 percent to 50 percent via other channels such as the fiber optic network of Turkey. Vafa Ghaffariyan, chairman of the Board of Directors of Iran Telecommunications Company, also told IRNA that the 70-80 percent decline in access to voice via Internet also improved to 20 percent. He pointed out that the major part of the global Internet system and signal network, which short message service (SMS) depends on, are connected through the fiber optics networks. He noted that fiber optic cable was shut out in two spots, namely near Fujairah in the UAE and 80 km from Jask (Iran¡¯s Hormuzgan province). ¡°After this cable stopped working on Thursday, one of the repair ships set off to the first spot,¡° he said. Ghaffariyan emphasized that until the cable is removed from below the sea, the problem cannot be identified. ¡°Even if the cable is removed from the sea, there are no assurances that the cause of the cut off could be clarified,¡° he said. Meanwhile, managing director of Mobile Phone Communications Company, Rasoul Saraeiyan, recommended that subscribers using Saudi Arabia¡¯s Roaming Service should not use the SMS and also keep their cellular phones turned on only when necessary.


From 01/02/2006



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Iranians in SIM Card Buying Frenzy

TEHRAN (AFP) - Mobile phone users in Iran have snapped up 6.5 million highly sought-after SIM mobile cards in under a month during a mass sale that left banks and post offices swamped. The 27-day sale, which ends Thursday and will reap approximately 2.5 billion dollars for the government, was the first such for two years and will put further stress on Iran's already pressured mobile network. "In the past 26 days we have sold six million SIM cards and our project for the final day is another 500,000," the spokesman for the Iranian telecommunications ministry, Davood Zerian, told state television on Thursday. Post offices and banks have been swamped with customers for the 395-dollar cards used to operate a mobile phone, which otherwise retail for twice this price. In a deeply complex process, subscribers will have to wait at least over a year more before receiving their new cards. A lottery draw will be held on April 16 and according to the last two digits on the buyers receipts, the consumers will then be told when to pick up their functioning SIM cards. The first cards will be delivered in the second half of 2006. In the last sale in March 2004, Iran sold some 5.6 million SIM cards worth 2.93 billion dollars. Some of these SIM cards have still not yet been delivered. Since the start of mobile phone services in Iran some ten years ago, six million mobile phone lines have been introduced. But the new lines will be confronting a network already overloaded and in desperate need of investment. Even in the capital Tehran, it can be difficult to place a call or find a strong enough signal to do so. Public demand has, however, put the Islamic republic under pressure to open up its state monopoly on telecommunications to private sector consortiums. Last year, South African telecoms company Mobile Telephones Network (MTN) reached an agreement with shareholders in the IranCell consortium to create the country's second mobile network. MTN was given 49 percent of shares in the IranCell consortium, in accordance with Iranian laws on joint ventures with foreign firms. (by Behrouz Mehri)


From http://www.bakutoday.net 02/16/2006



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IRAN: 25m Mobile Phones by 2010

There are some 18 million land lines in Iran, where the number of fixed phone lines is expected to reach 36 million by the closing year of the Fourth Plan (2005-2010), said Minister of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) here on Saturday. According to ILNA, Mohammad Soleimani further told the 54th meeting of universities and research and technology centers authorities that there are currently 7.7 million mobile phone lines in Iran, adding that the number should reach 25 million by 2010. ¡°We have a long way to go to achieve this goal,¡° he said, adding that the national mobile phone sector is developing fast. Soleimani noted that some 6.6 trillion rials has been spent on establishing 56,000 kilometers of fiber optic network, adding that all major universities will be linked to the fiber optic network by March. He said the second mobile phone operator will begin operations in coming weeks, stressing that the project will create 30,000 jobs, 2,000 of them for specialists, over the next two years. Following several months of intense negotiations and the expulsion of Turkey¡¯s telecoms giant Turkcell from the controversial second mobile phone operator project, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) officially announced last month that the tender¡¯s runner-up, South Africa¡¯s MTN, has been granted an operation license to implement the project together with the Iranian party, Irancell. The multibillion-dollar joint venture is one of the largest foreign investments in Iran.


From 12/18/2005



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Iranians in SIM Card Buying Frenzy

TEHRAN (AFP) - Mobile phone users in Iran have snapped up 6.5 million highly sought-after SIM mobile cards in under a month during a mass sale that left banks and post offices swamped. The 27-day sale, which ends Thursday and will reap approximately 2.5 billion dollars for the government, was the first such for two years and will put further stress on Iran's already pressured mobile network. "In the past 26 days we have sold six million SIM cards and our project for the final day is another 500,000," the spokesman for the Iranian telecommunications ministry, Davood Zerian, told state television on Thursday. Post offices and banks have been swamped with customers for the 395-dollar cards used to operate a mobile phone, which otherwise retail for twice this price. In a deeply complex process, subscribers will have to wait at least over a year more before receiving their new cards. A lottery draw will be held on April 16 and according to the last two digits on the buyers receipts, the consumers will then be told when to pick up their functioning SIM cards. The first cards will be delivered in the second half of 2006. In the last sale in March 2004, Iran sold some 5.6 million SIM cards worth 2.93 billion dollars. Some of these SIM cards have still not yet been delivered. Since the start of mobile phone services in Iran some ten years ago, six million mobile phone lines have been introduced. But the new lines will be confronting a network already overloaded and in desperate need of investment. Even in the capital Tehran, it can be difficult to place a call or find a strong enough signal to do so. Public demand has, however, put the Islamic republic under pressure to open up its state monopoly on telecommunications to private sector consortiums. Last year, South African telecoms company Mobile Telephones Network (MTN) reached an agreement with shareholders in the IranCell consortium to create the country's second mobile network. MTN was given 49 percent of shares in the IranCell consortium, in accordance with Iranian laws on joint ventures with foreign firms. (by Behrouz Mehri)


From 02/16/2006



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JAPAN: Stayat.jp Launches Online Hotel and Japanese Inn Reservation Site for Overseas Travelers to Japan

Tokyo, Japan - January 16, 2006 / Mercury 22, a Tokyo-based internet company, and Kinki Nippon Tourist (KNT), one of the country¡¯s largest travel agencies, today began joint operation of an online hotel and ryokan (Japanese inn) reservation site, Stayat.jp, aimed at American and European travelers. This is the first time in Japan that a travel agency is jointly operating an inbound travel site with another company. Mercury 22 and KNT will be pooling their resources, including Mercury 22¡¯s marketing know-how and KNT¡¯s strengths in securing inventory to spark demand for inbound travel to Japan. The two companies will also carry out joint internet marketing and promotion campaigns. Toru Iwasaki, Mercury 22¡¯s President & CEO, is optimistic about the venture saying that, ¡°There are not many European or American online travel sites where people can make reservations at Japanese inns." Stayat.jp currently lists about 300 hotels and Japanese inns throughout Japan, but plans to increase this number to about 700 by April and 1,000 by the end of the year. Mercury 22 and KNT also plan to develop other foreign language versions of the sites, including Chinese and Korean. Going forward, the two companies will carry out aggressive sales promotion campaigns with the goal of reaching 15,000 users and sales of 300 million yen (about 2.6 million dollars) in 2006. By jointly operating the Stayat.jp site with KNT, Mercury 22 will be able to secure its inventory of hotel and ryokan rooms and effectively promote the service online. Mercury 22 and KNT started their business alliance on May 1, 2005 with the goal of creating a new business model for the Japanese travel industry. The two companies have jointly developed internet-based travel products, distribution and sales systems and internet marketing campaigns. Mercury 22 is a Tokyo-based internet company specializing in travel-related, media, and advertising services. Its Tabi2 travel and community site has attracted over 50,000 registered users since it was launched on July 1, 2005. The company expects Tabi2 membership to grow to 500,000 on sales of 5 billion yen (about 43.7 million dollars) in 2006. Mercury 22 is a subsidiary of Invisible Hand and Cyber Communications Inc, both based in Tokyo.


From 01/13/2006



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Cell Phones Fast Becoming E-Wallets

Purses and wallets are increasingly losing out to cell phones. An increasing number of new mobile phone users now not only shop at convenience stores and other retailers, but also pay taxi and train fares, and buy drinks from vending machines using their phones. To use cell phones with electronic money functions, called osaifu-keitai, users need to "precharge" them with money. Payment is then made through scanners set up on shop counters. Not all mobile phones have this function; those that do come equipped with the necessary hardware. NTT DoCoMo Inc. launched the service in 2004, followed by KDDI Corp. and Vodafone K.K. in autumn 2005. More than 9 million cell phones are equipped with osaifu-keitai functions and about 28,000 shops nationwide are connected to the system, more than double that of a year ago. People with NTT DoCoMo phones can also use them to buy drinks from vending machines operated by Coca-Cola Japan Co. Through this service, called Cmode, users can pay for drinks by having their cell phones scanned by the machines. It takes just half a second to get a drink. There is a ceiling of 5,000 yen on Cmode purchases, the maximum credit a user can charge to a phone at any one time. Additionally, DoCoMo users can win a free drink from the vending machines if they complete a video game on their phones. "With this service, cell phone users can have fun buying drinks from vending machines using their phones," a Coca-Cola spokesman said. Kanachu Hire, a taxi operator in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, equipped all its taxis with DoCoMo phone-compatible scanners in August 2005. The service saves both drivers and passengers time when it comes to paying fares, a company official said. Some DoCoMo and KDDI cell phone users will be able to use Suica functions on their phones from Saturday. Suica is an e-money card issued by East Japan Railway Co. Such users will be able to pass through JR East ticket gates by having their phones scanned, and use e-money at 3,400 shops, including those at JR East stations. To use this service, users must register for a View credit card, issued by the train company. JR East and the phone companies plan on introducing another kind of system for the Shinkansen that would let users make seat reservations and buy tickets via the Internet, enabling them to go through ticket gates without the need for a ticket. Some phones can even be used as credit cards, such as DoCoMo's iD service launched in cooperation with Sumitomo Mitsui Card Co., JCB Co.'s QuickPay and UFJ NICOS Co.'s Smartplus, all of which were introduced in 2005. Cell phone companies--whose revenues from voice calls and communication charges no longer show an upward trend--expect the large number of small payments made via their phones' credit card functions to become a major income source. With KDDI and Vodafone considering entering the market, mobile phone-based credit card services are expected to expand. (by Hisashi Kiyooka)


From 01/24/2006



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Softbank to Establish 'Cyber College' in Fukuoka

(Kyodo) _ Softbank Corp. plans to open a "cyber college" that would offer all lectures via the Internet for undergraduates studying for a degree, it announced Monday. The parent of Yahoo Japan Corp. aims to launch the college, the first of its kind in Japan, in April next year in the city of Fukuoka after gaining the approval of the education ministry, it said. The Softbank group will create a new company, to be led by its board member Ken Miyauchi, to run the college, with expectations that the local business circle will provide financial support to it. The college will be located on reclaimed land in the city, with 1,000-student capacities for each of its two departments -- a computers and businesses department and a world heritage department, according to Softbank


From 01/30/2006



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Softbank Plans Video Broadcasts for Cellphones in 2012: Paper

(Kyodo) _ Softbank Corp. plans to launch a nationwide video broadcasting service for cellular phones around 2012, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported Wednesday. The Internet services company eyes the plan in view of the government's move to allocate a frequency band for new digital broadcasting services, the business daily said. Softbank, which is to start cellphone service in the spring of 2007, plans to apply for a broadcasting license the same year, at the earliest, it said. The Softbank mobile handsets are expected to have built-in tuners for the service, according to the newspaper. The video content is likely to include dramas and sports news programs, and the company plans to offer both free content with commercials and paid-for content, the daily said.


From 02/01/2006



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Mapion Lets Users Point and Click Around Japan

Want to know whether there are any good restaurants in that building up ahead? Just point your phone at it, click the building's icon and find out. That's the idea behind Mapion Local Search, a service launched by GeoVector Corp. and Japan's Mapion. The service uses a database of local information, combined with a phone that includes both GPS and an integrated compass (currently just Sony Ericsson's W21S), to provide realtime point-and-click data to customers throughout Japan. While the service sounds like it could be useful in densely packed urban areas like Tokyo, it's doubtful it would fly in the American heartland; by the time you click on a mall to see what's going on inside, you'll have already driven way past it.


From 02/02/2006



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Japanese Banks Select RSA Securid Tags, and More

Two Japanese Banks to Deploy RSA Tokens Two Japanese banks have selected SecurID tags from RSA Security Inc. to provide multifactor authentication for online banking. Japan Net Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. (SMBC) will deploy the password generating tokens to their Internet banking users. SMBC will offer the SecurID tags as part of the bank¡¯s One¡¯s Direct Internet banking service, a network with over six million users. Japan Net Bank will deploy the tokens to over one million online banking customers. In doing so, the bank becomes the first in the world to deliver two-factor authentication to all active account holders. ¡°In order to meet the high security expectations of Japan Net Bank customers, we have worked to consistently provide tools and services that deliver stronger protection for online transactions," said a representative for Japan Net Bank, in a release. ¡°Thanks to this stronger authentication capability, [our] customers will have the confidence of knowing that their online transactions are much more secure." R.R. Donnelley and EDGAR Online Partner for Reporting Compliance R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company and EDGAR Online have entered into an exclusive agreement to offer public companies a full service SEC compliance solution, available immediately, that processes financial information into eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) format. The partnering companies expect this relationship to enable public companies to proactively respond to the SEC¡¯s recent call for the increased use of interactive data. EDGAR Online¡¯s XBRL expertise will enable R.R. Donnelley to prepare quarterly and annual financial statements in XBRL for submission to the SEC. The service will enable clients to submit XBRL statements concurrently with their SEC filing or subsequently via a Form 8-K. ¡°Our collaboration with EDGAR Online allows us to immediately lower the XBRL adoption hurdles for our clients," said Tom Juhase, president of R.R. Donnelley¡¯s financial services unit, in a release. ¡°Working with EDGAR Online enables us to move quickly as a new era of financial reporting begins." XBRL is a standards-based method with which users can prepare, publish, exchange and analyze financial statements and the information they contain. XBRL allows accountants and other financial professionals and regulatory organizations to identify items unique to business information, such as financial statements. Axentis Introduces Integration Framework Axentis, a provider of governance, risk and compliance management solutions, has introduced a new framework, Enterprise Integrator, enabling Global 2000 companies to integrate its Axentis Enterprise into their existing applications environment. The new framework will allow customers to manage all compliance issues through a single platform, helping address increased budgetary constraints while driving superior, real-time business performance. ¡°With the new integration framework, customers can more seamlessly integrate with their existing systems. This capability enables companies to efficiently manage all critical mandates from one platform, thus simplifying the process and ensuring optimal business performance," said Robert Hoyt, VP of sales at Axentis, in a release. Enterprise Integrator leverages the software-as-a-service model to bring down the total cost of ownership. It is delivered as part of Axentis Enterprise Foundation Services and includes a series of integration adaptors that can be configured to address additional standard or customer-specific applications. Enterprise Integrator helps customers implement compliance projects more quickly, reduce ongoing administration, and integrate related governance, risk and compliance applications.


From 02/06/2006



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Japan Gets High-Def Super Bowl Coverage via IP Link

NTT Communications has used its IP (Internet Protocol) backbone for high-definition transmission of a live sporting event from the U.S. to Japan for the first time, it said Wednesday. Coverage of Sunday's Super Bowl game was sent to Nippon Television Network (NTV) in real time across the link, which spanned the distance between NTT's facilities in New York and Tokyo, said Yasuhiro Sumida, of NTT Communications' global business division. It went from Detroit, where the game was played, to New York over a conventional domestic U.S. video transmission service. The game, which took place on Monday morning, Japan time, was recorded by NTV and broadcast late Monday evening. The 70Mbps high-definition signal is about three times the data-rate of the high-definition MPEG2 signal that Japanese viewers receive at home and typical of that used between broadcasters, said Sumida. Such a high-speed transmission was possible because NTT has complete control over the link and can ensure it doesn't get affected by other traffic. As anyone who has tried to watch Internet video knows pauses in the signal can occur because network delays can be frequent. The use of IP networks by broadcasters to transmit video is becoming increasingly common as they provide a much lower-cost alternative than leasing space on a satellite, Sumida said.


From http://www.infoworld.com/ 02/08/2006



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NTT Develops Secure IM System

There are already a few secure IM systems out there, such as e/pop, and add-ins like IM Secure Pro, but the new stand-alone messaging tool from NTT in Japan looks promising, especially as it uses Transport Layer Security and can connect to AIM et al. Also, using Java or an online interface, a cellphone version is already available. Read on for the full details. - Engineers at NTT Communications have developed a secure instant-messaging system that supports logging and archiving of messages to satisfy compliance regulations and can interact with some third-party instant messaging networks. The system, which is expected to go on sale in Japan and overseas sometime in the year from April, has at its heart an instant messaging server through which all communication passes. Links between the server and IM clients use Transport Layer Security (TLS) to guard against eavesdropping or spoofing and the server can archive copies of all messages to satisfy provisions of compliance regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, said Hiromichi Kasahara, a senior manager at NTT Communications' innovative IP architecture center, in an interview. This differs from typical systems in which an IM server is used to establish the connection and then subsequent communications pass directly from client to client. The use of a central server also allows for the setting of local policies on such issues as which users can contact which other users or the types of files that can be transferred. Client software for the system comes in three variants: a Windows client for desktop PCs, a Java iAppli client for cellphones that support NTT DoCoMo's i-mode system and a Web interface for other cellphones. The system can simultaneously connect to IPv4 and IPv6 networks and offer instant messaging between the two. Additionally, the system can act as a gateway to other instant messaging networks, such as AOL, Yahoo or MSN, although this requires a contract between the enterprise using the system and the network operators. In such a case communication isn't secure when it leaves the corporate network but is still logged and archived when it passes through the server, said Kasahara. NTT Communications plans to offer the system for use on corporate servers or as a hosted service through its Verio unit. A trial of the system began in mid-December at Philippine Long Distance Telephone¡¯s ePLDT unit. It's being used internally for functions such as allowing staff to exchange information with one another while they are taking calls, said Ashir Ahmed, a manager at NTT Communications. The trial is scheduled to end in March, he said.


From 02/11/2006



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Japan Telecom, Softbank Join in Broadband

TOKYO, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Japan Telecom and Softbank will be combining their broadband operations from April 1, the companies announced Monday. The telecommunications group and software company have been working together in broadband-related businesses until now, but the two companies will be combining their efforts officially in order to cut costs and boost efficiency. As a result, Softbank's corporate broadband services will be provided by Japan Telecom from April, but the companies said there will be no changes in the service. A name for the combined operation will be announced closer to the launch date.


From 02/13/2006



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Japan¡¯s Law to Favor Online Shoppers

TOKYO, Japan (UPI) -- Shopping online is not only convenient, but it also allows consumers to buy products beyond borders easily. So it is easy enough for those living in one country to buy the product of another, assuming that they are willing to foot the bill for higher postage fees. The problem is, however, that the system can be fraught with danger should there be any dissatisfaction on either the part of the buyer or seller. And the number of dissatisfied Internet shoppers continues to rise, with everything from trying to return a product and not being able to get credit for it, to being conned into buying something that is obviously very different from what was advertised online. In order to reduce the perils of Internet shopping, the Japanese government Tuesday revised a century-old law that gives more power to the consumer when it comes to settling international disputes on an individual level. Specifically, legislators approved a bill that will allow disgruntled buyers to have the law of where the product was purchased, rather than dealing with the law of where the item originated from, thereby giving more power to the purchaser rather than the retailer. That means that if a Japanese Internet shopper has problems with a product purchased from a U.S. Web site , Japanese laws can be applied and the consumer can seek government intervention to further its case. Moreover, Japanese law will be applicable even if the buyer clicked on a box stating that it would accept the retail laws of a specific state in the United States, thus giving more protection to consumers amid intensifying globalization. The revision of the 1898 framework called the law concerning application of laws in general is not limited to Internet shopping, however. The law will be used for protecting Japanese workers who are employed by foreign companies too. Currently, Japanese workers based in Japan who work for non-Japanese companies can be terminated under the laws regulating the foreign companies. Japan has one of the strictest employment regulations among industrialized countries, making it difficult for Japanese companies to fire its employees, but those rules have not necessarily applied to those working at the Japanese branches of foreign companies. Under the latest law, however, Japanese nationals will be able to resort to labor laws outlined by the Japanese government, regardless of the nationality of their employer. As a result, some critics fear that the latest legislation may dissuade foreign companies based in the country from hiring Japanese staff, but local media have overwhelmingly applauded the change as it would give greater confidence to those who already are, or thinking about, working for a non-Japanese company. Still, there are drawbacks for the consumer as well. For instance, should a consumer buy a product that is legal overseas but not accepted in Japan, they will need to answer to Japanese law and be unable to resort to protection from the foreign company for the transaction.


From http://tech.monstersandcritics.com/ 02/14/2006



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E-Money Gains Further Ground in Japan

It's been a year since East Japan Railway decided to concentrate on getting more of its riders to use an electronic money system for everything from buying commuting tickets to purchasing magazines for the train ride. The system is easy enough to use, as riders buy a prepaid card that has a minimum balance of $18 (2,000 yen), which they swipe across the entry gate of the train station to board their ride. In addition, the card can be handed over to cashiers at newsstands operating inside the stations, so that riders can buy goods through the electronic money card. Moreover, as of January, the railway group has tied up with both NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, two of the country's biggest mobile carriers, to develop cellular handsets that can have the electronic Suica card built in on the back. So instead of digging through a wallet for the card, users can simply swipe their mobile phones onto the train station's gates to gain entry. Given that East Japan Railway operates one of the busiest networks in the Tokyo area, demand for Suica cards has been strong. In addition, the network has tied up with a slew of retailers so that the cards can be used to purchase goods beyond train stations. In a country that continues to eschew using credit cards for small purchases, the electronic

CSR, PortalPlayer Bring Wireless Connectivity to Personal Media Players

February 20, 2006 -- CSR plc and PortalPlayer Inc have joined forces to eliminate the inconvenience of wires on personal media players by adding Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Through integration between PortalPlayer's PP5022 applications processor family and CSR's UniFi Wi-Fi chip and BlueCore Bluetooth chip, consumer electronics and other media device manufacturers will gain a time-to-market advantage in delivering wire-free media players. Wi-Fi will simplify the synchronization of media players with a PC as well as opening up entirely new ways to download and stream content from the Internet. Bluetooth will enable wireless stereo headset connectivity. The two firms have been running a Wi-Fi technology demonstration at the 3GSM World Congress 2006 in Barcelona, Spain. CSR's UniFi-1 Portable is claimed to be the world's smallest single-chip solution for 802.11a/b/g and has been designed specifically to minimize coexistence design issues. In addition to functioning properly in close proximity to a Bluetooth radio, UniFi provides multi-mode 802.11a/b/ or g operation, and built-in antenna diversity processing for extended speed and range. CSR's BlueCore4-ROM implements Bluetooth v2.0+ enhanced data rate (EDR). In addition to delivering data rates up to three times faster than products using previous versions of Bluetooth, EDR Bluetooth also has a similar effect on power consumption with BlueCore4 powered products lasting up to three times longer. PortalPlayer's PP5022 applications processor and firmware development kit PortalPlayer personal media player platforms drive many of today's digital audio players. The company's PP5022 system-on-chip utilizes dual 32-bit ARM7 microprocessor cores and extensive firmware to provide scaleable performance and maximize battery life for personal media players. This efficient design provides support for today's audio encoders, digital rights management technologies, and multiple I/O and networking connectivity enhancements. CSR and PortalPlayer both have expertise in delivering an optimum balance between battery life and performance in personal media players. This proficiency enabled the two firms to develop a complete semiconductor, firmware and software platform that will enable device manufacturers to create Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-equipped media players. The current generation of portable media players relies on wired headphones and a cradle, USB or cable connection for synchronizing music from a PC. Adding Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will enable a wide variety of new usage models and possibly new content access services. These technologies can also be used in other types of devices such as the new preface-enabled personal media displays (PMD) in notebook computers. In the PMD environment, always on Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth can be used for a wide variety of enhanced productivity applications. The PortalPlayer and CSR platforms are expected to be available in the second half of 2006.


From http://neasia.nikkeibp.com/ 02/20/2006



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SOUTH KOREA: DMB, Wibro to Make Inroads to Canada

Digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) and wireless broadband (WiBro), the two technologies Korea succeeded in developing and commercializing last year, are set to make inroads into Canada via a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between iPark, an IT support center of the Korea IT Industrial Promotion Agency (KIPA) based in Silicon Valley, and TRLabs, Canada's largest information and communications technology R&D consortium on Jan. 24. At the signing in Silicon Valley, Ministry of Information and Communication officials agreed to positively support implementing the MOU after talks with the officials from Canada's federal and Alberta provincial governments pushing for pilot programs related to DMB and WiBro projects. The pact stipulates cooperation in pilot programs, information exchange, joint seminars, and incubating the areas of home network and digital content as well as in the DMB and WiBro areas. Under the MOU Korean IT companies can utilize TRLabs' research facilities and testing infrastructure, and participate in joint research and personnel development. The MOU marks the sixth time since last April that DMB's have made international inroads when a Korean company and Germany's Bavarian state agreed to trial broadcasts in preparation for the 2006 Germany's FIFA World Cup. It is the first for WiBRo, which saw its technology adopted as the world's first standard for such technology.


From http://www.mic.go.kr/ 01/27/2006



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Daum to Show World Cup Via Web, Mobile

Daum Communications, Korea¡¯s second-largest Internet company, obtained exclusive rights to broadcast the upcoming German World Cup games through the Internet and on mobile phones here in Korea. Daum on Tuesday signed a contract for the rights with Infront Sports & Media AG, the agency entitled to make deals on broadcasting of the world¡¯s biggest football gala. ``We plan to provide highlighted Korean-language footage of the whole 64 games at our Web site. It will be not live streaming but an edited one,¡¯¡¯ Daum official Kim Tae-ho said. ``We retain the exclusive right to show photos or videos of World Cup games via online or mobile in Korea. We look to re-license the right to wireless carriers to provide the visual services with cell phones,¡¯¡¯ he added. Roughly 20 outfits gleaned the broadcasting rights for online and mobile, which are being distributed for the first time in World Cup history. Other players regard mobile services as the main revenue source, but Daum thinks Internet broadcasting will be the key business. Kim declined to reveal contract details, including the signing money, but he hinted the amount would fall short of $10 million. ``We expect that this contract would earn us approximately $10 million. Then we will be profitable,¡¯¡¯ Kim said. (by Kim Tae-gyu)


From 02/07/2006



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E-Textbooks to Debut in March

Electronic textbooks will be available at elementary schools as innovative educational tools starting in March. The e-books are referred to as computer-based educational materials. Not printed in paper, students use the educational information and knowledge in the e-books via computers. The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development has recently developed electronic textbooks in math targeting fifth and sixth graders of elementary schools. The digital math textbooks are the first among regular subjects to be taught for one year. The ministry said that it has spent about 140 million won developing the e-books since last May. It will operate the digital textbooks in five elementary schools nationwide on a trial basis from March for one year. A ministry official said that the e-books will provide educational curiosity for elementary school students and comprehensive knowledge for middle and high school students. The e-books are specially designed to maximize educational effects by offering three dimensional experience programs, highlighter tools and feedback systems unlike simply having contents. ``Electronic textbooks are expected to bring about two-way education and enable students to study voluntarily, thus creating a significant change in educational environment,¡¯¡¯ he said. If the digital textbooks are fully introduced at schools, students are expected to throw away their heavy backpacks, he added. The ministry said that it will continue to develop various kinds of electronic textbooks using animation and multi-media. In an effort to boost usage of the digital books, teachers will also be required to learn how to use them. ``As one of the information and telecommunications powers, we will step up efforts to develop the e-books to better keep the so-called ubiquitous educational environment in place. It will also improve educational infrastructures by providing personal computers to every student,¡¯¡¯ he said. The electronic version can be updated more frequently than printed editions, and can also be linked to newspaper articles and other supplementary texts, as well as audio and visual aids. The digital textbooks make study more efficient through next generation productivity tools, the official said. For instance, students can take advantage of advanced note-taking and note-management features, a highlighter tool, a powerful search function, and a book-marking tool for creating custom hyperlinks. The e-books will change the way classes are taught because students will have so much information. (by Chung Ah-young)


From the Korea Times 02/08/2006



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Korea Plans to Build `Mobile Paradise'

South Korea plans to construct a ``mobile paradise,'' a special district next year, where people will be able to enjoy a seamless service from the world's latest wireless technologies. The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) Wednesday revealed the grandiose scheme, dubbed the M1 (Mobile No. 1) project, as part of its annual business plan. ``All existing and burgeoning mobile technologies in this planet will be used in the special district, which will be designated later,'' MIC assistant minister Suk Ho-ick said. ``The special district is kind of a free technology zone that will create a new mobile environment. It will play the role of test-bed for up-and-coming wireless platforms,'' Suk added. Included in the available techniques will be all mobile broadcasting systems like DVB-H developed by Nokia, Qualcomm's MediaFlo and the home-grown digital multimedia broadcasting. In addition, citizens there will be free to use every next-generation telecom platform such as time division-synchronous code division multiple access (TD-SCDMA), WiBro and a global system for mobile communications (GSM). Most of the aforementioned platforms have been unavailable in Korea, where CDMA technology was the mainstream system for wireless communications. ``Korea became a global mobile behemoth thanks to its relentless pursuit of CDMA, the single national standard, over the past decade. Hereafter, the M1 project will be sure to pave the way for a second-phased growth,'' Suk expected. Under the bold scheme, the ministry aims at achieving 100-percent mobile literacy here as well as substantially expanding the country's presence in the global market. ``We are seeking to supply roughly 30 percent of the global market for mobile terminals and approximately half of the components market by 2010,'' he noted. Upgraded Growth Scheme Besides the mobile special district venture, the MIC decided to upgrade its growth strategy. In 2004, the ministry phased in a new growth tactic of nurturing eight new services, three infrastructures and nine hardware-related businesses under the title IT839. Then, it streamlined the long-term plan, rearranging its portfolio _ adding new prominent growth phases like IT services and radio tags to the lineup _ and re-titled the plan u-IT839 ``This new project will enable us to crank out products worth 576 trillion won by 2010 and create additional values of 266 trillion won by the cited period,'' Suk said. The MIC is also striving to counter side effects caused by fast-developing high-tech fields. Toward that end, the ministry earmarked 43.7 billion won for this year to bridge the widening digital divide, or gaps between information ``haves'' and ``have-nots.'' The budget will be funneled into such tasks as educating the old, the disabled or North Korean defectors in the latest information technology (IT) and mandating the construction of the high-speed Internet network in rural areas where more than 30 households are located. In addition, the ministry reaffirmed its promise to start the Internet real-name system this year to help prevent cyber crime such as libel. In the first phase, those who post messages on large Web portal sites will be obliged to use their real names instead of pseudonyms this year. Critics contend that the real name format will irritate ordinary Web users while failing to catch elusive Internet criminals. They also argue the plan violates constitutional rights on free speech. But a majority of Koreans have sided with the real-name formula as unscrupulous persons continue to commit crimes in the virtual world, hiding in their anonymity. (by Kim Tae-gyu)


From the Korea Times 02/08/2006



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Terrestrial- DMB Adds Color to Korean Lifestyle

Terrestrial digital multimedia broadcasting (T-DMB) is becoming not only the industrial standard for mobile TV service but also part of daily life for South Koreans. Various types of portable digital gadgets such as mobile phones, personal data assistants (PDAs), portable multimedia players (PMPs) and even PCs are increasingly adopting the T-DMB feature as it is an open technology that neither manufacturers nor consumers pay to use. ¡°T-DMB phones are the hottest sellers these days," said Kim Yong-jin, store manager of LK Electronics, a mobile phone retailer at Yongsan electronics market in Seoul. ¡°It is particularly popular in the Gangnam (southern Seoul) area. About 50 percent of handsets sold in the area are DMB phones." Kim says that T-DMB is much more popular than its competitor satellite DMB (S-DMB), because the former is free of charge while the latter is 13,000 won per month. Also, T-DMB provides live TV content from three major broadcasters _ KBS, MBC and SBS _ free of charge, which is not available on S-DMB. T-DMB began its service last month in Seoul and the nearby Gyeonggi Province, a world first, and it will become available in the subway from summer if all goes to plan. Two mobile service operators LG Telecom and KTF also say that the TV-on-move phone sales are rising at an impressive rate. Daily sales of the T-DMB handsets have increased from around 300 per day in early January to around 700 in late January for both companies. The T-DMB phones are expected to become more common when SK Telecom, the nation's largest mobile career, joins the two others in a few months. Currently, SK Telecom is not supporting a T-DMB service. But on Sunday, it said that it is planning to service it in the ¡°very near future," according to a company spokesman, supporting industry forecasts that the number of T-DMB subscribers will exceed 1 million at the end of this year. So far, there are 20 channels available on T-DMB _ 13 audio stations and 7 video channels including all three major TV stations KBS, MBC and SBS. The DMB channels are currently composed of live broadcasting and reruns of sports, soap operas, entertainment programs of the three existing terrestrial TV stations. But more DMB-tailored services are expected to be available this year as the content sellers rate this market highly. ¡°You can see people don't read books and newspapers in the subway when there are TV screens in the car said Ra Ye-ryong, executive of Millim.com, a leading company that sells songs and ring tones for mobile phones. ¡°Imagine what will happen if DMB becomes available in the subway. I guess not many will prefer reading books and newspapers to watching TV." As well as mobile phones, other electronics appliance makers are also aggressively trying to take advantage of the T-DMB feature to expand their sales. LG Electronics last week said that it sold more than 13,000 units of its T-DMB-featured PDA model PM80 in the last two months. Before the introduction of PM80, the PDA market in South Korea was only around 6,000 per month. LG and Samsung Electronics both have introduced T-DMB-embedded laptops since last month. Smaller companies such as Cobalt Technology are also benefiting from the new technology. The firm makes detachable DMB receivers for PCs and laptops, which is about the size of a portable lighter and can be connected into USB port of PCs. The company said it has sold 8,000 units last month, almost exceeding its manufacturing capacity.


From http://www.mic.go.kr/ 02/14/2006



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SOUTH KOREA: Planning to Build Linux City, University

The Korean government plans to select a city and a university late next month where open-source software like Linux will become the mainstream operating programs. The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) Wednesday revealed the scheme of building up the city and university, which will operate as test beds for the open-source programs. ``We will start to receive applications next week. After screening candidate cities and universities, the test beds are likely to be decided by late March,¡¯¡¯ MIC director Lee Do-kyu said. Lee said that the project will be kick-started just after the decision of the city and university, toward which end the ministry earmarked 4.1 billion won for this year alone. ``Already many universities and local governments have shown interest in the project. We expect big-sized entities will join it,¡¯¡¯ he added. The selected government and university will be required to install open-source software as a main operating infrastructure, for which the MIC will support with funds and technologies. In the long run, they will have to migrate most of their desktop and notebook computers away from the Windows program of Microsoft, the world¡¯s biggest maker of software. ``The test beds will prompt other cities and universities to follow suit through the showcasing of Linux as the major operating system without any technical glitches and security issues,¡¯¡¯ Lee said. The open-source software refers to an emerging operating system alternative to the closed-door Windows program of Microsoft, which has flat-out ruled the global market thus far. The underlying source codes of the new-type software are basically open to the public so that programmers from across the world can upgrade them continually, the strength that the proprietary Windows lacks. The attempt to create a Linux city is not a first. Munich in Germany plans to deploy Linux and open-source packages on its 14,000 PCs in place of Microsoft office automation suites and operating system. Other cities and governments also look to embrace various open-source software, which represents freedom and flexibility by nature, to save costs and increase efficiency. Korean Move to Linux In fact, Korea is not a world leader in adopting Linux and other open-source programs. Currently, less than 1 percent of desktop PCs are based on Linux in Korea, much lower than the global median 3 percent. For servers, Linux accounts for about a fifth of the market here. The Korea IT Industry Promotion Agency wants to increase the rate to 5 percent for desktop PCs and 40 percent for servers by 2010. ``In order to become a genuine software powerhouse, Korea has no choice but to secure source technologies. We cannot achieve the goal under the command of dominant closed-source programs,¡¯¡¯ said Ko Hyun-jin, president at the state-backed agency. To do so, the government will stage a campaign to use Linux. Korea Post, the nation¡¯s postal service provider, last year embarked on a four-year program to install a Linux-based operating system on 4,748 PCs in its 2,800 branches. The Ministry of Planning and Budget plans to launch 37 state informatization projects with Linux this year, which would cost approximately 80 billion won. A new online information system for schools, dubbed the National Education Information System (NEIS), also fixed Linux-empowered platform on its 2,331 servers. The government hopes the test-bed plan will mark a watershed for Linux by playing a pivotal role in further boosting the standing of the open-source program here. ``The Linux city and university will be leading the way in bringing software flexibility to the whole country at a lower cost to the public,¡¯¡¯ MIC director Lee said. (by Kim Tae-gyu)


From http://times.hankooki.com/ 02/15/2006



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Skin Becomes Wire for KAIST Gadgets

A team of Korean scientists has developed a technology that uses the human body to transmit electronic signals from digital devices like MP3 players or cell phones to a wireless headset. The team led by Prof. Yoo Hoi-jun at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology Wednesday said it created the technique that Yoo claimed is the first of its kind in the world. ``The basic idea is that signals of MP3 songs or phone calls can travel from electronic gadgets to headsets through the human skin,’’ the 45-year-old said. ``The human body is an outstanding conductor, roughly 1 million times better than the air. Consequently, it can carry electronic signals very well,’’ he said. The hitch is that the electronic device has to be in contact with the skin for transmissions to take place. It has to be held with bare hands or attached to some part of the body. Critics also question whether the new technology could harm people because of the electromagnetic fields emitted during signal transmissions. However, Yoo said such concerns are overblown since the flow of electricity is negligible. ``The electric current needed in this technology is so feeble that its associated electromagnetic field is even weaker than that found in the air in nature,’’ Yoo said. In addition, he contended the newly developed technology is better than Bluetooth, a similar technology, in many respects: low power consumption, cheap price, noise-free quality and resistance to wiretapping. Bluetooth technology also allows people to talk on cell phones with cordless headsets, but it uses airwaves and is thought to be vulnerable to wiretapping as well as being expensive. Bluetooth-capable headsets typically sell for more than $100 and cell phones embedded with the application are more pricey than ordinary models. ``We aim to make headsets based on human body communication at less than $5 a unit. As this technology is very simple, we expect it will be commercialized in a year,’’ he said. (by Kim Tae-gyu)


From 02/15/2006



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Mutes Can Order Products by Telephone

People who suffer difficulties in speaking or hearing can make phone calls to buy products through TV home-shopping programs or to order Chinese food. The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) Thursday announced that it will launch the second trial run of the telecom relay service (TRS) today, aimed at helping the disabled to use phones. ``Thus far speech-impaired or hearing-impaired individuals have been unable even to order a pizza by phone on their own,'' MIC Director General Kang Jung-hyup said. ``But things will be different hereafter thanks to the advent of the TRS, which will be embarked on in a full-fledged manner in years to come,'' he said. The TRS enables telephone conversations between people with hearing and speech disabilities and those without on a real-time basis, using video calls or computer chatting. When the deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech impaired place calls to officials at the TRS center through video phones, operators there will deliver the contents of the handicapped callers' sign language to recipients and vice versa. The disabled can also chat online with the operators, who will relay the manuscripts to recipients through voices and vice versa. Those who want to capitalize on the service are required to apply at the site dedicated to the TRS offerings at www.relaycall.or.kr , run by the Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion. Affiliated with the MIC, the agency looks to offer the TRS features to 400 handicapped persons, including 200 who have depended on the service at the first-phase pilot run over the past three months. The agency plans to screen applicants to favor those who have a high-speed Internet connection and can use computers well, a must for the TRS. This means only a handful of the country's 150,000 disabled who have difficulty speaking or hearing can enjoy the service for the time being. Presently, they typically rely on short messages on cell phones for remote communications but this doesn't work in cases such as job interviews or product orders. Reactions of Disabled The TRS service is generally in use in many developed countries, which introduced it in the mid 1980s and obliges the offering via the law. In the United States, for instance, all operators providing interstate telecom services are required to support the TRS 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Korea plans to follow the U.S.'s suit by 2009, after securing necessary funds and creating a law mandating telecom companies to provide the TRS. Currently, the relay application is available from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Korea via just three operators proficient in sign language. ``We expect it would cost about 50 billion won per year to start the TRS around the clock. We will put forth efforts to obtain the budget as the disabled show satisfaction for the service,'' Kang said. Indeed, participants in the three-month first-stage trial run of the TRS show their contentment. ``Most people can deal with businesses through telephones but we had to pay a visit to do so,'' said Park Jae-hyun who cannot hear. ``But the TRS helped me treat things like ordinary persons.'' ``Now I can order a pizza, my favorite food, for myself. I really like that,'' said Kim Yoo-jin who is also hear-impaired. (by Kim Tae-gyu)


From http://times.hankooki.com/ 02/16/2006



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T-DMB Sputtering With Weak Signals, Prices

The broadcasting signal is weak. Would you wait a minute?'' This is a statement that most frequently greets people when they turn on mobile TVs on their cell phones. The service is called the terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB). For Korean users of DMB, many of whom paid a lot to snap up pricey devices for the service, discontent continues as the video-on-the-go offerings become unavailable, more often than not. Users complain the services, based on over-the-air frequencies, die out too often when they are in shadow areas such as inside buildings or in underground places. Subway passengers sometimes pull up the antennas from their bulky DMB phones to search for broadcasting signals just as people a decade ago did to catch cell phone signals. Terrestrial DMB is the country's homegrown technology to enable mobile broadcasting through in-vehicle terminals and handheld gadgets like cell phones. Starting the services last December, the government promised it will allow people to watch seamless video with CD-quality audio at any time, anywhere. But the pledge seems to be the newest version to join myriad broken promises by the mobile industry, which issued a swarm of broken commitments about third generation technology, the term referring to bringing Internet to handsets. ``To render terrestrial DMB seamless, a number of gap fillers must be installed to cover shadow areas. Yet, the hitch is that no player wants to do that,'' said Kim Kyung-mo, an analyst at Mirae Asset. Indeed, six DMB licensees agreed to channel about 60 billion won in facilitating gap-fillers only in subways in collaboration with terminal makers like Samsung Electronics. However, they are wasting time in securing the funds and making investments at the right time, raising the ire of commuters who take their devices onto the subway. To make matters worse, the six business undertakers, mostly TV stations, have no plan to set up gap-fillers in other places shaded from the DMB signals, citing a lack of funds Deep-pocketed wireless operators also refuse to take the burden of establishing the broadcasting signal relay devices because they cannot cash in on terrestrial DMB, a free go-anywhere TV. Uncertain Outlooks Abroad The quagmire angers those who want to become ``mobile couch potatoes,'' since they dared to pour money into expensive DMB terminals that sell for up to 1 million won. Since debuting three months ago, over 100,000 people have purchased the terminals in the form of cell phones, personal digital assistants, and in-car devices. Further, the stalled situation clouds the prospects of the locally developed terrestrial DMB in overseas markets. Initially, Information-Communication Minister Chin Dae-je, who led the nation's thrust for terrestrial DMB, reiterated the importance of starting commercial services in Korea. ``When I promote terrestrial DMB overseas, the question is always choking me whether Korea started the services in full swing,'' Chin told reporters late last year. ``The commercial launch is all-important to overseas sales of our terrestrial DMB. After its debut, we will be able to prompt foreign countries to follow our suit easily,'' Chin said. But his prediction, for the moment, seems incorrect since the service quality of terrestrial DMB is hardly impressive, even in the country where the application originated. On a more negative note, Korea's terrestrial DMB is far from the only technology being touted for mobile TV. Nokia, the world's foremost handset maker, markets DVB-H, while U.S.-based chipmaker Qualcomm has also gone all-out to spread its MediaFlo. The three platforms all have their own advantages and shortfalls but experts point out that terrestrial DMB loses its originally-hailed edge of being the first to be deployed, due to its low service quality. ``It is certain that mobile broadcasting will be the future of the cell phone industry since it brings together two of the world's primary consumer technologies _ television and mobile telephony,'' a Seoul economist said. ``But it is not certain which technology will become its mainstream format. For terrestrial DMB to take the main place, it is required to prove its viability more proactively here with better service quality,'' he said. (by Kim Tae-gyu)


From 02/19/2006



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MONGOLIA: 1.09 Million Mobile Customers at End-2005

Moldova’s two mobile operators, Voxtel and Moldcell, have reported a combined customer base of 1.09 million at the end of 2005, up from 757,000 a year earlier. Of the total, Voxtel accounted for 659,000 subscribers, with its network covering 94.35% of the country’s territory and 96.97% of the population. Moldcell claimed 431,000 customers, while its network covered 87.51% of the territory and 88.82% of the population. The combined revenue of the two cellcos rose by 52% in the year to MDL1.3 billion (USD103 million).


From 02/14/2006



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UZBEKISTAN: UNDP Office in Tashkent Presents CD on UN

UNDP Office in Uzbekistan presented a CD "Open UN for yourself", issued by UN European Economic Commission. The disk allows to improve knowledge on UN and UN European Economic Commission, as well as sustainable development. The disk made in game format and designed for people between ages of 6 and 69. The CD issued in four languages - Uzbek, Russian, English and French and distributed by UN Information Centre in Uzbekistan.


From 01/20/2006



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INDONESIA: Cell Phone Registration Launched

Attention all prepaid cellular card users. Grab your cell phone, type "daftar" (register) and send to 4444. Do it before April 28 next year or risk losing your number. Starting on Thursday, those using prepaid cellular phone numbers are to eventually contact the number and send their personal data as required by a ministerial ruling. The Ministry of Communications and Information, assisted by all cellular operators, launched a public campaign to mark the start of the registration process. "Spare the time to register and look at it as being a good citizen," said the ministry's director general for post and telecommunications, Basuki Yusuf Iskandar. "We want to build a more responsible and productive utilization of communication technology." The ministry requires cellular phone operators to identify their prepaid card users nationwide and register them in response to increasing cases of fraud and provocation through cellular phone as well as undetected terrorist communications. "There are too many crimes and acts of terror that use prepaid cards," Minister Sofyan Djalil announced separately after attending a ceremony at the vice presidential palace. "No one knows the identity of million of users as there is no data on them. What can the police do should one of them be involved in criminal activity through their cell phone?" he said. In the ruling, which took effect on Nov. 1, the ministry made it compulsory for cellular operators to compile names, addresses and birth dates of their subscribers, backed up by copies of identity cards, passports, driver's licenses or student cards. However, the validation process to follow the registration is still under discussion with all cellular service providers, the directorate general's public relations head Gatot S. Dewa Broto said. "We are discussing possibilities of cooperating with PT Pos Indonesia and courier companies on how subscribers can best send hard copies of their IDs for validation," he said. There are more than 40 million cellular phone subscribers, of which over 90 percent are prepaid phone users. Operators said they had systems that had been previously used to register prepaid subscribers voluntarily with certain incentives. "We are only maximizing the system, thus invested basically nothing for this process," said Johnny Suwandi Sjam, representative of Cellular Operator Association -- comprising Telkomsel, Indosat, Excelcomindo, Telkom's Flexi, Mobile-8's Fren and Bakrie's Esia. So far, most cellular operators have only registered up to 25 percent of their prepaid subscribers. The operators, supported by the government, will set aside at least Rp 270 million (US$27,550) for a public campaign on the registration process.


Adapted from 12/16/2005



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Banks Gear Up for ATMs, On-line Banking Services

Need to do a banking transaction? Go to the nearest automated teller machine (ATMs) instead, with banks closed on Friday. The Central Bank announced earlier that as the year had come to an end there would be no banking activities on Friday. Normal activities will resume on Monday. However, customers who need that must do banking transactions will not have to worry, as banks have taken the necessary additional measures to ensure that there are enough funds at the ATMs and that on-line banking is available. Indonesia's largest lender Bank Mandiri, for example, has monitored all of its ATMs and has made sure that those located in strategic places have enough cash to serve customers. On public holidays when traffic in transactions via ATMs is high, Mandiri provides around Rp 7 trillion (about US$700 million) to assure the availability of cash, the bank's corporate secretary Eko Putro said on Thursday. ATMs will also be monitored during the weekend and will be reloaded, if necessary. Other banks have taken similar measures during public holidays as the need for fresh funds is common. Customers can also shift temporarily to phone or on-line banking for transactions other than cash withdrawals. Separately, Bank Permata's corporate secretary Imam T. Saptono explained that his company had not done any additional preparation, as the year-end holiday period would be shorter this year. "We only did what we usually do on weekends," he said.


From 12/30/2005



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INDONESIA: Bakrie to Provide '3G Services' Using CDMA Technology

Failing to win a government license for third generation (3G) mobile services last week has not undermined PT Bakrie Telecom's determination to enter the high-speed data transmission market. Bakrie Finance's president, Anindya N. Bakrie, said in Jakarta on Monday the company planned this year to adopt the CDMA-based Evolution Data Optimized (EVDO) system, the latest version of CDMA 2000-1X, which would allow it to provide high-speed data transmission services as good as those offered by 3G technology. "With the launch of EVDO, we will show that Bakrie Telecom remains committed to providing high-speed data transmission services," he said. Bakrie Telecom and PT Telkom were both outbid in the 3G auction held by the government last week by three other operators, PT Telkomsel, Indosat and Excelcomindo, which each took one of the three frequencies blocks being auctioned. "We can still use our current frequency (800 MHz) and our transceivers. We only need to add some equipment, such as EV-DO carriers to our transceivers, in order to provide high-speed data transmission services," Anindya said, adding that using WCDMA technology -- the GSM-based 3G mobile telecommunications technology -- in providing high-speed data transmission services would be far more costly for the company as it did not possess a GSM base. If Bakrie Telecom had won a 3G license last week, the company would have also had to invest a lot of money to pay the frequency license fee and construct the GSM infrastructure, he said.


From 02/14/2006



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MALAYSIA: TM to Provide Broadband Access to Housing Project

TELEKOM Malaysia Bhd (TM) yesterday signed a collaboration agreement with TH Properties Sdn Bhd for the provision of smart township solutions to @enstek, an integrated development in Negri Sembilan. TH Properties chief executive officer Syed Mohamed Ibrahim said the collaboration would commence when TH Properties launches its next project by the fourth quarter of next year. The project will cover more than 200 acres of mixed residential development, he told reporters after signing the agreement in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. TM Wholesale chief operating officer Datuk Baharum Salleh signed on behalf of the company. The signing was witnessed by TM group chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Wahid Omar and TH Properties chairman Datuk Azizan Abdul Rahman. Both parties did not disclose the investment value of the collaboration. ''We have not identified the investment in great detail. We are just exploring what we can do at the moment. ''We are estimating that the telecommunication infrastructure cost for the smart township solution at not more than what we have spent in the past,'' Syed Mohamed said. TM will provide the township with communication infrastructure of higher bandwidth capacity, including fixed and wireless connections to support unlimited broadband applications. ''The project represents an new opportunity to work with housing developers, allowing faster delivery of infrastructure and making telecommunication or information communication technology infrastructure such as broadband as ubiquitous as water and electricity,'' Baharum said. With the infrastructure and applications, both residents and business tenants at @enstek can subscribe to a host of broadband services such as remote monitoring of their homes. The smart home solution enables homeowners to monitor their house from anywhere, such as controlling electrical appliances and also detecting unauthorised access inside the house. So far, TM has invested more than RM1mil to provide the service to the existing homes at @enstek. @enstek is a multi-billion ringgit integrated township on 5,116 acres in Negri Sembilan featuring industrial, commercial, residential and institutional properties. The project is scheduled for completion in 2025 and has a gross development value (GDV) of about RM7bil.


From 12/09/2005



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Wanita MCA Wants Members to Gain ICT Know-How

Some 430,000 Wanita MCA members will be required to attend courses in information and communication technology (ICT) to make them more computer savvy. Its chief Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen said the courses were necessary in view of the importance of ICT in today¡¯s competitive climate. ¡°We hope our members will gain more knowledge by attending these courses, in line with the party¡¯s life-long learning programme. ¡°It will also help a great deal when it comes to teaching their children in computer-related studies," she told reporters after opening an ICT workshop organised by Temerloh Wanita MCA here yesterday. Dr Ng said that so far the Wanita MCA divisions in Sepang and Jenjarum in Selangor had organised the workshops for members. ¡°We want other divisions throughout the country to follow suit in stages for the benefit of their members," she said, adding that the respective divisions should give priority to organising these workshops based on their financial abilities. Dr Ng also urged parents to equip themselves with ICT knowledge to guide their children in their studies. ¡°They should make full use of computers in their homes by teaching their children how to obtain additional knowledge and enjoy quality time together," she said.


From 12/12/2005



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3G Technology in Malaysia Gains in Popularity

Indonesians now have one more thing to envy their neighbors in Malaysia about -- the rapid development of the most-advanced, rich-in-features 3G telecommunications technology. First introduced in April, there are now more than 50,000 subscribers in Malaysia using handsets based upon 3G telecom technology that even allows them to utilize conference call facilities. Mobile phone subscribers there for the last nine months have been enjoying the service along with video streaming, fast downloads, live traffic checks and even home surveillance. Aside from those into "serious" 3G utilization, younger subscribers can enjoy it for music downloads and sports event streaming. 3G technology enables cellular subscribers to enjoy all the above services through their cellular phones, in addition to much faster data transfer and larger memory capacity. Indonesians seem anxious for the service as mobile phone manufacturers here such as Nokia and Ericsson have reported significant sales of their 3G handsets, despite the country not yet having 3G services. The first 3G trials in Indonesia will not take place until after the middle of next year. The trials will be carried out by PT Natrindo Telekom Selular, a telecoms firm that was acquired earlier this year by Malaysia's Maxis Communication Bhd. 3G technology was first introduced in Japan. As of this year, 40 percent of its mobile phone subscribers use 3G networks only. The country is expected to upgrade soon to the next stage, 3.5G. Maxis, along with another top firm, Telekom Malaysia, received a 2x15 MHz paired spectrum plus a 5 Mhz unpaired spectrum during a "beauty contest" selection held in 2002 in Malaysia, which spectra can be utilized for 3G services for a duration of 15 years. It paid US$13.2 million for its frequency spectra and invested a total of 400 million ringgit (about US$106.7 million) on 3G development. The full 3G service was first launched in July 2005 and has since been taken up by 22,000 subscribers out of Maxis' total 6.5 million subscribers throughout Malaysia. Telekom Malaysia launched its 3G service in April. Maxis will expand its coverage to Johor Bahru and Penang by the end of 2005, and plans to essentially double the number of 3G sites built. Maxis also aims to make 3G services fun and affordable as customers only need to get a Maxis 3G-customized phone and a 3G SIM card. The service can be enjoyed by both prepaid as well as postpaid mobile phone users, opening the door to all 15 million mobile users in the country. While standard video call rates are double voice call rates, Maxis is offering video calls at voice call rates for an extended one-year promotion. Video content packages are priced at between 8 ringgit and 15 ringgit. In line with 3G development in Malaysia, Maxis also offers a supporting product to boost the connectivity of its subscribers. This takes the form of a data card product branded Maxis 3G Connect -- which enables high-speed access connectivity to audio and video streaming, e-mails with large attachments and corporate information stored behind firewalls.


From 12/16/2005



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Starjobs Online Attracts Thousands in First Week

Several thousand jobseekers and numerous employers have signed up with StarJobs Online, just a week after The Star Online¡¯s new job recruitment service was launched. ¡°The response is very encouraging," said Serm Teck Choon, The Star Online¡¯s multimedia manager. StarJobs Online has transformed from an ordinary online recruitment site to an exciting matchmaker, dedicated to finding ¡°the right fit" for both jobseekers and employers. ¡°It allows recruiters to specify exactly what they¡¯re looking for. Candidates¡¯ profiles are then analysed and graded according to the requirements, so recruiters can see the most suitable candidates in an instant," said Serm. For example, he said, if a recruiter is looking for an IT manager who specialises in multimedia, candidates who have that skill set will be graded higher than those who are business IT managers. ¡°This applies to passive jobseekers as well, so headhunters are able to view and contact suitable candidates even if the candidate did not apply for the position," Serm said. Career hunting may be easier nowadays with online jobsites, but one of the problems faced by jobseekers is that they have to waste time sifting through hundreds of posts to find the perfect match. StarJobs Online offers a solution by analysing a jobseeker¡¯s preferences - like work scope, goals and location (e.g. which part of a town in a state) - before recommending the best matches. ¡°We are confident that our matching technology will set us apart from the rest of the field," said i.Star vice-president Davin Arul. ¡°We invite all jobseekers and employers to give StarJobs Online a try." The interface is also highly intuitive. Jobseekers can apply for an account for free at star-jobs.com .


From 12/20/2005



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MALAYSIA: E-Mail Scams Stoop to New Low

Get-rich quick e-mail scams that solicit small amounts of money purportedly in exchange for large returns are not new to Internet users in the country. However, fraudsters have recently upped the ante by manipulating names of some local law enforcement agencies in a bid to convince unsuspecting e-mail recipients of their legitimacy, said the Malaysian Computer Emergency Response Team (MyCERT). In its latest quarterly security report - which spanned September to December last year - there were two reports of such cases. ¡°The situation is considered serious compared to the previous years, and is in fact becoming a trend now," said Kol Husin Jazri, director of the National ICT Security and Emergency Response Team (Niser). MyCERT (www.mycert.org.my )is a unit of Niser and is responsible for tracking and logging security incidents, as well as analysing major security incidents and trends. Husin said fraudsters today are getting more sophisticated and are using clever ¡°social engineering tactics" to dupe users into thinking e-mail sent by these ¡°organisations" were truthful and valid. ¡°They would add a line in their e-mail stating that it has been approved or endorsed by Malaysian law enforcement agencies but in fact are not," he said, declining to reveal the names of these agencies. Husin said one of the scams reported to MyCERT involved an e-mail sent to a victim claiming that he had won a lottery. ¡°They (the fraudsters) lured the victim to deposit cash into the their accounts, promising him huge amount of money in return," he told In.Tech in an e-mail interview last week. The victim only discovered that he had been fooled when he did not receive ¡°his returns" after making the deposit. In another scenario, fraudsters set up a website designed to entice users to invest money with the promise of a good return. Initially, users would receive returns, but after a while, itwould stop coming in, said Husin. Based on MyCERT¡¯s analysis, the websites used to run such scams are registered and hosted in foreign countries, Husin said. However, MyCERT believes some operators of such scams are based in Malaysia, judging by the nature and modus operandi of the scams. ¡°Users should be careful not to deposit any amount of money to another party except to financial institutions that have been approved and licensed by Malaysian law enforcement agencies," he said. Meanwhile, MyCERT¡¯s quarterly report noted that there was a two-fold increase in the number of harassment cases that were committed via e-mail, chat and web forums, with a total of 14 cases of harassment in the last quarter, compared to only seven cases in the previous quarter. Husin said the increase of such cases could be due to greater awareness of harassment threats and that such threats could be reported to the relevant channels. ¡°The increased number of users going to web forums also elevates the chances of users getting harassed. ¡°To protect themselves, users should never reveal personal information such as their contact numbers, photos, home and office address on these forums," he warned. MyCERT¡¯s quarterly report also noted that spam - defined as unsolicited bulk e-mail - was the top online scourge, comprising 3,247 out of 3,404 reported incidents last quarter. Despite the increase, the total number of spam cases reported last year decreased 35% to 9,282 from 14,371 the previous year. ¡°More organisations, including ISPs (Internet service providers) have installed antispam filters at their respective e-mail gateways to minimise spam, he said, adding that users are also applying appropriate filters in their PCs to minimise spam.


From 02/06/2006



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SMS Your Power Problems

The more than six million customers of power producer Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) can soon submit complaints about power disruption, billing enquiries and other complaints through SMS. The service, to be introduced in about a month¡¯s time, will complement its 24-hour Call Management Centre (CMS) which receives queries and complaints from customers through the 15454 telephone number. TNB Selangor general manager Datuk Amir Nordin Abdul Aziz said the introduction of the SMS facility was to provide another convenient mode for customers to report power disruption and other complaints to the utility company. ¡°We are introducing the SMS service next month as it has emerged as a popular mode of communication," Amir told reporters at TNB Selangor¡¯s CMS office here yesterday. ¡°Our aim is to solve the problem as quickly as possible. If it is a minor breakdown, we expect power to be restored within 90 minutes." He said the CMS service, introduced since January 1998, now received an average of 18,000 to 25,000 calls a day. It also received complaints from customers who did not receive any reply from the 15454 line. Calls to 15454 can be made anywhere and callers are only charged the cost of a local call. Amir refuted claims that calls made to CMS sometimes went unanswered, adding that if the lines were busy, the calls would directly go to a voice-recording machine. The staff at CMS would then contact the caller to take down details of the complaint and forward it to the relevant department.


From 02/10/2006



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Three E-Ways to Help JPJ Improve Delivery System

The Road Transport Department (JPJ) is working on three ¡°e-ways" to improve its delivery system. These new electronic applications will cover: ¡¤E-HEALTH for commercial vehicle drivers applying for or renewing their goods driving licence and public service vehicles, to enable drivers to get their medical certificates in a more systematic way; ¡¤E-KIOSK, for drivers to check on the status of, as well as renew, their road tax and driving licence; and, ¡¤E-ENFORCEMENT, using speed cameras in accident prone areas to nab traffic offenders. The new electronic applications would be launched this year, JPJ director-general Datuk Emran Kadir said at the opening of the new JPJ office here by Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Azlan Sultan Abu Bakar yesterday. Emran said the system for the e-health application was already in place and would be launched soon. ¡°We are in the final stage of the trial. Once we are fully satisfied, we will go ahead with the launch," he said. ¡°With e-health, we are confident there will not be any more cases of fraud involving medical reports for those applying for commercial vehicle licences." Emran said medical reports of the applicants would be sent straight to the JPJ to eradicate cases of manipulation. On the e-kiosk application, he said the public would be able to renew their road tax and driving licence without having to go to the counters. ¡°It will function exactly like an ATM, with payment made via cash or credit card," he said. E-enforcement, Emran said, would involve hidden closed-circuit TVs in selected accident- prone roads and highways to monitor the traffic situation. He said those caught committing traffic offences would be fined.


From 02/10/2006



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One-Form System to Be Used Soon

One form to be used in the registration of vehicles and transfer of ownership. The Road Transport Department (JPJ) is looking at such a system and to do away with motorists having to fill up four sets of forms in carrying out these transactions. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the new system, to be implemented soon, was among the new measures being taken to check forgery. ¡°With the new high-security form, the department can even trace the thumbprints of the owners of the vehicles through the National Registration Department,'' he said when visiting the Muar JPJ yesterday. On another matter, Chan said the ministry was looking at making it compulsory for all used vehicles to be inspected by Puspakom before they were sold. He said this would stop people from unknowingly buying kereta potong (cut-and-joined cars). He said some finance companies had made it compulsory for second-hand cars to be inspected by Puspakom before loan applications could be approved. ¡°For now, my advice is that all used cars be sent to Puspakom for checking," he added. On the road safety trust fund programme, Chan said the Cabinet approved the fund, and plans were under way to finalise collection. He said he had discussed the matter with those involved in the automobile industry, including car manufacturers, importers, insurance companies as well as gas and petroleum companies. ¡°They have all agreed to share the responsibility to promote road safety awareness campaigns, but have yet to decide on the quantum of contribution," he added.


From 02/14/2006



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Promoting ICT Usage in Travel Industry

TUNKU Datuk Seri Iskandar Tunku Abdullah, who has been continuously promoting and serving the local travel and tourism industry, is also passionate about introducing the use of information and communications technology (ICT) for the particular segment. His commitment is seen through the industry¡¯s initiatives and programmes to help travel-related communities have the tools to realise their full potential. Throughout his career, Tunku Iskandar has led a number of national and international travel and tourism associations. Currently, his portfolios include immediate past president of Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents, board member of Pacific Asia Travel Association, chairman of Intra-Asean Travel Committee of Asean Tourism Association, and board member of The Travel Partnership Corporation. According to Tunku Iskandar, there have been many significant ups and downs in his life which have taught him to appreciate life more. ¡°All these are very enriching, and I believe that I have been part of the organisations and companies that I am involved with, being on the leading edge." On his management philosophy, Tunku Iskandar is all for staff empowerment, which he says will result in a higher sense of responsibility for the employees. Of course, there should be safeguards and parameters, and with those in place senior managers need not be bogged down by decision-making that their staff can help make, he explains. In five years, Tunku Iskandar will turn 63, an age when many in the industry will retire or think about retiring. ¡°However, there are so many exciting developments brought about by technological advances that I will feel disappointed to be left out of. So, I intend to ride the wave of some of these technological advances," he says. He also enjoys the interaction aspect brought about by technology, especially through the Internet, where one can hold multi-party discussions. In terms of some key ICT challenges, Tunku Iskandar says there were many in the past, for example, lack of Internet connectivity, high cost of equipment and the digital divide. ¡°I feel that many of these shortcomings have largely been addressed, but we need to escalate the pace of development." He adds that the availability of broadband will result in always-on Internet, which will help lead to greater usage of information as well as transactions over the Internet. Tunku Iskandar notes that one issue that can drag the transactional usage of the Internet is lack of confidence in using credit cards to pay for purchases. Nonetheless, he says the introduction of payment tools such as PayPal will help boost e-commerce uptake. Tunku Iskandar also highlights that the travel and tourism industry is by far with the highest usage of the Internet. ¡°However, many are still using (the Internet) to just get information and plan trips. When it comes to actual buying, many customers still turn to traditional travel agents." Nonetheless, Tunku Iskandar is still optimistic. ¡°Currently, there is a problem of establishing the identity of those who offer (travel and related) products and services. The introduction of the .travel TLD (top-level domain) will make these parties more transparent, and those using the TLD will be instantly identified as doing bona fide business," he concludes. (by Shyla Sangaran)


From 02/20/2006



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SINGAPORE: Mobile Operators Looking to Grow Data Usage

With the Singapore mobile market subscription rate nearing saturation, mobile operators are seeking to promote higher data usage among users. And even as they roll out their modern 3G wireless services, they are also aiming for higher revenue growth through new data services. The 3G rollout was the highlight for the telecoms sector in 2005. SingTel and MobileOne launched their 3G services commercially in February, followed by StarHub two months later. Initially the take-up was slow, hurt by a lack of handsets. Said Chan Kin Hung, senior vice president (mobile services) at StarHub, "The response, as we expect, was moderate because it didn't have enough handsets in the markets that were appealing to customers." But with a greater number of 3G handsets out in the market now, the number of 3G users is starting to spike upwards. According to figures from the Infocomm Development Authority, there were 96,900 3G subscribers at the end of October. SingTel has the biggest share of the market, followed by StarHub and M1. Said Neil Montefiore, CEO of M1, "I think in the early part of the year, the response was quite slow, mainly because in Singapore we haven't promoted it through heavy subsidy of handsets nor through very cheap voice price. In the last quarter and the third quarter of the year, quite a rapid increase, almost double in the take up rate and that sort rate of increase has continued. "So we think we'll see significant growth during 2006 in the 3G take-up. By the end of this year, it'll be around 2 percent, the market using 3G phones; and I think it will go into double-digit percentage towards the end of 2006." The mobile operators have been in talks with content providers, and are seeking to make more movies, news, music and mobile commerce facilities available to subscribers. Said Alayne Wong, telecoms analyst at IDC, "You can see certainly entertainment and TV type of content is going to be key theme for next year. There has been a lot of focus on sports and on TV programmes; we have a lot TV programmes that are made into short video clips that are to be viewed over the 3G phones. So, such contents have been improved and that's going to be a driver for take-up next year." SingTel has gone a step further by planning to offer e-surveillance in their 3G services across three platforms: fixed line, broadband and mobile. Said Ooi Lay Yong, vice president (customer sales) at SingTel, "One of the areas we are looking at is e-surveillance because people can view video over your 3G phones. So if you have a camera at home, you can actually looking into your home when you use your 3G mobile phone." Meanwhile, StarHub is seeking to boost its 3G market share by offering NTT DoCoMo's i-mode mobile Internet service. Other than 3G, SingTel and M1 are in partnerships with Philippine operators to target the expatriate Filipino market here.


From 12/15/2005



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Singapore to Get E-Commodities Derivatives Bourse by Next Sept

A commodities derivatives exchange may be up and running in Singapore by next September. The plan came after the Chicago Board of Trade and the Singapore Exchange both agreed to set up a joint venture to establish a commodities derivatives market. Initially, the Joint Asian Derivatives Exchange, or JADE, will be operated by SGX Derivatives Trading under its existing license granted by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The 50:50 joint venture will develop commodity contracts to be traded on JADE. The new products will be hosted on the CBOT's electronic trading platform. All trades will be cleared by SGX's derivatives clearing house. The new market will leverage the infrastructure and connectivity of CBOT's global market participants in addition to those connected to SGX-DT.


From 12/19/2005



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SINGAPORE: Industry Professionals Say Funding Will Boost Digital Media Sector

The high-powered National Research Foundation announced this week that it was zooming in on new sectors to grow the economy. One of them is interactive and digital media. An estimated one billion dollars is expected to be spent on R&D over the next 5 years to grow this industry. Animation is a growing business in Singapore, something 34-year-old animator Lingun Sung knows well. From humble beginnings as a 3-person outfit in 2001 to a much bigger business that has just listed on London's Ofex, his company plans to have studios in the Philippines and China by year-end. Welcoming the fund with guarded optimism, he hopes local talent will be nurtured. Lingun Sung, Director, Peach Blossom Media, said: "I hope it goes more into developing local talent - go into the schools, go into the polys, go into all their animation programmes to train." Academics such as Professor Isaac Kerlow, Dean of the new School of Art, Design and Media, NTU, agree with him. Industry professionals say traditionally Singapore has not produced large enough numbers of artists and it needs to quickly build up a steady stream of such professionals. But competition will be stiff and Singapore needs to get up to speed with talented Asian neighbours in this field, such as South Korea. Where Singapore is eventually placed worldwide in the digital interactive field is something practitioners say will only become clearer in the next few years. Lingun Sung said: "On the one hand, we don't want to compete with low-cost sweat shops but are we ready to compete with the high end ones. If we are in the middle, really have to pick our fight - either a niche that no one has found or compete with the high end." Research funds could go into building new workers in this field through the schools as well as enhancing the knowledge of professionals of what works and what does not through technology research. But academics like Professor Kerlow, currently out of the country, say, other than its technological educational edge, Singapore has one clear advantage. Professor Kerlow said: "Singapore is a country with one leg in the East and one leg in the West - definitely a plus in this situation. If you look at the games and movies of the past, the most successful are those that cross cultural boundaries and can understand the world - that is a unique quality." One thing's for sure though - the injection of funds will certainly stimulate activity in this industry.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 01/05/2006



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S'pore IT Sector Sees Commercial Software as Pricier, More Secure

A recent survey shows that most Asian companies perceive commercial software to be more expensive and more secure than open-sourced software. But according to the Business Software Alliance, which commissioned the survey, that is a misconception. The survey included private companies from China, South Korea and six Southeast Asian countries. Like their counterparts in Asia, most Singapore IT professionals are misguided about the costs and benefits of commercial software versus open-sourced ones, according to the industry group Business Software Alliance. Findings from an eight-country study show that 72 percent of Singapore IT staff believe commercial software to be more expensive than open-sourced programs, and 55 percent believe commercial software to be more secure. Said Goh Seow Hiong, director (software policy in Asia), Business Software Alliance, "But actually the true answer is in both cases, it depends. It's not the case of one is always more expensive than the other, neither is it the case of one is always more secure than the other. In many cases, it depends on the environment you use and other factors." The BSA says that companies would like the various IT systems they are buying to work together. That is why they prefer that governments take a neutral, market-driven stance when creating regulations or standards. It says the thinking of the Singapore IT sector is generally in line with countries like South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. But Singapore differs in that it is corporate policies rather than pricing which tends to drive procurement decisions here. Said Mr Goh, "That's the reflection of the maturity of the Singapore market in the sense that they no longer price sensitive but they have a wide range of software to choose from. It's perhaps also a reflection of the presence of many large companies where procurement decisions may be driven by broader corporate reasons." The study also finds that government support and IT professionals contribute to the bulk of industry development, more so than education or training.


From 02/15/2006



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Mediacorp Starts Online Broadband TV Trial Run

If you missed your favourite MediaCorp TV programme, you can now view them online, whenever you like. This is all thanks to a new online subscription-based, video-on-demand service. There is a new way to watch your favourite MediaCorp TV comedy or drama. MediaCorp Online Broadband TV is a video-on-demand service for viewers to control what, when and where they want to watch their favourite shows from all MediaCorp TV free-to-air channels. The online database stores programmes from the last two weeks, and even includes never-seen-before programme footage and clips of MediaCorp artistes. Mr Chang Long Jong, Deputy Group CEO of MediaCorp TV, said: "This is one way for us to cater to the increasing demand of our viewers for control in choice, basically. We want to also enable our viewers to be able to enjoy our content at the time they like, whether it is day or night. And really, this is a very good way we feel to build our strong viewer loyalty. "Over time, we also want to take the lead in the area of video-on-demand online. In the near future, we are also planning a lot of new services on this vehicle. For example, even premiering some new shows on the platform first. "We are also looking at the possibility of making available some old titles that have been favourites among the viewers so that they can enjoy the shows again." Besides programmes produced by MediaCorp TV, there are plans to put acquired titles like 'Desperate Housewives' online a day after their telecast. Targeted at tech-savvy youths and adults in Singapore, MediaCorp TV says the service will be made very affordable, and is expected to be lower than what the market is currently charging for VCD and DVD rentals on a per title basis. The first 2,000 viewers to sign now will get a month-long free trial for unlimited viewing. MediaCorp Online Broadband TV will be officially launched in the middle of this year.


From 02/16/2006



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THAILAND: BBL Aims to Make Finance Fun with New Website for Children

Financial management doesn't have to be boring, says Bangkok Bank, which has created a website aimed at educating children about basic principles of money. The site, designed with bright colours and cartoon graphics, is a stark change from the blue tones and conservative design that mark the Bangkok Bank brand. It contains five sections _ games, banking, account, money and bank words _ and aims to provide an idea of the origin of money, important terms and what you can do with the money you have. The bank will exhibit the site today to mark Children's Day at the Thailand Animation and Multimedia Exhibition at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center. Duangporn Rattanatraiphop, an executive in the Products and Distribution Channels Department, said the site served the bank's policy of introducing banking services to people at an early age. ''We want to introduce savings habits to children and tell them that they can put their money in banks, instead of keeping it in savings boxes,'' she said. She said the website was aimed at children aged between five and 13 years. It has received more than 30,000 hits since the launch in late November. ''More and more children are using the Internet as an educational tool. We think our website will benefit them.'' The bank plans to introduce the website to schools in February. In the future, the bank will improve the site by adding more games and new features such as online bookkeeping, and it will be updated regularly. Ms Duangporn said she expected parents to look at the site to learn how to educate youngsters on saving habits.


From 01/14/2006



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Visitors Get an Online Alternative

Visit hotels in Bangkok and you will see a considerable number of visitors. While a great many are on vacation, it is important to remember that the city is also a business centre. Move further to the east and Pattaya, I am told (I have actually never been), is also full of visitors. Business visitors are likely to bring laptops with them. Increasingly, those on vacation may also bring theirs. Some Bangkok hotels average 700 baht for 24-hour, in-room Internet access. One hotel also quoted me 290 baht for one hour. For business this might be acceptable, but not all visitors come expenses paid. Two years ago I reviewed a flexi-keyboard (http://www.extensions.in.th/post/flexkeys/flexkey1.html). Martien Vlemmix from its distributor Thailand Display mailed me recently and offered me another device, this one aimed at the visitor who wants an Internet connection but is unwilling to pay the hotel rates. The system also allows the user to connect elsewhere without having to track down local access. While not a device locals might use, visitors who are not familiar with the infrastructure could find it useful. The Airplus wireless modem is a CDMA device (Code Division Multiple Access) that can use the Hutch mobile network. Speeds of 153 Kbps are claimed. The service rents out the modem at 119 baht a day. There is a deposit, although the device is locked so that it can only be used for data (no SMS or voice) and will not work outside Thailand. I was lent one of the devices and played with it for a couple of weeks. It came with Windows install disks. I had already seen the Thai PDF that Hutch had put together for OS X users, so the CD-ROM stayed in the box. I am told that a PDF in English is being prepared. The modem plugs into the USB port and within a few seconds OS X recognises that a new device has been attached. Network Preferences displays "Location" and "Show". Most will use "Automatic" as the location, which does not need to be changed. My own set-up gives me several locations so I can avoid disturbing my normal settings. "Show" displays the Network Status. Open this button to see the new device (MCD510-1011-01F4). First to be configured is PPP, where account details are entered. The telephone number is #777 like the Verizon CDMA network in the USA. Null Modem 115200 is selected via the modem tab. Press "Apply"; clicking the button marked "Dial Now" opens Internet Connect. If the modem icon is in the menubar, future connections can be started from there. I first tried it in a classroom out at Salaya and there was sage approval from the students. We found that using a second USB device required the extension cord provided, as the unit is wide. Its length also means that it sticks out, so it may be vulnerable in the wrong hands. I had been told that it worked in a car. I tried on a 79 bus with one of the more "exciting" drivers. A fair connection was made at about 48kbps. I was able to view several web pages and check email, however I spent a lot of energy keeping my PowerBook from dropping on the floor. At home on both the PowerBook and eMac, I downloaded software at 14KBps, peaking at 18, which is closer to what one should expect in normal use. Information about the service is at http://www.24online.in.th and the company is mainly targetting Pattaya and Bangkok. The service is limited to areas where Hutch signals are available. This includes Kanchanburi in the west, Trat in the east and as far south as Prachuap Khiri Khan, with Ayutthaya, Lop Buri and Suphan Buri also in the list of 25 provinces covered. I enjoyed the additional freedom such access gave, especially after my Bluetooth use in Tak some weeks ago. I am spoiled with a home ADSL link and an office network that sometimes works properly. I use various Wi-Fi access points I have found, some of which are free. The Airplus does work out cheaper than the True Wi-Fi that I access sometimes (600 baht for 300 minutes), but that is an emergency connection for about 10-20 minutes at a time. Not all Mac or Windows users are technically adept and assistance is available, especially for the install. As the Windows installation takes up 10MB and needs a CD-ROM, it is useful to have this help. The Mac installation was just "follow the numbers." And just for effect, this is sent from the back seat of a 79 Bangkok bus, in darkest Bang Khunnon.


From 02/15/2006



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3G Picture Begins to Clear as Well as Brighten for AIS

Barcelona _ Advanced Info Service is strongly determined to broaden its 3G technology profile this year, positioning third-generation wireless service as another flagship business. President Yingluck Shinawatra expressed a bullish view of the potential for high-speed mobile multimedia based on what she saw and heard at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona last week. She said companies involved in networks, applications and devices were collaborating harmoniously to unlock the business opportunities of 3G. "We see vast opportunity and have high hopes for 3G services based on the evidence of viable integrated technology access and openness for interoperability," Ms Yingluck said. "Now is the right time. We're very confident that the convergence trend (linking telecommunications and computers) is making more sense and is ready to take off in Thailand, thanks mainly to the greater availability of 3G handsets and the variety of applications." Ms Yingluck said 3G-enabled handsets had make more progress, thanks to declining prices and growing numbers of handset models being released. She said there were now about 400,000 3G handset users in Thailand, with average handset prices of between 20,000 and 30,000 baht a unit. The figure is expected to top 600,000 by June. But business is expected to really take off once a series of 3G handsets priced below 10,000 baht each become available in Thailand this year. "This would make 3G handsets a mass-market phenomenon, which could lift the number of 3G handset users in Thailand to more than one million by the end of this year," said Ms Yingluck, who will be stepping down next month in line with organisational changes following the takeover of AIS's parent, Shin Corporation, by Temasek Holdings of Singapore. There have been forecasts that up to 80% of the handsets available in the Thai market in 2007 would be 3G models. "We need turn to value-added service for new revenue growth, since traditional voice and data services are in decline with falling average revenue per user," Ms Yingluck said. However, she admitted that 3G would not replace existing core-revenue generating voice services, but would instead supplement and enhance them. Wichian Mektrakarn, executive vice-president for operations, said AIS planned to spend three billion baht installing between 600 and 700 3G base stations in Bangkok and big cities for the first phase of its move to the new service. The network installation, which will not require additional financial support from Temasek, will begin after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) grants the company a 3G licence. The service would be commercially available six months after the licence is obtained, he said. "A nationwide 3G network rollout, with as much as 100 billion baht of investment required, will follow once we find a sizeable degree of customer demand and variety of content," Mr Wichian said. The second-phase development could take two to five years depending on demand and commercial viability, he said. Currently, AIS has 17 million subscribers, of whom three million were active users of data services. Pratthana Leelapanang, strategic planning manager and head of the Future Lab unit, said AIS would concentrate on mobile TV and music. The "killer application" for 3G, based on experience in Europe, appears to be entertainment services such as ring-back video and background pictures. Appropriate uses would be video calls over IP, video streaming, file downloading and broadcasting services on demand.


From 02/20/2006



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VIETNAM: New Cable Internet Service Goes Online

The biggest difference is that instead of installing new telephone lines, customers need only to install a modem on their VCTV cable. They will then have 36 TV channels and broadband Internet service in a single package. Our service was developed based on the Siemens Internet multi-service integrated model, where optical and coaxial cables are combined. The service has a greater broadband capacity and higher speeds than current ADSL services in Viet Nam. Maximum download speeds reach 56 Mbps, while minimum uploads speeds start at 30 Mbps. This service is not new- it¡¯s just new in Viet Nam. It¡¯s not too late to launch the service, because cable TV has been available in Viet Nam for over a year, and ADSL subscriptions equal one-tenth of cable TV subscriptions. We have learned from the experience of other service providers, and carefully prepared our technology infrastructure before launching the service to ensure we would be offering a high-quality product. The use of broadband Internet is a trend developing around the world. The US expects to have 19.7 million subscribers of new service this year, and 25 million subscribers by 2008. This goes to show that the new service has potential in coming years. Besides having access to high-speed Internet, users of the new service can enjoy cable TV programmes, and we offer competitive rates for the service. New subscribers buy a modem for VND990,000, and pay subscription fees of between VND300,000 and VND500,000 and a supplemental usage charge of VND20,000-280,000 per month. In business, co-operation is better than going solo, especially in the telecommunications and information technology sector. EVN Telecom has optical and coaxial cable systems nationwide, and is a partner with strong potential for developing technology and providing finance, and has a well-established trademark. VCTV and EVN Telecom have agreed to avoid trade promotion programmes that might lead to Internet congestion. Quality of service must always ensured. We wouldn¡¯t get far if we didn¡¯t offer high-quality service.


From 12/15/2005



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Customs Modernisation Project to Be Funded by WB

The Customs General Office officially launched a US$66 million project on customs modernisation yesterday, to be funded with a loan from the World Bank. The project aims to build a stable and transparent customs system that meets international standards with simple, harmonious, consistent customs processes and a force of highly qualified customs officers by 2010. By 2010, Viet Nam¡¯s customs system expects to be largely modernised with the application of risk management techniques and high-tech equipment to create favourable conditions for trade and foreign investment. The project is driven by eight main resolutions, including the finalisation of the legal basis for customs activities, stand-ardising, harmonising and simplifying customs processes according to international standards and Viet Nam¡¯s current role and position, improving management capacity, speeding up the implementation of regulations on risk management in all customs activities; renewing organisation of the customs system; increasing the quality of customs staff; modernising infrastructure and equipment; and building a modern information system. Speaking at a seminar on customs modernisation, Klaus Rohland, World Bank Country Representative in Viet Nam, said that the circulation of goods from country to country requires customs in all countries to run inspection work in a way that ensures competitiveness. To ensure the success of an economy, the customs system must rely on information and high-tech equipment, he said, adding that education and training to improve the capacity of personnel should be an important part of the customs modernisation plan.


From 12/22/2005



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Computer Association, PC World Magazine Publish IT Directory

The HCM City Computer Association and PC World Viet Nam magazine recently launched the Viet Nam Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Directory 2006. The eighth annual edition contains information on 1,653 ICT companies and institutes in the country, and lists the products and services they provide. It also includes the ICT Report 2005, a ranking of Viet Nam¡¯s top IT companies and summaries of various industry awards, including the IT Products Awards 2005, top IT Solutions 2005, the ICT Golden Cup Award 2005, and IT Gold Medals 2005. The directory, published in both Vietnamese and English at a cost VND66,000 (US$4) is available online at www.pcworld .com.vn.


From 02/18/2006



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Ministry Calls for Automation of Animal Husbandry Production

Viet Nam plans to fully or partly industrialise the animal husbandry sector, including slaughtering and food processing, in a bid to control animal-borne epidemics in 2006. As part of the plan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) was preparing a policy to subsidise mechanisation of large-scale pig farms so as to reduce production costs and improve the quality of products. The ministry would also invest in an artificial insemination project and modern cattle feed processing technologies for livestock. The country expects to increase its pig stock to 29.5 million heads, against last year¡¯s 27.4 million, and cattle stock to 5.7 million heads, including 115,000 dairy cows, against 5.5 million heads and 110,000 dairy cows, respectively, in 2005.


From 02/18/2006



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MobiFone Expands Network to Cover Border Areas

MobiFone recently announced it had completed its mobile network coverage in the northern province of Lang Son and the central province of Nghe An. A subsidiary of Viet Nam¡¯s largest telecom service provider VNPT, the company said it also added another 30 base transmission stations to its northern network and upgraded eight others. MobiFone said the move would help improve service quality at border areas near China, such as at the Huu Nghi border gate in Lang Son and the Mong Cai border gate in Quang Ninh. The company also announced plans to install an additional 274 stations to complete its coverage of northern Viet Nam.


From 02/18/2006



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BANGLADESH: Aktel Launches Country's First Full Bangla SMS Service

Bangladeshi cellco Aktel has launched the country's first full Bangla language SMS service, named ¡®Aktel Mayer Bhasha¡¯, enabling users to write, send and receive SMS in Bangla text. Customers with compatible handsets can install the Aktel Mayer Bhasha software via GPRS from the Aktel website. Once the application is installed, each of the handset¡¯s keys corresponds to a set of Bangla characters; text messages are charged at standard SMS rates.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/16/2006



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Private Telecom Sector Witnesses Strong Growth

In the backdrop of 150 percent growth in mobile phone density in one year, the private tele- communication operators are also registering a strong growth in connecting subscribers through wireless land phones across the country, reports BSS. RanksTel and OneTel, two privately owned companies, have so far provided nearly 30,000 wireless land phone to their subscribers covering two zones in only last six months, Chief Operating Officer of RanksTel Zakaria Swapan told the news agency on Wednesday. The network zones of RanksTel Ltd includes southeastern zone under Chittagong division and northeastern zone under Sylhet division. The authority is expected to activate two other zones by the next six months. Besides, OneTel covering the Rajshahi division and working at a faster pace in expanding its network in different phases aiming to bring all the rural people through covering all the unions by December 2006. Both the companies obtained licenses from Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to operate their wireless phone services. The land phones are attracting the subscribers, as call charges are lower than any other mobile phone and even lower than Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB. While Call charges are fixed at taka 00.50 per minute for any land phone user, that is taka 1.50 per pulse of 30 seconds for mobile phone subscriber, he added. ¡°We are accelerating the expansion of our network coverage at a faster pace aiming to run in full swing some new packages by this month," Sawpan said.


From http://www.newstoday-bd.com/ 02/16/2006



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INDIA: Top Chip-maker Intel to Invest $1 Billion in India

Leading chip-maker Intel Corporation announced on Monday a multi-year investment plan for India, totalling over $1 billion, including $800 million over the next five years for business expansion. The investment road map includes a huge chunk ($800 million) for expanding the company's business operations in India, Intel Chairman Craig Barrett told reporters in New Delhi. The investment will focus on expanding the Research and Development centre in Bangalore, in addition to marketing, education and community programmes. The investment roadmap also has a provision for setting up a $250 million venture capital fund in India. "The investment demonstrates the company's long term commitments and builds on the foundation we created during the last ten years," Barrett said. "We will grow our local operations, boost venture capital investment and work closely with the government, industry and educators to increase the impact of the country's Information and Communication Technology," he added.


From http://hindustantimes.com/ 12/05/2005



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Indian Customers to Benefit from International Cable Projects

Indian international long-distance operators Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) and Bharti Tele-Ventures are awaiting security clearance from the government to launch the Indian section of the SEA-ME-WE-4 (SMW-4) submarine cable. Both telcos have invested around USD40 million in the Europe-to-Asia cable system, which has been built by a consortium of over 15 companies led by France T¨¦l¨¦com. SMW-4 can carry up to 20 million voice calls simultaneously and, when lit, will propel India into the league of bandwidth-surplus countries. Meanwhile, rival international operator Reliance Infocomm is in talks with Chinese incumbent China Telecom to carry its inbound and outbound Indian traffic. Traffic between India and China is currently routed via international nodes in the United States and Europe; prices for calls between the two countries for Reliance customers could drop by as much as 55% if the deal goes ahead. The Indian telco controls a 50,000km undersea cable network linking the US, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Last month, work was completed on the FALCON cable link stretching from Oman in the Middle East to Reliance's landing station on India's west coast.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 12/07/2005



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Indian Long-distance Operator Prepares to Light a Land-based Cable Link

Incumbent Indian international long-distance operator Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) is preparing to light a land-based cable link between India and Pakistan. VSNL told local press this week that it has laid dark fibre across the India-Pakistan border near Wagah, following a statement from Pakistan¡¯s prime minister Shaukat Aziz that: ¡®All work on the link has been completed at our end. We are waiting for the Indian government to grant permission to its telecom carriers, which we hope will be soon.¡¯ Aziz was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE-4) submarine cable, the Mumbai landing station of which is managed by VSNL; Bharti Tele-Ventures manages the Chennai station. VSNL is also the network administrator for the system. The operators have invested USD40 million each in the SEA-ME-WE-4 project. Meanwhile, rival Indian telco Reliance Infocomm has signed a deal with Chinese fixed line carrier ChinaTelecom Corp to set up a new international cable link. Under the deal the two telcos will route traffic between China and India through the undersea cable lines operated by Reliance¡¯s wholly owned subsidiary Flag Telecom. VSNL provides direct links with China via China Netcom's gateway in Beijing, connected to the SEA-ME-WE-3 cable system.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/05/2006



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Galloping Wireless Growth Drives Indian Telecoms Sector

India added 3.187 million new GSM mobile subscribers in December to take the country¡¯s total to 58.503 million, reports the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). Market leader Bharti Tele-Ventures added 911,148 GSM users in December, boosting its total to 16.327 million, whilst second-placed Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) signed up 1.01 million users, taking its GSM user base to 14.298 million. Hutchison added 730,763 new subs in December to reach a total of 11.413 million. According to telecoms regulator the TRAI, the additions take the country¡¯s total number of mobile customers, including CDMA users, to 75.92 million. New CDMA mobile subscribers in December totalled 1.27 million, with the majority signing up to largest CDMA provider Reliance Infocomm and main rival Tata Teleservices. There is still huge potential for growth in the wireless market, with less than 8% of Indians using mobile services, and networks covering only an estimated third of the country. India currently has the world's lowest mobile call rates, at an average of less than USD0.02 per minute. Meanwhile, 460,000 new fixed line subscribers were added in December, predominantly in the CDMA-based WiLL sector, taking India's total number of fixed lines in operation to 48.93 million, up from 44.87 million at the end of 2004.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/06/2006



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Reliance Infocomm Expands Tamil Nadu Fixed Wireless Services

Indian telco Reliance Infocomm has expanded its pre-paid fixed wireless telephony service to 330 new towns in Tamil Nadu. Despite beginning life as a standard wireline operator, the bulk of Infocomm's fixed line revenues now come from the provision of CDMA wireless in the local loop (WiLL) telephony, offered under the IndiaPhone brand. Since launching in August 2003 IndiaPhone has accumulated 236,000 users, 82,000 in Tamil Nadu.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 02/13/2006



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NEPAL: Nepal Telecom Launches CDMA Phone Service

Nepal Telecom (NT) yesterday launched a wireless in the local loop (WiLL) service based on CDMA technology, to mark the company¡¯s second anniversary on 4 February. In the launch phase, the operator has deployed around 250,000 phone lines in Kathmandu, Narayani zone, Janakpur, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, Pokhara and Dhangadhi, with around 20% of total lines being installed in Kathmandu to address pent up demand; 100,000 people are on a waiting list for a connection in the capital, while countrywide, the figure is estimated to be 400,000. The launch of the new WiLL network has been a long time coming. CDMA services were stopped on 20 July 2005 as the result of an ¡®erroneous¡¯ Supreme Court interim order, but two weeks ago the Court overturned the ruling, enabling NT to go ahead. The CDMA-based system utilises wireless technology which will facilitate a cost-effective and time-saving network expansion in Nepal¡¯s difficult geographical terrain. NT plans to make available one million lines throughout the country in three phases by 2008.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 02/06/2006



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PAKISTAN: Telecoms Sector to Receive USD4 Billion

According to Pakistan¡¯s Minister for Information Technology, Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, the country¡¯s telecoms sector is expected to attract up to USD4 billion in investments during the next three to four years. The Minister also said that the fixed and mobile markets would see significant growth in the next few years, a prediction which has already been reflected in statistics: fixed line subscribers grew from four million in 2003 to 5.9 million at the end of September 2005, while mobile users grew from 2.4 million to 19 million during the same period.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 12/01/2005



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Pakistan Mobile Market Grows 150%

Pakistan¡¯s mobile market expanded by almost 150% to surpass 20 million subscribers in 2005, according to the latest statistics released by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Mobilink led the market with 11.12 million customers, followed by Ufone with 5.18 million users, Warid Telecom with 2.07 million, Telenor Pakistan (1.87 million), Paktel (992,051) and Instaphone (419,778). In the fixed line market the number of subscribers, excluding wireless in the local loop (WiLL) users, grew to 5.37 million, up from 4.58 million at the end of 2004. Incumbent Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) continues to dominate the sector due to its stranglehold on the PSTN, though a number of newly launched long-distance and international operators have begun to make an impact. The PTA said PTCL had 5.19 million fixed line customers at year end, whilst National Telecommunication Corporation had 81,027, Special Communication Organisation 94,649, World Call 4,100 and Brain Telecom 1,520. With fixed line growth slowing considerably, the PTA is looking to low-cost, semi-mobile WiLL services as an alternative to the cellular operators. The regulator launched an auction in August 2004 for blocks of WiLL spectrum in the 450MHz, 1.9GHz and 3.5GHz bands in each of the country's 14 regions. PTCL won multiple licences, whilst 16 others picked up spectrum. The PTA says there were 499,828 WiLL users in Pakistan by the end of 2005. PTCL led the market with 286,877 customers, TeleCard had 150,985 users, World Call boasted 54,181, Great Bear had 5,250 and Special Communication 2,535.


From 01/30/2006



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AUSTRALIA: Highlights Potential for Rural 3G

Australia: In a move that reinforces the place of mobile as a provider of rural, broadband connectivity, Telstra this week announced that it will roll-out a W-CDMA network that will cover 98% of Australia¡¯s population. Tom Phillips ( inset ), the GSM Association¡¯s Chief Government & Regulatory Affairs Officer, speaking at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis this week, said: ¡°Telstra¡¯s decision highlights the unique capacity of the GSM family of technologies to provide economically-viable voice and broadband services to both rural and urban areas. No other technology can match the economies of scale generated by GSM¡¯s 1.6 billion users worldwide." Telstra has chosen to transmit voice and multimedia services, including Internet access and video calling, in the 850 MHz spectrum band, using W-CDMA: part of the 3GSM family of technologies. Signals carried over this frequency travel further than those carried over standard W-CDMA frequencies, such as 1900 MHz and 2100 MHz, allowing each base-station to provide coverage to a wider area. ¡°Telstra¡¯s plans for an extensive broadband network highlight how W-CDMA is rapidly maturing into a versatile technology that can economically serve a wide range of communities from urban centres to rural outposts," said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer of the GSMA. ¡°By utilising the 850 MHz frequency band, Telstra will be able to offer high data rate capabilities over a wide geographic area using W-CDMA plus HSDPA*. Users will also benefit from the automatic global roaming capabilities offered by the GSM family of technologies." Mobile operators around the world have now rolled out 86 3GSM networks, allowing equipment makers to spread the cost of developing 3GSM networks and handsets across a large customer base. Cingular Wireless, the largest operator in the U.S., is planning to roll out some cities with a 3GSM network at 850 MHz next year that will enhance its existing 3GSM network at 1900 MHz. Other operators wishing to provide 3G services to wide geographic areas are likely to follow suit as more 3GSM 850 MHz equipment becomes available. For governments debating the best way to bridge the digital divide at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis this week, Telstra¡¯s move to offer 3G services to almost the entire Australian population is a clear demonstration of the potential of the GSM ecosystem to bring Internet access to rural communities.


From 11/21/2005



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Calls for Probe into Mobile Service

THE Federal Government needs to look into mobile phone services in rural areas amid concerns about Telstra replacing its existing network, former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer said today. Telstra plans to switch off its CDMA mobile network covering rural and regional areas and replace it in 2008 with a national 3G (third generation) service. There are fears Telstra's 1.4 million customers will have to fork out for an expensive new 3G mobile phone once the CDMA service is switched off. Mr Fischer, who fought for the introduction of CDMA in 2000, said an independent inquiry was needed to investigate Telstra's proposals. "Given the fact there was public money in the CDMA mobile freeway ... these are matters that should be subject of an independent inquiry, especially with regard to footprint of services," he said."I think `not so fast, Sol' and not until there has been a proper comparison between CDMA and the new low frequency GSM (global system for mobiles) that (Telstra chief executive) Sol (Trujillo) is proposing." Telstra says there is no need for an investigation because it has already made a commitment not to switch off the CDMA network until the new 3G service has the same sort of coverage in country areas. "This isn't like back in 2000, when I think at the time Mr Fischer was deputy prime minister and the government switched off the analogue network causing some inconvenience to people in regional Australia," company spokesman Rod Bruem said. "Telstra has given every undertaking that it will work with its customers on the transition and make it as easy as possible. "We certainly don't want a repeat of what occurred back in 2000." About $100 million of taxpayers' money has been invested in Telstra's CDMA network. But Mr Bruem said the money had not been a waste even though the CDMA network would be replaced. "Taxpayers should feel assured that 80 per cent of what's been invested through commonwealth programs will go into the new network," he said. Meanwhile, Labor is preparing to unveil its new telecommunications policy this week, with a plan to roll out high speed broadband services as its centrepiece. Opposition communications spokesman Stephen Conroy said Australia deserved to have a "true" broadband network, which was about 50 times faster than existing services. He called on the government to help telecommunications companies roll out optical fibre broadband networks so there could be competition with Telstra's services. Labor's plan calls for new laws to be drawn up to help joint venture companies build optical fibre infrastructure. The joint ventures would maintain ownership and control of the network and would be banned from engaging in retail competition. Instead, they would provide wholesale services to joint venture partners and access to outside third parties. "This structural separation would destroy any incentive that the owners of monopoly infrastructure may have to discriminate anti-competitively in providing access to its infrastructure, reducing the need for continuing heavy-handed government intervention," Senator Conroy said. £¨by By Belinda Tasker£©


From 11/21/2005



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Siemens Wins Federal Government IP Contract

The Federal Department of Finance and Administration (DOFA) today inked a $1.8 million contract with Siemens to upgrade its communications network across four sites in Canberra. The department will install Siemens HiPath 4000 Real-time IP system and the Siemens ProCenter 5.1 Contact Centre solution which includes more than 1,400 OptiPoint 500 handsets. Siemens general manager David Healy said the three-month rollout allows DOFA to protect its existing investment as the solution allows IP and traditional TDM networks to co-exist. "And because the secure core architecture is separate from the user interfaces, security against attacks is at the highest possible level, ensuring system integrity," he added. Commander business development manager Mike Doering said the easy migration path to new technology allowed Siemens to win the competitive bid. "We listened very carefully to what DOFA wanted from its new communications network. We are setting the foundation for DOFA to future-proof their network," Doering said. The HiPath 4000 connects the central location to the other three offices over a fibre optic cable via a wide area network IP link. Because employees work across all four sites, Doering said flexibility was a key consideration and this included allowing users to connect over IP networks or a traditional circuit-switched system. He said up to 100,000 IP or TDM users can connect at any given time. This is in addition to built-in redundancy which guarantees 100 percent uptime from the IP network to a public telephone network (PSTN) as well as the capacity to link a wide range of applications. (by Sandra Rossi)


From 11/21/2005



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Australian Media Giants Eye Internet

Internet joint ventures and the dissemination of content via PC and wireless devices will be the strategic focus of Australia's traditional media players whatever the outcome of the Federal Government's proposed changes to media laws. Following the launch of web portal Yahoo!7 this week, both of Australia's largest newspaper publishers, John Fairfax Holdings and News Ltd, admitted they might be interested in similar partnerships where its extensive content was combined with a larger portal. "We're always looking at anything where the content and the technology can go together. That's what ninemsn and Yahoo!7 is all about," said News Ltd spokesman Greg Baxter. "There's nothing to preclude us from investing in this market in existing or related businesses." Last year News Ltd's parent News Corp spent $US1.4 billion on three "gateway" internet portals that it hopes will encourage consumers to access a range of its various online applications. Mr Baxter said News Ltd was "not happy with" its position in online motor and employment classifieds in Australia and wanted to do more with its news and entertainment sites. "I don't think it's any secret that our strategy around the world is to become a much bigger presence online," he said. "We're not yet anywhere closer to using those (Australian) sites to their potential, but there's a lot of thought going into how that's will be developed." Fairfax's corporate affairs head Bruce Wolpe said the growing popularity of the internet as consumers' first choice for news and information was making aspects of the proposed media ownership laws redundant. Though Fairfax already has deals in place with Yahoo! to promote its classified advertisements and Hutchison 3 to distribute news and entertainment content, he said the publishing group was considering a range of new internet options. "Wherever Fairfax Digital can aggressively distribute its content it will do so. The area around search is important, and something we could potentially explore," Mr Wolpe said. "But what our chairman and CEO have said is that we're not going to spend hundreds of millions on other people's enterprises. We're going to take our strong franchises and build them." Fairfax chairman Ron Walker said yesterday the company was far more interested in investing in new media opportunities than making a play for TV or radio assets when the rules are relaxed. "I would like to see substantially less reliance on media publications and more on electronic transmissions and new-age information services," he said. "Maybe Fairfax needs a younger image because we are preaching to a younger audience." The latest data from the Roy Morgan Internet Monitor revealed that Google remained the dominant player among search engines in Australia. In the September quarter last year, more than 8.5 million Australians said Google was the search engine they mainly used, compared with a little more than 2.2 million who use Yahoo!'s search engine.


From 01/02/2006



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Website Gears Up for Cyclone Season

As cyclone season approaches in the Pacific, an Australian-based non-government organisation is stepping up work on its Pacific early warning website. The site is run by the Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific, and it provides up to date information on all cyclones and other disasters affecting the Pacific region. The site is an attempt to bring together reports from a wide range of outlets, before and after a natural disaster strikes. Kevin Vang is the Executive Director of the Sydney-based NGO Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific.


From 01/16/2006



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Online Search Recognised at Australian State E-Govt Web Site

The Victoria Online Information Architecture Team has won the Sir Rupert Hamer Records Management Award 2005 - Inner Budget Agency, for delivery of the Victoria Online Thesaurus. Victoria Online provides an entry point to government for residents in the Australian state of Victoria. The Victoria Online Thesaurus was developed to improve information discovery within the Victoria Online search facility. It is a subject-based natural language tool providing high level descriptors for government. The Thesaurus is being used to ensure consistency of language in cataloguing government web sites. It will be used to support search narrowing in the future. The Thesaurus is publicly available at the e-government web site - Victoria Online Thesaurus. The Sir Rupert Hamer Records Management Awards are issued by the Public Records Office Victoria for innovation and excellence in records management. The Awards are an initiative of the Public Records Advisory Council. The Awards are named after Sir Rupert Hamer, who was the Victorian Premier when the Public Records Act was passed in 1973 and when Public Record Office Victoria opened its first office and repository in 1975.


From 01/30/2006



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Three NZ and Australian Software Firms Merge

Three New Zealand and Australian software companies Microsell, Acuere and The Integrators have merged to form Trialta, to be headquartered in Adelaide. Trialta will specialise in business efficiency processes and systems. The new company, which has a combined turnover of $8 million and employs 42 staff, has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Auckland and Wellington. It will be headed by Deborah Miller, previously chief executive of Acuere. Ms Miller said the merger gave Trialta the critical mass to pursue an aggressive growth policy. "We have a five-year plan to double growth," she said.


From 01/31/2006



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Will the Real Truelocal Please Stand Up?

TrueLocal, the new Australian online search directory unveiled by News Ltd this week, might soon have a fight on its hands from a Canadian outfit bearing the same name. According to sources at the Toronto-based TrueLocal "hundreds of Australians" have already attempted to sign up to its service after mistaking it for the recently launched directory listing service from News Ltd. The local directory market differs from more generic search engines by providing a database of business listings linked to specific geographical areas much like a traditional print directory. Although the North American TrueLocal does not own the trademark for its brand in Australia, the company said it had planned to launch its operations here later this year. Jake Baillie, president of TrueLocal, said: "News Ltd was made aware of TrueLocal's existence and expansion plans for Australia in 2006 prior to the launch of their service, but decided to proceed despite the obvious brand confusion. TrueLocal will be taking all appropriate steps to protect our brand in Australia and worldwide." A spokeswoman from News Interactive, the News Ltd division behind the venture, said the company had no comment to make other than that it had launched in Australia first. Lawyers in Australia say the best way to protect a brand is to secure a trademark in all the geographies that a company might want trade in at a future date. However, if this step has not been taken and another company begins to trade using that brand then, depending on the situation, there are a number of other arguments a company might put forward to reclaim ownership, said John Stinson, business law specialist at Conway Maccallum. He said one such argument might centre on the international nature of an online brand, which can effectively be accessed from anywhere in the world. "Today's usage of modern technology and the internet raises a very interesting question about whether people are using branding in other countries that is accessible via the internet in Australia," he said. News Ltd's new TrueLocal venture - which uses the .com.au domain - is expected to go head-to-head with Telstra's Sensis website and will integrate with its own community newspaper service listings. Researcher Frost & Sullivan said the online directory search market was worth about $111m in Australia last year and is expected to grow rapidly. (by Louisa Hearn)


From 02/03/2006



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Broadband Prices Set to Rise

Families, schools and businesses are set to face a hike in broadband internet prices, experts say. Telstra announced yesterday it would increase the price it charges its competitors to access the copper lines between households and telephone exchanges. Companies such as Optus and iiNet currently pay about $22 a line per month in city areas and $100 in rural areas. But Telstra said the new price for its unconditioned local loop (ULL), as it is known, would be a national average of $30 a month. The decision to introduce the new price within two months pre-empted a review of ULL pricing by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), initiated by Prime Minister John Howard last year. The ACCC has argued for a range of prices, from $7 in city central business districts to $13 per customer per month in city suburbs and $144 in rural areas. But Telstra says the ACCC proposal would cost it about $1 billion in revenue. Communications analyst Paul Budde said under the Telstra plan internet users could expect higher prices in the city, but lower prices in rural areas. "The increase in the all-important metro market varies between 230 per cent and 36 per cent, and obviously this will have to be passed on to consumers in these markets," Mr Budde said. "The price does mean a decrease for rural charges." Mr Budde said the move would undermine competition in city areas, which the government is trying to encourage in the lead-up to Telstra's full sale. "The key of the wholesale and competition policy of the government is to make sure that better prices and innovations in metro markets are secured through increased competition, while the $3 billion fund for regional infrastructure should secure good broadband services in those areas," he said. "Telstra's strategy is squarely aimed at undermining the competition where it is hurting them the most - in metro Australia." The Competitive Carriers Coalition, which represents Telstra's competition, estimated the rise in broadband cost in the city to be around $10 a month. An Optus spokesperson said the move was not justified. "It is outrageous of Telstra to increase ULL to $30 in circumstances where the ACCC has not approved an undertaking at that price and while there are other disputes on foot," the spokeswoman said. A spokeswoman for Telstra said the $30 average price was fair and would ensure parity of service and price nationwide.


From 02/04/2006



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NEW ZEALAND: Using the Net to Get the Story

New Zealand journalists could be using computer-assisted reporting (CAR) techniques to produce better-researched, more in-depth articles, according to National Business Review webmaster and technology contributor Francis Till. While most reporters these days use email and popular web-based search engines such as Google for research, Till says there are a number of less well-known search engines which could be helping them perform more specialised searches. Many of these search engines are freely available on the web, while others ?such as LexisNexis, Factiva and The Knowledge Basket ?charge for their services. Till is one of three experienced CAR practitioners scheduled to speak at the CAR: Research in the Internet Age seminar at Wintec in Hamilton on December 7. He will give advice on developing search strategies and discuss general, specialist and investigative searching on the internet. Till believes Google is a very useful search engine, but says that because it ranks results or "hits" by popularity, it is not well-suited to certain specialised or obscure searches. Many information sites, such as the Companies Office, are not interested in having Google scan their content, so reporters need to know to look there ?and how to look there ?themselves, he says. Till, a former search engine optimiser, says that as technology advances, it becomes more important for reporters to be able to use computer databases and software to assist them with their research. However, many local reporters simply do not know how to use the technology effectively. "These more specialised search engines, for example, probably aren't used very well in New Zealand." However, CAR is being used more and more to help break news stories. For example, New Zealand Herald reporter Louisa Cleave used online research to find out that Canadian John Davy lied on his c.v. before he was hired as chief executive of Maori TV. While CAR has many advantages, it is not without its problems. For starters, many of these specialised searches are relatively time-consuming. "With time you can locate all sorts of people and information. But that's just it ?it does take time," says Till. These techniques may not be suitable for reporters working to tight deadlines, therefore, but they can be very useful for those with the time to research their subject more fully. "The old way of dealing with things was to read the press release, talk to the relevant person, write up the story and that was it. But these new technologies can provide much richer background information and, because of that, put stories in context." However, Till is adamant that the computer is just one tool of many reporters have available to them to assist them with their work. "The web's a great resource but it doesn't replace picking up the phone and talking to people." Paul Smith, deputy editor of nzherald.co.nz, agrees. The internet, email and other computer-based technologies have made life easier for reporters, but they won't replace traditional reporting tools, he says. "Email often makes it easier to contact people, particularly if they're overseas. But nothing beats actually speaking to people over the phone." Smith says he often uses trusted online sources like NZPA, Reuters and government websites for information, but is wary of less well-known sites. "It's important not to take any online information at face value," he says.


From 11/23/2005



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NEW ZEALAND: Huawei to Construct 3G Network in New Zealand

New Zealand : Huawei Technologies was recognized by New Zealand Econet Wireless New Zealand Limited ("EWNZ") as the latter's strategic partner for WCDMA networks deployment. This is the first 3G network deployed by EWNZ in New Zealand, and is the first 3G network for its majority shareholder, EWG, in the world. Moreover, it's the first 3G network constructed by Huawei in the Australasia area. Huawei, as the sole vendor, will start the first deployment phase in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, and target to complete the nationwide networks within the next 3 years. Given the fact that the existing wireless offerings are still generally expensive, New Zealand Government takes active action in deregulating the market, introducing competition, so as to reduce consumers' overall telecom expenses. Thus the Government is very supportive on EWNZ 3G project. With fast response to customers' needs, high quality products and cost-effective & customized solutions, Huawei will not only provide New Zealand mobile users with more attractive services and cost-saving options, but also help EWNZ to roll out customized services quickly and reduce the operational costs and risks. More importantly, Huawei will help EWNZ to enhance its market competitiveness in New Zealand with its extensive experience in 3G construction and operation. Huawei provides end-to-end WCDMA solutions, including a complete set of WCDMA wireless base station systems, core networks and IN, which provide rich 3G services such as video phone, high-speed internet access, wireless mail, MMS, VMS, and other multimedia services. As one of the leading suppliers in the global telecom industry, Huawei is dedicated to research and development of advanced mobile technologies and provision of value-added services as well as high-quality and customized solutions to carriers around the world. Huawei is recognized by the industry as the fastest-growing 3G provider and it has provided total mobile solutions and services for operators in more than 60 countries and has already won 11 UMTS commercial contracts in the Netherlands, U.A.E, Hong Kong, Malaysia, etc.


From 12/05/2005



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Minister Keeping Eye on High-Speed Internet Deal

Communications Minister David Cunliffe supports the TelstraClear-Telecom deal signed last week, but will be watching to see how it plays out. The deal "is a step forward for the telecommunications market. Another major competitor in the industry does increase choice and potentially provide for a better service and price for consumers in the immediate future", Cunliffe said. "I will be watching closely to see how the deal works in practice." The two companies on Friday announced a four-pronged deal based on TelstraClear's finally having access to Telecom's unbundled bitstream (UBS) high-speed internet service. TelstraClear said it would now be able to offer broadband to 100,000 of its customers nationwide. Other terms included improved margins for TelstraClear in reselling phone and other wholesale services; a lowering of interconnection costs; and a one-time payment from Telecom to settle several long-standing issues. They have also withdrawn all pricing review applications with the Commerce Commission. The one-year deal replaces a commission ruling last month on the UBS service. Telecom had indicated it would challenge the ruling and, rather than risk being shut out of the market for months, TelstraClear opted for more expensive and slower services through signing the deal. Cunliffe said the commission's determination would remain in effect until December 20, 2007, should it be required, and reiterated that he was reviewing the telecommunications sector.


From 01/18/2006



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Broadband Sales Not Enough for Government

Telecom has claimed a victory with the number of broadband connections it had by the end of 2005, but the Government says it has failed to meet its goal. In its half-year result yesterday, Telecom reported that it had 279,000 residential broadband customers. Of these, 63,000 were wholesale customers: they took a retail internet service with another provider, such as ihug. Toward the end of last year Telecom and the Government were at odds over whether it had agreed to get 83,000 wholesale customers by the end of 2005, an issue that had yet to be resolved. Communications Minister David Cunliffe said yesterday he considered Telecom to have failed to meet this target, though it made an increased effort to promote wholesale. "The failure to meet the broadband target is one of the factors that we are considering as part of our stocktake of the sector." Asked if 63,000 represented satisfactory progress in wholesale, Mr Cunliffe replied: "No, satisfactory would have been 83,000". Telecom has about 75 per cent of the broadband market, which industry bodies said reflected a poor wholesale environment. But Telecom chief executive Theresa Gattung said she expected to see the competitive pressure step up this year, as TelstraClear enters the market, after a deal with Telecom last month. "Its going to be a big action year in broadband. The combination of our deal with TelstraClear and the Commerce Commission deal is likely to see new offers, prices and speeds." Having passed 250,000 residential customers, Ms Gattung said Telecom was "potentially up for setting a new target". Telecom now has even numbers of total dial-up and broadband customers, about 340,000 of each.


From 02/03/2006



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Schools Website Splits Parties

National wants wider access to a website which compares school's performance in order to open up the "culture of secrecy" in education. Bill English wants the Government to provide access to the little known Schoolsmart website, which compares school finances and other factors such as staff turnover and student achievement. It is currently accessible only to principals and chairs of boards. "I've had a look at it and I can't for the life of me see any reason why parents shouldn't be able to see that information," said Mr English, National's education spokesman. The debate has been sparked by news that Auckland's Avondale College has set up a website containing information about its students. The Sunday Star Times reported yesterday that parents would be able to access data - including daily updates on detentions, NCEA progress reports and class attendance records - only on their own children. Mr English said: "At last, a school has been brave enough to break the culture of secrecy in our education system. It will get parents more engaged with their children's education." Education Minister Steve Maharey said today that Avondale College's website was a "good idea". But he was less enthusiastic about giving parents access to another website comparing schools' performances. Mr Maharey said the National Party wanted to privatise schools and giving everyone access to the Schoolsmart website would simply set schools up in competition with one another. "The information is best used by the school to ensure that they are lifting their performance," he said. "What we don't want is on the front page of a newspaper, frankly, all the information about every school which then fuels this, kind of, competitive marketplace in public education," Mr Maharey said. "I'm interested in all schools being good schools."


From 02/13/2006



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NZ Broadband Internet Uptake "Unsatisfactory"

WELLINGTON (Dow Jones)--New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark Tuesday stepped up threats of regulatory action against Telecom Corp. of New Zealand Ltd. ((NZX: TEL.nz) ), saying the government will address with "urgency" the country's "unsatisfactory" high-speed Internet uptake. Clark, making a speech to parliament on the first sitting day of 2006, said broadband is a critical enabler of productivity and growth, yet New Zealand is "lagging behind" on many fronts. "It's become very clear that new initiatives are needed to get faster Internet access and at more competitive prices," Clark said in speech notes. She noted that Telecom's move Monday to offer faster broadband Internet services at lower prices is welcome. But she added the government will still "be addressing the relevant policy, legislative, and regulatory settings as a matter of urgency." Clark's threats signal a stronger regulatory stance emerging in government, and add to comments she made last week that there is a "compelling case" for further action against Telecom. Telecom, New Zealand's largest listed company by market capitalization, has been under fire for months as critics label its broadband services too slow and too expensive compared with other countries. Clark noted that Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development figures for mid-2005 rank New Zealand 22nd out of 30 countries in terms of broadband uptake. New Zealand has the same ranking in OECD figures for average per person investment in telecommunications infrastructure, Clark added. "Our connection speed offerings are on average still too slow," Clark said, adding New Zealand is one of the few countries where "restrictive data caps have been the norm." "These results are unsatisfactory," she added. Telecom failed to meet some of its high-speed Internet customer targets set by the local regulator when it announced its second-quarter results earlier this month. In a move likely designed to fend off stiff regulatory action, Telecom announced Monday that it will offer faster broadband Internet services at lower prices from April. Its new offering is an improvement, but the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand has noted it still falls well short of broadband speeds being offered in Australia, the U.K., France and most of Europe and Asia. Clark said the government will work with "other parties on solutions which not only enable New Zealand to catch up with the rest of the world, but also enable us to keep up as these technologies develop further." The New Zealand government is currently conducting what it calls a regulatory "stock take" of the telecommunications sector. The threat of regulation has weighed on Telecom's share price in recent weeks, and the stock has fallen 3.9% since Clark's comments last week. At 0030 GMT, the stock was down 0.2% at NZ$5.50. -By Paula Oliver


From 02/14/2006



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NZ Second Biggest Web User in World

New Zealanders are the second-biggest users of the internet in the world despite poor broadband uptake, new statistics show. A compilation of figures on Internet World Stats website shows 76.3 per cent of New Zealanders - about 3.2 million people - regularly use the internet. That's good enough for second place, just behind Malta, at 78.1 per cent, and ahead of Iceland, Sweden and Denmark. Colin Jackson, president of internet governance body InternetNZ, wasn't surprised with the showing. "New Zealanders have always been up at the head of this. Back in the early days of the mass'net, in the early nineties, it was always us and the Nordics and the US who were the leaders of the pack." The statistics were compiled from a number of sources, including the International Telecommunications Union, ratings analyst Nielsen//NetRatings and the Computer Industry Almanac. Although definitions differ between the sources, the website qualified an internet user as someone who has available access to the internet and who has basic knowledge of how to use web technology. The statistics reinforce similar numbers from the OECD, which ranks countries according to internet subscribers per 100 inhabitants. New Zealand rates well by that measure - its 52.6 subscribers per 100 is good enough for eighth out of 30, ahead of countries such as Canada, the UK and Japan. But the numbers include dial-up subscribers, who are the overwhelming majority of New Zealand's internet customers. Conversely, the country ranks near the bottom of the OECD - 22nd out of 30 - in high-speed internet uptake. This further highlights the broadband problem, Jackson said. "We have lousy broadband penetration in a country where all the other figures including this one show that we would love to be ahead of the curve," he said. "We've been choked. There is huge demand but inadequate supply." Telecom has no real broadband competition and controls more than 90 per cent of the market, either through retail or wholesale, which allows the company to set prices and speeds as it sees fit, Jackson said. Telecom spokesman John Goulter said the company shares the Government's goal of moving customers over to faster services. "Our big challenge is to get as many as possible of those internet users over to broadband as fast as possible. We think we've made a good step towards that" with the new set of plans it unveiled last week. But Jackson said the plans, which boost speeds and lower prices somewhat, were not enough to make a difference in international rankings. "I'm not convinced that the recent improvements by Telecom, while they are welcome, are anywhere near enough to get us into the top quarter of the OECD like the Government has been asking." The low broadband uptake is also the main reason for New Zealand's poor showing in overall number of websites, he said. New Zealand has about 15 websites per 1000 people, less than half the OECD average of 30 and well behind leader Germany, at 85. Slow upload speeds and data restrictions have made it impractical for many users to set up and host their own sites at home. "You run a serious risk of blowing some relatively modest data cap and letting yourself in for an unlimited bill. Nobody is going to do that from home," Jackson said. The result is that users need to pay somebody else, such as an internet service provider, to host their website. That's an extra step and cost that discourages all but the most serious businesses. The other result is that some businesses host their websites offshore because it is cheaper to do so. Some Government sites, as well as some of Radio New Zealand's streaming content, is hosted in the United States, Jackson said.


From 02/20/2006



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AZERBAIJAN: Azerbaijan to Open Information Technologies University

On Thursday the Azerbaijani Education Ministry held a meeting to discuss establishment of the Information Technologies University in Baku, Trend reports. Misir Mardanov, the Education Minister, Ali Abbasov, the Communications and Information Technologies Ministry, Phillip Brener, the head of the Chalmer Information Technologies University attended the event. Mardanov underlined importance of establishment of similar university in the country at the initiative of the Chalmer Information Technologies University and proposed establishment of special working group in this regard. Brener noted that Azerbaijan have got all necessary conditions to establish such university. Abbasov mentioned necessity of establishment of Information Technologies University in relation with development of IT in Azerbaijan.


From 12/02/2005



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CHINA: The First Annual Forum of Informatization and Shanghai Expo

The First Annual Forum of Informatization and Shanghai Expo was held in Shanghai Exhibition Center on 5 November, 2005. Based on the platform of 7th Shanghai Industry Fair, this forum focused on the theme of informatization and digital world expo, and combined with the development and prospect of city informatization. It is committed to outline the development trend and framework of China's information industry and to enhance the communication and cooperation between government and leaders of information industry. Hot topics of informatization planning and construction of 2010 Shanghai Expo were discussed, while common understanding and willingness for further collaboration were reached. URL: .


From 02/02/2006



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IRAN: Isfahan Hosts E-Commerce Seminar

The Eighth International Seminar on Modern Marketing and eCommerce was held in the historical city of Isfahan on Friday. According to ISNA, ambassadors of Iraq and Kenya as well as senior Saudi diplomats attended the seminar. Rassoul Ranjbaran, who heads Isfahan Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines, said at the event that Iran has one percent of the global population, seven percent of the global resources and only 0.3 percent of global trade. He said the resource-rich country continues to suffer from lack of electronic banks and customs, stressing that e-commerce accounts for only five percent of economic activities in Isfahan. He further noted that while Muslim states make up one-sixth of the world population, economic interactions among them remain poor. Ali Abbas Ali, Kenyan ambassador to Tehran, told the gathering that his country is willing to import goods from Iran, adding that bilateral economic ties are currently not very favorable. The ambassador expressed hope that Iranian companies would invest in Kenya, which he said had experienced a four-percent economic growth rate in 2004. Ali Akbar Jalali, a university professor who teaches at Iranian and American universities, said at the seminar that 2.7 billion people worldwide live on less than two dollars a day today, adding that e-commerce can help alleviate poverty.


From 12/18/2005



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SOUTH KOREA: Electronics Industry Poised to Lead Digital Renaissance

The nation's electronics industry achieved a $100 billion export target last year, securing fourth position in the world following Japan, the U.S. and China. At the ceremony held in commemoration of this remarkable achievement at the Grand InterContinental Hotel in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul on Feb. 15, the electronics industry presented its ¡°Vision 2015" to reach $300 billion in exports by 2015, designating every Tuesday of the third week of October as ¡°Electronics Day." Some 500 people from political and business circles took part in the ceremony, including Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, Commerce-Industry-Energy Minister Chung Se-kyun and Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Yoon Jong-yong. In his congratulatory speech, Prime Minister Lee called upon the electronics businesses to stand in the vanguard to seize the initiative in the world's electronics industry for the coming 100 years, the anticipated century of digital renaissance. Meanwhile, Commerce- Industry-Energy Minister Chung presented 12 export companies, labor unions and institutes with plaques in recognition of their contributions to exports.


From 02/17/2006



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MONGOLIA: Mongol Software-2006 Trade Fair to Take Place

A trade fair Mongol Software-2006 will take place on February 21-23 in the National Information Technology Park. The Information and Communication Technology Authority with the cooperation of the National Information Technology Park and the Midas/Monita NGO will organize the trade fair with the intention of supporting the software production and increasing the necessities of software products. The trade fair, which is to be participated by a total of 20 companies, will display more than 80 software products. The E-Soum project activities will be introduced and recommendation and introductions on the software in tourism, farming and other sectors will be issued during the event.


From Montsame 02/17/2006



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UZBEKISTAN: UNDP Assists Women's Committee to Improve ICT Skills

Trainings to increase knowledge and skills of the Women's Committee in the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) started on 1 December 2005, the UNDP Tashkent office said in its press release on 19 December. The trainings are aimed at developing skills of the employees of the central and regional Women's Committees in the use of information technologies in their work and thus increase effectiveness of information exchange within the Committee and with other governmental and public organizations through Internet, the release said. During the training participants enhanced not only their general understanding of the operating system and office applications, but also acquired expertise in the professional use of e-mail and Internet research. Interactive one-on-one training method was very effective and gave an opportunity to adapt delivered information to the level of knowledge in ICT of each participant. The UNDP said in its release that training for the central Women's Committee was conducted by the specialists and Volunteers of the UNDP project on "ICT Policy". In the frames of the UNDP project on "Capacity Building of the Women's Committee" the central and regional offices of the Women's Committee were provided with IT equipment, including equipment for Local Area Network with the aim to increase efficiency and effectiveness of the work practices. The project is also intended to strengthen the capacity of the Women's Committee to conduct policy dialogue and provide policy advice to the key stakeholders on gender equality and empowerment of women in Uzbekistan.


From 12/20/2005



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SoftLine and Citrix Hold Seminar for IT-specialists

SoftLine International in collaboration with Citrix and Communication and Informatization Agency of Uzbekistan held seminar on formation of centralized delivery of software application with the use of Citrix technology. According to SoftLine, seminar titled Citrix Presentation Server 4.0: standard of next generation of centralized delivery of applications, was visited by over 100 people. Citrix Technology is able significantly secure future activities of your companies, decrease complexity of IT-infrastructure, as well as cut off the expenses for IT, - pointed out technical specialist of SoftLine International Kazakhstan Yevgeniy Zosimov. Manager of Training center of SoftLine Irina Matvienko reported on authorized training courses from world leading producers of software support. SoftLine International (Tashkent), established in 2004, represents the interests of parent company SoftLine (Russia) in the territory of Uzbekistan.


From 02/03/2006



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INDONESIA: ICT Focuses on Human Resources Development

Albeit a bit late, the government will start focussing on human resources development in its information and communications technology (ICT) policy next year, realizing the potential of this rising industry. Among its 2006 plans, the Ministry of Industry will develop more ICT based community centers, director general for transportation and ICT industry Budhi Darmadi said on Wednesday. "The centers will be a practice field for our IT engineers," he added, without giving exact locations of future centers. Budhi said the government had set up IT "centers of excellence" in Surakarta (Central Java), Yogyakarta, Denpasar (Bali), as well as Cimahi and Bandung in West Java. The Bandung hi-tech Valley, for example, has become a solution center with several IT-based companies like state-owned PT Inti and PT LEN. Aside from developing research centers, the ministry also targets to double ICT exports by 2009. Last year, the country exported a total of US$2 billion of ICT products, a 23 percent increase on the value booked in 2004. Despite increasing exports, the utilization of locally made ICT components in the country remains low, especially in the telecommunications industry, Budhi said. "We will try to push for a regulation requiring industries to use a minimum 20 percent of locally made components," he added. Separately, telecommunications network developer Ericsson Indonesia's president director Mats Bosrup said his company was currently working with 20 local companies supplying parts for their projects. "They supply feeders, cables and other components," he said, adding that Ericsson Indonesia would gradually use more local components.


From 01/06/2006



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MALAYSIA: Vital to Manage E-Mail Properly

Business should manage their e-mail as part of their risk management programme. Here's why. P.K. Gupta, product marketing director of information management vendor EMC Software, said organisations are using e-mail to conduct business communications, and these messages can even be produced as evidence in court. ¡°E-mail is the world¡¯s biggest content-distribution system because everything, from our regular mail to our financial statements, is sent through the system," he said. Since an e-mail is also a legal document in many countries, it is important to manage it well, said Gupta. However, he said, 46% of businesses cannot manage their e-mail properly because the message volumes are growing by up to 300% each year. ¡°Most people are not organising their electronic documents as efficiently as they manage their paper documents," he said. According to Gupta, any e-mail coming to an organisation is automatically a business document and it should be treated as such. He said solutions, such as EMC¡¯s Express Solutions in Emails, can help businesses keep an archive of its e-mail messages as well as provide the rapid recovery of the documents. Gupta said EMC¡¯s solution can capture an e-mail in real-time and store a copy of it in an electronic archive. Capturing the e-mail in real-time reduces the risk of anyone tampering with the codument. ¡°An e-mail message has to be proven to be authentic before it can be presented in a court of law," he said. Besides the solution, the human factor is also important. ¡°Such solutions will not work if a business' employees are not properly trained in e-mail management," said Gupta. ¡°The (company's) legal personnel and IT staff should work together to come up with e-mail management policies and to make sure those policies are followed," he said.


From 12/01/2005



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MALAYSIA: Campaign to Increase 3G Awareness

Cosmoscape Sdn Bhd is organising a third-generation (3G) mobile technology awareness campaign aimed at increasing the awareness of the technology amongst consumers. The campaign, called ¡°3G.Broadband Show," is supported by the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry and will be held from June 8 to June 11 at the KL Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur. Alan Fung, Cosmoscape¡¯s project director, said the company feels privileged to be able to contribute to the Government¡¯s efforts to educate the public on the benefits of 3G and broadband technology. ¡°We hope to see improved 3G and broadband adoption after the show," he said in a press statement last week. Industry regulator, the Malaysian Communi-cations and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), recently reported in its Hand Phone Users Survey 2005 that the uptake of 3G in the country was low. Fung said Cosmoscape plans to use the show as part of its contribution to the Government¡¯s effort to increase the public¡¯s awareness of these technologies. The inaugural show is expected to attract about 130 exhibitors and 60,000 visitors comprising both trade professionals and members of the public who would like to see and learn how these technologies could enrich their lives, Fung said. Cosmoscape is planning to hold exciting activities to help visitors better understand the benefits of 3G and broadband. Visitors will also be able to buy bargain items related to these technologies. Those interested to exhibit are invited to contact Cosmoscape (alan@frontlinegroup.com.my ) or call (03) 7874-4695 to get more details.


From 02/06/2006



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Singapore Urges Clearer Goals for e-Government Success

Clear long-term goals and a unified approach by government, private sector and citizens are the most critical factors in the success of any e-government program, says a top executive of Singapore¡¯s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). High-level government support and funding are also necessary for all e-government projects, added Caren Chua, IDA senior consultant for the e-government policies division, in a speech to delegates at the opening of the e-Government and Trade Facilitation Forum in Singapore. IT-related government projects should focus as well on user-friendliness to help the public access and navigate government services, she added. Chua cited Singapore¡¯s experience with e-government programs that laid out plans for creating a hospitable environment as early as the 1980s, including computerization and interconnection of government services. She also noted how the Singaporean government worked closely with both businesses and the public on developing a national ICT strategy. As a result, in the year 2005, Singapore¡¯s home PC penetration rate reached 74 percent of the population and Internet use, 57 percent. Business broadband Internet penetration is 59 percent and mobile phone penetration, 98 percent. As a result of strategic execution of its ICT goals, the country¡¯s ICT industry grew to 21 billion US dollars in 2004, Chua added. The e-Government and Trade Facilitation Forum from January 24 to 27 in Singapore highlights key e-government initiatives in Asian countries. (by Alexander Villafania)


From 01/26/2006



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SINGAPORE: NUS Launches Its First Web-Based Radio Station

The National University of Singapore has launched its first radio station. The web-based station Radio Pulze plays different genres of music each day. Targeted at NUS students and staff, the station also aims to be a platform for Singaporean musicians. It is expected to reach 23,000 listeners on-campus every day via the university's intranet.


From 02/19/2006



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THAILAND: BI is Key to Business

Seven years ago, IT departments thought they could deliver business value to the enterprise. They created huge data warehouses and built complex IT systems. But the effect to business was disappointing. Today, they have been given another chance to deliver and this time they have help in the form of business intelligence (BI) specialists like SAS. Business intelligence has progressed far beyond traditional credit rating for banks and financial institutions. For instance, SAS has worked with Tesco in the UK and can identify what type of promotional material a customer who buys, say, vegetarian food on Saturday mornings would want. It has also discovered that the food giant should target promotional communications to this market segment on Thursdays for maximum effect. Visiting Thailand to address an SAS training event entitled "The Power to Know - The Power to Succeed" in Bangkok last month, Jeroen Dijkxhoorn, practice leader, Technology Group SAS Asia Pacific, explained in an exclusive interview how business intelligence today is not just about delivering information at the management level, but helping all operators within the organisation perform better. One example is integrating the information given to sales and operations for credit card companies. "How often do you get an invitation for a credit card - generated by sales - which is then turned down because you are not credit-worthy?" Dijkxhoorn asked. Such cases are not just wasteful, but damaging to the organisation's image too. Ensuring that all operational units have access to BI will help avoid that situation. "Today SAS version 9 is one of the most mature BI tools available in the market," Dijkxhoorn claimed. He assured everyone that SAS is here to sell the tools and that training and consultancy is only to get their clients up to speed. "Some so-called business intelligence companies, when you look at the SEC filings, take in more than half of their revenue from consultancy work. SAS take in around 10 percent and we have no plans to increase that," he said.


From 01/11/2006



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VIETNAM: IDG to Partner with Vinasa to Promote IT Sector

International Data Group (IDG) said it would help the Viet Nam Software Association (Vinasa) organise international trade fairs and other events to promote the country¡¯s software industry. Earlier this week, the company signed a 15-year agreement with Vinasa to co-organise exhibitions for software products, digital games and IT equipment. IDG also confirmed it plans to participate in the International Software and Games Festival, an expansion of the annual Viet Nam Software Festival that Vinasa set up in 2002. This year¡¯s software festival is to take place in Ha Noi between May 26 and 29, showcasing the latest software and IT products. Participants will also attend seminars to discuss Viet Nam¡¯s software industry development.


From 02/18/2006



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BANGLADESH: Bill Gates Promises Training in IT -- 10,000 Teachers, 200,000 Students to Get the Microsoft Facility

Microsoft will train over 10,000 teachers and 200,000 students in information technology in Bangladesh in next three years and has already donated $100,000 to this end. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect was signed yesterday during a 12-hour visit by Microsoft Chairman and Chief Architect Bill Gates to Bangladesh. Bill Gates, accompanied by his wife Melinda Gates, landed at Zia International Airport around 7:30am. This was his first visit to Bangladesh as part of his weeklong visit to the region. He left for India last night. Bill Gates met Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, had a roundtable discussion with the ministers for education, information, finance, commerce, science and ICT, communications, and home affairs, and some senior leaders of trade bodies at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel. Commenting on his meeting with the prime minister, Bill Gates said, "I am pleased to see such a progress to bridge the digital divide and grow the software industry in an emerging market like Bangladesh. The results we are achieving here can only come through strong partnerships between industries and the government." Microsoft Bangladesh signed the Partners-in-Learning (PL) MoU with the Ministry of Education. Feroz Mahmud, country manager of Microsoft Bangladesh, and Abdul Aziz, education secretary, signed the three-year agreement, which aims to increase access to and build capacity for the use of ICT by educators and students. The Microsoft chief walked into the room with a mild smile in his face to witness the signing ceremony also attended by a number of ministers and secretaries. "Here in Bangladesh, we aim to train over 10,000 teachers and over 200,000 students over the next three years. We have also donated a sum of $100,000 in cash grants," Bill Gates told the ceremony. "We have also rolled out 'Unlimited Potential' programme in partnership with Learn Foundation where community ICT training is provided to a target of 2,000 disadvantaged youths each year. "In addition, alliances were also established with 10 leading universities in Bangladesh to deliver the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance (MSDNAA) where teachers and students will have easier access and exposure to the latest software and technology at affordable prices," Bill Gates mentioned. The Microsoft Partners in Learning programme comprises three distinct programmes -- the PL grants, fresh start for donated PCs, and PL school agreement. Under this programme, Microsoft is providing technology access and skills-based training to primary and secondary-level schoolteachers and students in developing countries around the world. So far, 100 countries have taken part in the PL programme reaching over 10.2 million students. Bangladesh is the 101st country to be enlisted in this programme. Microsoft Bangladesh is a joint venture of the Microsoft Corporation and Bangladesh's Square Informatix and is operating in the country since June last year. Bill Gates yesterday visited different projects of International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), popularly known as Cholera Hospital, including a field site at Kamalapur, reports BDNEWS. He visited the pneumonia surveillance network located in the urban slum in Kamalapur at 8:00am. The US Embassy in Dhaka deployed its own security personnel for the Microsoft chief's security. Besides, huge security men were on hand. Education Minister Farruk Sobhan M Osman Farruk said IT education at secondary and higher secondary levels will be strengthened as Microsoft gives the technical backup to the educational institutions, reports UNB. Microsoft has already announced a grant of $15 million for Asian Women's University in Chittagong. On the agreement, the minister said, "The ball is now in our court -- the future of this agreement depends on our performance." (by Nafid Imran Ahmed)


From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 12/06/2005



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Bridging the Gap Between Academia and Industry

The Bangladesh Cisco Network Academy Programme PLAN-IT Workforce Development Workshop was conducted by the JOBS/IRIS, University of Maryland and CISCO Systems, Inc/Cisco Learning Institute at the American International University - Bangladesh (AIUB) recently. Bangladesh is the first target country of the Cisco PLAN-IT Initiative in Asia, and the Bangladesh Academy Programme is a pioneer in the effort to bridge the gap between Academia and Industry to link graduates with jobs in the ICT sector. "Creating this link between industry and academia is of critical importance to the formation of a skilled and qualified workforce here in Bangladesh. This will not only help facilitate the growth of the national ICT sector, but contribute to the overall economic development of Bangladesh." said Imran Shauket, Country Director, JOBS/IRIS, University of Maryland. The PLAN-IT Workforce Development Programme, an initiative of Cisco Systems, Inc and Cisco Learning Institute, and supported here in Bangladesh by JOBS/IRIS, University of Maryland, is a project led by educational institutions to give students and graduates of the Cisco Networking Academy Programme practical experience in the growing ICT sector. Through partnerships with the private sector, government and civil society, the Workforce Development Programme enables Cisco students and graduates to be ready to tackle the demands of the ICT labour market. The PLAN-IT Model consists of three main components: gender, workforce development and sustainability. At this stage in the LDC Initiative, these components represent the topics of greatest concern to the Academies within the LDC Initiative. To ensure the long-term viability and success of the students, Academies and the countries under the LDC Initiative, the PLAN-IT Model was developed. Bangladesh was one of the first countries selected for the Cisco Networking Academy Programme Least Developed Countries Initiative (LDCi). The LDC Initiative is a global partnership between Cisco Systems, Inc, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Volunteers (UNV/UNITeS), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to train students for jobs in the Internet economy. The Bangladesh Cisco Networking Academy Programme, coordinated for the past two years by JOBS/IRIS, has grown into one of the benchmark programmes in the LDCi. There are currently 10 academies in Bangladesh, with 736 students enrolled in CCNA and 369 graduates in CCNA 4.


From http://bangladesh-web.com/ 12/24/2005



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Bangladesh Knowledge Fair Upholding ICT Skills of Schools

The Second Gyanmela (Knowledge Fair) took over through enthusiasm and spontaneous participation in Sreefoltola, a remote village at the Southern part of Bangladesh, where in altogether twelve schools from various villages of Rampal participated through puting up stalls that could successfully uphold their knowledge and skill in using the ICTs. The Fair was organized on January 20-21, 2006 by Amader Gram ICT4D Project in Sreefoltola village under Rampal Upzila (sub-district) of Bagerhat district. Dr. Dora Rapold, the Ambassador of Switzerland in Bangladesh, inaugurated the Fair as Chief Guest. Amader Gram project stall could draw the attention of the most by showing how the schools can be brought under a wireless network. A demonstration was made by a student of tenth grade, to show how the schools under the inter-school wireless network would be able to share/exchange of various information such as their lesson plan, result, success as well as the students' opportunity to communicating regarding their studies, a web based project named e-Village Rampal was also exhibited in this stall. Besides local schools, some NGOs and Government institutions participated. The competition events included Math Test, Chess, Keram, painting, music, dance, poetry recitation where the students of various schools of the area took part. The fair was kept open from 10 am to 5 pm for both the days. The uniqueness of the knowledge fair lies with the vendors who participate with the source of the knowledge that also exhibits the power of technology that helps to fight poverty and achieve development. Here technology blended well with the simple and fun full components of the local fair as the vendors were the inhabitants where the hurdles of illiteracy, gender, veil or poverty was not a bar at all.


From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 02/15/2006



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BHUTAN: Taking ICT to Remote Schools

Hundred remote community, primary and lower secondary schools around the country should be able to learn the basics of computers when the 2006 academic session begins. The department of information technology through a government of India funded programme will begin distribution of 300 computers to the 100 selected schools from December 19. Each school will get three computers, a printer, free internet and maintenance for a year. ¡°Students from rural schools should at least know what a computer is," said Sangay Wangmo with the department of information technology. This week 25 teachers from the remote schools around the country completed a 10-day training in basic computer operations in Phuentsholing. Many of them had not touched a computer in their life. The participating teachers are expected to teach the students of their schools the basics of a computer starting the next academic year. ¡°More than 95 percent of the beneficiary schools do not have a computer today," said Sangay Wangmo. While majority of the selected schools had electricity, some were still using solar panels. Schools which do not have telephone connectivity would be given Internet connectivity through wireless technology, Sangay Wangmo told Kuensel. Sonam Peljor, the head teacher of Hebesa community primary school in Wangduephodrang, one of the selected schools, said that he had never used a computer in his life. With 85 students in his school from pre-primary to the Class V, he plans to teach the senior students first on basic computer operations. A teacher from Konbar community primary school, about four hours walk from Mongar town, Karma, said that students in her school had ¡°no chance" to know about computers today. Ugyen Samdrup swore that none of the 185 students in his school would ever have even seen a computer. ¡°Nobody in Ngatshang has a computer. The nearest computer would be in a few offices in Yadi, about seven kilometers from Ngatshang." Lower secondary schools had one or two computers but it was not accessible to students. Damthang lower secondary school in Haa had only one computer. ¡°It is not accessible to students and is used by teachers to prepare examination question papers and for other academic purposes," said Kinley Lhamo, a teacher. One of the instructors of the training programme, Suk Bahadur Tamang, told Kuensel that the majority of the teacher participants had problems controlling the mouse and took about three days to adjust themselves in front of the computer. The teachers were taught the basics in windows applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet connectivity, networking the printer and even how to open their e-mail accounts. ¡°Once they had their e-mail address most of the participants were writing to each other in the room," said Sangay Wangmo. Teachers of the other selected remote schools also attended similar training programmes in Gelephu and Mongar simultaneously.


From http://www.kuenselonline.com/ 12/19/2005



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INDIA: IT, Business Process Outsourcing Facing Big Challenges to Maintain Growth

KOLKATA - It's hard to swallow but the halcyon days of India's lucrative information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) sectors are over unless the industries address some fundamental problems. After five prosperous years, the sectors face formidable challenges in the next few years, which if not addressed "concertedly and quickly", will almost certainly result in its missing "golden global opportunities". That's the blunt message coming out of a study on India's IT and BPO sectors released this week by the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM, the country's IT lobby) and McKinsey Consulting. The study, which takes a thorough look at the global IT environment, indicates that though the projected growth rate of the Indian IT and IT enabled services (ITES) still has the potential to be scorching in the next five years, it isn't going to be as easy to achieve as had been thought. The report lists as major challenges a huge shortage of talent, infrastructural deficiencies and external political problems such as a backlash from European and North American markets worried about job losses. But there is good news. The country "has maintained India's leadership position in the global offshore IT and BPO industries over the years ... [it] can still grow at 25% a year and corner about US$60 billion of the global offshoring business by March 2010", said McKinsey's Noshir Kaka, a co-author of the report. "But that's not going to be easy anymore. There are a number of challenges. If Indian IT does not act immediately on them, yes there is a probability of that target not being achieved." Over the last five years, India's IT and BPO sectors, which earn almost all their revenues from providing offshoring and outsourcing services to the world, have proven to be significant economic growth engines. They have grown from $4 billion in 2000 to about $17 billion in 2005, accounting for 6% of the increase in gross domestic product during the period. The offshore IT and BPO industries accounted for nearly 95% of the absolute growth in foreign exchange inflows associated with the country's services industries. While total services exports grew by 60% from $16 billion in 2000 to $25 billion in 2004, offshore IT and BPO exports tripled over the five years.


From http://www.atimes.com/ 12/16/2005



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Infocomm Negotiating Lower Interest Loan to Restructure USD300 Million Debts

Indian mobile operator Reliance Infocomm is close to securing a USD300 million loan from foreign lenders to repay high cost debts, according to Business Line. The borrowing is believed to involve up to 30 global banks, including Citibank, HSBC and ABN Amro, and will have a duration of between five and seven years.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/10/2006



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Infocomm to Double Coverage, Expand Rural Ops

Indian telco Reliance Infocomm has revealed plans for an aggressive expansion of its fixed and mobile networks, saying it intends to more than double the number of towns and cities it currently covers. Infocomm says it expand its network to cover 9,000 towns and cities, up from 4,500 currently, with a strong focus on so-called ¡®B and C class cities¡¯, as well as rural areas. The telco says half of the expansion work will be complete by June.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/13/2006



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Focus on Innovation, Global Mindset, Diversity

"Nasscom's three-day summit firmly established that the Indian IT industry¡¯s thrust has to be towards achieving a global mindset, developing an ecosystem that is innovative, and be comfortable with the idea of diversity in their organisations. "Nasscom's strong focus on innovation came through with the presentation of innovation awards to eight companies. This is just the sort of impetus needed to foster creative and innovative thinking across the industry. "If Thomas Friedman lit up the first day with his lucid speech, the final day¡¯s highlight was surely the President¡¯s speech. It was inspiring in content, ambitious in scope and elegant in simplicity. It is said of great leaders that they know when to raise the bar, and President Kalam proved no different. "The message from him was clear: expand the reach of information technology to influence the economy at a deeper societal level. Apart from being a numeric goal, his target of $200 billion by 2010 showed that IT can be an engine of growth for the Indian economy. "One of the more satisfying aspects of Nasscom Leadership Forum 2006 was its special focus on development. Member companies have always been involved in enhancing the living standards in the society that they operate in, but it was a very pleasant surprise to see so many worthy initiatives being taken all across the country by different companies. "The influence of the IT industry is not limited to those who are directly employed in the industry. The industry is indirectly touching many more lives. With Nasscom Foundation becoming more active, it can also act as a link between various initiatives of member companies. Such spirit of collaboration could have a major transformational influence in shaping tomorrow¡¯s India. "The conference also showed that Nasscom has become a trusted platform for global companies. Participants from various parts of the world have come together to exchange views and establish lasting relationships. In doing so, they all seem to believe that they will enhance their competitiveness and create value through innovative approaches. This augurs well for India. Because, at the end of the day, its opportunities lie in seeking win-win partnerships globally."


From 02/17/2006



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IT Sector Needs to Log into Innovation

The first day of Nasscom 2006 was proof that India is the hottest global destination for business today. Everybody, it seems, needs an India strategy. Not just global corporations outsourcing to India, but also venture capitalists, private equity firms and best-selling authors. There is no doubt that India now sits at the high table of technology, with countries like the UK hosting special sessions to increase investments by IT majors there to help extend and deepen their knowledge industries. This increased two-way business and commercial traffic between India and the UK is also translating into a blending of cultures. While the thousands of delegates used the occasion to extend their global networks using their RFID tags to boot, it was the big idea of fostering innovation and the need to create an atmosphere of constant learning that attracted the attention of most speakers on the first day. Wednesday's speakers made it clear that to take the next big leap, Indian IT needs to create an innovation-led eco-system that includes not only industry and academia but government agencies and non-governmental organisations; an eco-system that is not confined to India alone but embraces the best practices from global institutions. After all, Indian IT has always been about global standards and benchmarks and its success is largely due to its ability to work seamlessly with customers and partners across the world. It is this spirit of cooperation that needs to be taken further by institutionalising collaboration, in order to leverage innovation across the entire IT eco-system. Over the next three days, the best minds in India and abroad will discuss how to take the next big leap forward by encouraging innovation across this industry - not only in the way we relate to our partners and customers but also create new generation of talented professionals for this industry. In a fast-changing world where everything changes so quickly, the only constant as the master of the flat world Thomas Friedman said is "learning to learn is the only competency", breaking out of the vertical path of thought, embracing lateral thinking and using the right side of the brain as much.


From http://www.rediff.com/ 02/17/2006



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Indian IT Firms Chant Innovation Mantra to Stay Ahead

Mumbai: Faced with competition from countries like China and the Philippines, India's famed software makers have identified innovation of products and processes as the new tool to stay ahead in the global market. Experts say that in the absence of enhanced focus on research, Indian IT firms' much peddled twin advantage of cheaper cost and a vast pool of skilled professionals may not help it sustain the dizzying growth being witnessed now. "In the short term, most of the Indian technology companies may look at innovation as a strategy to achieve higher growth," said Kiran Karnik, president of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom). "But in the long term, innovation will be a strategy to survive in a highly competitive world. If the companies don't innovate to open up new business opportunities, they will sink," Karnik told IANS in an interview. For decades Indian technology services and the outsourcing industry have thrived by writing cheaper software codes and managing back-office operations for overseas clients like General Electric, British Airways and HSBC. The Indian IT-ITES industry is expected to grow at a healthy clip of 28 percent in the current financial year ending March 31, 2006, to touch $36 billion as overseas companies continue to outsource jobs to local firms. The sector, which accounts for nearly five percent of the country's gross domestic product and employs 1.2 million workers, is projected to earn $60 billion revenue in exports by the end of the financial year 2009-10. The earning potential as well as the threat that China and some Eastern European nations could corner a large chunk of Western customers' software services and outsourcing contracts is forcing Indian firms to focus on innovation. Bangalore-headquartered Wipro, India's third biggest software exporter, says focus on new tools, technologies and solutions has helped it earn $100 million on an annualised basis for the nine-month period ended Dec 31, 2005. This figure works out to be about five percent of the company's revenues and is targeted to go up to 10 percent over the next three years, says Azim Premji, the entrepreneur who turned his vegetable oil business into an IT giant. "We need to constantly reinforce the feeling that we have to keep thinking differently if we have to survive and grow," said the Wipro chairman. "At Wipro, we institutionalised the spirit of innovation through our initiatives six years ago and are now deriving business value from these investments," he added. Wipro's innovation initiative and its centres of excellence currently have a team of close to 500 professionals working on a portfolio of projects in the areas of new service lines, business solutions and research and development. During the October-December last quarter, 29 of Wipro's "new engagements" came as a direct or indirect result of innovations, said Premji, India's richest man mainly on account of his over 80 percent stake in the $15-billion company. The software icon said that the Indian IT industry had witnessed quite a few major innovations in the recent past. (by Sumeet Chatterjee)


From 02/19/2006



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SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka Telecom Picks Juniper for Network Upgrade

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has selected Juniper Networks to upgrade its legacy gateway routers with its M-series multiservice routing platform. The upgrade will enable SLT to offer a range of advanced IP services including ADSL, VoIP and IP-VPN services. No financial details were disclosed.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 12/15/2005



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Dialog Concludes MTT Network Buyout

Sri Lankan operator Dialog Telekom, a unit of Telekom Malaysia, has concluded a USD19.2 million deal to acquire 100% of MTT Network, a telecoms backbone operator in Sri Lanka. MTT Network has a 20-year licence, expiring in 2015, to offer leased line, switched and non-switched data communications services. Its portfolio includes an external gateway licence and a CDMA WiLL licence. According to Lanka Business Online, Dialog plans to run MTT Network as a separate entity. Telekom said that the acquisition gives it the opportunity to gain a foothold in Sri Lanka¡¯s lucrative data communications, wholesale and broadband services market. Dialog entered into a share purchase agreement (SPA) for the acquisition of MTT on 14 November 2005. Dialog Telekom (formerly MTN Networks) is the island¡¯s biggest mobile operator, accounting for over two million subscribers at the end of 2005; it also possesses a ten-year fixed voice telephony licence running until November 2015. The company provides international services via subsidiary Dialog Global, internet services under the Dialog Internet brand name, and owns mobile satellite provider Dialog SAT.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/12/2006



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PAKISTAN: Paktel Contracts Alcatel for GSM Expansion

Mobile operator Paktel has contracted Alcatel for a GSM network expansion and modernisation. Under the terms of the multi-million Euro deal, Alcatel will build an EDGE capable network with around 1,400 sites, using its Evolium GSM/GPRS end-to-end solutions. Rollout will take place in three stages and is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2006. The Pakistan mobile market is currently experiencing rapid growth, with Paktel competing against Mobilink, Pakcom, U-fone, Warid Telecom and Telenor Pakistan. At the end of September 2005 Paktel claimed 954,528 subscribers.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 12/02/2005



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Interconnect Operator Telenor Selects Azure for Billing Solution

Mobile and international interconnect operator Telenor Pakistan has contracted revenue assurance company Azure Solutions to implement its interconnect billing solution. Telenor hopes the new solution will enable it to manage its costs more effectively by being able to quickly settle agreements with interconnect partners. The deal is Azure¡¯s fourth in the country over the last year.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/05/2006



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AUSTRALIA: ATUG Celebrates 25th Anniversary at Annual Conference

The Australian Telecommunications User Group (ATUG) will kick off its 25th anniversary celebrations at its annual conference which will be held in Sydney from March 7 and 8, 2006. IT Minister Helen Coonan will deliver the keynote at the conference which is in its 22nd year and will be held at the Australian Technology Park. Robert Whitman, manager of global broadband market development for Corning Incorporated, will deliver a keynote address on FTTH (Fibre to the Home) rollout, policies, issues and international developments. This year's theme: 'Collaborate, Communicate, Innovate' - will debate the current and future state of the telecommunications industry and raise issues of regulation and policy. Topics will be discussed from both local and international perspectives as the conference boasts a program of both Australian and overseas speakers. ATUG managing director Rosemary Sinclair said the conference is a platform to raise debate and issues that impact the telecommunications landscape. "It is a crucial event for everyone involved in the industry from policy makers to end users," Sinclair said, adding that ATUG will not shy away from any contentious issues. "At ATUG we believe that strong competition between telecommunications service providers is the best way to deliver improved price, quality and innovation. "Over the last 25 years we have seen a lot of changes in the industry and we have always fought hard for fair and open competition. At this year's conference we will continue to push service providers to deliver the best possible value for their customers." The two-day event will include interactive, end user workshops. Other speakers include opposition communications spokesperson Stephen Conroy, Australian Communications Industry Forum CEO Anne Hurley, AAPT CEO Jon Stretch and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Graeme Samuel.


From 02/14/2006



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NEW ZEALAND: Hosts Asian ICT Meeting

New Zealand will be at the centre of the ICT industry in Asia for two days later this week when delegates from 18 Asian countries arrive in Auckland for a conference hosted by the Information Technology Association. Executive director Jim O'Neill says the gathering of the Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation will be the largest international ICT industry meeting held in New Zealand. About 200 people are expected to attend, half from overseas. "This is a unique chance for Kiwi ICT people to make regional marketing contacts," Mr O'Neill says. "Our aim is to provide, through the conference, opportunities for our people to get to know the industry leaders in Asia who can help them through to market opportunities in their countries." The Information Technology Association has experienced a steep drop in subscription revenues as many of its members have merged with one another over the past several years. It expects to break even on the event. Mr O'Neill says "the secret of growth" of the "economic tigers" the association is hosting in Auckland is that they "share a technique of government harnessing the power of industry in a partnership under which industry itself drives growth with programmes and policies accepted and backed by government". "The result has been an unending stream of innovation and business growth." He says this isn't a veiled appeal for more government help in New Zealand, but says there is much to learn from countries such as India, Taiwan and Singapore. "They have done what we are trying to do at the moment by putting their IT industries on the map and becoming strong IT-based nations. "The IT associations in those countries were very instrumental, so what we see for New Zealand is a big opportunity to pick up from those associations to work out how they did it."


From 11/21/2005



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