|Summer 2006 Issue14|
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| World Bank Expects Huge ICT Investment in Developing States
World Telecommunication Development Conference Sets Agenda to Connect the World by 2015
OECD Urges Governments and Industry to Do More to Tackle Spam
First World Information Society Day Focuses on WSIS Implementation
Asia Pacific E-Govt Readiness Report Released
'Alliance Pushes Better Access to E-Govt Documents
Asia-Pacific Regional Network Set Up in Beijing
Local E-Govt Sites Most Popular
ITU Launches Cybersecurity Gateway
Asia＊s IT Sector Growth Leaves North America Trailing
Japan, China, S. Korea to Promote Joint Research on 4G Mobile Phones
Mobile Browsing Becoming Mainstream
Top 10 Wireless Innovations in Asia Pacific
Asia: Public Enemy Number One for Spam
International Conference on "Web 2.0 + Mobile" Held in Seoul
International Conference on Digital Governance in Municipalities Worldwide
GCC E-government Summit
The 6th Annual Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region Coming Soon
2nd APEC E-Commerce Business Alliance Forum and Exhibition
2006 Information & Communications for Development: Global Trends and Policies
| AFGHANISTAN: $20b New Generation Telecoms Project Planned
AZERBAIJAN: Azerbaijan Will Sign MoU on Radio/TV Regulation
Internet Fees in Azerbaijan to Decrease
CHINA: System for Internet Domains Set Up
Shanghai Sets Three-Year Goals for the Information Service Sector
National Spark Program Boosts Rural Informatization
Central News Websites Back Internet Self-Censorship
Officials Confirm 3G Neutrality
Shanghai to Publish Infrastructure Building Plans
China to Issue First Statistical Method for E-commerce
China Maps Out Informatization Development Strategy
Beijing Starts New Campaign to Check Internet Cafes
Beijing to Tighten Controls on Illegal Radio Broadcasts
IRAN: Software Industry Wants Implementation of Copyright Law
JAPAN: Government to Develop Winny Buster
Japan Firms Slow in Defense Against Cyber Crimes
Online Admin Services Being Shunned
SOUTH KOREA: Government Cracks Down on Illegal IPs
MIC to Spend 43 Billion Won to Manage Knowledge Information Resources
Spending More on ＆E-Learning＊
Information Security Tops Agenda
S. Korea Aims to Launch Multimedia Digital Telephone Next Year
South Korea May Rate Web for Protection
KAZAKHSTAN: Premier Endorses New National Technology Plan
TAJIKISTAN: Tajikistan Eases Visa Rules
|INDONESIAㄩSet to Develop Information Technology
MALAYSIA: 9MP: Govt Wants to Draw ICT Players to M＊Sia
New Legal Framework to Counter Cyber Threats
Government Reviewing MSC Incentives in Face of Competition
SINGAPORE: Government Continues Infocomm Investment for Public Sector
New Data Protection Law Likely To Reduce Junk Mails, Marketing Ploys
THAILAND: E-Commerce Laws to Be Delayed Again
| BANGLADESH: Education in ICTs Is Important Says Bangladesh President
BTRC Set Deadline for Mobile Operators to Take Down Border Base Stations
Pre-paid SIM Sales Slump Under New Regulations
Tele-tapping Provisions Challenged in the High Court
INDIA: Regulator Warns Five Cellcos Over Poor Quality of Service
India Ranked 40th in Global ICT Index
ITeS Sector Set to Touch US$ 26 Billion by 2009
PAKISTAN: Broadband Policy Fails to Attract Investment
The Policy Key to Pakistan's Software Dreams
Regulator Orders PTCL to Cut International Bandwidth Rates to Boost Broadband
Draft Policy Framework for NICTRDF Finalised
| AUSTRALIA: Internet 'Threat to Pay-TV'
Time to Throw the Switch to All-Digital
Digital TV Debate Sparked
Digital Television Regulatory Framework Review Reports
Australia Leads World in Online Child Protection
Web Business to Get $30m Push
No Certainty for Isps on Filters
Net Users to Be Given Anti-Porn Software
Govt Eases Digital Copyright Laws
Bonanza Budget to Boost Sales
Watchdog Needs More Freedom
NEW ZEALAND: Govt to Open Up Telecom Network for Faster Broadband
Govt Sets Sights on Mobile Phones
CHINA: 114 to Expand Services in Shenzhen
China to Renew 200 Mln ID Cards in 2006
China Stresses Credibility in E-commerce
Shanghai Offers Commercial Map Online
Beijing Get Communications Advisor
China Launches IPR Protection Website
Cyber Police Curbs Online Crimes
HK, Guangzhou to Cooperate on Informatisation
JAPAN: Police Officer Leaks Info on 1,500 People on Net
Japan Launches Digital TV Broadcasts for Mobile Phones
Japan's Next-generation FMC Phone Service to Use Prefix 060
SOUTH KOREA: Foreign Government Officials to Benchmark E-Government of Korea
Online Sales Rebound
62 Percent of Internet Users' Private Data Sold
KAZAKHSTAN: National Telephone Company Recommended to Pass Networks to State
UZBEKISTAN: Information, Training Centre Opens in Lower House of Uzbek Parliament
| INDONESIAㄩTax Officials to Be Tested on New Computer System
MALAYSIA: IRB Out to Promote E-filing to 3.5 Million Taxpayers
Use ICT for Effective Service, Civil Servants Urged
In favour of IT governance
PHILIPPINES: Local Government Web Site Design Recognised in the Philippines
E-procurement System Urged to Minimize Graft
More Than 1,600 Local Governments Have Websites: NCC
SINGAPORE: Private Sector Invited to Propose Concepts for Ultra-High Speed Broadband Network
Singapore Assigns Network Infrastructure Contract for Intergovernment Events
MAS Launches E-trading Platform for Local Government Bonds
THAILAND: Fewer E-bids Leave Budgets Underspent
| BANGLADESH: Planning for Transition to e-Government Procurement (e-GP)
e-Governance in Titas Gas to Raise Accountability
Bangladesh Submarine Link Switched On
INDIA: Tsunami Early Warning System by September 2007
National e-Governance Plan to Be Launched
Indian PM Urged to Accept Open Source e-Govt Model
India's National Knowledge Commission Launches Its Website
Indian State Commits to Roll Out e-Government Centres in Villages
NEPAL: National Network of Peace Communicators Formed
PAKISTAN: Computer Financing Scheme for Government Employees
AUSTRALIA: Simple Path to ID Card
Smart Card Back on the Agenda
Smartcard Tenders Tipped for This Week
Beazley's Plan for Super-Fast Internet
Banks Tipped to Step Up Their Online Push
Public Sector Lures Lucent
Blow-Outs Bode Ill for Card
NEW ZEALAND: Auckland Govt Dept Develops Information Management Capabilities
| AFGHANISTAN: 150km Fiber Optic Eases Int＊l Telecom Access
AZERBAIJAN: CATEL Insists on License for Cellular Communication
New Cellular Operator to Launch Services in August
CHINA: Shanghai Enters New Period of Innovation
E-ticket Reimbursement Will Become Easier
Baidu Ranks No.1 in China's Online Searching Market
New Mobile Phone Digits Come
Shanghai: Digital Multimedia Industry Booming
Creation of China's 'Digital Grasslands' Underway
Google Unveils 'Gu Ge' to Get Close to Chinese
China Launches Third-generation Search Engine
Shanghai: Cyberspace Focus of Fakes Campaign
Chinese Bloggers to Reach 100 Million in 2007: Report
Beijing Bus Cards -- A Good Start
New Hotline Offers Help to Gays
PC Market to Grow 11.7% Annually in Next 5 Years
China's On-Line Advertising Market to Expand 48% This Yr: Report
China Reports 2.4 Billion Webpages
Chinese to Turn to Digital TV Programs in 2015
10m Cell Phones in Shanghai
100 Websites Vow to Fight Unhealthy Internet Content
IRAN: User-Friendly Computers Developed
Telecom Center Tasked with Internet Research Project
Iran Seeks ※National§ Internet
9m New SIM Cards This Year
JAPAN: The Unseen Perils of Mobile-Phone Use
Japan＊s IT Firms in Multi-Billion Yen Comeback Bid
Japan's Fastest Supercomputer Boots Up
Japan Mobile Operators Add 1 Million Users in March
Tokyo Taxis to Start Accepting E-Money Payment
Computer Glitch Hits 21,000 ATMs
All About Japan Opens Information Site on Vegetables
80 Percent Of Public Organizations Didn't Announce Winny-Related Data Leaks Online
SOUTH KOREA: 'Innovation Cities' to Be Built as Eco-Friendly, Low-Density Areas
Samsung Unveils Much-Hyped Ultra Mobile PC
Korea Picks Gwangju as 'Linux City'
Mobile Subscribers to Top 40 Million
Internet Addiction Helpline Opens
Seoul Ranks First in Municipal Web Site Study Co-sponsored by DPADM and ASPA
S. Korea 2nd in Broadband Internet Penetration in 2005
Number Of Multiple Credit Card Holders Increases This Year
SKT to Save Kids from Excessive Mobile Internet Use
KAZAKHSTAN: National TV Will Gain from Foreign Capital Investments
MONGOLIA: Web Page on Children's Health Created
UZBEKISTAN: IT Centre in Tashkent to Be Named After JL Nehru
| MYANMAR: Internet Users Reach over 63,000 in 2005
MALAYSIA: JPJ to Open E-kiosks Soon for Road Tax Renewal
ICT Affords Local Firms Wider Reach
Private Sector Can Help ICT Growth
Malaysia to Use Separate Mobile Phone Frequency for Tsunami Warning
Train More People in ICT
ICT Audit for Schools
Opportunities for Malaysian & Saudi ICT Companies to Cooperate
ICT Industry Growth Tapers Off
Unravelling the Myths of Software Piracy
PHILIPPINES: Science and Technology Portal Now Online
SINGAPORE: Schools to Use E-learning to Continue Lessons in Event of Flu Pandemic
New Web Portal for Chinese Language Teachers Launched
Mediacorp Launches Online Broadband TV
Online Environmental Portal for Youths Planned
SGX to Offer Open-access Hub for Post-Trade Services by Year-end
THAILAND: SOA to Allow Online Bill Payment
VIET NAM: Viettel to Be Privatised
Mobile Providers Prepare for 3G
| BANGLADESH: E-health Recording Is Possible in the Context of Bangladesh
64 Districts and 232 Upazila Hospitals to Have Telemedicine Computer Network
Bangladesh to Get Internet Access Via Overseas Link
BHUTAN: Satellite Telephone Connects Remote Bhutan
INDIA: PC Turns to IT to Double Tax Base
Wipro Launches PCs for Rural India
Microsoft Displays India-specific Solutions
SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka Telecom Trials WiMAX Broadband
NEPAL: Nepal Telecom Distributes Pre-Paid Cellular Lines
200,000 Jobs to Be Created in IT in 3 Years
| AUSTRALIA: IT Slump Threatens Monash Faculty
Australia Lags on Internet Front: World Bank
Dial-A-Heart Gives Patients New Hope
Digital Radio to Be Introduced by 2009
Push on for Health Hotline
Telcos in Broadband Alliance
Big Tech Budget Tipped
Podcasts and Lattes: It's A School of the Future
Credit Cards Go Hi Tech
Police Peeked at Database Files
Melbourne IT Buys Webcentral Group
NEW ZEALAND: NZ At Snailpace in Cyberspace
Cybersafety Campaign for Preschoolers Launched
| CHINA: Shanghai to Host Int'l Software Engineering Conference
SOUTH KOREA: Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute Hosts International Conference on "Web 2.0 + Mobile"
Korea to Build Up e-Learning Infrastructure
Education Ministry to Invest 14.2 Billion Won in 2006 College 'Informatization'
Minister Rho Introduces Korea's IT Industry to Harvard and MIT Students
Ministry of Information and Communication, Goyang Hold Seminar on IT Globalization
New York Times Reports on Korea's Efforts to Make Robots Members of Society
UZBEKISTAN: ICTP Develops Study on Use of Open Source Software
First Consultations Among Heads of Information and Press Departments of SCO MFAs
Tashkent Conference to Discuss E-Signature Use
|MALAYSIA: WICT Congress an Avenue to Promote Malaysia|
| BANGLADESH: BTTB Stalling on International Cable Expansion Opportunities
Digital Divide Creating Imbalance in Society
INDIA: Large Outsourcing Orders Push Top IT Service Company Net Profit by 50%
Are Mobile Towers a Health Hazard?
SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka Telecom＊s Profits Up Helped by CDMA Sales
PAKISTAN: Snags in e-Commerce Growth Identified
|NEW ZEALAND: Government Giving Funding to Internet Meeting|
Investments in information and communication technologies (ICT) in developing countries will reach 100 billion dollars annually over the next five years, the World Bank said in a report. The report, titled "The World Bank's Information and Communications for Development 2006," also urged developing countries to involve the private sector in providing information and communication technologies. "The report shows that completing the transition to well-regulated and competitive service provision remains the foundation of exploiting ICT for development," the World Bank's Mohsen Khalil told a news conference on the sidelines of a conference on telecommunications development in Doha. "But there is still some way to go considering for example that nearly half of the world's countries retain monopolies on fixed local and international service provision, making the costs of Internet connectivity exceedingly high and unaffordable", said Khalil, director of the World Bank Group's Global ICT Department.
The report said that the opening of the ICT sector to private capital brought an influx of foreign investment into developing countries. According to the report, foreign investments in 122 of the 154 developing countries jumped from two billion to 35 billion dollars annually between 1990 and 2003. It expected investments in ICT in developing countries to shoot up to 100 billion dollars annually over the next five years. The report also said that a World Bank study in 56 developing countries showed that firms using ICT were growing faster, investing more and making more profits. The report was released on the sidelines of the conference on telecommunications development which opened Tuesday with the ambitious goal of helping to bridge the digital divide between the northern and southern hemispheres. More than 1,000 delegates from 198 countries are meeting until March 15 in Doha to discuss how to connect the entire world with voice and data technologies by the year 2015, which is a goal of the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The ITU has co-sponsored the Doha meet with the Qatari government.
Doha 〞 The Doha Action Plan adopted by the World Telecommunication Development Conference sets out a road map to implement the global objectives of harnessing the power of information and communication technologies (ICT) to accelerate the pace of development. Work was conducted under the chairmanship of Dr Hessa Al-Jaber, Chairman of ictQatar whose deft handling of the debates led to the successful outcome of the conference on a broad front. "What makes this conference different from any other is the breadth of the measures adopted and pertinence of the decisions taken", said Dr Al-Jaber. "The conference agreed on a comprehensive package that will further improve access to the benefits of ICT" she said, adding "not only can we aspire to bridging the digital divide, but with the Doha Declaration and Action Plan, we now have the commitment and the tools to do so". The International Telecommunication Union＊s fourth World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-06) which met from 7 to 15 March at the Sheraton Convention Centre in Doha, Qatar, attracted 969 participants attending, including 820 government delegates from 132 countries and 4 representatives from Palestine, 93 representatives of public and private companies from 31 countries and 14 from national telecommunication-related entities from 9 countries, and 38 representatives from regional and international organizations. In addition, 241 media representatives from 22 countries registered with 139 covering the events on site.
WTDC-06 was the first global development conference held in the wake of the World Summit on the Information Society, which met in Geneva in 2003 and concluded its deliberations in Tunis in November 2005. The Doha Action Plan takes on board several action lines set out by the Summit, specifically those related to information and communication infrastructure development, public policy and regulatory framework, capacity building, e-applications and radio spectrum management. In his closing remarks, Mr Hamadoun Tour谷, Director of ITU＊s Telecommunication Development Bureau, expressed his confidence that the programmes outlined at Doha will clear the passage towards bridging the digital divide and help accelerate the pace of development. Addressing delegates, he said, "ITU＊s long history in helping the world communicate will now be used to its best advantage in using ICT-based solutions and telecommunications in furthering the development priorities for the benefit of people everywhere." He went on to say, "Doha has set the pace for the objectives of the World Summit on the Information Society to close the digital divide and harness the full potential of information and communication technologies to achieve the development goals by 2015."
Governments and industry should step up their coordination to combat the global problem of spam, according to a new set of OECD recommendations. Spam is dangerous and costly for business and consumers. It disrupts networks, cuts productivity, spreads viruses and is increasingly used by criminals who steal passwords to access confidential information and often bank accounts. While there is no single solution, governments and the private sector should act fast on a number of fronts. The OECD calls on governments to establish clear national anti-spam policies and give enforcement authorities more power and resources. Co-ordination and co-operation between public and private sectors are critical, the report notes. International cooperation is also key. Spam moves between countries and investigators have to follow the flow across borders to track spammers. To address this, OECD governments have approved a ※Recommendation on Cross-Border Co-operation in the Enforcement of Laws against Spam§, urging countries to ensure that their laws enable enforcement authorities to share information with other countries and do so more quickly and effectively. They should also establish a single national contact point to facilitate international cooperation.
Educating people on the risks of spam and how to deal with it is also important. Governments, working with industry, should run nationwide campaigns to raise awareness. Lessons on spam and Internet security should be included in computer courses in schools and for senior citizens. These recommendations form part of the OECD Anti-Spam Toolkit, available online at www.oecd-antispam.org. It gives policy makers a comprehensive package of concrete regulatory approaches, technical solutions, and industry initiatives to fight spam. The Toolkit also includes a guide to best practices for Internet Service Providers and other network operators, and for email marketing. These were produced by the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC), the business advisory group to the OECD, in co-operation with the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), an organization of Internet Service Providers. This is the first effort by the private sector to develop a series of common best practices at the international level.
Geneva 〞 The first World Information Society Day will be commemorated on 17 May 2006 to mark the inception of the International Telecommunication Union in 1865, over 140 years ago. On this important occasion, the first ITU World Information Society Award will be presented to two distinguished and eminent personalities whose outstanding personal contributions have furthered the cause of building a more inclusive and equitable Information Society and helped close the digital divide. The inaugural ITU Award will be given to President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Professor Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director of Grameen Bank, Bangladesh. The award ceremony will begin at 11h00 on 17 May 2006 at the International Conference Centre Geneva (CICG). There will be an opportunity after the ceremony for the laureates to meet the press. A cluster of related activities will take place over a 10-day period, 9-19 May. Geneva will be the venue for several significant steps being taken towards implementation and follow-up action on the recently-concluded World Summit on the Information Society. According to the Tunis Agenda, ITU along with UNESCO and UNDP will take the lead to facilitate implementation of the WSIS Plan of Action. As part of the observance of World Information Society Day, moderators and facilitators of action lines, such as UNCTAD, ILO and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs will meet to take the process forward. A second round of informal consultations will also be held on the setting up of the Internet Governance Forum as a follow up to the recommendations of the Summit.
ITU World Information Society Award laureates
President Wade, recipient of the ITU World Information Society Award, has earned worldwide acclaim for his vision and dedication in promoting the digital solidarity agenda that led to the creation of the Digital Solidarity Fund. Welcomed by the World Summit on the Information Society (Geneva 2003 〞 Tunis 2005) as an innovative financial mechanism of a voluntary nature, it aims at transforming the digital divide into digital opportunities for the developing world. The Geneva-based Digital Solidarity Fund also aims to close other divides, such as gender, that deny the benefits of development to the less privileged and vulnerable. By harnessing local resources and looking at the difficulties afflicting poor and remote communities, the Fund＊s work is complementary to that of major financial institutions and multilateral development agencies, and is especially critical in reaching the last mile in ICT access. The ITU Award also goes to another legendary figure, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director of Grameen Bank, who pioneered microcredit for the rural poor and who has successfully addressed the issues of poverty eradication and development. By providing wireless payphone service in the rural areas of Bangladesh he has empowered a new class of women entrepreneurs. Professor Yunus has single-handedly transformed the information and communication landscape in Bangladesh. His exemplary model, now being emulated in other regions and countries of the world, shows that even remote and poor communities can take on the challenge to bridge the digital divide.
On 17 May, ITU will release the results of a worldwide public survey to assess users＊ trust of online transactions and awareness of cybersecurity measures. The data collected through this survey will be used to increase global awareness of cybersecurity, particularly in developing countries, and will help decision-makers in assessing the cyberspace "trust" level with a view to reviewing national and corporate strategies and priorities. An analysis of the survey will be posted on a new website. The survey will continue beyond World Information Society Day to elicit further information on these critical issues. According to ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi, "Achieving cybersecurity depends on the security practices of each and every networked country, business, and citizen. To guard against the sophisticated skills of cybercriminals, we need to develop a global culture of cybersecurity. This will require not only good policing and legislation but also acute threat awareness and development of tough ICT-based countermeasures." ITU will also launch a Cybersecurity gateway that will serve as an easy-to-use information resource on national and international cybersecurity-related initiatives and websites worldwide, while promoting, developing and implementing a global culture of cybersecurity.
About World Information Society Day
In recognition of ITU as the UN agency specializing in helping the world communicate in the age of cyberspace, the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, November 2005, called upon the United Nations to declare 17 May, which now marks World Telecommunication Day, as World Information Society Day. Endorsed by the UN General Assembly, this observance takes into account the realities of the new millennium where information and communication, aided by the digital revolution, can and must be made available to all to build a people-centred and knowledge-based Information Society that will help accelerate the pace of development. The intention of commemorating World Information Society Day is to focus global attention annually on reaching the enormous benefits of the digital revolution in information and communication technologies to all humanity.
A new research report, sponsored by FileNet, looks the level of preparedness of governments in the region for the move to e-government. Over 56 per cent of respondents said that there were no records management systems in place to assist with the retrieval of information on G2C, G2B and G2G transactions. Surveying 112 public sector organisations in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore, the Asia Pacific eGovernment Readiness Report takes a closer look at how well prepared governments are for the increasing volume of government transactions, as well as the continuing downward pressures on cost, and growing compliance requirements. The contrast in responses between respondents in Australia and Singapore was particularly striking - 48 per cent of Australian respondents said that they had few systems and processes in place to leverage the internet for e-government; the equivalent figure in Singapore was 14 per cent. Other points of interest were the differences in the drivers of e-government adoption: operational costs and efficiency were the primary executive focus of 60.9 per cent of respondents in Hong Kong, markedly higher than the other countries, Malaysia (50 per cent), Australia (42.9 per cent), Singapore (36.4 per cent) and New Zealand (31.8 per cent). Dealing with compliance requirements was rated as a priority by only 4.3 per cent of respondents in Hong Kong, contrasting with 38.1 per cent in Australia.
Grouping includes diverse industry partners, associations, NGOs and research institutions. As documents and services are increasingly transformed from paper to electronic form, there is growing recognition that governments and their constituents may not be able to access, retrieve and use critical records, information and documents in the future. A broad cross-section of associations, academic institutions, industry and related groups today joined together to form the OpenDocument Format Alliance (ODF Alliance), an organisation dedicated to promoting open solutions to this problem. As technologies rapidly evolve, documents are created by public sector agencies using different applications that may not be compatible with one another today, let alone into the future. Through the use of a truly open standard file format that can be implemented by numerous and varied applications, the Alliance seeks to enable governments and their constituents to use, access and store critical documents, records and information both today and in the future, independent of the applications or enterprise platforms used for their creation or future access. Specifically, the ODF Alliance supports the use of the OpenDocument Format (ODF), an open XML-based collection of office document formats, including text, presentation and spreadsheet formats. ODF, the only established open standard document format, enables the retrieval of information and exchange of documents between different applications, agencies and/or business partners in a platform and application independent way. "With a broad cross section of support, the ODF Alliance will work to enable governments around the world to have greater control over and direct management of their documents, now and forever," said Ken Wasch, President of the Software & Information Industry Association, a leading member of the Alliance and the principal trade association of the software and digital content industry. "There's no doubt that the momentum of ODF is gaining traction worldwide as more people every day are discovering that it's a better way to preserve and access documents."
The ODF Alliance was formed by a diverse coalition of more than 35 organisations from a wide range of countries around the world. The Alliance membership includes: Adullact Association; American Library Association; Ark Linux; The Association of Open Source Suppliers and Vendors in Denmark; Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (India); Cognitran; Corel; CSW; EDS; EMC; Friends of OpenDocument; GENICORP; Indian Institute of Technology (IIT); Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for the City of Vienna; IBM; Information Program, Open Society Institute; International Open Source Network; Justsystem Corporation; Massachusetts High Tech Council; Massachusetts Network Communications Council; Novell; Open Society Archives of the Central European University (OSA Archivum); OpenForum Europe; OpenDocument Fellowship; The OpenDocument Foundation; OpenOffice.org; Opera Software; Optaros; Oracle; OSS Alliance; Propylon; Red Hat; Software & Information Industry Association; Sun Microsystems; the Technical University of Denmark and tarent. The Alliance is building support globally for use and recognition of ODF, and all organisations that share its goals are welcomed to join the effort. In recent months, jurisdictions such as the State of Massachusetts in the United States and others around the world are leading the way, by embracing open document formats. According to recent press reports, 13 nations globally are considering adoption of the OpenDocument format. "We believe that this reflects the strong momentum, enthusiasm and support for the OpenDocument Format around the world. It will go a long way toward educating the public about the flexibility inherent in an open standards-based approach to computing," said Patricia Yim, Managing Director, IBM Singapore. "We will continue to provide its expertise in helping to ensure the success of the OpenDocument Format."
The United Nations NGO (non-governmental organizations) Section launched its Asia-Pacific regional network in Beijing Friday. The network aims at boosting cooperation between the UN and NGOs in countries of the Asia-Pacific region, and promoting the implementation of UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the region. At a conference held Friday morning to mark the start-up of the network, NGO representatives from China and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region held discussions on generating employment, eradicating poverty and promoting sustained economic growth for social development. The Chinese People's Association for Peace and Disarmament, a Chinese NGO, was appointed by the UN NGO Section as a coordinator of its Asia-Pacific regional network in April, 2005, responsible for promoting the implementation of MDGs in the region. Initiated during the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals include reducing by half the proportion of people suffering from poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, eliminating gender disparity, reducing child mortality by two thirds and maternal mortality by three quarters, halting and reversing the incidence of major diseases, and reducing by a half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
A Finnish survey of e-government services in the country has found that the most popular sites in the country are those of local authorities. In the three-month period preceding the survey, 49 per cent of respondents had visited the web pages of their own local authority, and 37 per cent the mol.fi service of the Ministry of Labour, which provides information on employment in Finland, job search facilities and details of legal regulations relating to working life. The web sites of KELA (social security), the tax authorities and libraries were the next most frequently visited sites. Adults in the 25-34 age group were the most active users of e-government services, but the largest proportional increase in use over the past two years was in the 50-79 age group. In general, the use of information and communications technology by older people is steadily increasing and the digital gap between generations is slowly narrowing 每 especially as those that get used to using the internet at work get older. The survey also found that the majority of people are looking for a specific piece of information when using public web sites. The use of the internet to access public information and services was generally seen as a good thing, with the majority thinking greater use of new technologies would help speed up services, increase availability, improve competitiveness and cut costs. There is also a high level of confidence in the security of internet services, as shown by attitudes to internet banking and e-commerce.
On the occasion of World Telecommunication Day, ITU also launched the ITU Cybersecurity Gateway. The portal is a global online reference source of national cybersecurity initiatives and websites around the world and provides an integrated platform for sharing cybersecurity related information and resources. Presenting information tailored to four specific audiences: citizens, businesses, governments, and international organizations, the portal also provides information resources on topical cybersecurity concerns such as spam, spyware, phishing, scams and frauds, worms and viruses, denial of service attacks, etc. With thousands of links to relevant materials, ITU intends to constantly update the portal with information on cybersecurity initiatives and resources gathered from contributors around the globe. For example, a number of countries are now ramping up national critical information infrastructure protection (CIIP) programmes and sharing information on these initiatives through the portal can assist both developed and developing economies in promoting global cybersecurity. Mr Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of ITU, said, ※In today's interconnected world of networks, threats can now originate anywhere 〞 our collective cybersecurity depends on the security practices of every connected country, business, and citizen.§ He invited everyone ※to explore the vast resources and links available through the Cybersecurity Gateway in promoting global cybersecurity.§
The IT sector in the Asia-Pacific region is set to expand nearly twice as fast as its North American counterpart in the five years to 2009, driven by explosive growth in countries such as India. A new study, carried out by research consultancy IDC for Microsoft, predicts Asia＊s IT sector will contribute over 1m new jobs, $11.3bn in new tax revenue and some $350bn to the region＊s economies between 2004 and 2009. The findings, seen by the Financial Times, highlight Asia＊s rising importance within the global technology industry and suggest more international companies will set up in the region to take advantage of the sector＊s superior growth. The study, which excludes China because of the paucity of reliable data, will also help Microsoft and other companies to lobby governments to crack down on piracy and foster the development of a legitimate technology industry in Asia. According to IDC, more than 40 per cent of the Asian IT sector＊s employment and tax revenues 每 equivalent to more than $9.8bn 每 in 2004 came from the ※Microsoft ecosystem§, made up of the US software group, its suppliers and associated companies. ※Growth in the Asia-Pacific IT sector is rebounding and growth is expected to continue on an upward trajectory through 2009,§ the study says.
Revenues generated by Asia＊s IT industry are expected to increase at an average annual rate of 8.6 per cent, nearly double the economic growth forecast for the region in the 2004-09 period. By comparison, the North American IT industry is expected to grow by 4.9 per cent a year, with Europe forecast to report average annual increases of 6.5 per cent, according to the report. The authors of the study say Asia＊s growth will be spurred by the rapid development of most of its economies, which will lead governments and companies to make more use of hardware, software and IT services. The addition of 1m new jobs to the 3m people employed in the IT industry will be driven by the creation of more than 19,000 new companies, with the fastest growth coming from software. Software＊s contribution to the region＊s IT industry is dwarfed by hardware and IT services. However, the report argues that as Asian economies mature, their need for more sophisticated IT products will fuel a rise in software spending. In India, software growth over the period is expected to be more than 19 per cent a year.(by Francesco Guerrera)
Telecom ministers from Japan, China and South Korea agreed Sunday to promote joint research on the standardization of formats of fourth-generation mobile phones capable of high-speed, large-capacity data transmission, officials said. Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Heizo Takenaka, Chinese Information Minister Wang Xudong and South Korea's next Information and Communications Minister Rho Jun Hyong reached a six-point accord in their trilateral telecom talks in Xiamen in Fujian Province, southeastern China, the officials said. On 4G phones, the agreement says the three countries will further promote joint study to standardize the maintechnology. The 4G phone technology, featuring much higher throughput and other more sophisticated capabilities than currently available, is expected to be commercialized around 2010. The ministers also agreed to jointly tackle the issue of ensuring the security of information networks, which include measures to curb unsolicited mail, the officials said. The three countries will also consider model projects on IC tags which, fitted with a tiny integrated circuit and an antenna, can transmit a great deal of information wirelessly to a separate receiver, they said. The tags can be used to track the production and distribution of products. The three Asian countries held their first telecom ministers' meeting in 2002 and this year's meeting was the fourth such event
A global increase in cell phone ownership and a rise in the use of wireless services by people over 35 may lead cell phones to dominate Web browsing, a new study says. Ipsos Insight's 2005 "The Face of the Web" study shows significant increases in: ownership of mobile phones, mobile surfing by mainstream users, and adoption of wireless mobile technology by adults aged 35 and older. 90 percent of households in Japan, South Korea and urban China own cell phones, as do 80 percent of households in Western Europe, 60 percent in Canada and three out of four households in the U.S. In 2005, 28 percent of those mobile phone owners used their phone to browse the Internet, up from 25 percent the year before. More significantly, the increase is driven by adults aged 35 and older joining younger users in this habit. "This older age group is really starting to explore more on their cell phone and getting comfortable. Whether it's text messaging, e-mailing or Internet browsing, our research has found that they are using their cell phones for more than just voice calling," Adam Wright, a senior research manager at Ipsos Insight, told CNET News.com. 27 percent of adults aged 35 to 54 who are living in households with cell phones claim to have browsed the Internet on their phone. Only 21 percent of them did in 2004, according to Wright. Twelve percent of those 55 and older also engage in mobile browsing.
These statistics have significant implications for "m-commerce" (the mobile equivalent of e-commerce) in that older demographics traditionally have more spending power as consumers. These groups also showed the largest growth. Cell phone owners aged 18 to 34, while still the largest adopters of Web browsing, did not grow from their 36 percent. By country, France and the U.S. showed the most growth for browsing from a wireless device. Japan closely followed. Four out of 10 Japanese cell phone owners do mobile browsing; double the number in 2003. The study also found a correlation between comfort with cell phone use and comfort with the Internet. In 10 out of 12 global markets studied, 90 percent of people who had accessed the Internet in the last 30 days owned cell phones. (by Candace Lombardi)
Wireless companies in Asia Pacific are increasingly focusing on improving research and development, manufacturing, as well as marketing activities to garner greater market share. Simultaneously, greater emphasis on implementing globally integrated value chain practices that involve a lot of mutual learning between companies in the market will enable Asian wireless solution providers to compete strongly against their U.S. and European counterparts. Global growth consulting company Frost & Sullivan studies the Top 10 Wireless Innovations in Asia Pacific as part of its regional monthly innovation tracker. "Telecom operators are developing as well as deploying innovative applications and services to gain entry into new industries," observes Frost & Sullivan industry analyst, Sachin Mittal. "In order to attain significant subscriber growth, service providers must find compatibility with low-cost business models.§ By leveraging their communications infrastructure, telecom service providers are breaking barriers into verticals as diverse as banking, healthcare and broadcast with their basic innovations. "To succeed in these sectors, providers of communication services are concentrating on developing ubiquitous networks that allow end users to access information freely, irrespective of the time, place and device, in a converged information and communications technology (ICT) environment," notes Mittal. SK Telecom in South Korea, for example, is developing software-defined radio solutions that can enable a single device to support multiple wireless technologies, such as global system for mobile communication (GSM), code division multiple access (CDMA), wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi), and worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WiMAX).Similarly, Radixs Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based company, has developed a mobile operating system that allows mobile phone users to conduct complex applications that were conventionally performed on a PC. Taito Corporation, Japan, has also introduced peer-to-peer (P2P) technology on mobile phones for online gaming, enabling quicker response time in these games.
Wireless solution providers would however need to offer compelling solutions that provide enhanced value in meeting customer demands in order to penetrate new markets dominated by incumbent players. Some of the top ten innovations included in the study are affordable phone videos, secure data and device solution, peer-to-peer technology for online gaming on cell phones, software-only location-based service, broadband connection from high-speed trains, powerful mobile operating systems, as well as zigbee-based 'digital smart-home' services. Frost & Sullivan, a global growth consulting company, has been partnering with clients to support the development of innovative strategies for more than 40 years. The company's industry expertise integrates growth consulting, growth partnership services, and corporate management training to identify and develop opportunities. Frost & Sullivan serves an extensive clientele that includes Global 1000 companies, emerging companies, and the investment community by providing comprehensive industry coverage that reflects a unique global perspective and combines ongoing analysis of markets, technologies, econometrics, and demographics.
Asia tops the chart as the world's biggest spam relayer with Europe hot on the heels of North America in second place more spam is now relayed from Asia than any other continent according to the latest research from IT security company Sophos. Asia accounts for 42.8 percent of the spam received by Sophos' global spam monitoring network with North America in second place with 25.6 percent, the company claimed on Thursday. Two years ago North America was responsible for over half of the world's spam. Now North and South America combined don't come close to Asia's percentage, said Graham Cluley, Sophos' senior technology consultant. Cluley added that Europe is also becoming a major relayer of spam and now transmits almost as much as North America, at 25 percent. "I won't be surprised if Europe overtakes North America next month," he added. On a country-by-country basis, the US still relays most spam, at 23.1 percent. China and Hong Kong come second with 21.9 percent of global spam, while South Korea is third at 9.8 percent.
China has many computers running older versions of Windows, which contributes to the levels of spam, as machines running older versions of the OS are more easily exploited by spammers. South Korea is a particularly tempting target for spammers due to its advanced technology infrastructure and the economic rewards of setting up networks of zombie computers, or botnets, said Sophos. "South Korea has a fantastic Internet structure with immensely fast connections, and so it is a goldmine for spammers wanting to create botnets," said Cluley. A ZDNet UK research report released this week revealed that despite advances made in security technology, there has been little or no reduction in the time IT professionals are spending trying to protect their business systems from issues such as spam and viruses. "The top ten viruses in the past ten months are really old, which suggests the human race isn't winning the war against viruses and spam," said Cluley. "Some people just simply aren't bothered, and they are the ones bombarding the rest of us."
However Cluley admitted that Microsoft has made some big differences with XP Service Pack 2, which has made it harder for hackers to break into Windows systems because a rudimentary firewall and automatic updates are enabled by default. Antivirus company McAfee agreed that antivirus vendors and cybercriminals were locked into a stalemate situation. "It's almost like a game of chess," said Greg Day, security analyst at McAfee. "Spammers try to put our customers in check. We put pieces on the board to block them, then they make their next move," Day added. Both McAfee and Sophos agreed that spam was unlikely to disappear, and called for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), businesses and home users to run anti-spam software. ISPs have traditionally been reluctant to block any kind of content, although most of the major players now have some form of antivirus protection for their customers. "It's an issue we've been working on," said Day. "Every person has to protect their own space, but there's a lot of common sense in moving a security level up into the cloud," Day added.
McAfee and Sophos also applauded recent arrests of spammers, but said that more needed to be done in terms of international law enforcement cooperation. "When the prosecutions hit the streets, there was a visible downtrend in spam 〞 but these aren't global laws. It's a step in the right direction, but there's definitely scope to work on this," said Day.
The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute is hosting "NGWeb 2006 - "Web 2.0 + Mobile,§ a two-day, international conference at the COEX in Samseong-dong, Seoul, from March 12 . The Ministry of Information and Communication is sponsoring the event. The event is held under the joint supervision of the Korea IT Industry Promotion Agency, National Computerization Agency, Bora E&C Co., and Open Standards and Internet Association.
The biggest issue in the Internet industry recently is Web 2.0. The concept of Web 2.0 was developed from the idea that the Web evolves and progresses. It is inspired from limitations on the existing Web and has come to us like a quiet revolution. Web 2.0 has the foundation of an open Web environment to make independent contents and share in re-creation for both web-directions for the users. This is a new and sweeping trend that has attracted worldwide attention. Team manager Oh Sang-jin of the Ministry of Information and Communication's SW Industry Support Team, an event co-host, said, "As we can see from the change of paradigm like Web 2.0, the important characteristics of the S/W environment strive for services with a free and flexible structure based on Web technology. This event is aimed at responding to the change of such a paradigm domestically as well.§
This integrated conference of international implications handles the next generation Web technology/application/standard and others for Web 2.0, mobile web, ubiquitous web and others. This is an opportunity to see world trends in one place, reported a conference promoter.
The Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS), India in association with Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Royal Thai Government is organising a 3-day Asian e-Government conference and exhibition titled - egov Asia 2006 (www.egovasia.net), in conjunction with digital LEARNING Asia 2006 (www.digitalLEARNING.in) - the Asian ICT and Education conference and the Asian Telecentre Forum 2006 (www.asiantelecentreforum.net) to be held between 26-28 April, 2006 at Rama Gardens Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand. Leading policy experts and technocrats on e-Government, e-Learning and Rural ICTs from various Asian countries and beyond are coming to this conference.The event aims to provide a level-playing platform and a collaborative ground for governments, IT industry and research community to share knowledge, best-practices and innovations in the domain of ICT and development.
A rapid transformation into knowledge-based society drives government to innovate itself and build a democratic participatory process with civil society. This transformation requires e-Government as a knowledge-based government model. Global e-Government e-Policy Institute at Sungkyunkwan University and the e-Governance Institute at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Campus at Newark, through the assistance of the United Nations, co-researched again since the first collaborative effort in 2003, "THE DIGITAL GOVERNANCE IN MUNICIPALITIES WORLDWIDE: An Assessment of Municipal Web Sites throughout the World" and "EVALUATION OF E-GOVERNMENT OF KOREA LOCAL GOVERNMENT". Based on these researches, "Global e-Policy e-Government Forum" will be held, in order to have an award ceremony to distinguish excellent municipal Web sites and present best practices of e-Government. By sharing these best practices and strategies of e-government throughout the world, the conference aims to contribute to the correspondence of a knowledge-based society for world prosperity. Date: June 14~15, 2006; Venue: 600th Anniversary Memorial Hall, Sungkyunkwan University.
20-22 May 2006, Dubai World Trade Centre, United Arab Emirates. The theme of the 12th GCC eGovernment Forum is ※Transforming Government Services with the use of eGovernment§. Over the years, this event is one of the most important in the calendar of the eGovernment technology and management professionals and will focus on the impact and delivery of benefits for citizens and businesses with the use of eGovernment services in the region. The forum showcases regional eGovernment developments and learns from successful practices via global case studies. The forum will serve as a platform to bring experts from the various countries, key government representatives, industry and academia together to discuss the issues and priorities on the subject. The delegates will be able to demonstrate their initiatives, take feedback from the community and learn about the processes, technologies and solutions which can address their concerns. The three key stakeholders in e-government implementation-the government, private and the NGO sector will be sharing their successes, failures and opportunities during the forum.
The 6th Annual Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region (CIAPR VI) will take place in Shanghai, China, 18-19 October 2006, with the theme ※ICT for a Better Life: The Role of Local Government.§ The Forum will be co-organized and co-sponsored by the Shanghai Municipal People＊s Government and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force (UN/ICT/TF), the State Council Informatization Office of China, the Ministry of Information Industry of China, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), five successful CIAPR Forums have been held since 2000. With a focus on inclusion for the poor, innovative e-government solutions and tools, and engaging citizens＊ participation in the decision-making process, the 6th Forum will be composed of a plenary session, a number of parallel sessions and workshops, covering topics such as ICT and e-government development for all, creating a public value for citizens, enhancing participation and partnership with citizens, creating e-government toolkits (information technology & applications), and citizen-friendly e-government policies and cyber laws. The United Nations Public Service Awards, in the category of ICT Application and Local e-Government, will be presented by UNDESA to recognize outstanding achievement and contribution in local e-government applications. The Forum is expected to attract over 800 participants worldwide, including senior officials form the UN and from central and municipal governments of both developed and developing countries, CEOs of well-known IT companies, and famous experts and scholars of academia, international organizations and NGOs. Contact: The Regional Cooperation Office for City Informatization (RCOCI), Tel: (86-21) 6112 3736, Fax: (86-21) 6112 3739, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
May 18-21, 2006, Qingdao, China. The theme of the forum is "Optimize Environment, Enhance Cooperation, Encourage Innovation, Promote Application" and aims to builds on the successful 1st APEC E-Commerce Business Alliance Forum held in Yantai, China, June 15-16, 2004. Representatives from the public, private and academic sectors from APEC member economies will convene in Qingdao to discuss key e-commerce issues to accelerate the overall development process of e-commerce in the Asia-Pacific region. Speakers and participants will share information and experience on the following areas: Public Service Environment Building; E-Commerce Application in Enterprises & Its Development; and Enterprises and E-Commerce third-party Services. The main objective of the APEC E-Commerce Exhibition is to provide trade opportunities for businesses on e-commerce among APEC member economies.
Information and Communications for Development 2006: Global Trends and Policies is a new World Bank flagship publication addressing the critical role being played by information and communication technologies (ICT) in economic development. It provides a global overview of ICT trends and policies in developing countries, covering issues such as financing infrastructure, the importance of public-private partnerships and effective competition to extending access, using ICT in doing business and formulating national e-strategies. The ICT At-a-Glance tables for 144 economies show the most recent national data on key indicators of ICT development. The data enable assessment and comparison both over time and across economies to assess ICT capacity, performance, progress and opportunities.
Some $20 billion will be invested in a major project to develop the country＊s new generation telecoms network by the closing year of Fourth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2005-2010), said a senior telecoms industry official here on Monday. Yousef Nasser-Pour, managing director of Communications Infrastructure Company, told Fars news agency that the new network will provide for sending and receiving voice, data and picture. He further noted that some 726 cities nationwide have so far been linked to the fiber optic network, stressing that the remaining cities will join the network by 2010. He said the company has created the possibility of holding video conferences in all the 30 major cities across the nation. ※We have connected the two major Persian Gulf islands of Kish and Qeshm to the national fiber optic network,※ he said, adding that the company has submitted its plans for protecting security of fiber optic network to the government. He said the company is also ready to help make the proposed ＊national Internet＊ a reality. Yousef-Pour said Sunday the company has helped connect telecoms network in western Afghanistan to the international system through a 150-kilometer fiber optic line. He said the project cost $1.3 million, which was paid from Iran＊s financial assistance package to the war-torn country. The project was launched in 2004 in the western Afghan city of Herat.
Problem of interference by TV and radio channels of neighboring countries will be solved upon installation of a new system Information Technologies Institute (ITI) designed at the request of the Ministry of Communication and IT, Minister of Communication Ali Abbasov reportedly said on Wednesday. According to Azerbaijan-based news agency Trend, the project operates with software that models and visualizes broadcasting areas by taking into account the digital landscape map of Azerbaijan based on SR-4 database. The minister further said that the primary objective is to prevent intrusion of neighboring countries＊ channels into Azeri space. With this purpose, the ministry is signing a memorandum with Iran on regulation of channels broadcasting along the border line. ※However, the speech is not about jamming the channels as this measure is not used in the world today,※ the minister added.
The fees on the use of Internet in Azerbaijan are expected to rapidly fall soon, Minister of Communications and Information Technologies Ali Abbasov told the press Wednesday. Abbasov said these prices cannot be controlled as they are regulated by the market, but did not rule that the fees will decrease. As for digital television, the minister said it is ready for operation. ※One reason it has not been used much is its being payable. Second, digital TV is broadcast not in the entire Azerbaijani territory but only on the Absheron peninsula. Maybe that is why companies are not very interested in this.§ Abbasov added that the fees for digital TV services are regulated by the senior body regulating prices, the Tariff Council. (by AssA-Irada)
The Internet authorities in China have set up a new family of Chinese-language alternatives to .com and other popular Internet address domains. It is a move that bypasses the U.S.-sponsored organization that controls address information for the global Internet, and some analysts fear that it could enhance China's ability to censor its citizens' access to the Internet. The People's Daily reported Tuesday that the new system would feature Chinese versions of the existing .cn, .com and .net domains. "It means Internet users don't have to surf the Web via the servers under the management of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers of the United States," the report said. American control of Internet regulation is a point of contention with many foreign governments. Last year, the United States fended off demands to remove control of Icann from the Department of Commerce and put it under the auspices of the United Nations. American officials said that China and other countries wanted control of Icann to censor political and religious information on the Internet. Some analysts say that by setting up addresses that do not rely on Icann, China is gradually creating a domestic Internet that will be far more susceptible to censorship than the U.S.-controlled version. "Chinese users in theory right now will still have access to both," said Michael Geist, Internet law professor at the University of Ottawa. But over time, Geist said, the Chinese could completely disconnect from the Icann system and route all internal Internet traffic through their own domain servers. "It's now a Chinese-controlled system," Geist said. The process could make it easier for Chinese censors to block out "subversive" information from outside the country, he said. But Subramanian Subbiah, a former professor at StanfordUniversity, said that the new policy was driven by the desire to make the Internet more accessible to Chinese speakers.
Subbiah, co-founder of I-DNS.net, a Singapore company that sells Internet domain names created in non-Western writing systems, said that China lost patience with Icann, which has not made Internet addresses available in Asian writing systems. Chinese Internet users can type a Web site address in Chinese, until they get to the Internet domain, such as .com or .net. Those letters must be typed in Roman letters, because Icann has not adopted a technology for recognizing the words in Chinese, Arabic, Korean or other non-Western languages. "Icann sat around for eight or nine years, with everybody begging them," Subbiah said. "Go learn English, they said at first." So he began working with Chinese officials about two years ago to use his technology to solve the problem. Subbiah said censorship probably had nothing to do with China's announcement because the Chinese already control the Icann-linked root servers inside their country and are censoring Internet information. "They're doing it today; they'll be doing it tomorrow," he said. An Icann spokesman, Andrew Robertson, declined to comment on the Chinese announcement, saying that Icann officials needed more time to confirm the accuracy of the news report and consult with the Chinese authorities. Apart from concerns over censorship, disconnecting China from the standard Internet could cause a number of problems. Chinese traveling outside their country would not be able to access Internet sites using the Chinese domains, because the Icann-based Internet would not recognize the Chinese addresses. A new Chinese version of the .com Internet domain could cause a replay of the online gold rush of the late 1990s, said Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet governance at OxfordUniversity.
The local information service sector will surpass the information-related manufacturing sector in terms of GDP by 2008, according to a recently-released three-year action plan for the sector.
The sector includes the software industry, telecommunications industry, Internet, and radio and television broadcasting. In 2005, the sector recorded 42.25 billion yuan of added value, accounting for 38.5 percent of the total added value achieved by the local information industry. The sector is expected to generate 60 billion yuan of added value next year, with Shanghai becoming a regional information service hub by 2008. In a bid to promote the sector, the city will build seven industrial parks in the next three years, including a software manufacturing center, a software export center, a digital information center in Xuhui District and a cyber game & animation center in ZhangjiangHigh-techPark. It will also improve local networks for digital television, broadband and e-commerce transactions.
Implementation of the Spark rural informatization S&T action and construction of the Spark 110 S&T information sharing service platform enabled the rural information network to cover most areas throughout the country. For instance, Anhui Spark Net Website possesses 43,000 registered members and 859 rural enterprises. Its average daily click through rate reaches 10,000 times or so. The accumulative total of trade turnover conducted through this net amounted to over 4 billion Yuan and its services relate to 36 countries and regions around the world. By use of the TV for access to the Internet, a new rural informatization approach, Zhengzhou City of Henan Province built the rural informatization network based on TV and set-top box, thus enabling the farmers to use their TV sets to access the Internet at home. Gansu Province preliminarily set up the rural informatization system with "computer agriculture" and "digital Hexi" as the main contents, established a batch of city and county level Spark information service network systems and agricultural technical data base and trained a group of agricultural informatization technical personnel. (by Letian Pan)
China's central news websites on Tuesday backed the proposal of major Beijing-based portals for self-censorship and the eradication of pornographic and violent Internet content. In a joint announcement, 11 news websites vehemently supported the initiative, saying it represents the aspiration of China's Internet users. "Chinese websites are capable and confident of resisting indecent Internet content," the announcement said. The central websites are China's major channels of Internet news releases and the main sources of news on other websites. "We all agree and actively respond to the joint proposal," the announcement said. The websites also vowed to play a leading role in self-censoring Internet content in compliance with the "Eight Honors and Disgraces", a new concept of socialist morality set forth by Hu Jintao, president and general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, recently. "We will make the Internet a vital publisher of scientific theories, spread the advanced cultures and promote decency, so as to boost economic growth, maintain social stability, and promote the building of a socialist harmonious society," they pledged.
The websites include Xinhuanet.com, People.com.cn, China.com.cn, Chinadaily.com.cn, and Chinanews.com. Fourteen Beijing-based portals on Sunday said in a joint proposal that they were blocking "unhealthy" content and inspired all portals to join them. They included Sina.com, Sohu.com, Baidu.com, and Yahoo's Chinese website. "We are in a stern opposition to indecent on-line messages that undermine public morality and the culture and fine traditions of the Chinese people," the proposal acknowledged. "No indecent texts and photos, no search engines for such content, no links to indecent websites, and no games involving sex and violence," it promised. The proposal also urged Internet portals to ban illegal, obscene, and "poor taste" photos, texts or audio messages on on-line forums, chat-rooms and blogs. China has approximately 700,000 portals and more than 111 million Internet users. The government has launched campaigns to clean up cyberspace, in a conscientious effort to promote a healthy cultural environment. The People's Daily, a leading newspaper of the country, on Monday published a commentary to praise the proposal. "It shows the mainstream of China's websites are healthy and positive. They are responsible, competent, and confident in the fight against indecent on-line content," it said. "Only a handful of portals are ... sabotaging the interests of the people and the country," the paper said in its commentary. "It seems that websites with indecent messages have a market potentialand profits, but as they betray the interests of the majority of people, they won't stay long."
The Chinese government has restated its commitment to technology neutrality for 3G standards, according to a statement made by the US Trade Representative website. ＆China has agreed to ensure that telecoms providers will be allowed to make their own choices as to which standard to adopt, and to issue licences for all 3G standards in a technologically neutral manner,＊ the statement added. Analysts have speculated as to whether Beijing would favour its homegrown 3G standard TD-SCMDA over and above W-CDMA and CDMA2000 1x-EV-DO, against the wishes of some Chinese telcos. China Mobile, for example, has been open in its preference for W-CDMA, because it can upgrade its existing network rather than build from scratch. In a separate 每 and conflicting - story, a senior Chinese telecoms analyst, Dong Xiaoyang, has predicted that China Telecom will join hands with China Mobile to roll out TD-SCDMA networks. Dong further speculates that the MII will award two TD-CDMA licences in July, one of which will go to the Telecom/Mobile joint venture. Six months later he expects the state to issue a W-CDMA licence to China Mobile and a CDMA2000 concession to China Unicom.
Later this year, Shanghai residents will gain access to detailed plans about their neighborhoods and learn whether they'll be affected by new parks, Metro lines, or other infrastructure projects, a top city official said Wednesday. "One of major tasks for this year is to make our government more transparent, particularly in urban planning that requires relocations," Qiao Zhigang, deputy director of the Shanghai Informatization Commission, told a municipal conference Wednesday. He said the government is now considering methods for publicizing its urban development plan and schedule for neighborhood relocation. The most likely venue for the new information source will be the Websites of government departments, Qiao said. A decision hasn't been made yet on whether the planning period to be revealed will be three or five years or some other time frame.
Some officials said they often receive complaints from residents about a lack of transparency when the government forces people to relocate. "Transparent urban planning is an obligation of a responsible government," said Huang Yuehai, a laid-off worker living in Yangpu District. He said people should know where new subways, elevated roads and other infrastructure projects will be built. The city plans to triple the length of its current metro system by 2010 for the World Expo. By June, more than 13,000 families and 1,000 companies will have been relocated this year to make way for the new metro stations. Another 18,000 families will be relocated by next month to make way for construction of World Expo sites, municipal government spokeswoman Jiao Yang said. (by Chen Feng)
The world's first official method to guide the statistical work of the e-commerce industry will soon be put in use, Chinese Vice-Minister of Commerce Liao Xiaoqi announced on Monday. "This unprecedented method will provide uniform standards for the data collection and allow decision makers in governments, academia and the general public to have a better understanding of China's robust e-commerce industry," said Liao at the press conference for the issue of the 2004-2005 China E-Commerce Report. Gao Xinmin, executive deputy director-general of the China Information Association, said the lack of uniform statistical methods had caused a data deficiency, which in turn stemmed scholars and government from making concrete conclusions on the country's e-commerce industry. While the 2004-2005 report was being drafted, Gao said that a comprehensive survey was launched at the request of the Ministry of Commerce to collect first-hand statistics. More than 2,000 companies in textile, coal mining, petroleum, petrochemical, construction, medicine and electronic sectors from 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have been covered, which made this report very objective, he acknowledged. In comparison with the first report issued by the Ministry of Commerce in 2003, experts said the new report had provided a wide-ranging view of the growth of China's e-commerce industry. The report also touches upon the future trends of China's e-commerce industry and includes special reports on the e-commerce in foreign trade, logistics, small and medium-sized companies and on-line retailing. Liao claimed that the report represented the highest achievements of Chinese academia.Gregory T. Shea, President of the United States Information Technology Office in Beijing, hailed the report as "very comprehensive and substantial".
The State Informatization Development Strategy (2006-2020) published by General Office of the CPC Central Committee and General Office of the State Council sets forth China's goals in informatization development for the next 15 years. The goals for informatization development in the next 15 years are: providing information infrastructure nationwide; strengthening capacities of independent innovation of information technology; optimizing the information industry structure; improving information security; making effective progress on building more information-oriented national economy and society; establishing the new type of industrialization model; building a perfect national policy and system for the informatization process; enhancing the capability of applying the information technology among the public. In the Strategy, nine key aspects are emphasized: promoting informatization of the national economy; popularizing e-government; establishing advanced Internet culture; pushing ahead social informatization; popularizing information infrastructure; exploiting information resources more efficiently; improving information industry competition; building national information security system; improving people's ability in using information technology and cultivating more talents in information technology.Implementation of the Strategy will lay a good foundation for China which is striding toward the information society. After years of development, China has stepped into an all-around, multi-level period of informatization development. As China is in the process of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, vigorously pushing forward informatization development will be crucial in promoting social and economic development. The informatization development is advocated when China urgently needs to grasp opportunity and meet challenges as well as the requirements for the change of the pattern of economic growth, upgrading development concept.
Beijing has started a three-month campaign to scrutinize the city's 1,007 licensed Internet cafes. The aim of the campaign is to get cyber cafes to run in an orderly manner by severely punishing illegal operators, the Beijing Times reported yesterday. Back in 2004, the country also launched a nationwide campaign to rectify Internet cafes breaking government rules by shutting down 50,000 cyber cafes operating without a licence. However, according to a recent report from the China Radio International, the malpractice of illegal cyber cafes in urban suburbs, small towns and the countryside remains a problem. The paper said the drive, started on Wednesday by the city's bureaux of culture, public security, industry and commerce, mainly targets those bars breaking government rules on Internet management and admitting minors, a rising concern in the Chinese capital recently. There are about 4 million Internet surfers in Beijing, or almost one in every three residents, the daily paper said. Once found breaking government rules, the paper noted, Internet cafes will face three types of punishment. A cyber cafe which admits minors twice or three minors at one time will be ordered to stop business for two weeks while a cafe that permits eight minors at one time or allows minors in twice will have its business licence revoked. Meanwhile, those Internet cafes breaking government rules or running without a business licence will be made public through the media, the Beijing Times said.Currently, the city requires cyber cafe operators to register the identity of users in order to forbid minors coming for a visit and to filter unhealthy web content. The city's authorities have opened a round-the-clock hotline 12318 to receive public reports, the paper said, noting that people offering tips will be rewarded. The State Information Development Strategy (2006-20), which was published on Monday by the General Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council, has called for enhancing the country's capability of applying information technology among the public. According to the document, there are now about 670,000 websites on the Chinese mainland with some 103 million net surfers. According to a report yesterday in the Beijing-based daily newspaper The First, the North China municipality intends to "completely wipe out" the rampant malpractice among the city's Internet cafes, especially the practice of running without a licence and admitting minors. (by Nie Peng)
Beijing has tabled plans to tighten controls on illegal radio broadcasts and other communications. The city will implement the new regulations over a one year period, covering telecommunication devices like mobile phones and walkie-talkies, as well as radio broadcasts. The low cost and easy use of communications technology has caused a dramatic increase in commercial and private broadcasts. The new regulations aim to address concerns over illegal use of the city's airwaves by individuals and organizations operating without licenses. The rise in illegal communications traffic has has strained the capital's airwaves, threatening public security, air transportation as well as TV and radio transmissions.
A software industry official has called on the judiciary to compel High Council of Informatics to implement the Copyright Law, stressing that the law needs to be enforced by a certain executive organization. Hossein Talebi, who represents the State Computer Center at the council, told ISNA that domestically-produced software need strong protection, adding that the law on copyright is not properly enforced. ※The High Council of Informatics has envisaged certain facilities for software producers, including registering their products in order to enable them to file lawsuits against those who copy them illegally,※ he maintained, adding that the Copyright Law only applies to domestic products. ※It will not be a wise decision to extend the law to foreign products as well, because this will lead to a huge decline in the field of information technology (IT),※ he said. Iran＊s software industry has grown fast in recent years. Unofficial estimates suggest that software exports reached $15 million during March 2005-2006. Talks are underway with Iraq to export software products to the war-ravaged country. Some experts say presence in Afghanistan＊s software market is also a golden opportunity for Iranian companies. There are 500 software companies in Iran.
Irked by continued leaks of computer data, officials said Wednesday the government is taking the rare step of setting up its own team to develop software to prevent such spills of information or other damage from viruses. The plan is outlined in the 140-point "Secure Japan 2006" government action plan, to be introduced Friday at an information security policy meeting led by Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe. The decision comes on the heels of continued reports of sensitive leaks via Winny file-sharing software. The software development team, comprising government and private sector anti-virus experts, will be in business by next month. Tests of the new protective software are to begin within fiscal 2006. After major bugs are sorted out, the government will install the program at many of its offices next fiscal year, with tweaking and testing continuing until an effective program is developed. The government will then offer the final stable version to the private sector. It is unusual for the government to tackle security software development.
Japanese companies are slow in mapping out measures to fight cyber crimes such as illegal access to computer systems, an IBM Japan Ltd. survey showed Monday. Only 15 percent of the responding firms said that they have taken sufficient steps to tackle such crimes, far lower than 83 percent in the United States and 59 percent for all countries covered by the survey, according to the unit of International Business Machines Corp. The survey, conducted between December and January, covered about 3,000 companies in 17 countries, including Japan, the United States, Germany, Russia, India and China. Among the Japanese respondents, 81 percent said cyber attacks could cause material damage on their clients while 75 percent were concerned about damage on their own brand image and reputations. The most popular defense step cited by Japanese firms was to update antivirus software, with 42 percent of the respondents planning to take the measure.
Although more and more administrative procedures have become available online, the use of Web-based systems for final tax returns and other government services remains remarkably low, with many being used by less than 1 percent of applicants. Online systems have been introduced as part of the nation's strategy to promote information technology, and the government has allocated significant funds to the systems. But scant use of the systems is pushing up their operating costs--as high as 40,000 yen per application for some services. Paltry use of online administrative systems has largely been attributed to poor use of the Juki Net, the online nationwide residents registration system, as users need Juki cards containing integrated circuit chips as identification when making applications. However, only 0.54 percent of the population, or about 680,000 people, had Juki cards as of the end of August. Some observers have criticized the online administrative procedure systems as being too costly and suggested they were introduced too early. In June 2004, the National Tax Agency introduced the e-Tax system that allows taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for income, consumption and other taxes using their personal computers. About 110,000 tax returns were processed online during the past fiscal year--only 0.41 percent of 26.5 million cases the agency handled.
The agency's target of boosting this number to 1.3 million this fiscal year seems rather optimistic. Operating the online system costs about 9 billion yen annually. This means each application for tax procedures, including tax payments, made online costs about 40,000 yen. The poor cost performance has been highlighted as a concern in many quarters. The Finance Ministry in its report on budget implementation last year said careful consideration was needed over whether to maintain the current level of spending on the agency's online system unless the number of users sharply increases. The Justice Ministry started in March last year accepting online applications for real property registration at registry offices. Of about 14.1 million applications made at registry offices, only 120 applications, or 0.03 percent, were made online by December. An Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry official remained buoyant about the systems' prospects, saying, "Use of Juki cards will expand if services helpful to the public are available." But officials of many ministries and agencies were more gloomy, saying they did not expect any growth in the number of online users as long as Juki cards remained unused by most of the population.
Online procedures are partly available for issuance of passports and payment of pension benefits under the government's old pension schemes, as well as social insurance and other services. But use of online services accounts for less than 1 percent in many of these services. Chiba University Prof. Muneyuki Shindo, an expert in administrative and fiscal affairs, said: "Regarding the online tax return system, for example, most corporate employees don't need to make their returns by themselves, so they don't feel the need to use Juki cards. Taking into account the poor use of the cards, I think that online systems for administrative procedures were introduced too soon. "The high operating costs for the Web-based systems also are a cause for concern," Shindo added.
To counter the problem of identity theft, the Korean government will block the Internet protocols (IPs), which were used to steal personal data by getting bypass links to the country's Internet network. The Ministry of Information and Communication on Tuesday (Feb. 28) revealed steps aimed at controlling the nation's rampant personal data leakage to overseas countries, especially China. ※Since last week, in collaboration with Internet service providers, we already intercepted 2,600 illegal IPs, which were found to be the main routes for penetrating the Korean network,§ Lee Sung-ok, assistant minister at the ministry, said. Identity theft en masse surfaced last month after complaints piled up that hackers stole private data, including resident registration numbers, from Koreans subscribing to ※Lineage,§ a popular online game. Chinese hackers are suspected of leading the cyber crimes via a bypass link based on unlawful IPs, an alternative path to the legitimate, primary one. ※In the future, we will continue to keep tabs on such illegal IPs geared toward breaking into the Korean network and stealing personal information,§ Lee said.Lee said the ministry will also urge local Internet firms to use an alternative system other than resident registration numbers, the Korean version of social security numbers, for signing on to Web sites. ※Furthermore, we will recommend websites use cell phone numbers as a certification method to deter illegal subscribers. They can require people to enter their mobile phone numbers together with residence numbers when signing up,§ Lee noted. ※The site then will send certification figures via mobile handsets and users will be have to enter the multi-digit number on the website for user verification,§ he added. The Chinese government will be asked to delete the personal data of many Koreans in circulation in China's cyberspace, he said. To prevent the recurrence of massive personal data leakage, the ministry also unveiled a package of measures including propagation of security patches as well as fire walls. ※Currently, the penetration rates of security patches stand at just 38 percent. We will increase the figure to 80 percent and mandate gaming companies install Web firewalls,§ Lee said. In addition, the ministry checks the security of the country's 70,000 most-visited web ites every day to shield them from unscrupulous hackers.
The Ministry of Information and Communication on Thursday (Mar. 16) announced 43 tasks for this year designed to manage knowledge information resources with the purpose of building 20 million databases in the fields of science, technology, education, arts, culture and history. It is expected to provide 1,600 jobs for the young. The ministry earmarked 43 billion won to carry out the tasks picked through a series of screening processes of 125 tasks requested by state agencies and local, autonomous governments. The selected tasks involve databases on "national academic research" and 36 others featuring public, nature and conservation value, a bio-information database and available infrastructure, and five others picked for development potential. So far, an estimated 250 million items have been entered into databases as a result of the ministry's project. The items are available via www.knowledge.go.kr. A monthly average of 14 million people use the data through the private portal sites, Paran and Empas.
Korea will spend 126.3 billion won ($130.6 million) this year to expand the infrastructure of the nation's Internet education, the government said yesterday. The effort, based on the country's extensive high-speed Internet penetration, aims to expand the everyday use of online learning, and is part of Korea's goal to become one of the leading "e-learning" countries by 2010, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said. The local market for e-learning grew to 1.5 trillion won last year, up from 1 trillion won in 2003. It is expected to expand by around 20 percent annually to reach 4.4 trillion won by 2010.
Information security will be a new key objective of the Information Ministry, Minister Roh Jun-hyong said yesterday in a press conference explaining the ministry's policies for this year. "Until now, Korea has been obsessed with becoming a leading country in terms of Internet connection and infrastructure, but Korea's ＆rankings' in information security are not as high," said Mr. Roh, who was appointed to his post last month. He emphasized that laws protecting individual privacy must be passed. "There are three draft bills pending at the National Assembly. They must be passed so that we can set legal guidelines on protecting individuals' private information and know what to do when individuals' rights are violated," he said. He noted that information security was not something that the Information Ministry could do on its own and required the joint efforts of various authorities, including legislators, the police and prosecutors. "Whether or not the National Assembly passes those laws, the ministry will develop plans on the technological side to deal with security problems," he added. When asked how the ministry was approaching the implementation of radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in schools and government offices, Mr. Roh said that the introduction of these new services created problems that were not considered when the technology was initially developed and that the ministry is only testing the usage of RFID chips in certain areas. "But no number of legal restrictions will be the ultimate solution in ensuring information security. More important is to obtain a general understanding of the importance of private information," Mr. Roh said.
South Korea plans to launch an enhanced wireless telephone service at home starting next year to enable the speedy transmission of data, as well as featuring video conferencing and other multimedia functions, government officials said Wednesday. In a meeting held to seek public opinion on how to accelerate the launch of the digital wireless telephony service, the Ministry of Information and Communication said it will make the final decision on what frequency band to use by the end of this year.
South Korea may begin analyzing and ranking Web sites for levels of subscriber protection after a recent wave of identity theft. The Korea Times reports a draft of the Korea Information Security Agency budget calls for a five-tier rating system that will let consumers know how safe they are when viewing a particular Web site. The budget plan shows the program would analyze how a site collects and uses personal data. The state's information ministry is denying the program is more than a concept, citing obstacles like defining standards for the grading scale. But an official with the agency that would run the program says it will be up within the next year. In February, hackers stole information on millions of Koreans online, a problem some say has prompted the government to rate Web sites on their security safeguards.
Kazakh Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov signed a series of decrees on May 4 approving measures initiating a new national strategic plan in the technology field, according to "Kazakhstan Today." The plan includes the establishment of a new biotechnology center and an "action plan" of initiatives related to alternative energy, information technology, and environmental science. RG
A Tajik government resolution has eased visa requirements for citizens of 68 countries, ITAR-TASS reported on April 1. The March 31 resolution allows citizens of those countries to obtain 45-day visas within three days. The countries include France, Germany, Iran, Japan, and the United States. DK
The Indonesian government is set to develop the country's information technology to become one of the main pillars of industrial development in the future, a local daily reported today. In 2010, exports of information technology is projected at US$10 billion, up from US$5.5 billion in 2005, Ramon Bangun, Information Technology and Telecommunications Director at the Industry Ministry, was quoted as saying. Bangun said the country should not remain a market destination for foreign products of information technology. He said the government will soon build industrial clusters for information technology development to keep pace with rivals in this region such as Malaysia with its Malaysia Multimedia Development, Singapore with its Singapore One Program and the Philippines with its Subic Bay.
PETALING JAYA: Under the 9MP, the Government clearly stated its desire to improve on measures to make Malaysia the choice destination for information and communications technology (ICT)-based investments. It also emphasised the country's potential as a global player in the shared services and outsourcing (SSO) industry. In strengthening the development and adoption of ICT among the small and medium-scale enterprises (SME), the Government said it would enhance financing sources and fund programmes as well as strengthen existing ones. Jeffrey Raj, chief executive officer of Cuzzy Advanced Convergence Laboratories Sdn Bhd, said: ※Foreign SMEs have shown interest in outsourcing their activities to SMEs in Malaysia. These opportunities would be realised with the improved financing and market access under 9MP.§ The Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia (Pikom) said it was confident the ICT industry would continue to enjoy double-digit growth annually throughout the 9MP. Chairman Lee Boon Kok has forecast a 12% growth for the local ICT sector this year. ※The biggest boost for ICT funds is the emphasis given to the computerisation of Government agencies. This will improve processes and lead to greater efficiency in the public sector,§ he said. Intel Electronics (M) Sdn Bhd managing director for assembly and test K.C. Yoon said: ※The 9MP reinforces Malaysia's ability to increase its competitive edge by moving up the value chain to high technology and knowledge-intensive economic activities beyond manufacturing.§ IBM Malaysia Sdn Bhd managing director Voon Seng Chuan said the company was keen to support the development of Malaysia into an international SSO hub by investing in its regional operations. ※In doing so, we are well positioned to transfer best practices and skilled expertise to Malaysia,§ he added. Microsoft (M) Sdn Bhd managing director Butt Wai Choon commended the Government's efforts in promoting personal computer ownership among first time buyers and the lower income groups. He said: ※The added boost to the One Home One PC initiative, coupled with cost-effective broadband availability, will certainly drive Malaysia's knowledge economy.§ The Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) will focus on the development of corridor networks, encompassing the existing three cyber cities and also the setting up of four new cyber centres. The Government also said it would develop new fields such as the local digital content industry and bio-informatics, the convergence of biotechnology and ICT, and at the same time, pay special attention in promoting ※e-dagang§ (electronic commerce). Biotechnology also took the limelight in the 9MP, especially as a new source of wealth creation. With an allocation of RM2bil and special incentive packages for companies holding 'Bio-Nexus' status, the Government aims to turn biotechnology into a new driver of economic growth. The Government said sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, industrial activities and bio-informatics would benefit from biotechnology. It has made a commitment to support the development of biotechnology through better investment regulatory framework, improved funding, increased commercialisation of research and development (R&D), greater skilled biotechnology workforce as well as attracting foreign R&D partners.
A legal framework on the use, development and marketing of ICT industry related products is to be established to counter cyber threats. ※The impact from a cyber attack can be as bad as or worse than a physical attack, and if left without proper control can affect public security,§ Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said. Abdullah said cyber attacks through the communications network was one of the new challenges facing cyber security. ※This is especially when the infrastructure management system, management of energy supply, water, transportation, financial operation and banking, telecommunication services and health are undergoing a process of migration from manual to electronic,§ he said after chairing the National Information Technology Council (NITC) meeting here yesterday. The meeting focused on national cyber security policy, content screening of mobile services and early disaster warning system.
On content screening of mobile services, Abdullah said measures were needed to prevent unsuitable content from reaching the younger generation, who were exposed to 3G technology. At the same time, parents and the corporate sector that gained from such services should share in the social responsibility, he said. He said the discussion on the early disaster warning system through telecommunications messages was to pave way for the development of an effective early warning system. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister＊s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Effendi Norwawi and Minister of Higher Education Datuk Mustapa Mohamed also attended the NITC meeting. Bernama
Malaysia is reviewing incentives offered to ensure it maintains a competitive edge in its efforts to promote the country as an information and communications technology hub. Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis said that previously, the incentives had been sufficient but with stiff competition from other countries, there was a need for an appraisal. He said that there was a need to study the incentives offered by other countries that had been making great advances. Certain incentives provided under the (Multimedia Super Corridor) Bill of Guarantees were not as attractive as those offered by other countries in Asia such as China and India, he said. He added that under the Bill of Guarantees, companies with MSC status enjoy several financial and non-financial incentives and benefits. Jamaludin told Malaysian journalists at the 15th World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) here that the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) had been asked to study the Bill. He said he would also be bringing the matter up to the Cabinet. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi arrived here on Wednesday for the WCIT Congress. He is leading a 300-member delegation to the congress, a biennial global ICT event under the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), a consortium of 60 information technology industry associations from around the world. Apart from Jamaludin, others in Abdullah＊s entourage include Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon and Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob.
The Infocomm industry can look forward to S$620 million worth of Infocomm tenders to be called by the Singapore Government in Financial Year (FY) 20061. This was revealed by Mr Chan Yeng Kit, Chief Executive Officer of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) at the 2006 Industry Briefing 'Business Opportunities for IT in the Public Sector'. The annual briefing provides the infocomm industry with an early indication of government procurement plans so that they can better respond to government tenders. Besides IDA, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and National Library Board (NLB) also presented their infocomm procurement plans. Some of the key projects to be called in FY06 include the multi-million dollar Human Resource (HR) Transformation project by MINDEF; the Facility Management Bulk Tender to provide professional infocomm manpower services for the Singapore Government by IDA; the Integrated Security System for Changi Prison Complex by MHA; the Student Hub to migrate student information to an open platform by MOE; and the New Human Resource and Finance System by NLB. Speaking at the Industry Briefing attended by more than 700 industry participants, Mr Chan said, "Continual investment in Infocomm technologies for the public sector is essential as there is a constant need for the Government to exploit the potential of Infocomm technologies for operational efficiencies."
SINGAPORE: A committee that is looking at how to protect private information is expected to submit its report to the government next month. Experts believe one of the key features of the upcoming data protection law is clamping down on private companies that collect and disseminate personal information freely. Currently, when a person fills out their personal information on forms or lucky draw coupons, the companies will usually store the information in their databases and disseminate it without the person's knowledge or permission. The upcoming law will likely make sure that that will not happen. Experts believe the law may be ready in about 2 years. "Data collectors would have to get your consent if they're going to use it for direct marketing and if you discover that your particulars are being used by direct marketing by a particular company, you'd have a right to go to the company and demand that they stop doing it. It's the sort of thing I could envisage in the legislation coming," said S Suressh, a partner at Harry Elias Partnership. Singaporeans are increasingly using the internet to conduct transactions. So it's timely for the government to study and develop laws to protect personal details. "As we develop, there're more and more demands for rights and one of the rights is of course the right to privacy. So the government's probably decided that we have reached a certain level of development and that businesses can probably cope with the increased burden and cost of this," said Asst Prof Terence Tan from the Law Faculty at NUS. The existing laws cover mainly government agencies such as the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, requiring they protect your personal information. But data collection and protection are unregulated among private companies, which will change with the coming of new laws.
The decision to dissolve the parliament has also put proposed new e-commerce laws into legislative limbo once again. Royal Decrees related to E-Payment Service Providers, a Certification Authority (CA), and information security were ready to be submitted to the Cabinet next month. Now all three, together with a Royal Decree on E-Transactions in the Public Sector, are expected to be delayed. The e-laws are seen as crucial to the future economy, which will rely increasingly on electronic transactions. An Electronic Transactions Commission last year approved a draft for an E-payment Service Provider decree, which had been reviewed at three public hearings. The proposed law would have made the Bank of Thailand (BoT) the regulator of e-payment service providers. Prior to the parliament dissolution, Saowanee Suwannacheep, chairman of a sub-committee on E-payment Service Providers, had suggested that the law could have been in force by the middle of the year. It was one of five Royal Decrees that form the Electronic Transaction Bill. According to the draft bill, the e-payment services included the credit card network, electronic data capture network, clearing and settlement and other services announced by the BoT. IT Law Development Project chief Surangkana Wayuparb told Database that he expected the endorsement of the IT related laws would be again postponed, although this would depend on decisions from the caretaker government.
President Iajuddin Ahmed said education in Information Communication Technology is very important to make students competent and efficient so that they can cope with the challenging world in the new millennium. "The unprecedented advancement of ICT has transformed the world into a 'Global Village'. Free flow of ICT is now the demand of new millennium. No country can survive keeping itself distanced from this modern trend," he said. Iajuddin was addressing the 5th convocation of the East West University at Sheraton Hotel. "Our survival as a nation and our continued progress and prosperity depend upon capable human resources. Universities are the main source of creating human resources through its tools," he told the function. "Universities, private or public, as we know, are the centre of excellence and a field of free-thinking. For achieving the desired goals it needs congenial academic atmosphere." He said this type of atmosphere can be achieved through sincere effort and cooperation both from the students and the teachers. The President also emphasised surrounding environmental elements, including open campus, teacher-student relations, library and modern IT facilities, co-education curriculum and, above all, dedication. "We have been observing that private universities face many constraints, including their own campus, library facilities, research works and, above all, congenial atmosphere. But it is a ray of hope that many private universities are striving to provide desired education for the students," he said. Congratulating the graduating students, he said the convocation does not mark end of their learning rather just the beginning of a process whereby the knowledge earned so far will be put to test.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has set a three-week deadline for the country＊s mobile operators to dismantle their GSM network infrastructure within an eight kilometre radius of the Indian border in an attempt to reduce smuggling and other criminal activity. The BTRC made the shock request in a letter sent on Tuesday to GrameenPhone, Aktel, CityCell and Banglalink, saying that the base stations are ＆too close to the border and emit signals inside Indian territory＃It makes communicating from India with anyone in Bangladesh very easy, hindering the anti-smuggling and anti-terrorist operations.＊ The operators have, however, strongly opposed what they called the ＆utterly impractical＊ directive, stating that the proposed move would lead to a ＆massive legal and sociopolitical backlash＊ and cause them to sustain a ＆huge financial loss.＊ According to the BTRC, GrameenPhone has 100 base stations within 50 metres and seven kilometres of the Indo-Bangladesh demarcation line, whilst Aktel has installed 23 base stations within the same range, CityCell five and Banglalink three.
Following last month＊s introduction of a new law making it mandatory for all Bangladeshi pre-paid mobile users to register their identities, the country has witnessed a sharp decline in sales of pay-as-you-go SIM cards, retailers report. As part of efforts to clamp down on the use of unregistered mobile phones by terrorists, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) ruled on 27 February that new pre-pay customers must submit personal details such as photographs, fingerprints, ID cards, passports or driving licences. Those without appropriate ID must obtain a certificate issued by an elected public representative or government officer. Many SIM card dealers say they have incurred losses in the last month. A GrameenPhone outlet told Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star that it ＆used to sell 30 to 35 SIM cards a day but now sales have dropped to two or three a day,＊ whilst a Banglalink retailer said: ＆We are facing a severe loss in business. At present we sell eight to ten SIMs a day whereas I sold 30 to 40 before the new regulations.＊
The High Court yesterday issued a rule asking the government to explain why the Telecommunication (Amendment) Act 2006 empowering the authorities to tap any telephone line should not be declared illegal and ultra-vires to the Constitution. A Division Bench of the court comprising Justice M Awalad Ali and Justice Zinat Ara passed the rule upon a public interest litigation (PIL) writ filed by Odhikar, a human rights watchdog, and Nurul Kabir, Editor of The New Age. The court issued the rule which has been made returnable in three weeks. Secretaries of Post and Telecommunication, Law, and Home Ministries and Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) were made respondents in the case. Senior Advocate AF Hassan Ariff assisted by Khaleda Zaman, Ashik Al Jalil and Arafat Amin appeared for the petitioners. Deputy Attorney General Abdul Based stood for the government.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued formal warnings to five cellcos for the deteriorating quality of their services. Last year it asked all of the country＊s mobile operators to meet specified quality of service (QoS) levels by the end of the year after complaints by customers over poor call quality sky rocketed. The regulator has now handed Bharti Tele-Ventures, Reliance Infocomm, Tata Teleservices, Spice Communications and BPL Mobile (recently acquired by Hutchison Telecommunications) ＆show cause notices＊ for their failure to improve services. ＆It was noticed that at several places the level of congestion of some of the operators was in the range of 80% to 95%,＊ the TRAI said in a statement. ＆Being deeply concerned about the deteriorating level of Points of Interconnection (POI) congestion in the networks and also considering lack of efforts on the part of the service providers in effecting timely augmentation of interconnection, it was decided to issue show cause notices.＊ The TRAI has given the operators ten days to respond to the notice. Idea Cellular, Hutch, BSNL and MTNL have not been cautioned though the regulator says their service levels remain less than ideal.
NEW DELHI: Despite all the hullabaloo about India's prowess in IT and sky-rocketing telecom subscriptions, the country still figured at the bottom rung (rank 40) in the World Economic Forum's Global Information Technology Report 2005-2006. US topped the list, followed by Singapore, Denmark and Iceland at second third and fourth positions, respectively, in the report released on Tuesday. India's ranking at 40th position amongst 115 economies remained largely unchanged. In fact, India slid one rank from last year's 39th position. China's rank dropped 9 positions from 41 last year to 50 th position this year. US regains the top position in the rankings, reflecting an impressive performance in the areas of ICT physical infrastructure and high levels of business and government usage of the latest technologies. US topped the rankings for the third time in five years. Last year, US was ranked fifth on the list. The US also stands out for ready availability of venture capital.
Singapore had topped the list last year. Singapore benefits from an excellent regulatory environment and exemplary macroeconomic management. Singapore apart, Asia and the Pacific also did extremely well this year with Taiwan in 7th place, gaining 8 positions from last year and in the top ten for the first time, followed closely by Hong Kong (11), Korea (14), Australia (15) and Japan (16). Nordic countries maintained their positions at the top of the rankings, with Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Sweden in third, fourth, fifth and eighth places respectively. Nordic countries have registered consistently high ICT penetration and have occupied places in the top ten positions over the last five years. Estonia leads the eastern European countries with a rank of 23 out of 115 (gaining two positions from last year), thanks to its excellent political and regulatory framework for ICT. The highest ranking Latin American countries are Chile (29), Brazil (52) and Mexico (55).
The Indian information technology enabled services (ITeS) industry is poised to touch US$ 26 billion by 2009-10 and US$ 10 billion by 2006-07, according to credit rating agency ICRA. ICRA said in its latest research report that with the global ITeS industry expected to maintain a healthy growth rate over the medium term, corporations are expected to continue outsourcing many of their labour-intensive business process service tasks to developing countries like India to gain cost savings and quality advantages. The report said that demand growth in the ITeS industry is likely to be export-led, with the domestic market also expected to grow at a rate in excess of 50 per cent. In the report, ICRA said that the biggest challenge which the ITeS industry in India was facing was lack of good infrastructure.
KARACHI: The government's broadband policy announced in November 2004 has unable to attract potential investment and failed to increase its usage across the country. Sources in the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) told Business Recorder on Monday, the broadband policy is still not effective due to non-user-friendly environment and higher tariff prices. The broadband connection is still unaffordable in the country. For example, the STM-1 tariffs for international connection is $76,000, where as for Karachi-Islamabad, it is $123,500. Similarly, for bulk purchasers, the broadband rates are much higher. In the revised tariff, the international DS3 tariff is mentioned as $31,348 per month and with the same tariff structure the pricing for the STM-1 should have been $62,696 per month. But the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) has fixed it at $76,000. In other words, the bulk purchaser has been put to a disadvantage of about $13,304 per month. When contacted, Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) president Ansarul Haq told Business Recorder use of broadband connection in Pakistan is one of the lowest in the region. He pointed out in Pakistan, the number of Internet users is already very low compared to other countries, but the number of broadband users is even lower.
In Pakistan, there are only 2.5 million Internet users against 6 million users in India and 100 million in China. Whereas broadband users in India are more than 6 percent of total Internet users, in China, 45 percent and in Pakistan their number is less than one percent of the total Internet users. He said when broadband penetrates, it can cause high PC penetration with high computer literacy, large number of broadband cyber-cafe for experience games and video. For growth of broadband in Pakistan, he said, the cost of 100kbnps bandwidth should be less than one percent of average monthly income of users. For this, he said, strong government commitment is essential. He criticised PTCL policies and said they are the main impediment in growth of broadband connection in Pakistan. In the agreement for a DSL connection, the PTCL put very stringent obligations on users of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), which make the connection unattractive for a common user. For example, he said, any type of voice, speech, fax and use of compression equipment on DSL system is strictly prohibited. "Then what is the purpose of getting high speed DSL connection," he asked. He suggested the government should create an enabling environment for private sector including private data gateway. Pakistan should be made a part of the global information society, he added.
World-class success still eludes Pakistan's IT industry but, says Athar Osama, it can be achieved 〞 if policymakers tackle the big issues. For most of the 1990s, Pakistan invested heavily in information technology (IT) and an industry began to emerge. Thousands of people there are now online, but developing quality software that sells in the international market is a different matter 〞 and one that needs a radical rethink. During the initial flush of enthusiasm, IT training institutes opened across Pakistan, and the government funded increased Internet access in villages, towns and cities. The assumption was that Pakistan would somehow become a big software exporter, and reap a projected US$1 billion by 2000. Today, things have changed considerably. On the plus side, there are signs that the industry has become more sophisticated. Many entrepreneurs who formed companies in the early 1990s 〞 believing in the mantra 'I will make it, they will buy it' 〞 have learnt the value of specialisation, good marketing, and quality software development. Software companies have developed an increasingly strategic vision, and the 'reverse brain drain' has also helped by bringing in fresh ideas, capital and contacts. On the downside however, the industry faces serious organisational and managerial challenges. These include a lack of human resources, venture capital and 〞 most importantly 〞 an inspiring, world-class success story.
The problem with policy today, as opposed to the 1990s, is that while policymakers generally recognise that the IT sector is going to be important to Pakistan's long-term growth, there is considerable ambiguity on how big that role can be. The policymakers have, therefore, failed to tackle the biggest challenges directly. They need to decide whether their objective is to build an industry that challenges those in some emerging countries (whether big players such as India or smaller ones such as Malaysia, the Philippines and Ukraine) or merely one that remains a user of IT. There is nothing wrong with either choice, so long as one is actually made and then diligently followed. If Pakistan is serious about emerging as a global IT leader (or even a second-tier follower) it needs to take drastic policy measures. Although the industry continues to grow at a healthy rate of 20-30 per cent, it is stuck in a low-level equilibrium: there are no imminent technological leaps, such as those that transformed India's IT industry in the 1990s. The roots of the problem lie at many levels 〞 from individual companies through to policymakers in government, and the industry as a whole. Pakistan's IT industry suffers from a lack not just of physical infrastructure, but of carefully distributed telecommunications capacity 〞 i.e. multiple access points and extra capacity to link with the international telecommunication network.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has directed fixed line incumbent PTCL to review and reduce its international bandwidth rates to bring tariffs in line with the rest of the world to help increase the take-up of broadband services in the country. The PTA says that there have been substantial reductions in IP and international private leased circuit (IPLC) bandwidth rates across the globe, and that tariffs in Pakistan need to be revised accordingly.
ISLAMABAD: The government has finalised a draft policy framework for setting up the National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Research and Development Fund meant to promote research culture in IT, said Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari on Tuesday. The minister after chairing a meeting held to review the draft of the policy framework said the services of international consultants were hired to help the ministry formulating a forward-looking framework for the development of ICT sector through sustainable R&D initiatives. An official of the Ministry told Business Recorder that the major policy thrust is to provide a mechanism and enabling environment for promotion of research and development activities in ICT to achieve enhanced national productivity and human resource development for industrial demand. The policy provides guidelines to develop a knowledge-based ICT industry for delivery of value-added products and promote indigenous development in telecom sector.
It would also contribute towards the growth of other sectors of economy through deployment of ICT products and services, cultivate industry-academia partnership, provide support to national information and communication infrastructure, he added. Leghari said, "A structured policy formulation approach is being pursued to attract investment in modern-day technologies vital for commercial and development perspectives". He hoped that the fund would provide a much-needed impetus in this direction adding that enhancement of physical and legal infrastructure, development of human resource, industry-academia collaboration for the ICT sector are the core objectives it would be used to achieve. He said the ministry was keen to put in place a well-structured fund and urged stakeholders to forward their views and comments on the draft. "We want the consultation process to complete within the next one week so that the fund can start functioning under the new framework within the next couple of weeks," he added.
PAY-TV operators have sharpened their campaign for looser regulation in the federal Government's revamped media laws, warning they face a serious threat from broadband. Foxtel chief executive Kim Williams described the take up of broadband as "sobering", pointing out that it grew seven times faster than pay television subscriber numbers last year. Austar chief executive John Porter said it was critical the pay-TV industry was able to "grow much faster" because it only had three to four years before advances in broadband speeds made internet-based entertainment more commercially viable in Australia. The pair were speaking at an Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association conference in Sydney as the industry waits for the release of Communications Minister Helen Coonan's plan to reshape media laws. The pay-TV industry has told the government it is imperative the anti-siphoning list - which has resulted in pay-TV operators being prohibited from showing as much as 6000 hours of sport a year - is abolished before new digital services such as multi-channelling are introduced. Mr Williams said Foxtel was forced to fight against "a cosy, protected club in terrestrial television" and the "world's most draconian restrictive sports rights regulation", while broadband was essentially unregulated.
"There is no regulatory impediment to broadband taking out a whole football code's content exclusively and in its entirety," he said. He said the number of pay-TV customers grew by about 2000 a week to 1.69 million last year, while broadband customer numbers jumped 2000 a day to 1.67 million. "I know that broadband is more like a utility and we sell a real consumer product but it is a sobering comparison and it demonstrates our challenge," he said. Research in the United States showed that people aged between 12 and 24 spent 25 per cent more time on the internet than watching television. Foxtel is planning to launch its own broadband content services over the next year, including TV downloads, as well as mobile phone content and an innovative handheld viewing device called iQ 2 Go. "We have a substantial plan for broadband and it relates to content and IPTV (internet protocol television) and to downloads," Mr Williams said. The move comes after one of the Foxtel partners, Telstra, introduced its Big Pond movie download business, which some Foxtel board members see as being competitive to Foxtel. However, its appeal is limited by slow broadband speeds. Mr Williams, who has just taken Foxtel to profitability for the first time in its 10 year history, was dismissive of the Telstra service yesterday, saying it took about eight hours to download a movie.
Telstra's growing media ambitions are likely to spark further tensions with its Foxtel partners, News Limited and Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd, as the telco attempts to move up the food chain to more profitable content services. Senator Coonan is waiting for the Prime Minister to sign off on her proposed reforms, which are expected to include the scrapping of cross and foreign ownership restrictions. Mr Williams said Foxtel had always supported "balanced regulation". He said the industry feared the commercial networks would continue to be protected from a fourth rival and the anti-siphoning list while getting new opportunities through multi-channeling. "Make no mistake about it, this would a deeply destructive outcome for industry, competition and consumers," Mr williams said. He said that the list had resulted in Australians being only able to watch live three of 432 Winter Olympic events from Turin, Italy, last month. He also said the Government should set the year 2015 as the switch-off of analogue terrestrial services.
WITH the Federal Government's shake-up of media law imminent, Foxtel's chief, Kim Williams, has made a last-minute attempt to lay out the ground rules for sensible and fair change. In the process, he has highlighted the challenge for industry incumbents, including Foxtel, as a torrent of new technology threatens the sector. Speaking at an Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association conference, Williams said Foxtel's greatest concern was that if the prohibition of a fourth commercial network continued, the free-to-air networks would be protected from further competition while being given the new option of digital multi-channelling with the continued protection of the anti-siphoning regime. That, he said, would be a deeply destructive outcome for industry, competition and consumers. "To continue to artificially prop up the commercial television sector with ongoing unbalanced protection would be as nonsensical in the 21st century as maintaining trade barriers or reversing the float of the Australian dollar," he said. Williams said it was important that the Government didn't try to anoint winners and in the process create operational imbalances that limited the possibilities for market-based evolution.
The escalating penetration of broadband, delivering all types of content, had taken home entertainment and information provision into a new global dimension, he said. The themes in Williams's speech were consistent with the views expressed last year by the former Telstra chief executive, Ziggy Switkowski. He said a minimalist model for change - designed to appease the moguls - would slow the rate of digital penetration and create a situation where only half Australia's households had a digital receiver by 2008. That wouldn't be sufficient for the analog transmission to be shut down, and therefore media policy would stall. Switkowski advocated a rush towards the digital age and the removal of protection from the well-resourced incumbents - a near-complete deregulation. Williams is more or less in sync, for similar reasons. He noted that the internet was the fastest-expanding force in home entertainment and that it was, to all intents and purposes, unregulated. It was dynamically consumer-responsive, remarkably risky and rich with energy and innovation, he said. Any new policy framework must recognise the essential links between the key broadcasting issues - the moratorium on a fourth network, multi-channelling and restrictive sports rights regulation.
If the networks were to be allowed to multi-channel, the anti-siphoning regime should be scrapped first. If multi-channelling were allowed, it should be on a free-to-view basis. Datacasting spectrum should be allocated for new digital-only services. He spoke of Foxtel's trials of hand-held digital video devices and video-on-demand - not just to televisions but to mobiles and other portable devices. A digital and internet environment represents a massive threat to media incumbents because of the potential for a multitude of platforms to deliver consumers content in a variety of increasingly rich and interactive ways. Mass media - commercial TV in particular - are faced with a rapid fragmentation of their audiences and the undermining of their revenue basis. The current model for media regulation is predicated on a limited amount of spectrum and limited competition, which dictate intrusive regulation.
A digital and internet environment, however, makes those artificial rules and restrictions - and the limitations they place on content providers, consumers and innovation - anachronistic. With the much discussed convergence of the telecommunications, media and IT sectors well under way, partial reform would limit the unknown potential of the digital environment and confer unearned benefit, and unwarranted disadvantage, within those sectors of the economy. It is in no one's interest, other than the moguls', for the development of the sector to be distorted and stunted by an attempt to continue to protect what is impossible to protect. Foxtel claims to have attracted 25 per cent of the viewing audience over the summer non-ratings period. In homes with Foxtel, it attracts nearly 60 per cent of their viewing time.
AUSTRALIA'S new media and telecommunications regulator will issue a crucial discussion paper next week which is likely to determine the extent of competition on unused digital TV spectrum. The level of new digital TV competition is critical in the federal Government's eventual decision on when to remove cross-media and foreign ownership restrictions. Communications Minister Helen Coonan has suggested those restrictions will only be removed once new digital services are available. "As changes scheduled to occur to the digital regime give rise to opportunities for new services, there are two possibilities for the timing of the introduction of any reforms to the cross-media and foreign restrictions - 2007 when the introduction of new digital services is possible, or at analogue switchover (in 2012)," she said this week. But Senator Coonan has said a fourth commercial TV network will not be allowed on the unused spectrum, leaving open the question about what other services can be provided. Australian Communications and Media Authority chairman Chris Chapman said yesterday that the paper canvassing digital TV options would be released early next week.
"There are two digital TV channels that remain unassigned and this is a very good and interesting discussion paper," he said. "It seeks a range of stakeholders' views on how those channels might be used, and provides some interesting technical matter." Senator Coonan has requested ACMA to advise the Government on issues relating to the digital TV channels such as whether they should be sold separately or together and whether they should be sold by licence area or on a wider geographic basis. She has suggested the channels could be used to provide pay-TV services, narrowcast TV channels (such as a home shopping channel) or mobile TV. Mr Chapman said submissions to ACMA's paper would be due after the April 18 deadline for government submissions. "It's a very important follow-up supplementary piece to the minister's discussion paper," he said.
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, today tabled a series of reports on reviews into the digital television regulatory framework. The reviews, which were required by legislation, fed into the formulation of last week＊s discussion paper on reform options for Australia's media industry. ※The reviews of the digital television regulatory framework raised a number of issues and the discussion paper, Meeting the Digital Challenge: Reforming Australia's media in the digital age, outlines potential policy responses,§ Senator Coonan said. Following consideration of submissions to the discussion paper, the Government will finalise its policy on media reform and develop a Digital Action Plan, to energetically drive take-up of digital television in the lead-up to analogue switch-over.
The series of statutory reviews undertaken over the last two years are related to a range of issues including: the restrictions on additional programming provided by free-to-air broadcasters, including multichannelling and whether the prohibition on free-to-air broadcasters offering other types of services, such as pay TV channels, should be modified; matters relating to the end of the moratorium on the issue of new commercial television broadcasting licences, which concludes on 31 December 2006; the efficient allocation of spectrum for digital television; legislative provisions relating to under-served markets; and high definition digital TV requirements. A review of the duration of the analogue-digital simulcast period was conducted in late 2005. Submissions to this review will also contribute to the Digital Action Plan. The report for this review has not yet been finalised.
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan today welcomed the announcement by the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington that Australia was one of only five nations out of the 184 studied to receive top marks for its crackdown on child pornography. This coincides with the release of a new educational campaign called Wise Up To IT - to inform young people of online dangers . The campaign has been prepared by the Australian Government's Internet safety agency 每 NetAlert 每 as part of activities to mark National Youth Week. The International Centre for Missing and Exploited children examined the laws of 184 countries with the assistance of Interpol. The countries were examined on the effectiveness of their legislative response to child pornography. Following this analysis, Australia along with Belgium , France , South Africa and the United States were the only countries found to have enacted legislation that was providing significant protection for children. ※This legislative response forms part of the Government's three pronged strategy of legislating, educating and regulating to protect children online.
It is pleasing to see international recognition for Australia 's strong stand,§ Senator Coonan said. Recognising the importance of education as the primary tool to protect children online, NetAlert today released a new DVD for use in schools. It details real-life experiences of Internet issues affecting young people including cyber-bullying, scams, cyber-stalking and online grooming. The DVD comes after six months of research by NetAlert and represents four case studies where young people have fallen victim to the dangers lurking on the Internet and offers advice to avoid such situations occurring to others. ※It is of the utmost important that children are aware of these issues and ensure they and their parents actively take steps to prevent these scenarios happening to them,§ Senator Coonan said. NetAlert worked closely with The Online Child Sex Exploitation Team, Taskforce Argos (QLD), and the Australian High Tech Crime Centre to accurately represent the case studies in the DVD and provide strategies to help young Australians manage the risks while surfing the Internet. ※With this useful resource parents and teachers will be able to openly discuss these issues at home or in the classroom and together gain a better understanding of the problem,§ Senator Coonan said.
THE set-up fees for small business will be halved and $30million spent on making it easier for people to do business online, under a series of changes designed to reduce bureaucracy. People and businesses will be able to use single digital sign-ons for different government agencies, and the Government will roll out a calculator to public agencies so they can estimate the cost of regulation on business. Over the next three years, the Government will spend $29.6million to develop a whole-of-government system for identifying people and businesses online. The program will be run by the Department of Industry through the business.gov.au website. Small Business and Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said the Government would halve the incorporation fee for small businesses to $400, at a cost of $216million over four years. And the Government would spend $1.1 million over the next two years to roll out a business cost calculator to government departments that will allow agencies to measure the cost to business of filling in forms, applying for licences, training staff or making other changes as a result of government regulation.
"Every new idea or government proposal will now be looked at in terms of how much will these changes cost the people on the ground -- those businesses who will be the ones filling out forms or changing their processes," she said. "Then we can ask business and ourselves: is it worth it?" The measures come after the Government's recent taskforce on reducing the regulatory burden on business made a series of recommendations on ways of reducing the burden of red tape across the economy. That report is still being considered by the Government, and includes controversial changes such as a proposal to increase the minimum pay level at which employers have to pay superannuation contributions for their workers from $400 to $800 a month -- a move that could cut off many workers from compulsory super contributions.
THE federal Government has given the internet industry mixed signals over the performance of current laws designed to shield consumers from porn and offensive content online. ICT Minister Helen Coonan said that findings of an audit carried out by the communications regulator released today demonstrated the effectiveness of codes of practice under its co-regulatory content regulation scheme. The Australian Communications and Media Authority's audit found that the majority ISPs were honouring their obligations to keep consumers safe online under the co-regulatory scheme. However, a spokeswoman for the Minister said that the federal Government had not ruled out ISP-level content filtering and that the Senator's comments shouldn't be taken as indication of how well current regulation policy was working. "The audit wasn't looking at whether (current policy) cracked down on porn it was looking whether the industry was complying with industry codes," she said. Under the government＊s current internet regulation laws, ISPs are required to make internet filters and online safety advice available to consumers.
ACMA said that its audit, ordered by Senator Coonan last year, revealed that Australia's top 24 ISPs, which represented 85 per cent of internet users, had demonstrated a high level of compliance with the codes. The codes of practice are backed by the federal Government's internet content regulation laws, which empower ACMA to fine ISPs up to $27,500 per day for breaches. An ISP-level internet filtering trial is poised to go ahead in Tasmania in the coming months, backed by Liberal Senator Guy Barnett. The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts has already examined the results of three ISP-level internet filtering trials but was yet to include them in policy, the spokeswoman said. The Internet Industry Association has repeatedly said that the introduction of mandatory ISP-level internet filtering was unworkable and would place undue burden on ISPs. Senator Coonan's spokeswoman said that the government was prepared to look at the results of the Tasmanian trial.
Australia's 6 million internet subscribers will be given software to filter out pornography for free under a federal government plan to toughen controls on internet content. Communications Minister Helen Coonan is preparing to launch the service with an injection of funds into the government's NetAlert online safety agency, The Weekend Australian Financial Review reports. But the government is reluctant to put its stamp of approval on software that may later turn out to have flaws, so it is leaning towards creating a list of software suppliers for consumers to chose from and making them available on the NetAlert site, the paper says.
Australians can legally record TV and radio programs and transfer material from compact discs to mp3 players under new copyright reforms. Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the significant copyright reforms would make laws fairer for consumers and tougher on copyright pirates. "Copyright is important and should be respected," Mr Ruddock said. "That is why the government is updating our laws to keep pace with technology." Under the new laws, it will now be legal for people to tape their favourite television or radio programs for viewing by family and friends. But recordings must not be sold or hired nor played at school or to public audiences. "These are commonsense amendments which will maintain Australia's copyright laws as the best in the world for the benefit of our creators and other copyright owners," Mr Ruddock said. The reforms also legalise format-shifting of material including music, newspapers and books onto iPods or mp3 players. Copyright material also will be able to be used for parody or satire.
Mr Ruddock said the laws would provide new enforcement measures to combat copyright piracy including on-the-spot fines, proceeds of crime remedies, a change in presumptions in litigation to make it easier to establish copyright piracy. "Everyday consumers shouldn't be treated like copyright pirates," Mr Ruddock said. The government also has removed the statutory cap on licence fees paid by radio broadcasters for using sound recordings. "There is no reason why a statute should determine what the rate should be for music played on the radio," Mr Ruddock said. The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA), which represents Australian recording artists and record labels, welcomed the new reforms. PPCA chief executive Stephen Peach said the government should be congratulated on the decision to allow recording artists fairer returns on their music. "We have felt strongly for some time that artists and labels were not receiving a fair return from commercial radio," Mr Peach said.
THE federal Government will spend nearly $30 million rolling out the Attorney-Generals' Document Service as just one of a series of large technology projects funded in the most tech-friendly budget in memory. Beyond the big-ticket $1.09 billion smartcard project and $495 million Immigration systems overhaul, Treasurer Peter Costello's 11th budget was littered with fully funded IT initiatives, including venture capital investment incentives and changes to depreciation rules that will spur hardware sales. With its continued national security focus, Attorneys-General became the focal point of new funding initiatives. The department will spend $28.3 million on a national document verification service based on a prototype built with $6 million from last year's budget. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the service, which would enable federal and state agencies to check online, and in real time, the authenticity of identity documents, would help combat identity theft and fraud problems that cost the economy an estimated $1billion annually. In particular, the service would help social service agencies fight welfare fraud by letting "authorised government agencies check key identity documents presented by individuals applying for high-value benefits and services".
The service will also provide stolen and fraudulent document detection capabilities. As a part of the program, the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner will be given an extra $1.3 million over four years to deal with concerns that arise from it. The Treasurer also funded three Australian Federal Police identity security strike teams at a cost of about $20 million over four years. Mr Ruddock said Federal Police investigations had revealed the sale of complete identity packages of driver's licences, Medicare cards, passports and birth certificates. He said these gave criminals -- including terrorists -- "multiple means to shield their activities and evade detection". The Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation will get an additional $14.8 million to improve the IT and communications infrastructure of the domestic spy agency. The Attorney-General's Department AUSTRAC money laundering agency was given $10.6 million to set up new regulatory arrangements, a measure that includes $1.4 million in capital funding for IT systems. The Department of Communications, IT and the Arts received $33 million over four years to build and maintain a do-not-call register to prohibit telemarketers phoning people who have asked to be left alone.
The measure includes $1.7 million over four years for the department's role of policy development, including negotiation of international agreements. The Australian Computer Society has hailed the budget but president Phil Argy wants changes to federal procurement practices to ensure the local industry gets its fair share of spending. Mr Argy said the spending initiatives were well targeted and he particularly welcomed additional measures to support the venture capital sector. "Overall, there were nicely targeted initiatives, and that's what we like to see -- something thoughtful, rather than just cash to shut the local industry up," Mr Argy said. The commitment of an extra $200 million to the Innovation Investment Fund and the creation of an "early stage venture capital limited partnership" investment vehicle would be an enormous boost for local start-ups. "There is a little bit more detail to come on that, but overseas that has become a very effective structure to get start-up capital into new companies," Mr Argy said. "Venture capital in Australia is much more risk-averse than elsewhere, and this could be a structure that will improve the attractiveness of venture capital investment here."
IT hardware providers stand to be big winners from the budget, according to accountant Deloitte, because of the flow-on effects of accelerated depreciation rule changes. Deloitte corporate tax partner Stuart Osborne said hardware providers could see a surge in sales as high up-front tax deductions became more attractive. "As well as computing equipment, telecommunications equipment providers may also come out ahead," Mr Osborne said. Australian Information Industry Association chief executive Rob Durie noted the "welcome" tax cut for depreciation of investments, which would be worth about $3.7 billion to businesses over four years. However, he was concerned by the lack of initiatives to develop the ICT industry's skills base.
TELSTRA is "thumbing its nose at government," using the regulatory system to stymie market competition, NSW Nationals Senator Fiona Nash says. With Telstra locked in negotiation with the competition watchdog on a series of issues critical to the timing of the $25 billion T3 sale, Senator Nash said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission should be given more freedom to make decisions faster. The ACCC has accused Telstra of anti-competitive behaviour over the price it charges competitors for accessing its fixed line copper network. "Recent action by Telstra to challenge a competition notice issued by the ACCC over wholesale line access rental is apparently a clear demonstration that it, Telstra, continues to thumb its nose at the government," Senator Nash told regional communication conference in Canberra. Telstra has rejected the criticism and said its management had "a legal and fiduciary responsibility" to fight unfair decisions. "When the regulator makes decisions that take the property of Telstra shareholders and uses it to subsidise a public purpose without just compensation, you can be sure that we will fight back - with law suits, with public information campaigns, with everything at our disposal to protect (shareholders)," spokesman Warwick Ponder said.
Senator Coonan said yesterday the government was inching closer to a final decision on the Telstra T3 sale, with an agreement between Telstra and ACCC over the company's $3 billion next-generation network investment expected within weeks. "Telstra and the ACCC are engaged in very constructive conversations about fibre-to-the-node and provided that those discussions result in an appropriate outcome, it's going to largely finalise the regulatory matters," Senator Coonan said. "The discussions are fruitful and I will get some outcome when they've concluded them. "I expect that it will be over the next few weeks." The government says it can delay a decision on the timing of the T3 sale until late July or August, giving the ACCC and Telstra enough time to complete the lengthy discussions.
The Government announced tonight that it would require the local loop to be unbundled and other changes to provide faster and better broadband internet services. Communications Minister David Cunliffe outlined details of a package which included: Requiring the unbundling of the local loop and sub-loop copper-wire lines between telephone exchanges and homes and businesses, allowing other internet Service Providers to compete fully with Telecom to provide faster, cheaper broadband, Regulatory action such as information disclosure, accounting separation of Telecom's business operations and an enhanced Commerce Commission monitoring role in order to ensure improved competition, Removal of constraints on the existing regulated Unbundled Bitstream Service to ensure ISPs can offer better and cheaper broadband at upload speeds faster than 128kps, Encourage investment in alternative infrastructure and other measures. Broadband allows for high speed access to the internet and is seen by many as being key factor in improving economic efficiency in New Zealand. The announcement follows months of signals from senior MPs including the Prime Minister Helen Clark and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen that they were unhappy with broadband uptake rates, the cost and data limits.
Prime Minister Helen Clark yesterday put the regulation of mobile phone companies firmly on the agenda, underscoring the Government's bid to lift the performance of the national telecommunications infrastructure. Less than a week after revealing plans to open Telecom's fixed line network to competitors, Clark told Newstalk ZB: "[Mobile] is going through a long dance at the regulatory process. We just have to change the rules of the game." Cabinet documents released last week outlining the Government's proposals to clamp down on Telecom also show it is planning a major review of the mobile sector. The papers say the Government's recent review of telecommunications had highlighted the following outstanding issues:
"The Telecommunications Commissioner intends to undertake a stock take of the issues surrounding new entry into the sector in order to prioritise his future work programme," the Cabinet paper says. Clark continued that theme yesterday. "How many times have we heard that there's a draft decision, a round of consultation on those mobile termination rate issues? It really is an extremely cumbersome system that New Zealand has. We need to cut right through that." The Commerce Commission late last month recommended regulation of mobile termination rates - the fees that mobile operators charge fixed phone service operators, such as Telecom and TelstraClear, to end calls on the mobile networks. In international benchmarking, the commission found the rate should be about 15c a minute. Telecom says its present fixed-to-mobile call rate is 22c a minute. The commission believes the regulation could save customers between $46 million and $63 million over five years. It is taking submissions until May 22.
The Government's concerns are bound to strike fear into the hearts of the dominant mobile players, Telecom and Vodafone. Both have claimed they have invested substantial sums in their networks and should therefore be allowed unfettered access. Vodafone worldwide has had a blanket ban on allowing other operators to use its network. It said yesterday: "We will continue to engage with the minister on the matters raised in the Cabinet paper and work collaboratively with the Commerce Commission and Government." Telecom said: "We are looking at this proposal as with all the other details to work through the implications". Its shares closed last night up 20c at $4.92, still well off the $5.55 before the Government revealed its plan to open up its fixed-line network to other operators. This has wiped as much as $1.6 billion from its market value.
Shenzhen Telecom's hotline number 114 will soon provide entertainment, shopping and other information to callers, the company announced Tuesday. The company is upgrading the 12-year-old hotline number 114. Operators of the hotline can forward a call directly to the number requested and thus save the caller time and money. Hotline operators can also send telephone numbers and addresses to customers' mobile phones upon request. Shenzhen Telecom hopes to turn 114 into an information platform like Google. "114 will be more popular than Google because it is more interactive and has a bigger customer group," said a spokesperson for Shenzhen Telecom. China has only 60 million computers, but it has 750 million phone users. Companies can have their numbers recommended by Shenzhen Telecom to hotline callers on the payment of a fee. The spokesperson said over 1,000 companies had signed up with Shenzhen Telecom for the service. However, the new services provided by 114 could overlap with Shenzhen Telecom's information hotline 160, although the spokesperson said 114 mainly provides services related to phone numbers, while 160 provides comprehensive information. The 160 number is much more expensive than 114. The 114 number costs the same as a local phone call, while 160 costs one yuan (US$0.12) per minute plus the local phone call rate. A local call costs 0.20 yuan for the first three minutes and 0.11 yuan per minute thereafter. Both 160 and 114 operators can respond to inquiries in English.
Some 200 million computerized "second generation" ID cards will be issued to residents around China, replacing the old cards that have been in use for 20 years. According to a televised conference of the Ministry of Public Security, by the end of 2005, about 102 million new ID cards had been issued to residents since the massive renewal project kicked off last year. The renewal had been launched in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and 13 provinces like Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang last year, said vice minister Liu Jinguo. Liu said over 19 provinces have completed the update of population information, while 13 regions have set up population data and 41,000 local police stations have established a data management system, all benefiting the renewal project. The newly released plastic chip ID card contains information such as validity periods, authorization institutions and designs of the national emblem. The Great Wall and decorative patterns are printed on the front cover. The cardholder's name, gender, ethnicity, birthday, residence, ID number and photo are on the back cover. China decided to change the first-generation ID card for its quality and security flaws and unrecognizability by computers. Liu warned local police offices not to charge additional fees in renewing ID cards, while asking them to make full use of this chance to strengthen the local population information management. The project to upgrade ID cards for 800 million Chinese adults is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2008.
China has recently set up an e-commerce credibility evaluation center in an effort to facilitate the healthy growth of online businesses, according to the Chinese E-commerce Association. The center will help to certify whether an online shop really exists and operates lawfully, whether it protects the customers' private information and if it handles businesses correctly, said the association's president Song Ling. The companies involved will be given a credibility rating, which the customers can find on the center's website, said Song. Experts believe that the effort will address the problem of a lack of credibility which hinders the development of e-commerce in China. China's e-commerce had seen 600 billion yuan (about US$74.5 billion) of transactions by the end of 2005, but business was often marred by a lack of credibility and payment difficulties. In comparison, 93 percent of American buyers give priority to credibility when purchasing on-line and three quarters of buyers choose only to buy from companies with a high credibility rating.
Shanghai is offering an online map system featuring local commercial information, said Zhu Chenggang, Secretary General of the Shanghai Economic Committee, speaking at the city's regular press conference on March 29. The map (http://bigshop.31gis.com) is an inter-active geographical information system and serves as a guide to help companies avoid investing blind, Zhu said.
Hill & Knowlton, one of the world's leading communications consulting firms, was named the consultant for the Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee. Hill & Knowlton, which was established in 1927 and is part of WPP Group plc, defeated seven other communications agencies to win the bid that started in February last year. According to the deal, Hill & Knowlton will help BOCOG implement the communications plans for the 2008 Olympics by providing support for major events, communications outreach to the international media and assistance in communicating Beijing's Olympic vision. "Hill & Knowlton will partner with us to help provide world-class services to the media and communicate the vision of the Beijing Olympic Games," said BOCOG executive vice-president Jiang Xiaoyu. "Their expertise and capabilities will complement the resources we already have." Hill & Knowlton was instrumental in Athens' successful bid for the 2004 Games as well as London's bid for the 2012 Games.
China has launched an intellectual property rights (IPR) protection website, a source with the Ministry of Commerce said on Saturday. The website, www.ipr.gov.cn, was jointly sponsored by a national working group on IPR protection under the State Council and the Ministry, said the source. The website, launched on Wednesday, aims at introducing to domestic and overseas readers China's laws, rules, policies and measures concerning IPR protection and enhancing public's awareness in this regard. Director of the State Intellectual Property Office Tian Lipu, Deputy Director of the General Administration for Industry and Commerce Li Dongsheng and US Coordinator for International Intellectual Property Chris Israel attended the opening ceremony.
China's booming special economic zone of Shenzhen is leading the way in curbing online crimes and the spread of hazardous information with the use of cyber police. The local police authorities said that since the cyber police appeared in January, the amount of hazardous information at the city's major portal websites have reduced by 60 percent. Since January, cyber policeman "Jingjing" and cyber policewoman "Chacha" have performed their duties at major portal websites. Both have cartoon icons on Internet. Cyber police have been at work in three areas. Firstly, "Jingjing" and "Chacha" patrol areas where crimes frequently occurto warn cyber criminals. Secondly, netizens can find, by clicking on icons of "Jingjing"and "Chacha", information on rules and regulations of cyber space management and typical online criminal cases. The virtual reality cops are also responsible for receiving online crime reports from netizens and providing legal consultations concerning cyber crimes. Shenzhen has about 4 million netizens and more than 5,000 majorwebsites, 400 of which support cyber forums and chat rooms. With rapid website development, on-line crimes, such as on-line stealing, cheating and gambling, have become rampant. Up to now, "Jingjing" and "Chacha" have received an accumulated100,000 clicks, provided more than 600 legal consultations and received more than 1,600 reports on online crimes, 235 of which have been proved effective. Considering the success of the cyber space in Shenzhen, the Ministry of Public Security in early May decided to establish cyber police in another eight major cities, including Chongqing, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Qingdao, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Chengdu.
China boasts 111 million netizens, the world's second largest number after the United States. But the lack of police supervisionhas caused rampant spread of pornographic information, slanders and gambling on the Internet. A leading official of the Ministry of Public Security said somenetizens dared to commit cyber crimes, thinking laws and regulations can not reach the cyber space where netizens can do everything anonymously. The official said establishing cyber police will help improve netizens' law awareness and establish a healthy law enforcement environment in cyber space. Cyber police have gained popularity among website operators, scholars and netizens. A manager surnamed Song with the Tencent Holdings Limited, the country's leading Internet community operator, said when Shenzhen police authorities registered "Jingjing" and "Chacha" on the QQ online chatting platform, the company worried the appearance of cyber police may cause the decrease of customers. But the facts prove that cyber police have purified the cyber environment and helped the website build a good reputation, which has benefited the long-term development of the company, Song said. Zhao Xiaoli, professor with the Law School of Qinghua University, said a large number of online crimes were trans-regional. Cyber police will help coordinate police forces indifferent places to crack down on trans-regional cyber crimes, so that the Internet environment will be further cleansed. A netizen, with an online name "evergreen" said his child is crazy for the Internet, but he worried the unhealthy information on the Internet may affect the development of his child. The appearance of cyber police boosts his confidence in the Internet environment. (by Yangtze Yan)
The first meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Expert Group on Co-operation in Informatisation was held in Guangzhou to strengthen co-operation in this area between the two places. HK Deputy Government Chief Information Officer (Operation) Stephen Mak, and representatives from the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, the Innovation & Technology Commission, and the Customs & Excise Department attended Wednesday's meeting. They discussed and exchanged views and work plans with Guangdong Information Industry Department Director Xu Zhibiao, to enhance co-operation in the following nine areas: * Strengthening co-operation in the software industry between Hong Kong and Guangdong; * Promoting the use of Radio Frequency Identification in logistics, customs clearance and quarantine; * Enhancing co-operation in radio spectrum management; * Strengthening of cross-recognition of professional qualification in the informatisation and information technology industry; * Strengthening of research and development in interoperability of information technology; * Digital entertainment; * Open source software; * Next generation networks; and * Wireless and mobile technology.
During the meeting, the participants also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding Co-operation Agreement in Informatisation between the Hong Kong Wireless Development Centre and Guangdong China Mobile. Both parties will facilitate business matching and co-operation opportunities for corporations in the two places. The MOU will also help provide marketing, technical and business support for co-operation projects that will enhance informatisation in mobile technology. Representatives from the Hong Kong IT industry and academia will take part in some of the co-operation initiatives. (by Letian Pan)
OKAYAMA (Kyodo) Personal data on 1,500 people, including crime victims, was erroneously posted on the Internet via an Okayama police officer's home computer that had been infected with a virus. The data, including information on physical evidence collected at crime scenes, investigative reports on thefts and other criminal cases prepared by the officer, and names of investigators, was apparently leaked through the file exchange software Winny that was loaded on the home computer, police officials said. The officer temporarily transferred the data, which was collected between September 1999 and October 2002, from a computer he had used on his job with the Okayama Prefectural Police to his own PC because the police computer developed problems.The Winny software was installed on the computer in January, after the police data was already stored in the machine, the officials said. The computer was infected with a virus at the end of February, resulting in the data being posted on the Internet, they said. The officer was quoted as saying he thought the data had been deleted.The Okayama police has banned its officers from using Winny on their home computers use in the wake of a series of data leaks.
SAM data on Web: The Defense Agency mistakenly posted data on a surface-to-air missile system on its Web site Thursday, officials said. The agency erroneously posted the data it disclosed on the Web site the results of its investigation into an earlier case of possible leaks over the SAM system, the officials said Saturday. It was revealed in January that secret data on the missile system may have been leaked to a group affiliated with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun), a pro-Pyongyang organization, in 1995.The data posted on the Web site Thursday was part of the data deemed to have been leaked to the group, the officials said. The agency has said the data was from the system's research stage and this does not reveal the capabilities of the deployed medium-range SAM. However, when it disclosed the result of its investigation to reporters, some data was blacked out. It was the blacked-out data that was posted on the Web site. "We are currently trying to find out the cause of the accident and how many people accessed the Web site at that time," an agency official said.
Digital TV broadcasts for mobile phones equipped with special receivers began in Japan's major urban areas Saturday, following several months of test broadcasts. But finding new phones in stores proved hard as eager consumers have already snapped up the limited number of handsets on the market. Japan's major mobile carriers say sales are good, but have not disclosed numbers. Japan's mobile TV service is not the world's first -- South Korea, Britain and several other nations offer a similar service, although with different technologies. Mobile users in some parts of the United States can also tap into digital broadcasts. But the new service in Japan, which is free, will potentially reach the broadest market yet through the country's terrestrial digital broadcast system, which relays images through the air via TV towers, not satellites. It also uses broadcasting airwaves, rather than an Internet connection, to relay streaming video. Japan's 90 million mobile phone users already play video games, download music files, exchange e-mail, read news, trade stocks, store digital photos and surf the Web -- all on tiny handset screens half the size of a business card.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has decided to use the number 060 for a next-generation fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) telephone service that can automatically detect and switch between fixed phone lines and mobile connections. The ministry also plans to permit cell phones currently using the 090 and 080 prefixes to use the FMC service, it has been learned. Ministry officials will revise ministerial orders this financial year, preparing a system in which telecommunications firms will be able to begin FMC services as early as fiscal 2007. If a person makes a phone call using FMC and the person being called is at home, the charge is applied to the cheaper fixed network line. If they are outside, the line automatically switches to the mobile connection. At first the ministry had planned to use only the number 060 for the FMC service, but there was reportedly great demand for the service to be applied to cell phones as well without the cell phone numbers being changed, prompting the ministry to alter its plans.
Korea's success building a knowledge-based and e-government-driven administrative structure will be dispersed to 15 countries in Asia, Central and South America, Africa and Oceania. The Central Officials Training Institute (COTI) announced that it plans to operate the ※International Administrative Information Management Program§ jointly with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) from March 6 to March 17. The participants include 16 high-ranking government officials in charge of administrative informatization in 15 countries including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Panama, Haiti, Senegal, Sudan and others. This program is to introduce the strategy of participatory government in government reform and its outcome, realization of e-government in Korea, structuring of the IT basis, vision toward an e-society, and outstanding policy cases. The program also includes on-site learning by visiting the National Tax Service, Gangnam-gu Office, Cheongju City Hall, Informatization Village, KT, Samsung SDS and other pertinent institutions and companies. In addition, the program features a seminar ※Case Study and Status of Structuring E-government by Participating Countries,§ to share case studies and experience from among the 15 countries. A COTI official said, ※This program introduces developing countries to the outstanding policies and systems of our government to narrow the digital divide and to greatly contribute to promoting friendly cooperation between Korea and the participating countries.§
South Korea's e-commerce sales increased in March due mainly to seasonal factors, a government report showed Tuesday. E-commerce transactions came to 1.13 trillion won (US$1.21 billion) in March, up 10.4 percent from a month earlier, according to the National Statistical Office (NSO).
Korean police are investigating the distribution of personal data of what they believe have been nearly two-thirds of all Internet subscribers in Korea. North Gyeongsan Province police's cyber-crime team requested an arrest warrant for three people suspected of illegally distributing subscriber information. According to police, the men bought the personal data of more than 7.7 million Internet subscribers, which is more than 60 percent of all users in Korea, from the CEO of a telemarketing company and sold it on. Police also booked nine others who used the data for commercial purposes.
KAZAKHSTAN: National Telephone Company Recommended to Pass Networks to State
An information and training centre to assist Uzbek parliamentarians in the field of parliamentary affairs opened today in the Lower House of Uzbekistan's Parliament (Oliy Majlis). The centre is the result of a project supported by the OSCE Centre in Tashkent and the European Union's EuropeAid Programme, aimed at establishing a permanent training facility to assist Uzbekistan's Parliament and parliamentarians in building their capacities to further carry out democratic reforms in the country. The centre will provide regular training seminars to cover such issues as initiating legislation, legislative technique, rules of drafting laws and introducing amendments to acting laws, review of draft laws submitted by other subjects of the legislative initiative, exercising parliamentary control, as well as implementing international standards into national legislation. The centre will also train parliamentarians in using modern information and communication technology to carry out their professional tasks.
As part of an effort to bring the tax service into the 21st century, its 32,000 staff in East Java are to be tested to see whether they can operate the service's new computerized system.Director General of Taxation Hadi Purnomo told reporters Thursday that the new system should reduce the time needed for processing tax returns and payments to only 30 minutes from three days previously. "I don't think that any of our officials will be dismissed if they don't pass the test, but they will definitely have to undergo intensive training for at least three months," he warned. He said that the test was part of the tax office's internal reform program, which was designed to improve the service provided to the public. This was in addition to cutting down on red tape and the introduction of computerization. "We expect that all the tax offices in the country will have been overhauled by 2007. Work will be completed on five more offices this April alone, including the one I just inaugurated here in Malang," he said. A total of 29 tax offices had already been modernized, and were able to serve large, medium and small taxpayers. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said that reforming and modernizing the tax service would be among the ministry's priorities for this year. She added that the reforms introduced to date had helped increase tax revenues to Rp 82 trillion in the first three months of the year, a jump of 30 percent compared to the same period last year. The government is hoping to raise Rp 416 trillion in taxes this year compared to last year's figure of Rp 351 trillion.
To encourage more than 3.5 million taxpayers to file their tax returns easily, the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) is providing free secured digital signatures and free downloading of Adobe Reader software to facilitate its use. Instead of signing on the printed tax return forms, the Digisign certificates offer the most comprehensive online security coverage on the Internet, according to IRB assistant director Rahimah Abdullah. To e-file a tax return, a taxpayer needs a digital certificate, income tax reference number, Adobe Reader 7.0.5 software, Internet connection and Internet Explorer 5.0 software. The digital certificate with registration slip and Adobe Reader software are provided free and can be obtained from the nearest IRB office.
The digital certificate registration slip contains a serial number and a PIN (personal identification number) from the IRB branch. ※Upon obtaining the registration slip, taxpayers need to register the digital certificate,§ Rahimah said. ※Taxpayers can either use their own computers or computers at the IRB, cyber cafes or work places to register the digital certificate and to fill and file their tax returns via the Internet.§ Taxpayers can also write to the IRB by providing their MyKad numbers and income tax reference and the confidential digicert would be mailed to them. Rahimah said that e-filing was easy, accurate, safe and fast, and the acknowledgement was guaranteed. ※Upon successful submission of a tax return form via the Internet, an acknowledgement letter will be received on-line immediately,§ she added. ※Save the tax return on a diskette, CD or thumb drive.§
KANGAR: Civil servants have been urged to use Information Communication Technology (ICT) in their work to increase their effectiveness. Perlis Regent Syed Faizuddin Putra Syed Sirajuddin Jamalullail said it would also help enhance their delivery system to the public. The State Government should also ensure that it has an effective administrative force and strong financial management. Speaking at the Raja of Perlis' 63rd birthday celebration at Istana Arau here today, Syed Faizuddin said there was a need for the authorities to work closely with local and foreign universities to develop social and economic sectors. He said the authorities should also capitalise on the "Perlis is Where Malaysia Begins" concept to promote tourism. "Perlis is the gateway to Malaysia in the north and this window of opportunity should be used to tap into the tourism market," he said.
NOWADAYS, organisations invest huge sums of money in their information technology systems. However, IT department managers would be hardpressed for an answer if they were asked to quantify the value that IT infrastructure contributes to their company＊s bottom line. This is where the implementation of an IT governance framework would be useful. ※IT governance is part of corporate governance and it enables managers to achieve the objectives of its stakeholders through the use of IT resources,§ said Jim Khong, an experienced IT governance practitioner in the financial services sector. He said good corporate governance is about accountability because it ensures that organisational goals are achieved. Similarly, good IT governance aligns the IT department with these goals and delivers the intended results, according to him.
He was a speaker at the IT Governance 2006 Conference organised by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) Malaysia Chapter in collaboration with the Malaysian National Computer Confederation (MNCC). Khong said an IT governance framework identifies all the processes needed to run an IT department, measures the level of performance for each process according to desired company goals, and provides steps to improve the processes. The framework also outlines strategies, policies, standards and best practices to optimise the performance of the IT department. ※Companies can design their own framework, or they can adopt methodologies from an open-source framework such as COBIT(Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies), which is developed by non-profit organisation ISACA,§ he said. ※With IT becoming more pervasive in business processes, IT governance is increasingly important as it affects the performance of a business in terms of its profitability and quality of its products,§ he reiterated. ㄗby Shom Teohㄘ
The winners of the country's local government web contest have been announced. The competition is conducted annually by the Commission on Information and Communications Technology 每 National Computer Centre (CICT-NCC), in cooperation with the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communications (AIJC). The contest, which is open to all local government units (LGUs) nationwide who already have a web presence. This annual competition aims to encourage all LGUs to establish and maintain an official site in the web, and also to "inspire LGUs to continue upgrading and enhancing their sites, for better delivery of online services".The web site of the Province of Bulacan bagged the award for the provincial level, whilst Naga City bagged the award for the city level. This is the second consecutive year that Naga has won the award. The Municipality of Trinidad also won an award. Entries were evaluated based on the following criteria:
functionality (load time, browser-independence, link integrity, ease of navigation)
Judges for the contest were experts coming from various sectors, including academia, the media and the private sector.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has urged that all government institutions set up electronic systems with Internet-based technology for the procurement of goods and services to minimize cases of corruption. An electronic procurement, or e-procurement system, would help keep transactions transparent and accountable during a process which is notoriously graft ridden, the commission said. Out of the 33 cases the commission has handled since 2004, 24, or 77 percent, were related to state procurements. "There was no transparency in the process of state procurements as they began with closed tenders, meaning only certain parties were involved," commission deputy chief on data and information M. Syamsa Ardisasmita said Thursday.
Syamsa said an online e-procurement system would allow the public and businesses to have access to all information on state procurement projects and to monitor their progress through the Internet. He said that the system would stop state officials from marking up budgets, forging documents and violating procedures to embezzle money when paying for goods and services. Several institutions had been using the system since 2004, including the Surabaya mayoralty and the Public Works Ministry, he said. Syamsa said the system had proved effective and efficient in Surabaya, saving the administration 30 percent in costs.
An Internet and telecommunications expert, Roy Suryo, supported the system. However, Roy said the system would not work without the enforcement of regulations governing it. Standard operational procedures were also lacking in many regional administrations, he said. "We must be very careful with the implementation of the e-procurement system because Indonesia does not have any cyber laws to regulate this kind of system," Roy said. "Imagine if something goes wrong with the system while there are no regulations." Roy proposed three stages of preparation before implementing an e-procurement system.First the government needed to prepare regulations for the system, he said. Then it should set up standard operational procedures for all parties involved in procurement projects. Finally, the government should prepare the hardware to support the system. Syamsa said the commission was determined to implement the system as soon as possible. The commission planned to send out electronic announcements, or e-announcements, about all government procurement projects on its national website to eliminate the closed-tender process. "All government projects will be launched on the national web site so that everybody has the same opportunity to participate in the projects," Syamsa said. He said the commission would meet with the House of Representatives to draft a cyber law regulating the system.
MORE local governments are putting up their own websites, figures from National Computer Center (NCC) showed. As of December 2005, over 1,600 local governments in key cities, provinces, and municipalities have set up a web presence, the NCC records noted. There are now 74 provinces, 112 cities, and 1,489 municipalities that have websites. This is roughly 98 percent of the total of 1,696 local government units in the Philippines. The E-commerce Law requires that government to have some form of web presence. Eventually, the NationalComputerCenter issued an order (NCC Memorandum Circular No. 2001-01) prescribing guidelines on the creation of an official website for local government units. According to Tess Camba, director of NCC Field Operation Office, the agency has began helping local governments set up websites on May 2002. The NCC has been hosting workshops for local and regional government agencies and state universities and colleges since that time.
"The workshops were made possible with the development of the government web template with online content management feature (which came to be known as the Website Content Management System or WCMS) by NCC's IT group in Manila. Back then, the WCMS supported only Stage 1 or static websites," Camba added. In September 2002, the NCC spearheaded the eLGU project to facilitate development of local government websites. The NCC is now following the United Nations-American Society of Public Administration (UN-ASPA) standard for putting up websites. It comes in five stages, starting with web presence as he first stage and a full-integrated and interactive portal as stage five. "This year, our focus as far as web presence is concerned is to continue to assist the provinces, cities and first, second and third class municipalities with Internet access points in their locality to upgrade their websites to either Stage two or three. We also hope to be able to establish more citizen-centric websites with the piloting of at least one LGU website per region," Camba added.To date, Camba said that no local government unit has reached Stage 4 or 5 of the UN-ASPA stages for e-government. NCC is currently helping develop a more citizen-friendly websites. "For the LGUs specifically, the target audience is the citizens both locally and abroad. This is the very reason why we came up with the citizen-centric development guide, because we want the LGU websites not just to offer information but also to bring the citizen and local government interaction on a different level. We want citizens to get more involved and to freely interact with the local government, and we want the latter to better cater and respond to the citizens' needs. She said that the citizen-centric development guide is a result of the study of more advanced citizen-centric websites of other countries as well as the integration of common information and service needs as gathered from citizen feedback in existing Philippine government websites.
SINGAPORE : The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) is inviting the private sector to submit concepts for an ultra-high speed broadband network in Singapore. The network is part of the government's plan to build a Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure. IDA wants to see the private sector's proposals for the design, financing, construction and operation of the broadband network. In particular, it is looking at areas including network capability, interconnection, market coverage, timing, rollout strategy, construction and installation and techniques. Submissions must reach IDA by June 15. IDA will use the submissions to draw up detailed specifications for the network before formally calling for firm proposals later this year on the construction, deployment and operation of the broadband network. (by Loh Kim Chin)
Singapore 2006, the body overseeing the hosting of a series of meetings for the IMF and World Bank, will receive US$1.25 million worth of network infrastructure solutions from Cisco Systems. Cisco Systems has been appointed as the lead partner for network infrastructure. The company will be providing about S$2 million worth of Network Infrastructure that will offer delegates of Singapore 2006 highly secure wired and wireless networking access. This partnership was brokered by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), as a sub-committee of Singapore 2006 that oversees the areas of communications and infrastructure. Goh Chye Boon, co-chairman of the Singapore 2006 organising committee, said, "We are delighted to have Cisco Systems on board as a lead partner. Their support and involvement will be instrumental in Singapore's growth as a dynamic global infocomm hub." The infrastructure that Cisco will help to build for the expected attendance of 16,000 delegates will be of a similar scale to that of a small city. In the main conference area alone, the network will comprise close to 4000 wired points, over 40 wireless access points, and the latest security technologies. The entire project is estimated to take 1.5 man-months to complete. The conference venue will also boast 50 IP communications kiosks showcasing customised XML applications being developed by Cisco partners, NexLabs and Nanyang Polytechnic. The applications will be both general and conference-specific including real- time financial updates, weather alerts, flight schedules, and programme updates.
"Cisco Systems is excited with this opportunity to be the 'Lead Partner for Network Infrastructure for Singapore 2006'. This partnership reinforces Cisco's commitment to be a stakeholder in Singapore's vision to be a 'global city with a world of opportunities'. Singapore 2006 will be an excellent platform to showcase the full potential of an Internet Protocol (IP) network built on the principles of Cisco's Intelligent Information Network vision, which enables the integration of data, voice and video," said Craig Gledhill, managing director of Singapore and Brunei, Cisco Systems. Singapore will host the Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in September 2006. The Annual Meetings will be the largest international financial sector conference ever hosted by Singapore. Along with the Annual Meetings, approximately over 200 meetings and seminars will also take place from 13-20 September 2006. These include the G-7 Finance Ministers' Meeting, the Programme of Seminars, the Per Jacobsson Lecture and the Group of Thirty International Banking Seminar. The Annual Meetings, together with the series of prominent international forums, meetings, seminars, events and the inaugural Singapore Biennale 2006 (a 2-month visual arts extravaganza from 4 September - 12 November, 2006), are collectively known as Singapore 2006. Singapore 2006 is expected to attract more than 16,000 participants, including delegates from 184 countries such as heads of government, finance ministers and central bank governors, top financiers, international media, business leaders and other visitors.
Singapore has launched an electronic trading platform for local government bonds. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) says the new system - built by Bloomberg - will allow the market to grow further. The Singapore Government Securities or SGS market has grown by leaps and bounds since the Asian financial crisis. Daily trading volumes have shot up five-fold to between S$1.5b and S$2.0b. The MAS is pleased with this development and is now aiming to attract more global players to the field. It also plans to revitalise trading of the bond futures market. Speaking about the e-platform, MAS' Deputy Managing Director, Ong Chong Tee, said: "It will generate more participation in our bond market. That in turn will create a greater mass of activities, of players, which will allow for more vibrant bond market to be developed. That is really the end goal." UOB's Assistant Director for Global Treasury Trading, Angeline Lim, said: "As a principal dealer, of course, the platform is a mode that enables us to execute our trades more smoothly and it really helps in the transparency of the market because prices are immediately displayed to the players."
E-auctions, touted as a means of improving the transparency and efficiency of the state procurement, are complicating efforts to accelerate the disbursement of the budget in the face of a slowing economy. In recent weeks, policymakers have stepped up their efforts to persuade state agencies to spend, to offset sluggish investment and weak consumer confidence. Many state agencies and enterprises have put their spending plans on hold because priorities and policies may change under the next government. Chaiyos Sasomsap, a caretaker deputy finance minister, said problems with e-auction processes had also affected the disbursement of public funds. ''For small-scale projects, state enterprises need to add at least 30 days to the auction process, due to a low number of bidders for small deals and the need to meet e-auction conditions,'' he said. An e-auction must follow a fixed set of conditions, which include prior publication of the terms of reference for the deal and the appointment of independent directors to monitor the bidding. ''I think however that for small projects and contracts, there is too much to the process which only limits flexibility,'' Mr Chaiyos said, adding that caretaker prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra had indicated recently that state regulations could be adjusted to improve the situation.
State enterprises and government agencies are required to use e-auctions for all contracts and procurement programmes valued at over two million baht. However, complications have arisen when a median project price has been set _ the guideline for evaluating bidders. Contractors say that the reference prices often fail to recognise increasing materials prices and operating expenses, which have stemmed from the rising oil costs. As a result, fewer private firms have sought state projects due to the low profit margins offered by the government. He said the implementation of large-scale projects had also been hindered by the state's preference for barter trade. For example, complications between the State Railways of Thailand and international suppliers have created delays in a barter trade deal to upgrade its trains. Some of the delays to the government's 1.8-trillion-baht, five-year infrastructure megaproject programme have also been attributed to the government affinity with barter trade for goods and services. Areepong Bhoocha-oom, the deputy director-general of the State Enterprise Policy Committee, recognised that private firms' lack of interest in low-value procurement had led to cancellations.
''Some agencies offer a huge number of procurement deals each year, involving offices across the country. E-auctions in some cases do lead to delays in budget disbursements,'' he said. For fiscal 2006 ending September, the 17 largest state enterprises have a collective investment budget of 281 billion baht. Of the state enterprises that operate based on the fiscal year, only 46% of the approved budget has been disbursed. Only 10.6% of the budget allocated to agencies that use the calendar year has been disbursed, well below the target. As of March 31, the middle of the fiscal year, only 28% of the total funds had been disbursed by the state enterprises. Mr Areepong said the State Enterprise Policy Committee had set a target disbursement rate of 90% for investment this year, an ambitious goal considering that disbursements for fiscal 2005 stood at just 66% of a total investment budget of 400 billion baht.
It is a great pleasure to join this very important workshop on Planning for Transition to e-Government Procurement (e-GP). We see e-procurement as a key element of public procurement reform in Bangladesh and are pleased to see representatives from government, private sector, and business, along with the contracting, consulting, and NGO communities, and development partners, gathered here to discuss the way forward on e-procurement. I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of the Ministry of Planning, and to the State Minister, Mr. Anwarul Kabir Talukder, in particular, for leading this exercise. Procurement reform is clearly a crucial building block in improving governance and public sector management and accountability in Bangladesh. Poor public procurement practice lends itself to corruption and wastes scarce public funds. It is now well documented that corruption in public procurement also affects economic growth and worsens the investment climate, skewing public investment and spending to those areas where the opportunities for personal gain are highest and away from those that the economy needs most. At the most fundamental level, corruption in public procurement causes erosion of public confidence in government and its leadership, seen or suspected to be acting in their own, not the national interest. In more than one country in recent memory, governments have been voted out of office by a disillusioned electorate, voting in a ※cleaner§ government.
As you may know, the World Bank＊s new Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) puts governance at center stage. Governance will be the core focus in every sector we engage, and sector governance reform will be the target of every Bank-supported project. The strategy also aims to enhance transparency and accountability and reduce opportunities for corruption by (i) strengthening "core" governance institutions, including such key "watchdog" agencies as the Comptroller and Auditor-General (C&AG), Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Public Service Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Bangladesh Bank; and (ii) the "core" governance processes of public financial and budgetary management and public procurement, among others. Mainstreaming governance is also at the heart of our ※Joint Strategy§ partners＊ programs〞ADB, DFID, and Japan. Before touching on e-GP, let me say a few words about the new draft Procurement Law, tabled in Parliament and awaiting approval in the next session. Procurement reform is never an easy undertaking, and we know the law has encountered opposition〞even in very high quarters. We therefore congratulate the government for its persistence in this important reform. A comprehensive Procurement Law, properly implemented and enforced by the government, will provide a strong platform for better governance, specifically, for better governance of budgetary spending, with economy and efficiency in public purchases.
Development of technology is a must to increase government＊s transparency, efficiency and accountability. Energy and Mineral Resources Adviser Mahmudur Rahman told this as chief guest while inaugurating e-governance in Titas Gas at Karwan Bazar in the yesterday. Transparency of work and speed of activities will be increased among the government officials if e-governance is introduced in every ministry, he said. He urged the Titas officials for proper utilisation of the system. Transparency, accountability in operation, better monitoring system and delivery of services will be improved following launching the e-governance in the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd. Customers of Savar and Joydebpur areas will only enjoy the e-governance facilities for industrial connections. Entire Titas Gas will be brought under e-governance within a year. Customers could easily apply for industrial connection through Internet from Savar and Joydebpur areas without going to Titas office. The Adviser said 50,000 unauthorised domestic gas users have already been brought under legal frame and additional revenue of the Titas Gas increased by Tk 24 crore a year. ※I did not accept any prescription of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank for price hike of gas. But 40 per cent profit has been increased in the gas sector without raising price in the last 11 months,§ Mahmudur Rahman said. The Adviser said special drive would be started on Sunday against the owners of multistoried buildings and apartments and connections will be snapped who failed to pay the gas bill. Energy Secretary AMM Nasir Uddin and Managing Director of Titas Gas Engineer Mohammad Abdullah also spoke on the occasion.
Bangladesh Submarine Link Switched On
The tsunami early warning system will be operational by September 2007, according to P.S. Goel, Secretary, Government of India, Department of Ocean Development (DOD). He disclosed this after laying the foundation stone for the "Disaster mitigation technology demonstration and training centre" on the premises of the Centre of Advanced Study in Marine Biology of the Annamalai University at Portonovo on Sunday. Mr. Goel said the scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation and the National Institute of Ocean Technology were working on the system. While the integration of design and engineering aspects would be indigenised, certain equipment meant for the system might be imported. As the system would be highly analytical, it would be foolproof and free from false alarms, he said. Unlike in Japan that was often pounded by the tsunami, it was a rare occurrence in India. Mr. Goel said the tsunami warning system basically started with seismology activity detection, done in multiple ways. The DOD was establishing the full functional unit at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services at Hyderabad. Already, five tide gauges had been deployed at places such as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chennai, Kochi and Visakhapatnam, to monitor changes in tide behaviour.
The Government will soon launch the National e-Governance Plan. Twenty five projects in mission mode will be launched in 2006-07. Among them is Project MCA-21 to enable companies to file returns electronically and a project for setting up of common service centres and assigning unique ID to BPL families. This was announced by the Finance Minister, Shri P. Chidambaram while presenting the Union Budget of 2006-07 here today. The Finance Minister said that the Government＊s intention was to bring a number of services online, in a web-based mode, including applications under the Right to Information Act, applications for house sites, ration cards, transfers of teachers, inclusion in the electoral roll, filing of police complaint, and issue of birth/death certificates and copies of land records.
Prime Minister-appointed committee nudges government to embrace open source model for national e-governance projects. The National Knowledge Commission (NKC), established last year by India's Prime Minister, has presented a report calling for the government to focus on citizen-facing applications, as well as an open source model for the rapid distribution of successful applications. These were among 10 recommendations made by NKC's Chairman, Shri Sam Pitroda, to a e-governance working group led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The NKC was established to advise the Prime Minister on matters relating to institutions of knowledge production, knowledge use and knowledge dissemination. The NKC urged the government to dedicate resources to eight key applications that will have the greatest impact on the governance experience of Indians. The eight areas are: Income tax; Passport & immigration; Company registration; Insurance; National citizen database; Central Excise; Pensions; Banking.
The 21st Century has been acknowledged worldwide as the 'Knowledge Century'. Every nation now finds itself operating in an increasingly competitive and globalised international environment where the information infrastructure, research and innovation systems, education and lifelong learning, and regulatory frameworks are crucial variables. In the next few decades India will probably have the largest set of young people in the world. Given this demographic advantage over the countries of the West and even China, we are optimally positioned, in the words of our Prime Minister, to "leapfrog in the race for social and economic development" by establishing a knowledge-oriented paradigm of development. It is with this broad task in mind that the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) was established on 13th June 2005 and given a timeframe of three years from 2nd October 2005 to 2nd October 2008 to achieve its objectives. It has launched it website.For detailed information on the NKC's Terms of Reference, Objectives, Members, Organisation, Staff and Finances can be accessed from this page.
The state of Jharkhand in India is in the process of setting up common service centres (CSCs) to provide e-services for citizens in rural villages. The state government has invited tenders from providers to establish centres in 4562 villages under a public-private partnership model. A government spokesperson said the CSCs aim to transform villages through the use of information and communication technologies and to deliver a host of government and private services such as telemedicine, e-education and internet access. "It will instil confidence among the people about the Government's intention to uplift rural economy and also eliminate red-tape, corruption and wastage of time, money and resources," said government IT officials.
A group of peace communicators from different professions have established a network to contribute to peace building efforts in the country. The network, National Network of Peace Communicators (NNPC), was the result of a training program 'Systemic Conflict Transformation for Peace Communicators', organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) a few days earlier. The main objectives of the network are to create awareness on peace, research and publications of peace related issues, peace volunteer training, capacity building activities and others. The members of the network are academicians, researchers, trade unionists, journalists and representatives of civil society organizations with various expertise in their respective fields of work, a statement released by NNPC said. The statement also said that the most remarkable feature of the network is that it is working without a fixed office building and without being registered as an NGO, which makes it a truly voluntary organisation.
ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom, National Bank of Pakistan, Intel Pakistan Corporation and Bearing Point signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) here on Thursday. Under which about 5 million government employees including pensioners and employees of NBP will have financing options to purchase desktop personal computers (PCs) and notebooks on as little as Rs 485 a month instalment and will have a variety of PC packages to choose from suiting their budget. Launching the multi-billion "Pak PC" programme, the IT minister Awais Ahmad Leghari said that the government and the private sector could play a crucial role in creating a skilled, educated and intelligent workforce that could galvanise the current developments in our country. "The Pak PC programme makes PCs more affordable and ambitiously aims to bring Pakistan close to the government vision of One Home One PC" he added. Leghari said that another massive programme would follow the Pak PC programme whereby Urdu desktop and applications would be developed to enable the 85 percent Urdu literate population of the country to benefit from the Internet facility. He said the IT ministry had planned to use the Universal Service Fund (USF) to take basic telephony and internet connectivity to the far flung areas of the country and it was aggressively working to use the USF to provide 1.5 million broadband connections within the next two years.
The minister said that one of the main initiatives taken by the ministry in recent weeks was to set up career placement offices at 25 reputed universities for the purpose of picking up promising IT graduates for their further placement in the sector. "We are aiming to create 200,000 job opportunities through this programme whereby we shall place young IT graduates in leading companies and the government will bear 50 percent of the cost on a three-year internship-cum-training of these graduates," he stated. He said that e-government is yet another area in which the government had invested heavily in an attempt to introduce a paper-less economy. "We are coming up with huge e-government projects in the next 6 to 12 months and the government will out source entire IT functions and processes to the local industry to create demand for the IT-related work," Awais added. The minister said that the government considered large-scale computer usage a vital area for the promotion of IT-related services and it had already set up 1,100 IT laboratories in high schools across the country. "We have decided to put up such state-of-the-art labs in 3000 more schools to promote computer usage," Awais said, adding the ministry would also impart training to instructors to run these labs in an efficient manner. In his speech, NBP executive vice president Aamir Siddiqui said that the project would be a success and subsequently include all those who have a specific criterion to benefit from this scheme.
COMPUTER systems and other infrastructure planned for the Medicare smartcard roll-out could easily be modified to become the platform for a national ID card, the expert who designed Britain's new identity card says. While the system would be expensive it was more affordable than some of the inflated claims by business, London consultant Michael O'Higgins said. The proposed national ID card would cost less than one-third of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (ACCI) estimate of $15 billion, he said. Despite its cost, he said the business case for the identity scheme in the UK showed a card could pay for itself through cost savings delivered to both government and the private sector. "The benefits are multi-faceted, addressing the needs and increasing efficiencies across the tax system, business sector, government, and in travel and tourism," Mr O'Higgins said. Mr O'Higgins, who is a director the PA Consulting, the company that designed the business model and technical specification for the Britain's card, met Attorney-General Philip Ruddock to discuss experiences in the UK in designing its national ID smartcard yesterday afternoon.
He had previously met with Human Services Minister Joe Hockey in London to talk about the government services smartcard which will replace the Medicare card. Mr Ruddock is expected to announce an independent review of the ID card proposal soon. If the federal Government proceeds with plans for both a national ID and a government services card, it would make sense that used a common infrastructure for collecting and storing data, Mr O'Higgins said. "You could do separate initiatives provided you had a common structure for identity management and authentication," he said. "You just don't want a situation where Human Services goes down one road and the Attorney-General's goes down another. That would be seriously expensive." Mr O'Higgins said ACCI's estimate of the roll-out cost of $750 per citizen - or $15 billion - for a national ID card in Australia was overblown. He said the ACCI figures, which were based on a London School of Economics estimate for Britain's program, were at the "high end of the cost spectrum". Costs in Australia would more likely be less than $250 per citizen, or $5 billion. "I think that's about what it will turn out to be," Mr O'Higgins said. He said the most cost effective "biometric identifier" to include on an ID card would be fingerprint details.
A NEW "smart card" with photo ID and a computer chip that people would need for every financial transaction with the Federal Government will be considered by cabinet this week. The card would take several years to roll out, starting next financial year, in a massive and unprecedented federal operation. People will have to register and be photographed, as they are for a driver's licence. The photo would be on the card and in the chip, but the card would not contain information such as fingerprints or iris scans. It is estimated the card would save hundreds of millions of dollars annually by curbing health and welfare fraud. The smart card would replace the Medicare card and up to 19 other cards, and cover dealings with Centrelink. Once it was operating, most people would not have to go to Medicare and Centrelink offices for transactions. It would cover, among others, Medicare benefits, family tax benefit payments, all pensions and pensioner concessions, veterans entitlements, pharmaceutical benefits scheme entitlements, unemployment benefits, child-care benefits, Austudy, maternity payments, emergency relief and emergency drought assistance payments.This is not an ID card but comes close to one. The Government is still considering the pros and cons of an ID card, which is being examined by the Attorney-General's Department. Although the smart card will not be compulsory, most people will need one because it will be the only way to get money from government. It would apply to people over 18. The submission has been prepared by Human Services Minister Joe Hockey and has widespread support from departments including Treasury and Finance. Implementation will cost more than $1 billion over several years. Funding for the card would start in the May budget. The cabinet submission includes a review from KPMG. The review found that without a photo on the card, there was limited chance of effectively cracking down on fraud and it would not be worth the cost. The smart card, which Government sources say will act like a "safety deposit box" for a person's identity, would have "voluntary fields" enabling people to register information including blood type, whether they want to be an organ donor, allergies and emergency contacts. It would not contain detailed health records. A smart card system would have meant people hit by cyclone Larry would have been able to obtain government services faster, and removed the need to ferry huge amounts of cash into the region.
THE first tenders for work on the federal Government's $1 billion smartcard project could be issued as early as this week, according to sources close to the project. Funding for the project will be finalised in Treasurer Peter Costello's Budget tonight, but the Human Services Department is understood to have project consultancy tenders ready to publish. The government services card, to replace 17 health and welfare cards with a single card from 2008, is expected to be the largest civilian project in the Budget. Despite the resignation at the weekend of Smartcard Technology Taskforce chief James Kelaher, Human Services Minister Joe Hockey said the project's timetable was unchanged. He rejected criticism contained in Mr Kelaher's resignation letter that the Government had abandoned plans for an external advisory board to independently check security and privacy issues connected with the smartcard. Mr Kelaher attacked the Government's plan for the project's funding to be controlled by Centrelink and Medicare, with the Human Services Department managing the project.
The project was too big for one department, and a separate, statutory body should be created to manage the project and its budget, Mr Kelaher told ABC television last night. Mr Hockey said it did not make sense to appoint expert advisers too early in the process because that could exclude companies or individuals from tendering for parts of the projects. He said the department had not yet finalised the structure of the advisory bodies to provide oversight on privacy or security matters, but he promised "an extensive consultation program right across the board". Separate independent assessors would be engaged to check budgetary and technology issues. Mr Hockey said Mr Kelaher's resignation had been expected, as he was not able commit to the full, four-year duration of the smartcard project. He said he only wanted people on the project who were able to commit to its full duration, saying instability among project leaders was a cause of cost blowouts. Mr Hockey is expected to reveal details of the project's management later this week. Prime Minister John Howard yesterday defended the project ahead of tonight's Budget announcement, saying fears about the effect of the smartcard on privacy were outdated.
"It has received very wide support and I am confident there will be safeguards balanced against the evident advantages in protecting the revenue and ease of transactions that the card will bring," he said. "This will be a real winner with the wider community and many of the fears that people have expressed are dated and misunderstand the character of what we have in mind." Mr Howard said young people, in particular, would be grateful for a single card to replace the large number needed at present to deal with government bodies. Opposition Human Services spokesman Kelvin Thomson said Mr Hockey needed to explain why the head of his smartcard technology taskforce had resigned just days before the project was budgeted. "This Government has a poor track record when it comes to major projects," Mr Thomson said. "It has a sorry history of cost blowouts in large IT projects. "It is asking taxpayers to buy a pig in a poke without giving us anything in the way of detail, and Mr Kelaher's resignation can only serve to make the public increasingly uneasy," he said.
A LABOR government would invest taxpayer funds in a joint venture with telephone companies to build a next-generation computer network capable of "real broadband". Seeking to take control of the debate over the future of broadband - now being fought out between Telstra and other telecommunications carriers such as Optus - Kim Beazley has proposed a co-operative approach to ensure Australia is not left behind. "That means a broadband system 25 times faster than the sorts of speeds available in Australia today," the Opposition Leader told parliament last night. Labor would use the $757million Broadband Connect program, as well as $2 billion earmarked for the Communications Fund, to pay for a national broadband network in partnership with the private sector. "A federal Labor government will invest in a joint venture with telecommunications companies to build this super-fast computer network," Mr Beazley said. The plan backs a proposal put forward a month ago by Telstra competitors - including Optus, Primus and Macquarie - for a wholesale joint venture to be formed on trunk routes used by all phone companies.
Telstra is also negotiating with the competition regulator on a plan for a "fibre to the node" network, which it would control. Under the Labor plan, the companies would be partners with government in the wholesale venture, but would be required to compete vigorously for retail customers. A Labor government would change the regulations to encourage private sector investment, and to ensure broadband is not controlled by a single owner. Mr Beazley also recommitted Labor to building "clean feed" internet services to limit children's exposure to violence and pornography, where content is filtered by internet service providers. Labor believes a next-generation network would deliver $30 billion worth of economic benefit through productivity improvements. Mr Beazley said access to faster broadband would also underpin Australia's education sector. The public-private joint venture arrangement was a sensible way to solve the impasse between Telstra and the competition watchdog over investment certainty, according to Competitive Carriers Coalition executive director David Forman. By combining to invest in a common infrastructure, Telstra and its competitors could then compete with retail services in the same way electrical utilities compete using a common power grid. Telstra, which put a $3.5 billion network investment on hold last December, has resisted the open access network being proposed by Labor.
BANKS and financial services companies will step up their virtual courtship of customers with high-tech, tailor-made products to chase deposits, according to analysts. BT Financial Group banking analyst Jack Chemello expected commercial banks, which have borrowed the bulk of Australia's foreign debt to meet demand for housing loans and other forms of credit, would refine their online platforms to offer more customised services for fees. "This is a product that, increasingly, people want," Mr Chemello said. "If you have it then you can protect yourself in a sense that you can offer it to customers to save them from leaving. It's defensive, in that sense, but it's also offensive because 40-50 per cent of the flows that have come into these products have come from new money outside the bank." Domestic banks have fought an online onslaught from foreign competitors attempting to undermine the physical benefit of incumbents' branch offices. For example, Western Australia's BankWest, which is owned by Scottish giant HBOS, has so far used the web to expand its national presence without the enormous investment a broad branch network demands. But despite the success of domestic banks' online products, competition for deposits remain stiff. "What we have seen is probably the first round of products," Mr Chemello said. "They are fairly generic (and) they all work the same way.
That's that start, but what will quickly be identified is (that) there are sub-markets within this space, where different products with different features can be priced differently, will exist." KPMG banking partner Andrew Dickinson said Australia's top five banks 〞 ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank,Westpac and St George 〞 had increased deposits by 4.8 per cent in the six months to March 31 despite foreign competition. "The majors are taking on the competition and it appears to be at least stemming the flow," Mr Dickinson said. However, the 4.5 per cent deposit growth measured last year for the top five was still well below the 10.9 per cent measured in the 2003-04 financial year. Australia's commercial banks hold the majority of Australia's foreign debt through money borrowed on the international "wholesale" market. Mr Dickinson also said banks would prefer to increase the proportion of money sourced from deposits, rather than retail borrowings, to the costs of holding foreign debt. Mr Chemello said domestic banks' proximity to their customers also made deposits more attractive than wholesale. He said banks preferred money from deposits rather than wholesale funds because deposit customers often bought other products, such as mortgages and credit cards. "It's the stickiest form of funding," he said.
GROWING opportunities in the federal public service and defence have encouraged communications equipment vendor Lucent Technologies to open a Canberra office. Although Lucent will continue to manage its Australian operations from its global network operations centre in Sydney, Canberra will become the company's government-sector headquarters. "This clearly demonstrates that we see real opportunity here in Canberra," Lucent Australia-New Zealand managing director Roger Derrien said. "This opportunity comes in many forms, including build-out, services and applications, and there is a strong need to address security issues in this age of convergence," Mr Derrien said. Lucent's government and defence team will be led by recently appointed manager Anita Krahe, a long-time Canberra resident with extensive sales experience in the IT and telecommunications industries.
THE Howard Government has little chance of delivering its $1.1 billion smart card within budget, Labor accountability spokesman Kelvin Thomson says. Research commissioned by Mr Thomson's office has revealed cost blow-outs of more than $1 billion on government technology projects since the Coalition was elected in 1996. "Given that track record, we are concerned about the prospect of cost blow-out for the smart card," Mr Thomson said. "The amounts the government estimates for these IT projects always turn out to be a whole lot less than they actually cost." The resignation this week of a second senior public servant from the smart card development team has also raised concerns about the project's security and privacy safeguards. Human Services Minister Joe Hockey's office confirmed the Suzanne Roche, an assistant secretary and smart card project leader, has quit. Ms Roche's resignation comes two weeks after smart card project leader James Kelaher quit in protest over privacy, security and budget concerns. Labor accountability spokesman Kelvin Thomson said the departure of key people showed the smart card was already in trouble, less than a week after government published its first tenders for work on the project.
"With experts speculating that that the project will cost five times the amount budgeted and take years longer to complete, Ms Roche's and Mr Kelaher's departure is unfortunate," Mr Thomson said. "The resignations simply reinforce the concerns that I have about the government's capacity to implement the smart card successfully," he said. The Australian Tax Office, Customs, and Health and Ageing had all conducted projects or outsourcing arrangements with blown-budgets each running to hundreds of millions of dollars, Mr Thomson said. Mr Hockey would not comment on Ms Roche's resignation. "This project is on track and we currently have tenders out," Mr Hockey's spokeswoman said. The Department of Human Services is seeking a deputy secretary to run its newly-formed Office of Access Card. It has also tendered for a strategic technology partner for the project.
The city of Auckland, population 1.2 million, accounts for one-third of all of New Zealand＊s residents. AucklandCity handles the city＊s land base, building, and regulatory needs. Its Auckland City Environments Department (ACE), with a staff of 250, administers information for 160,000 properties and related building, resource and license applications as part of administering the rules and regulations that support the city＊s environmental policies.
Every year, ACE processes 19,000 building and resource permit applications and 5000 licensing applications as well as monitoring the result of the associated projects. Each involves the locating, processing, and investigation of documents comprising the file for a given site. Some of these records are hand-drawn papers well over a century old. Currently ACE holds 160,000 such site files, comprising 15,000,000 paper documents and 4,000,000 microfilm and aperture card records. To raise productivity and improve efficiency, ACE undertook a three-year re-engineering program dubbed Change at ACE. Information management, including site file administration, was identified as a core competency to be developed. The programme goals were to provide multiple user access to documents, increase data security and integrity, and reduce processing time and costs. One innovation that ACE achieved was the improvement in data integrity between structured and semi-structured information repositories. The conversion to digital format of paper-based semistructured information allowed this information to be structured appropriately and then automatically synchronised with their structured databases and spatial information systems.
To date a 50 per cent improvement in integrity between these systems has been achieved. AucklandCity also sought to achieve compliance with New Zealand and international standards. Finally, ACE wanted long-term document retention, without data degradation and with reduced storage costs. In partnership with KPMG Consulting, Inc., AucklandCity set key criteria for an enterprise content management (ECM) system. It had to be sufficiently robust to handle 15 million scanned images and over 500GB of optical storage. The image capture system had to be stout and the solution had to include an integrated, object-oriented workflow.
The FileNet solution
The new ECM system is built on FileNet Content Services and FileNet Web Services, with a custom-developed client application. The system offers a structured view of site files and other information. It integrates with existing geographic information systems and the city＊s transaction property system, bringing together data from NT, Unix, and AS400 systems. This is done using extensible markup language (XML) running on Microsoft Internet Information Services. Using an open standard makes the solution easily adaptable to future changes. Specialised scanning applications and procedures allow new documents to be scanned in as they are received, triggering a backfile conversion of the entire related site file. In this way, old files are ported as needed to the new system. Once files become digitised, the paper-based records are removed. By late 2001, 750,000 documents had been scanned into the system and the need for multiple copies of applications has now been eliminated.
The bottom line
AucklandCity has gained substantially from its FileNet ECM system. Data is presented either on a desktop thick client or over the Web via a thin client. Since both interfaces are familiar to AucklandCity staff, building contractors, and residents, access to information is much faster and easier. The city＊s records managers now focus on document classification and disposition. Property information is managed flexibly according to use by stakeholders rather than storage requirements regardless of whether it is contained in structured databases, spatial systems or semi-structured EDMS systems. Better, faster more efficient records management allows them to eliminate misfiling, theft and unauthorized removal, as well as duplicate information. All these steps ensure the integrity of data in the FileNet repository.
The new system has reduced the space needed for paper storage by 11 per cent, or more daily as files are converted from paper to electronic formats. The city has reduced its processing staff by 8 per cent and records staff by 75 per cent. These personnel have been reassigned to other duties. Since customers no longer need to submit forms in duplicate or triplicate, this saves them an average 50 per cent of the cost of each permit filed. Studies by KPMG Consulting, Inc. assert that this alone has provided a 100 per cent return on investment over the 18-month period. The use of integrated processes has reduced misfiled information and eliminated multiple stored copies, increasing productivity. Simultaneous access to property information by customers, suppliers and staff also increases productivity. Further, file retrieval times are down to seconds, and no staff are needed to support the processes. Since deployment of the FileNet ECM system began, the City of Auckland has experienced a 25 per cent increase in customer satisfaction.
Telecoms network in western Afghanistan has been linked to the international system through a 150-kilometer fiber optic line created by an Iranian company. According to Fars news agency, Nasser Yousef-Pour, managing director of Communications Infrastructure Company, said that the giant project went on stream on Sunday. He said the funds were supplied from Iran＊s financial assistance to the war-torn country, stressing that the project was launched in 2004 in the western Afghan city of Herat. Iran is among the top three exporters of goods and services to Afghanistan. Farshid Manouchehri, executive manager of the Joint Chamber of Commerce, believes that Iran has so far performed very well in the Afghan market, but it needs to plan for a long-term presence in the war-ravaged country, which is striving for development. He said Afghanistan is a major consumer market at present, whereas the country is now trying to turn into a producer. ※Iran＊s exports to Afghanistan reached $300 million during March-November 2005,※ he said, adding that Iran exported mainly foodstuff and home appliances to the war-torn country. Once Afghanistan develops its industrial capacity to produce such goods, it will no longer need to import these goods from Iran, he pointed out.
There are no any legal grounds for refusing to give license for performing the cellular communication services to Catel from the part of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies (MCIT), executive director of the Azerbaijani-American Joint Venture (JV) Catel (Caspian American Telecommunications, LLC) Sadig Gumbatov told Trend. According to him, JV applied to the Ministry of Communications for getting the relevant license in March 2004 and have not received any definite negative response. ?Based on this, there are no any legal grounds for refusal,§ Gumbatov thinks. As long as the new system of licensing is determined, such issues will remain open, MCIT told Trend. MCIT extended the license period for Catel to render wireless telephone communication services in Azerbaijan for the next 5 years. In the current February JV received a new index 418 for 10,000 numbers beside the operating indices 447/448. "We hope the state structure will approve officially licensing of Catel on rendering the cellular communication services in Azerbaijan,§ Gumbatov underscored.
The new cellular operator, Azerphone company with partial foreign capital operating in Azerbaijan since January will lunch its services to customers in August, officials said. ※The company is currently setting up its infrastructure. Since the two cellular providers working in the country [Azercell and Bakcell] are not meeting the demand, some problems emerged in the network. But they will be gradually solved with the new provider＊s operation,§ Minister of Communications and Information Technologies Ali Abbasov told reporters on Thursday. Abbasov said the demand for cellular services is not being met due to the growing number of mobile phone users and calls. The overloads in the network tells on the quality of communication. The minister hopes that the new company will bring cutting-edge technologies to Azerbaijan. Azercell and Bakcell also have plans in this regard, he said. Azerphone plans to invest $300 million in the country over two years. It was set up a joint venture, with Siemens holding a 30% stake, while British companies Extel and Celex Communications - 60%, and local provider Aztelekom 10%. Two operators are working in Azerbaijan＊s mobile communications market. Bakcell company is fully owned by Israeli GTIB-96 company, while the state-owned share in another cellular communications provider, Azercell Telecom Joint Venture, is to be privatized this year. (by AssA-Irada)
A recent report shows that the city's investment in research and the development of science and technology last year accounted for 2.34 percent of GDP, up 0.05 points from the previous year. Just days ago China announced a sweeping 15-year plan to invest in technologies ranging from genetics to energy-efficient cars in an effort to spur economic growth while safeguarding the environment. The plan, issued by the State Council, China's Cabinet, calls for the country to raise spending on research to 2 percent of GDP by 2010 and 2.5 percent by 2020, while progress in science and technology will contribute at least 60 percent of the country's economic growth. In addition to finance, the input of human capital is a more important factor in R&D, Liu Junyan of the municipal science and development studies committee pointed out.
Special receipts are to be issued to Chinese air travelers who use "e-tickets" in May in a move to increase the use of electronic ticketing, according to a senior official at the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The development will boost the use of e-tickets because it will allow business travelers to claim back their expenses more easily. Previously, business travellers had to present their air tickets to get reimbursement, a practice that limited the use of electronic ticketing in China because traditional paper tickets are not issued under this system. "It will be a breakthrough in the promotion of e-ticketing, which will simplify travel and save costs," Zhang Baojian, the IATA's vice-president for North Asia, told China Daily. Officials from China's taxation and aviation authorities declined to confirm the news. IATA China has been actively supporting e-ticketing and hopes to see all tickets issued in this way in China by 2007. The new system is controlled by the billing and settlement plan (BSP), a system developed by the IATA for the computerized processing of accounts between airlines and ticket agencies. The IATA represents around 265 airlines that account for 94 per cent of international scheduled air traffic.
Baidu and Google have become the two major companies dominating China's online searching market with 90 percent of the market share in combination. A report released by iResearch said that the most frequently used searching website in China is Baidu.com, which accounts for 56.6 percent of the total market. Google.com ranks the second with the market share of 32.8 percent. The two web-sites in combination account for nearly 90 percent of China's online searching market. Yahoo and its related searching websites only have a market share of less than 5 percent, said iResearch. The report said that Baidu ranked the second in the market three years ago, but its market share rose sharply to No.1 in the following year. As China's largest searching website, Baidu is still in the momentum of expansion, said iResearch. Google, the world's searching engine giant, ranked the No.1 in China's market with the market share being 34.8 percent in 2003. But later its share dropped due to license restriction in China. Last year, due to its global influence and its promotion following the Shanghai agency's launching, Google has gained back a little. According to the iResearch report, China's searching users reached 97.06 million last year, accounting for 87.4 percent of all the netizens in the country. The research institution predicted that the number will rise to above 100 million this year which will be 88.1 percent of the netizens.
China Mobile will create another 100 million mobile phone numbers by launching a "159" series starting this month in Guangdong Province. New numbers beginning with those three digits are expected to help the country's No. 1 mobile operator prepare for third-generation phone services, which are expected to begin this year, industry insiders said. China Mobile spokesperson Gao Songge declined to reveal the national kick-off timetable for the new numbers, saying Guangdong Mobile is in charge of the launch. Guangdong Mobile intends to begin with 10 million new numbers in the south China province by the end of 2006, according to a company source quoted in the Guangzhou-based Information Times. China Mobile added 4.2 million subscribers in February, taking its total to 254.9 million, the company said. By the end of February, China's mobile phone user base surpassed 400 million for the first time and is expected to reach 600 million in 2009, according to ROA Group, a Japan-based telecom consulting firm. At present, China Mobile uses phone numbers beginning with three digits ranging from 134 to 139. China Unicom uses the numbers from 130 to 133. "In addition to expanding its limited number resources, China Mobile's action is a move that helps prepare it for the coming 3G services," Norson Telecom Consulting told Shanghai Daily.
Shanghai is expected to become a leading global digital multimedia technology center, with the industry expected to see annual revenues of more than 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion) by 2010, said a spokesman for the Shanghai Scientific and Technological Commission yesterday. The industry saw rapid growth last year, registering total revenues of 35.4 billion yuan. Shanghai currently has more than 8,500 digital multimedia companies, with 40 percent of them established within the past year. Ninety-two percent of them have registered capital of less than five million yuan and 83 percent are private firms, said a spokesman with the Shanghai Multimedia Industry Association, adding that private companies, though small-scale, form the most dynamic part of the industry, with higher profitability than foreign-invested companies. Shanghai has adopted a series of measures to support these private firms. The Shanghai Scientific and Technological Commission and Changning District together invested 20 million yuan last year to launch a multimedia public service platform to serve mid and small-sized private firms.
"Location: Ewenki Autonomous Banner; annual rainfall: 340 mm; annual average temperature: minus 1.2 degrees Celsius; Elevation: 810 meters." This is the information you can see on the computer screen when you click on the name of the Hulun Buir Grasslands in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, on the map of China. Scientists with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) are focusing on the development of an online grassland database, on a scale of 1:1 million, aiming to put all grassland-related information, such as geographical condition, rainfall, soil type, grass quantity per square meter and experts' suggestions for grazing, on one system. "The 3D system is designed to offer information and suggestions to decision-makers in drafting policies for grasslands protection and for achieving sustainable development of grasslands," said Yuan Qing, a research fellow with the Grasslands Research Institute under the CAAS. "Based on the system, animal husbandry departments can advise or warn herdsmen about choosing a proper piece of grassland to graze their herd in order to prevent damages to grasslands and protect herds from infectious diseases," Yuan said.
China boasts 400 million hectares of natural grasslands, or 41.7 percent of the country's total land space, the second largest in the world. However, due to excessive grazing and blind development, more than 80 percent of China's 260 million hectares of usable grasslands has deteriorated, or turned more sandy, leading to escalating soil erosion, more sand and mud being washed into rivers, sandstorms and flooding. China has extended great efforts to curb further deterioration of its grasslands in recent years. It launched a program to return grazing herds to the grasslands last year. Currently, grazing is prohibited in 71.25 million hectares of natural pasture in the country, leaving more than 20 million livestock being raised in captivity instead of roaming on wild grasslands, according to the Pasture Monitoring Center of the Ministry of Agriculture. According to plan, China is expected to spend 26 billion yuan (about uS$3.25 billion) to restore more than 660 million hectares of grasslands before 2010. The "digital grasslands" project can help researchers to monitor changes in grassland resources in order to provide information and technological support for the country to draft related policies to achieve better protection and sound development of grasslands resources, said Wang Zongli, head of the Grassland Research Institute of the CAAS.
Google already has another engineering institute in Taipei, but it aims to have increased, larger research facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, and other cities in China. Google's major local competitor Baidu, which is listed on the NASDAQ with Google as a small investor, also got its name from a traditional Chinese poem. The idea behind using a Chinese name helps the company reach more Chinese users, many of whom do not know English and have difficulties pronouncing the name, which prevents them from knowing and using the search engine, the newspaper said. According to the professional Internet research firm Shanghai iResearch, revenue of the Web search market in 2005 was 1.04 billion yuan (US$129 million), 82 per cent higher than in 2004.
Inquiry about the weather, search for the route you want, read news and get information, all these are available as China launched the third generation (3G) search engine. At the press release on April 18, chinasearch.com introduced "IG 1.0" (Internet Gateway) software, a brand-new concept. Chen Pei, CEO of chinasearch.com said that as a comprehensive combination of web 2.0 applications, IG 1.0 is based on the 3G search engine technique and mainly targets at individual users. It facilitates the retrieval of real-time information and customized interactive services. Chen noted that IG caters to demands of individual users, making the search service a portal. The first generation of search engine, like Yahoo.com, provides directories of websites of various categories. The second generation, like Google, is based on key words. Insiders believe the third generation of search engines should be more customized, smart, interactive, and compatible. IG has many different versions specifically for students and for business purposes. Meanwhile, users can also recommend what they are interested in to their desktops and will receive personal online guide. All the IG users will have their own accounts and password, which ensure a safer online search.
The city's market watchdog is cracking down on online stores that sell counterfeit goods as a growing number of such stores have popped up in cyberspace. The Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau will also keep a close eye on residential areas around the Xiangyang Road Fashion and Gift Market, which was home to many warehouses for fake goods, to prevent the illegal business spreading from the soon-to-be-closed market to other downtown areas. The bureau said yesterday it has closed 24 stores selling fake products this year and confiscated nearly 190,000 counterfeit goods, ranging from clothing, bags, and leather belts to glasses and watches involving big names like LV, Gucci, and Prada. The 24 stores were assessed more than 2.1 million yuan (US$259,259) in fines. "Some illegal vendors have chosen new ways that are more difficult to find and crack down in response to our intensified efforts to stop counterfeit deals," said bureau Vice Director Chen Xuejun. Last month, the bureau shut down the online version of the Xiangyang Market with assistance from authorities in other provinces as the Web server was based outside Shanghai. It also shut down two stores near the actual Xiangyang Market following tips found on the Website. The Xiangyang Market on Huaihai Road M. will close by June to make way for subway construction and a possible commercial project. The market closure might slow sales of counterfeit goods, but the bureau says it won't stop the problem. Last week, the bureau's branch in Putuo District located two storage rooms in a high-end residential area that housed more than 11,000 pieces of counterfeit LV, Armani and Gucci clothing. To better protect the foreign trademark holders' rights, the bureau has updated its list of foreign trademarks this year. The list, which is given to market inspectors, now includes 47 new brand names, such as Armani, Zegna and Levis.
China expects 100 million bloggers to be writing about their life, love, angst and inspirations on the country's cyberspace by 2007, according to a recent report. The report, dubbed a "Blue Paper on Media Industry," was written by the research center of media management under Qinghua University, one of China's most prestigious universities. The paper said there will be more than 60 million bloggers in China by the end of this year. The word "blog" was one of the most searched words on the Internet in China last year, the report said. A survey by Baidu.com, a major Chinese search engine, shows that there are 36.82 million blog sites in China that are kept currently by 16 million people. Zhang Xiaorong, strategy development director of "Bokee", one of the first blog service suppliers in China, said his company adds about 100,000 blogs a day. "The expected 60 million bloggers would account for more than half of China's 110 million netizens," said Zhang.
The Blue Paper said 658 companies specialize in providing storage for blogs, and 330 each are host to more than 1,000 registered users. Star blogs, written by celebrities, attract most eyeballs. Sina.com, a leading website portal in China, is host to one of the most successful blogs written by local film star and director Xu Jinglei who updates her on-line dairy everyday. It took Xu's blog just 112 days to become the first in China to receive more than 10million viewers, almost equal to the "click rate" of medium-sized websites. Xu's blog immediately drew the attention of advertisers who had long sought ways of making a profit from the blogging phenomena. However Xu and Sina.com had not signed a contract so the two sides had difficulty trying to figure out how to share revenue. "Star blogs will not burn for long," said Keso, a professional blogger. He believes no one star can bring long-term prosperity to blogging. "Bloggers can not yet be called professional in terms of profit".
Still, people cling to the idea that a blog can make them money. One website called "How Much is My Blog Worth" will even do an on-line evaluation. It showed Xu's blog is worth 10 million U.S. dollars. A report by Internet Society of China in February showed nine percent of bloggers write everyday, 29 percent write once to three times every week, and 35 percent write four to six times weekly. The Blue Paper said although the industry has invested heavily into blogs none of the blog service providers are making profit. In the future, blog service providers may charge individuals for downloading and on-line viewing, or publish the content in traditional media forms. That's what "Bokee" did by publishing a collection of writings from well-known bloggers.
With a new integrated circuit (IC) card system put into operation yesterday, Beijing finally started to catch up with many other Chinese cities in providing an up-to-date public transportation ticketing system. As the 2008 Olympic Games host city, Beijing must surely have more than a smart bus card system to materialize its commitments to stage a high-tech international event. However, for numerous residents in Beijing, such an automatic fare collection system indeed means concrete improvement in their daily life. By making ticketing a little bit easy for every one, the new system can save time for passengers while raising the efficiency of the public transportation system. The adoption of similar electronic ticketing systems has proved successful and popular in a number of domestic cities.
Yet, the municipal administrator of public transportation in Beijing should not suppose that all the benefits of the new bus cards can be delivered automatically. Advanced technology is only part of what is needed to improve the efficiency of public service. The administrator should work hard and carefully overcome all the local difficulties that have long delayed the introduction of smart bus cards. On the one hand, Beijing's commuters are not familiar with these smart public transportation cards. As a result, and as it actually happened, some passengers ignored the requirement to wait in line and get on and off the bus from specific gates, causing chaos at bus stations. One the other hand, many bus stations are not designed to separate passengers into different lines. And when passengers wait in a crowd, buses used to squeeze into stops in a disorderly way. The heavy traffic during rush hour partially explains why buses have to enter and leave stations in a hurry. Requiring buses to queue when making their stops is a needed step to match lines passengers must make to get on different buses they want to take. But in absence of related measures to improve traffic on the road, the long line of buses waiting to enter stops creates more traffic jams.
Fortunately, the administrator has made preparations for many of these problems. While thousands of transportation aids have been sent to keep passengers waiting in lines, a number of key bus stations have been equipped with time-saving mobile ticketing machine to allow passengers to swipe cards before boarding. And the bus companies have also sent more buses on the road to assure adequate communications. Beijing commuters' initial experiences with smart bus cards might not be as sweet as those in Shanghai or Hong Kong, but the municipal transportation administrator's effort is still of great help to promote the new bus cards. To turn the public transportation system into a convenient and efficient choice for the public, a comprehensive upgrade of Beijing's traffic administration should follow up soon.
China's personal computer (PC) market is expected to grow 11.7 percent annually over the next five years, said International Data Corporation (IDC) in a report released on Friday. IDC, an American company engaged in market investigations, predicts that China's PC sales will reach 32.94 million computers in 2010, maintaining its leading position in the Asian PC market. Statistics show that China registered PC sales of more than 19.04 million computers in 2005, an increase of 19.6 percent over the previous year, accounting for 46.2 percent of the whole Asian market. IDC said lap-tops will continue to be the sector with the fastest growth and the compound annual growth rate of lap-tops is expected to reach 23.7 percent. Wang Jiping, a senior analyst with IDC, said just like mobile phones, lap-tops will become an indispensable product for Chinese people, noting that the integration of its commercial use and home-use is the developing trend of the sector. He said PC investors will see more opportunities in the west and the northern part of China in the coming years. In spite of more development potential, small and medium-sized PC companies will still face challenges of merging and regrouping to combat fierce competition. Cityand cooperation are effective ways for PC companies to seek technology breakthroughs, Wang said.
BEIJING, Feb 23 Asia Pulse - China's on-line advertising market scale will expand rapidly by 48.2 per cent to reach 4.6 billion yuan (US$571.6 million) this year and it will further expand to 15.7 billion yuan by 2010, according to the Report of On-line Advertising Market Share in 2005 published by the market research company IResearch recently. China's on-line advertising market valued at 3.13 billion yuan in 2005, soaring 77.1 per cent over 2004 and 7.6 times that of 2001. Data also shows that China's on-line marketing market racked up 4.17 billion yuan of revenues in 2005 (including revenues from on-line advertising and searching engine, but excluding those from channel agencies). Sina.com clinched a share of 18.0 per cent with 750 million yuan; Sohu.com, 13.9 per cent with 580 million yuan; Yahoo.com.cn, 8.2 per cent with 372.134 million yuan; Baidu, 7.2 per cent with 300 million yuan, Netease, 7.0 per cent with 290 million yuan; and Google.com, 3.6 per cent with 150 million yuan. The on-line advertising revenues pocketed by China's major on-line medias accounted for 50 per cent of the total. Sina.com seized a share of 21.7 per cent on the Chinese on-line advertising market with 680 million yuan of revenue; Sohu.com, 15.0 per cent with 470 million yuan, Netease, 8.0 per cent with 250 million yuan; QQ.com, 3.8 per cent; and Tom.com. 2.2 per cent. The prosperity of the on-line advertising has produced a certain effect on traditional medias. As the report shows, the on-line advertising market scale (not including revenue of channel agencies) reached 3.13 billion yuan in 2005, surpassing the magazine advertising revenue of 1.8 billion yuan and approaching radio advertising revenue of 3.4 billion yuan.
China reports a total of 694,000 websites, over 20% being individual's. The number of domain names surged 40 percent to reach 2,592,000, according to the report on China's Internet information and resources 2005 published by the State Council Informatization Office on Tuesday. The webpage number soared 269% to reach 2.4 billion in 2005. Each website has 3,748 pages on average. 18.6% of websites locate in Beijing, 16.6% in Guangdong, and 9.7% in Zhejiang. Company websites account for 60.4% of the total number; then comes individual's website, which account for 21.9%; educational and scientific research websites account for 5.1 %. There are about 150,000 individual's websites in China, which mainly offer BBS (43.5%), download of music, novels and images (35.7%), and academic discussion (24.9%) and online transaction (11.9%). 44.2% of people build their websites "out of interest and with the attempt to do something they like"; 31.4% do it to "communicate with the world outside, and offer their references for others"; 16.2% take the websites as "foundation for their business" and 6.1% for "needs of work". Not all websites enjoy high page views. Daily page view averages below 50 in 39.6% of websites. The rate is as high as 51.5% for company's websites, indicating the websites are not functioning very well. Updating deserves webmasters' attention too. Only 17.62% of websites are updated within one week. By contrast, 18.58% are updated once over six months. Most websites are run by teams with less than ten people.
SHENZHEN (Xinhua) -- China is planning to have all its citizens to be accessible to digital cable TV programs from 2015, an official said here Saturday. Zhang Haitao, deputy director of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, said China is working to switch from analog cable television to digital cable television after a three-year pilot program proves successful in 49 urban areas. He made the remarks at the on-going second China International Cultural Industry Fair held in the southern Guangdong province. By now, the upgrading of digital broadcasting in cities like Qingdao, Hangzhou, Shenzhen has been completed, while the work in provinces and municipalities including Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangdong and Sichuan is still going on. By the end of last year, China had 2,548 radio and TV stations. According to government statistics, there are 126 million cable TV users in the country. China has a total of 900 million TV viewers with most of them living in the countryside, whom will not be provided with digital cable TV programs in the foreseeing future.
The number of users of Shanghai Mobile Communications exceeded 10 million yesterday, the 38th World Telecommunication Day. The first local mobile phone user signed up in 1982. Promising to offer better service to its users, Shanghai Mobile also started a charity donation yesterday. Any user can donate 1 yuan (12 US cents) to Shanghai Charity Foundation by sending "1" to number "043-4301."
A ceremony was jointly held by over 100 websites in Beijing Saturday to declare "war" against "Internet rubbish" by exposing unhealthy Internet contents. "This brochure listing 100 examples of wrong doings on-line will help people stay away from unhealthy content," said Yang Haocheng, a Chinese student who has returned from his overseas study, attending the ceremony. On the spot, people from 25 websites set up consultancy desks to give the brochures and instructions about how to use Internet scientifically while an Internet supervision center received reports on websites featuring unhealthy content. Liu Zhengrong, Director of the Internet News Service Work Committee under the Internet Society of China (ISC), said the activity is a self-conscious step taken by the Internet industry to prevent an "unhealthy Internet culture" that has had a negative influence on society, especially the younger generation. "The move also responded to Chinese President Hu Jintao's list of honors and disgraces," Liu added.
In recent years, the Internet industry in China has seen remarkable progress with more than 700,000 websites, which increase by 25,300 each year. The Internet has become an indispensable part of people's daily life but is plagued by unhealthy content. China, with 111 million Internet users, is the world's second largest Internet market after the United States. However, a report released by the government said earlier this month that each of its e-mail subscribers receives an average of 16.8 pieces of junk mail a week, which are 60 percent of the total e-mails they receive. "In 2005 alone, we received more than 120,000 complaints from the public, including 68.2 percent about pornography and 8.15 percent about gambling frauds," said ISC Secretary-General Huang Chengqing. "The unhealthy content online severely harmed young people," Huang said, adding China has around 78 million netizens aged under 30, among which 18 and under-18 totaled 18 million. A latest survey shows 13.2 percent of China's young netizens have become Internet addicts. Huang said violence, online chatting, pornography and online gambling are major cyber space attractions to young netizens. Therefore, Internet websites operators and content providers should take the social responsibility to create a healthy environment for the younger generation to get access to the outside world. According to him, the ISC has urged their 2,600 members nationwide to be disciplined when operating websites, and netizens to properly use the Internet.
The nationwide campaign has had an immediate effect, as reports on unqualified websites have increased markedly, said Liu Zhengrong. The number of reports increased to around 1,000, from the previous 300. He stressed that many netizens proposed that the government should encourage people to use their real names on the Internet, improve measures to avoid Internet addiction, promote filter software and enhance the legal system. In 2004, Chinese government kicked off a massive campaign to weed out pornography from the rapidly-growing Internet. In 2005, 11 people were jailed for up to 12 years for running an obscene website in China's largest case of Internet pornography. The website operators of the 99 Sex Forum were accused of posting pornographic pictures, videos and stories, and even opening chatrooms providing information on prostitution throughout China.
Iran said Saturday it has developed a new generation, user-friendly computer, named ＊Colonizer＊. According to Fars news agency, Mehdi Kashani, the project manager, said the groundbreaking scheme has taken 150 billion rials to become operational. ※The Colonizer can replace many office and home computers and as it is easy to use and does not need second language proficiency,※ he said, adding that the users can easily learn how to work with the system. He further noted that out of the total investment, some 115 billion rials has been spent on purchasing equipment and 35 billion rials has gone for research and development activities. ※Some 20,000 sets will be produced in the first year and this figure can be increased to 240,000 using existing equipment,※ he said, adding that a Japanese company has announced its willingness to purchase the technology from Iran and set up a Colonizer production unit in Malaysia.
※We have submitted a copy of the agreement with the Japanese side to the Informatics Promotion Company of Iran,※ he added. It was announced earlier that the ＊national computer＊ would enter the market by September 2005. The Persian computer is said to have been completely designed and manufactured by Iranian engineers. It is not known whether the national computer and the Colonizer are one and the same, or not. There are 500 software companies in Iran, where software market has grown by 41 percent per annum over the past two years. Software exports doubled in the year to March 2005 to reach $10.9 million. There are also plans to increase the official international software sales to $100 million by March 2007.
Senior ICT Ministry official said here on Friday that the government must seriously follow up the implementation of the National Internet Project, stressing that Iran Telecoms Research Center has been tasked to conduct relevant research studies. Kamal Mohamed-Pour, deputy minister of Information and Communication Technology for training, research and international affairs, told ILNA that the National Internet Project is a top priority for the ministry, adding that a working group has been established to conduct preliminary studies on the groundbreaking project. The official said feasibility studies on the project are of paramount importance, adding that the project will require huge funds. ※Ordinary research funds will not suffice as the project is a national one and has to be budgeted like a national project,※ he said, stressing that the 100 billion rials allocated for the research project is not enough. Minister of Information and Communication Technology Mohammad Soleimani said earlier that once the National Internet is created, domestic users will be able to receive web services at far lower costs.
The official said the national network will also help enhance web security for Iranian users and remove their privacy concerns about emails and other information. ※The issue is also important from the economic point of view,※ he said, adding that the country will not need to pay extra costs for leasing Internet bands. He said the ICT Ministry believes that Internet costs must come down drastically. Several IT parks have been planned nationwide to provide high-quality and inexpensive IT services to users. While at the beginning of the Third Five-Year Plan (2000-2005) the number of Internet users was only around 200,000 in Iran, this figure currently exceeds six million.
Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Suleimani announced on April 19 that Iran intends to establish a "national" Internet this year, state television reported. He explained that the current requirement that information on a website must exit the country and then return in order for users to access it is quite costly. "Our people may not feel the problem, but this problem is there anyway," he continued. Suleimani went on to say that this effort began a few months earlier with the connection of the country's universities to a fiber-optic network. BS
Telecommunications Company of Iran (TCI) announced Friday that it will provide nine million new mobile phone SIM cards by next March. Vafa Ghaffarian, who heads the TCI board of directors, told ILNA that the Second Operator will offer three million SIM cards this summer, when the country＊s only credit SIM card provider Taliya has pledged to provide 1.5 million. ※The TCI will also offer 5.5-6 million SIM cards by March 2007,※ he said, adding that the mobile phone network will witness a huge rise in the number of SIM cards this year. The official further noted that the Council of Economy has given the go-ahead for an additional four million SIM cards. He said it is difficult to offer nine million SIM cards within a year, stressing, however, that it will not be impossible to do so. Minister of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Mohammad Soleimani said this week that the ministry is planning to double the number of fixed and mobile phone lines by next March. Soleimani said, however, that it is not possible for the ministry to meet the entire demand for ICT services. ※For instance, those who have recently registered for SIM cards expect us to give them their SIM cards within a day,※ he said, adding that demand is so high in large cities like Tehran that telecommunications services will have to grow significantly. The state and private sectors have been tasked under the Fourth Five-Year Plan (2005-2010) to provide 18.5 million fixed phone lines. There is also a major domestic private sector mobile phone operator in Iran, which has pledged to provide 10 million SIM cards over the next few years.
Opening her daughter's monthly cell phone bill, the woman's jaw goes slack with astonishment. Three . . . million . . yen.!!!??? This is surely a mistake, she thinks. Why, my daughter wasn't even in Japan for most of that time. "The figure is correct," confirms a staff member of the carrier company, in a no-nonsense tone. "You are obliged to pay." This state of affairs, explains Yomiuri Weekly, came about when her daughter's cell phone was stolen during an overseas trip. Ironically, this particular phone could only be used to make calls in Japan. She had only taken it along with her to take snapshots using the phone's built-in digital camera. As such, the daughter waited 10 days after returning to Japan before reporting the theft to the phone company. "I didn't think it was urgent, since the phone couldn't be used for making calls anyway," she explains. These kind of phone thefts are on the increase. According to the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan (NCAC), between April and November of last year alone, some 86 telephone thefts beyond Japan's shores have been reported -- more than double the figure of 2004. But how can a thief possibly run up such humongous charges on a phone that's not supposed to be able to make calls at all? "It's due to the IC [integrated-circuit] card," says Fumio Inamasu, an executive at the Telephone Carriers Association (TCA). "IC cards utilized by Japanese mobile phones can be transferred to other mobile terminals." Mobile phones in Japan, it seems, use a communications system that differs from the GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) in wide use in other parts of the world. GSM-compatible phones have utilized IC cards for some time already.
As it happens, the IC card, even in a phone limited to Japan domestic calls, can be removed and inserted into a different phone to run up large bills. Yomiuri Weekly notes that use of such cards is relatively new in Japan. Phone carriers NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone and KDDI do build in security countermeasures to prevent unauthorized use, but these are set to the "off" position at the time of shipment. "You have to enter your PIN number when you turn on the phone," a representative for NTT DoCoMo explains. "If you input the wrong code three times in a row, the phone is automatically disenabled. But because many people find this inconvenient, new phones are typically shipped with their security functions disengaged." Yomiuri Weekly points out that theft is not the only reason callers who use their mobile telephone outside of Japan find themselves hit with unexpectedly high bills. While call charges may vary depending on the phone carrier and from where a call originates, charges can run from between several hundred yen to as much as 500 yen per minute, considerably higher than domestic long-distance charges. Under certain provisions a user can be billed for receiving calls, as well as for making them. The most expensive rates of all would apply if two Japanese making a foreign trip together use their phones to talk to one another. The signals, it seems, would be routed via Japan, so even if they're in the same foreign city, they'll be charged for an overseas call. Even if you stay at home, you're still vulnerable. Suppose you dial a neighbor's mobile number, thinking he's home in Tokyo, and you hear a grouchy voice informing you, "Waddya want? I'm in New York and it's the middle of the blankety-blank night!!" Well, the aggravation's certainly mutual: You've unwittingly placed an overseas call and can expect to be charged accordingly -- at rates that might run up to 10 times higher than a domestic call. (by Mark Schreiber)
Japanese electronics companies are stepping up investment in facilities to recover their world lead from Korean rival firms. Toshiba has decided to invest 500 billion yen (about US$5 billion) in facilities to increase production of NAND Flash memory chips, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported Monday. Toshiba aims to catch up with Samsung Electronics by increasing production capacity three times, the daily said. Toshiba will start building its fourth chip manufacturing plant and start mass production next year. Toshiba developed NAND Flash memory chips in early 2000, but the company＊s share in the global Flash market stood at a mere 21.9 percent, less than half of Samsung Electronics＊ (52.9 percent). Japanese electronics makers are also redoubling their efforts in the display market. Matsushita, Japan＊s largest, has already won the world market lead recording a 28 percent share in the plasma display panel module market in the fourth quarter of 2005 by expanding facilities. It was the first time a Japanese company led quarterly PDP sales since the second quarter of 2004.
Samsung SDI, with its 26.7 percent market share, conceded first place and missed the opportunity to make a timely investment in facilities. That may soon land it in third place, since LG Electronics is close behind with 25.6 percent. Japan＊s Sharp, the world＊s fifth largest liquid crystal display maker, aims to catch up with its Korean counterparts by investing 200 billion yen annually in its LCD business over the next two or three years. It will start mass production at its eighth-generation LCD line in this summer, the first company to make the leap, and spend 190 billion yen on facilities this year alone. In addition, an LCD panel joint venture established by Hitachi, Matsushita and Toshiba called IPS Alpha Technology that cost 100 billion yen will go into full operation this May, two months earlier than expected. As a result, it looks as if Korea, Japan and Taiwan will compete even more fiercely with each other from the latter half of this year, Samsung Electronics LCD business chief Lee Sang-wan said.
Japan's High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), in the Ibaraki prefecture, has reported that it has installed and begun operation of the country's most powerful computer. The supercomputer is comprised of a Hitachi SR11000 model K1, with a peak performance 2.15 TFLOPS and an IBM Blue Gene system, with a peak performance 57.3 TFLOPS. No details were given on how the two systems have been integrated. The combined performance of 59 TFLOPS would make it the most powerful computer system in Japan and one of the most powerful in the world. According to KEK officials, the system will mainly be used for lattice simulation of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) as well as elementary particle and nuclear physics simulations. It is intended that the supercomputer will be made available to researchers at Japanese universities and laboratories.
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's three mobile phone operators, NTT DoCoMo Inc. (9437.T: Quote, Profile, Research), KDDI Corp. (9433.T: Quote, Profile, Research) and Vodafone K.K., added a total of 1.024 million new users on a net basis in March, led by strong growth in subscribers to high-speed third-generation (3G) networks. The number of mobile phone users rose 1.1 percent from a month earlier to 91.79 million, paced by large customer gains at NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, the Telecommunications Carriers Association, which compiles data reported by the companies, said on Friday. Even Vodafone K.K, which has struggled to gain traction in Japan, added 63,400 users. The rise came despite news during the month that its British parent Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L: Quote, Profile, Research) would sell the company to Softbank Corp. (9984.T: Quote, Profile, Research) for about $15 billion. "We saw no impact from the Softbank news," a Vodafone K.K. spokesman said. "The performance reflects our introduction of several new phones and an overall pick-up in the market at the start of spring.
The industry has become quite active." The spokesman said its sales were helped by the launch of new phones from South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. (005930.KS: Quote, Profile, Research) and Finland's Nokia (NOK1V.HE: Quote, Profile, Research), both of which are trying to gain a foothold in Japan's $78 billion mobile market. Vodafone K.K said it had 15.21 million users as of the end of March. It said subscribers to its high-speed 3G service increased by 301,400 to clear the 3 million mark for the first time since it was launched over three years ago. There has been a rise in the number of mobile users switching to more advanced 3G services, which allow users to surf the Internet at high speeds. Japan's largest mobile operator, NTT DoCoMo, led the triumvirate with 485,100 new users in March, giving it 51.14 million customers overall. Of that, it added 1.45 million new 3G users in the month for a total of 23.46 million users. No. 2 KDDI Corp. had 21.83 million 3G users, or about 85 percent of its total. Including a less advanced mobile service, the company added 475,800 new customers to end the month with 25.44 million users overall.
Tokyo taxi passengers will soon be able to start paying for their rides using electronic money, three taxi fleet operators said this week. The deals, which involve BitWallet Inc.'s Edy system and the East Japan Railway Co.'s (JR East) Suica system, are the latest in a string of agreements from major retailers to accept e-money in lieu of conventional cash for purchases and services. They come as technology for the systems, which are both based on Sony Corp.'s Felica touch-and-go proximity smart card platform, is on the verge of becoming a standard feature in cell phones. The announcements mean that beginning in August, all 2,552 taxis operated by Chuo Musen Taxi will begin accepting payment using Edy and from next year 2,798 taxis belonging to Nihon Kotsu Co. Ltd. and 2,242 taxis belonging to Kokusai Motorcars Co. Ltd. will accept payment by Suica e-cash. The three taxi operators are among the largest in Tokyo. After a slow start, e-money is rapidly gaining pace in Japan. Edy, which is backed by Sony, NTT DoCoMo Inc. and a number of other financial institutions, can be used in 31,000 places in Japan, including convenience stores, restaurants, department stores and karaoke centers. In addition to dedicated Edy cards, the feature is also built into some credit cards, airline mileage cards, office identification cards and recently cell phones. BitWallet says about 17 million Edy cards have been issued of which about 3 million are cell phones.
The competing Suica system began as a prepaid travel pass for use on JR East trains in the Tokyo area, but it's expanded to include an e-cash function. Almost 12 million Suica cards with the e-money support have been issued, and there are 5,700 places where they can be used. E-money transactions using Suica cards, not including travel use, total about 260,000 per day, said JR East. Both systems originally required plastic cards, although now many cell phones are available with Felica support built-in. That means users can add Edy or Suica functions by just downloading the respective application for the phone. Because of the wide penetration of the Felica platform, it's also being used for other systems such as retail loyalty cards, and NTT DoCoMo recently began operating a Felica-based credit card payment system.
A computer problem early Saturday at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ affected transactions at some 21,000 automated teller machines, the bank said. The problem began at around 1:17 a.m. and all affected ATMs -- about 2,000 at bank branches and some 19,000 at convenience stores -- returned to normal operations by 9:05 a.m., the bank said. There were about 3,600 reports of users unable to withdraw cash, according to the bank. The problem evidently stemmed from hard-disk trouble in the bank's host computer. The bank is now investigating the details. It said the problem is unrelated to integrating the systems of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UFJ Bank, which merged into the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in January.
All About Japan has opened a new information website on vegetables, All about Vegetables and Health (http://allabout.co.jp/health/healthvegetable/). With the aid of Japanese food conglomerate Kagome, All about Japan provides comprehensive information on vegetables and health through the site. The information made available includes history, nutritional information and usage of a variety of vegetables. The target users are people aged 30 or older, who are conscious about their health.
About 80 percent of police, government and other public organizations that suffered data leaks following the introduction of a personal information protection law in April last year failed to announce the leaks on their Web sites, a Mainichi survey has found. In contrast, nearly 80 percent of private firms and organizations from which information was leaked published messages on their sites, the Mainichi survey on leaks related to the file-sharing software Winny found. The low rate of online announcements from public organizations has raised criticism over the personal information protection law, which some say is easy on government organizations and tough on private organizations. The Mainichi survey examined 106 reported incidents of data leaks though the file-sharing software Winny between April 1, 2005 and March 31, 2006. It found that there were 59 leaks from public sources such as government offices, the police, public schools and hospitals. Of these, 46 organizations (nearly 80 percent), failed to post announcements on their Web sites saying how the leaks occurred or what information was leaked.
When questioned over why no online announcement was made, the organizations gave various answers. The Defense Agency, for example, said, "We decided that to prevent leaks from spreading, it was not appropriate to announce the details on our Web site." The Kanagawa Prefectural Police said, "Our Web site is designed for the convenience of prefectural residents. Listing incidents and happenings runs contrary to this aim." The Nabari Municipal Government in Mie Prefecture said it thought news reports were sufficient. "We think it is best for people to learn about (the leaks) through news reports, and we thought our response was sufficient," a municipal government representative said. A total of 44 leaks were reported from private companies and organizations, the survey showed. In contrast with the public organizations, the private companies published apologies on their Web sites, along with explanations on how the leaks occurred and efforts to prevent further leaks, in 34 of the cases, or about 77 percent. A further three information leaks were reported from a Diet member's supporting organization, a prefectural assembly member and a municipal assembly member. The Web site for the Diet member didn't announce the leak, and the sites for prefectural and municipal assembly members were closed.
In April 2004 the government gave Cabinet approval to guidelines relating to the protection of personal information. The guidelines state that when leaks of personal information are discovered at businesses handling such information, it is "important to publicly announce the facts, to the greatest possible extent, from the viewpoint of preventing secondary damage and the occurrence of similar incidents." However, there are no guidelines on public announcements when the leaks are from government offices and local bodies.
The government plans to build new eco-friendly, low-density "innovation cities" by 2012 that will become the homes of state-run companies, government officials said on Tuesday (Feb. 21). The plan also calls for the number of inhabitants in each city to be set at 20,000 to 50,000. The Ministry of Construction and Transportation, along with the Presidential Committee on Balanced National Development, unveiled the plan at a meeting in the southwestern city of Jeonju, attended by President Roh Moo-hyun and 260 governors, mayors and local administration officials. The officials also said the cities will be designed to make maximum use of new and reusable energy and have wide stretches of parkland. South Korea plans to move 175 public companies from Seoul and its surrounding areas to the provinces as part of an effort to permit balanced national growth. Policymakers said giving provinces a chance to grow is key to fueling economic growth. Construction of the cities is expected to start in 2007, and the first state-run companies are to move in around 2010, with the rest following suit in 2012. Korea Land Corp., Korea Highway Corp. and the Korea National Housing Corp. are to make the move in 2010. At Tuesday's meeting, Roh said the new cities must be model urban areas that offer residents the highest living conditions and quality of life.
HANOVER, Germany: Samsung Electronics unveiled its much-hyped new handheld computer at the CeBIT information technology fair here on Thursday. It is only half the size of a sheet of copier paper. The Ultra Mobile PC Q1, weighs only 779 grams, about one third of traditional laptops, and can be easily held with two hands with users still able to type with their thumbs using a virtual, on-screen keyboard. The Q1 features fully functional PC performances on its 7-inch touch-control screen despite its size. It is co-developed by Samsung, Intel and Microsoft. The debut of the Ultra Mobile PC follows Microsoft chairman Bill Gates' call in 2005 for the computer industry to develop a new category for PCs that are less expensive, lighter and more functional. ※You can think of it as a tablet PC at a size this small, with an intensified entertainment feature,§ said Kim Houn-soo, chief of Samsung's computer system division during a meeting with reporters on Wednesday here. ※We have done extensive market research with Intel and Microsoft about what the consumers want from a mobile PC. And this is the result of our research.§ Though the three companies had tried to keep the Ultra Mobile PC project confidential until CeBIT, rumors using the codename ※Origami,§ abounded since late last year, raising anticipation for an innovative digital gadget.
Origami is the Japanese word for the craft of folding paper, which seems to fit the new PC's sleek appearance and small size. ※The 'Origami' project is really our first step toward achieving a big vision,§ Microsoft vice president Bill Mitchell said in a press release. ※We believe that Ultra Mobile PCs will eventually become as indispensable and ubiquitous as mobile phones are today.§ The new handheld PC runs on an Intel Celeron microprocessor and has 512 megabytes of main memory. Running a Windows XP operating system, it also has wireless Internet capability and can be used for car navigation and mobile DMB (digital multimedia broadcasting) TV as well. Samsung said it hopes the new product will deliver a brand new experience to consumers as it offers a variety of wireless communications that are hardly found in other mini-size computers such as PDAs (personal digital assistants). ※We really believe the difference is the connectivity. That's what we think is the breakthrough,§ said David Steel, vice president of Samsung's digital media department during a press conference on Thursday, adding that further details would be revealed later during the CeBIT show that runs until Mar. 15. Samsung said it plans to bring the new product to the market around July, and the initial price will be around euro1,000, or $1,200 (1,193,000 won). The company boasts that the product is the ultimate digital convergence product, with an eight-way joystick for playing computer games on the front panel.
The Korean government plans to pick Gwangju this month as the nation's first ※Linux City,§ where open-source software will become the mainstream programs. The Ministry of Information and Communication, which is in charge of the project of boosting Linux, on Tuesday (March 21) revealed the plan about Gwangju located in the southwestern part of the country. ※Gwangju was the sole bidder to meet the March 10 deadline to take up the Linux City scheme. Our screening panel has examined the city's bid,§ said Lee Do-kyo, director at the ministry. ※Our panel asked the city to complement its bidding documents in some segments. Gwangju is likely to be selected as the Linux City this week or next since it is the lone candidate,§ Lee added. Originally, Daejeon was the self-proclaimed hopeful to become the nation's open-source paradise but the city failed to present the application deadline. Should Gwangju be handpicked as a Linux City, it will be required to install open-source software as a main operating system of their infrastructures, a job which the ministry will support with funds and technologies. In the long run, Gwangju will have to migrate most of its public desktop and notebook computers away from the Microsoft Windows program, the world's foremost producer of software.
※The test city will prompt other regions to follow suit via demonstrating that Linux can be the go-to operating system without any technological glitches or security woes,§ Lee said. To that end, the ministry seeks to invest 1 billion won ($1 million), although the amount may change depending on the situation. Together with Linux City, the government will also choose a ※Linux University,§ another test bed for the emerging software that is an alternative to the proprietary Microsoft Windows. ※Multiple domestic ivory towers applied for the Linux University initiative and we will announce which university wins out later this month,§ Lee said. Linux refers to open-source, free software that emerges as an operating system alternative to the closed-door Windows program, which is flat-out dominating the global market. The underlying source codes of the new-borne software are open to the public so that worldwide programmers are able to seamlessly upgrade them. The attempt to build up a Linux-ruled area is not a first. Munich is looking to embrace Linux and open-source packages on its 14,000 PCs in place of the Microsoft operating system and office automation suites.
The number of South Korea's wireless subscribers is expected to top 40 million this year buoyed by brisk sign-ups, according to market observers on Monday (April 3). The projection came just after the country's three mobile operators attracted a combined 574,000 new customers over the first quarter, ratcheting up the total subscribers to 38.9 million. Over the first three months of this year, runner-up player KTF has been most active, adding more than 237,000 clients, followed by market leader SK Telecom's 203,000. LG Telecom, a distant third in the competitive domestic wireless telephony service market, increased its customer base by 135,000 over the cited period. The carriers are optimistic about this year's performance because cell phone subsidies, which were partially legalized late last month, are forecast to encourage cellular service subscriptions. However, the subsidy effect will not prop up the mobile landscape forever, and operators are advised to find novel ways to glean sustained subscription growth. It is already surprising that the number of Korea's mobile phone subscriptions continue to rise; 39 million among a total population of 48 million are now listed as maintaining service with wireless carriers.
KTF analysis shows that most incoming customers are young students rather than adults and that shows the market has little room for further growth. ※The market has already hit the saturation mark for adult customers as the penetration rate nears 100 percent. Young students account for most of the recent newcomers,§ a KTF spokesman said. In this climate, some experts point out that a new trend 每 carrying multiple handsets, especially among deep-pocketed businessmen 每 can create new growth momentum for carriers. ※In foreign countries, many carry two handsets 每 one for business and the other for private purposes. Such a trend can catch on here in the near future,§ said Kim Kyung-mo, an analyst at Mirae Asset. Indeed, the number of mobile service users exceeds that of the total population in some European and Asian countries thanks to the multiple subscribers. Included among nations with 100 percent-plus penetration rates are Sweden (112 percent), Norway (105 percent), Finland (100 percent) and Hong Kong (105 percent), to name a few.
The Ministry of Information and Communication has set up an Internet-addiction helpline that opened on Friday. Those with Internet-addiction problems can call 1599-0075 anywhere in the country and will be put through to an addiction-counseling center in their vicinity, where they will be able to receive advice. The ministry said that it set up the nationwide helpline to make it easier for those who suffer from the growing problem of Internet addiction to get help.
A joint study by researchers at Rutgers-Newark and Sungkyunkwan University, Korea, of the official web sites of the world's major cities ranked Seoul, New York, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Sydney as the top five municipalities in ※digital governance.§ Digital governance is the degree to which a web site 每 in this instance those of 100 large cities worldwide 每 enhances citizens＊ ability to learn about and participate in governmental affairs. New York's web site was ranked first worldwide in terms of usability. The survey was conducted by the E-Governance Institute of Rutgers-Newark and the Global e-Policy e-Government Institute of the Korean university, and was co-sponsored by the United Nations Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) and the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). The Rutgers-SKKU E-Governance Performance Index continues a survey first completed in 2003. Researchers examined the largest city in each of 98 countries with the highest percentage of Internet users, as well as Hong Kong and Macao. The study evaluated the official web sites of each city in their native languages. Investigators applied 98 measures that covered five central areas: security and privacy, usability, content, services and citizen participation. Scores and rankings of all 100 cities are available online at http://www.andromeda.rutgers.edu/~egovinst.
South Korea ranked second in 2005 in terms of high-speed Internet penetration among advanced countries, a notch down from the previous year, an international organization said Thursday. According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 25.4 out of every 100 residents of South Korea used the broadband Internet last year, the second-highest figure among the 30 member countries.
The number of multiple credit card holders in South Korea increased this year after experiencing a dip in 2005, financial sources said Monday. The number stood at 7.55 million as of March, up by 57,000 from the end of December, the sources said.
SK Telecom is trying to prevent minors from excessively using the Internet via their mobile phones. Korea＊s largest mobile operator said Tuesday it will block Internet access for subscribers under the age of 18 starting this month if they or their parents request it. It will also notify parents by text message of the Internet charges their children incur when they exceed W20,000 (US$20), W40,000, W60,000, W80,000, W100,000 and W150,000. The company has so far only blocked the service selectively for adult content and other websites seen as harmful to the young. SKT president Kim Shin-bae told reporters Tuesday the company will put its management priority on meeting its social responsibility and improving customer satisfaction now that the market is saturated with 20 million mobile phone users, almost half the population. ※We＊ll go to great lengths to protect minors, Kim said. ※As part of those efforts, we will even check if minors have subscribed to the mobile phone service in their parents＊ name.§
Dariga Nazarbayeva, Chair of the EAMF Organisational Committee, believes that if foreign capital comes to the media market of Kazakhstan, the national TV will only gain from it, Kazakhstan Today reports. "Media is business and I believe that it would be very useful if international consortiums and foreign capital would come to us (＃) The national television and the national TV-viewer would only gain from it," - Mrs. Nazarbayeva said in her interview to "Caravan" weekly. In her view, "it is at least naive if not outright stupid to speculate on information security on the basis of uncompetitive national media in our age of globalised information. Presently each family that is even relatively well-off installs cable or satellite TV, through which it gets access to different sources of information," - she explained. "If we wish to provide real information security, we must raise the competitiveness of the national TV channels and newspapers in the first place. Which requires big investments," - Mrs. Nazarbayeva believes. As per the current legislation of RK a foreign company cannot possess more than 20% of a Kazakhstani medium or a TV channel.
A new web site on children s health has been created. The "Nourishment" Program by the "World Vision" international organization and the Children s Medicine Facility at the Health Sciences University of Mongolia have jointly generated the web page "www.child.mn". Now, everyne is able to collect an information from the site on books about children s health. The books are jointly compiled by the implementers of the above program and other health institutions.
India and Uzbekistan have agreed to name the information technologies (IT) centre being set up in Tashkent University of Information Technology after Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Tashkent 50 years ago. The decision was taken during talks of Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation between India and Uzbekistan, an official release said on Wednesday. The meeting was chaired by Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh and Alisher Erkinovich Shayhov, Uzbek Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, Investments and Trade. The two sides also signed a protocol under which the Central Asian country would source a large number of products from India including cotton, grain, mineral fertilizers, polyethylene, liquid gas, raw silk and silk products, copper and zinc as part of measures to increase trade. Official New Delhi also asked Tashkent to expedite proposals for Indian companies in mining of gold in Uzbekistan and requested to nominate an agency for signing an MoU with MMTC and National Mineral Development Corp from Indian side, the release said.
The number of internet users in Myanmar reached 63,700 as of the end of 2005, up from merely a few thousands in 2000, registering the highest rate of increase in five years in Southeast Asia region, a local press reported in its latest issue. Despite the sharp increase, the number of internet users in the country still stands the least compared with other SEA countries with one internet user per 1,000 population, the Myanmar Info-Tech (previously Myanmar Information and Communications Technology Park) was quoted as saying by the Weekly Eleven News. Meanwhile, Myanmar has projected to add internet service centers to over 100 townships in the country during this year to facilitate communications especially in the sectors of business and education. As of early this year, such centers, also known as the Public Access Centers (PAC), had been opened in 12 townships including those in Yangon, Mandalay, Mawlamyine, Monywa, Taunggyi, Toungoo, Pyay, Pyinmana, Magway, Myeik, Kawthoung and Shwebo, the Myanmar Info-Tech said. The country is striving to have such service centers cover the whole country's 326 townships in the near future.
Meanwhile, the Ahaed Co. of Myanmar and the Teleglobe of Canada have reached a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to run an internet service provider (ISP) in Myanmar as part of the country's bid to expand such services. Besides, a Hong Kong (HK) company, the SS8 Networks Inc., has also agreed with an ICT company of Myanmar to run security services for ISPs in Myanmar. Myanmar has also launched some e-government systems including e-visa, e-passport, and e-procurement to effect management of government bodies. Myanmar introduced e-education system in early 2001. Being a signatory to the e-ASEAN Framework Agreement initiated at the regional summit in Singapore in 2000, Myanmar has also formed the e-National task Force to support the IT development. The country signed a series of MoUs with companies from Malaysia, Thailand and an ASEAN organization on ICT development.
The country's 15 million vehicle owners can soon renew their road taxes at special kiosks at Road Transport Department offices. The department's e-kiosk facility will allow the renewals to be carried out in a simpler, safer and faster way. The kiosk will print the road tax disc after the owner and vehicle information are keyed in and payment effected. ※The e-kiosk facility will be introduced soon. Three companies have demonstrated their prototype kiosks to the department. ※The kiosks will be secure and have the capability to renew and print road tax discs,§ said department director general Datuk Emran Kadir. ※The benefits are that there will be no more long queues at our counters. ※The public can renew their road tax anytime and pay via cash or electronic means such as credit card,§ he added. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy confirmed the department had submitted its technical evaluation and recommendations of the e-kiosk to the Cabinet. Emran said the e-insurance way of paying premiums on-line was introduced early this year to complement the e-kiosk. ※This will speed up road tax renewals, eliminate fraud and assure the public of insurance cover,§ he added.
The Global Malaysians Network is in a position to provide access to local companies using ICT and media channels to reach wider markets, said researcher Gavin Khoo. Khoo, a research fellow at the Asian Centre for Media Studies (ACMS), said the network would be using The Star＊s strength in connecting people to help local companies and those abroad build strong links. ※This can be done by integrating and making them more visible on The Star online,§ he said. Khoo was presenting a paper on ※Connecting Malaysians Worldwide§ at the one-day MCA ICT Resource Centre's Small- and Medium-size Business ICT 2006 roadshow here on Thursday. The Global Malaysians Network is an initiative by ACMS to link Malaysians around the world. The ACMS is a subsidiary of Star Publications (M) Bhd.
Commitment by Asean governments alone is not enough to see progress in the information and communications technology (ICT) field. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the involvement of the private sector in the region counted a lot in bridging the digital divide. ※The private sector of the respective countries must get involved for ICT to progress,§ he said, adding that some nations had done extremely well in their efforts to embrace technology while others had faltered. Financial constraints, hostile geographical terrain, political instability and other factors had affected the growth of ICT, he said. ※Connectivity is only concentrated in urban areas. In some rural areas, people do not even have a telephone, let alone high-speed Internet connections.§ He said there were concerted efforts by all Asean member countries and its partners to work towards a more even and widespread development of ICT across the region.
※It is in this context that the Asean-China cooperation on ICT is most important,§ he when opening the Second Asean-China ICT Week here yesterday. ※If Asean and China are able to formulate a cooperative framework for workable solutions in key areas, I believe there is every reason to be optimistic that the problem of digital divide in the region can ultimately be addressed,§ he said. Water, Energy and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said he saw immense potential in the Asean-China ICT Week. ※China is already an advanced nation in terms of ICT and skills, and indeed would be a worthy partner for us in Asean,§ he said. Also present were Chinese Minister of Information Industry Wang Xudong, Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and other ministers from the Asean countries.
Kuala Lumpur (ANTARA News) - Malaysia announced Thursday it would set up a separate mobile phone frequency to allow people to send out emergency text messages as tsunami warnings. As soon as a threat of a possible tsunami is detected, the government would disseminate the warning to phone users through an emergency cell-broadcast system, said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Jamaluddin Jarjis. "When people hear word about a tsunami, they will start calling or messaging each other to confirm and this may jam the mobile phone lines, preventing many people from receiving the warning. "This cell-broadcast operates on a different frequency so that everyone will be warned in time," Jamaluddin was quoted as saying by the official Bernama agency. Other channels for sending out tsunami warnings include TV broadcasts, public announcement systems at mosques, schools and hotels, and mobilising army and police personnel to remote areas, he said at the opening of a UN-sponsored conference on earthquake and tsunami risk. The devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean on December 26 2004, which killed more than 200,000 people in 12 countries, caused the deaths of 68 people in Malaysia's northern coastal regions.
Leading ICT companies have called on Malaysia to emphasise on higher-level ICT training to meet their needs and that of the country. All these companies are looking for ICT professionals higher up in the value chain. This was conveyed to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he met top officials of 12 big IT corporations on the sidelines of the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) 2006 here. Abdullah said that Malaysia must have such professionals that can be employed by these companies in Malaysia. The closed-door, hour-and-a-half meeting was attended by Michel Mayer (CIO and SVP of Freescale Semiconductor), Stephen J. Rohdeler (COO of Accenture), Joseph W. McGrath (CEO of Unisys), Thomas W. Kendra (EVP of Worldwide Sales and Services of Symantec Corp) and Tom Iannotti (EVP Asia Pacific & Japan of Hewlett Packard Co.). Others attending included Gustavo Arenas (Corp Vice President Advanced Micro Devices Inc.), Mark S. Popolano (Senior Vice President & Global CIO of AIG), John Gage (Chief Researcher of Sun Microsystems), Susan Shesky (Vice President & CIO of Dell) and William R. ※Bill§ Sweeney, Jr. (Vice President of EDS Global).
Those accompanying the Prime Minister included Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis, Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan. Abdullah said their request was in line with the government＊s aim to move forward in the ICT industry, now that companies wanted to invest in Malaysia. The Prime Minister said they had stressed that Malaysia should concentrate on its strengths. Today, there are more than 40,000 employees in the Multimedia Super Corridor, with the shared services and outsourcing (SSO) cluster of companies accounting for 40% of these jobs that are fuelled by the continuous growth of the Asian market. It is projected that the SSO cluster would increase to accommodate 100,000 employees in the near future. Abdullah said Malaysia recognised the importance of human capital development in moving the economy up the value-chain. In the case of SSO companies, the main human resource concerns evolved around having a steady and expanding stream of skilled knowledge-workers.
The Prime Minister also launched Outsourcing Malaysia at the WCIT 2006. According to co-chairman of Outsourcing Malaysia, David Wong, the country has the right infrastructure and resources to be an excellent ICT outsourcing hub. Abdullah, when launching the initiative, said the fastest growing segment of the SSO industry was the outsourcing of business operations offshore. Malaysia is regarded as a global player in SSO operations, and has consistently been ranked as the third most attractive destination behind India and China.
KUALA LUMPUR: A company has been appointed to carry out an independent audit on the effectiveness of the development of information and communication technology in schools. Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said this was to ensure there was no wastage under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. "The days when we emphasised providing schools with computers, laptops or LCD projectors are over. "From now on, we will ensure that only schools that are eligible and have the facilities receive the equipment." Hishammuddin was speaking after opening an education exhibition at the Putra World Trade Centre yesterday. He said next year, the ministry would carry out a survey on future teacher requirements before offering places for teaching degrees in universities. He also said he would soon announce steps to make national-type primary schools, religious schools and international schools more attractive.
Opportunities for cooperation between Malaysian and Saudi information and communications technology (ICT) companies will be explored when Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) hosts a delegation from the Council of Saudi Chambers on May 18, 2006. The visit by the delegation comprising ICT and public representatives will also provide an insight into potential investment opportunities in both countries, MDeC said in a statement Monday. The delegation, led by Abdulaziz Jazzar, ICT committee chairman of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce, is keen to establish bilateral trade collaboration in the areas of communication and broadband, e-education, e-health, content, private equity, venture capital investments and ICT services, Bernama News reported. MDeC said the visit is also expected to discuss matters of mutual interest, including the possible establishment of a Saudi Malaysian ICT Fund for companies to pursue investment opportunities in both countries. "The visit will be an opportune platform for the Saudi companies to get to know of potential ICT investment opportunities in Malaysia and for Malaysian companies to take advantage of Saudi Arabia's ICT sector," it said. MDeC said the Saudi delegation will be promoting its ICT parks and incubators with the intention of inviting Malaysian companies to establish their presence in the kingdom to facilitate technology transfer. "The Saudi Government also plans to get Malaysia to establish an institute dealing with ICT in the kingdom which is relevant to the Malaysian ICT sector," it said. It added that the high-powered delegation will include prominent industry leaders from the telecommunication, venture capital, and content and ICT services companies in Saudi Arabia.
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry growth in Malaysia has slowed down for the first time since the year 2000, according to Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry Malaysia (Pikom) deputy chairman Lee Boon Kok. "It's very worrying. Since the year 2000, ICT industry growth has always ranged from 12% to 15% but it is expected to drop to 10% this year," he said at Pikom's "State of the Industry Report 2005." The report polled 64 Pikom members. The drop in growth, he stressed, shows the "perception" of Pikom members. Pikom has a total of 460 members and claims it commands 20% of the total ICT business. This is in stark contrast to a recent International Data Cooperation (IDC) report that the industry could look forward to another good year ahead (see In.Tech April 26). The IDC report stated that spending on IT is expected to increase by about 12.3% from US$2.9bil (RM11bil) last year to an estimated US$3.3bil (RM12.5bil) this year. Lee explained that Pikom's bleaker forecast was due to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth contraction this year,§ Domestic consumer spending is cautious as people and companies are worried about inflation and high oil prices," he said.
Economist expects GDP for the full year to be 5.5%, compared to 7.1% last year. Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission head of the industry research and analysis department of the industry development division Yow Lock Sen concurred, "Companies are not willing to invest (in ICT) long term because of economic factors like the ringgit repeg and external factors like the Tsunami. "Also the technology is changing so fast, that companies aren't willing to upgrade to something that would be updated in two years," he said. Lee advised local ICT companies to become more export oriented as the local market it already is saturated. "Companies have to reinvent themselves to focus on the export of services and software. They must be able to customise and must offer more value-added services," he said. He said that Pikom members already were looking towards export markets like China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The State of the Industry Report stated growth for the hardware sector to range from 40% to 60% for laptops/notebooks, 8% to 10% for desktops, 10% for printers and 15% for smartphones/PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant). "The smartphone growth is due to the increased availability of WiFi hotspots." said Lee. Software and services are expected to grow by as much as 5% to 10% in 2005.
ADDRESSING the software piracy issue would need collaboration from all parties, including the Government, trade and industry bodies, companies, software resellers and suppliers but more importantly individual users. The "pirate culture" in Malaysia should no longer be left alone. While enforcement is important, it is up to each individual to arm themselves with information to differentiate fact from fiction in the battle against software piracy. Here are some common misconceptions:
Myth 1: No one is harmed when I use pirated or unlicensed software. The country＊s economy is hurt when software piracy is on the rise, and this will have social and economic impacts. Malaysia＊s software piracy rate was at 61% in 2004, according to the Second Annual BSA and IDC Global Software Piracy Study, and the global software piracy rate averages at 35%. A significant drop in software piracy levels will have a very positive impact on the economy. According to 2005 IDC Economic Impact Study, a mere 10-point drop in piracy levels in Malaysia from 61% to 51% over four years would add another 5,451 jobs, more than RM1.2bil in contribution to GDP, more than RM240mil in taxes and RM908mil in revenues to local vendors. And, a 10% drop in piracy levels would help the IT industry grow 91% bigger in 2009 than it was in 2004, compared to 78% if the piracy rate remains the same. The domino effect on business software piracy will eventually impact all businesses, big or small, thus forming a vicious cycle if this issue is not dealt with. Instead, a decrease in piracy would boost a country＊s economy and create more jobs. On a business level, software piracy can also result in loss of data and productivity from not knowing what has been installed on the network (viruses, worms, spyware, backdoors, etc) as well as substantial fines that will consequently result in loss of business. On a personal level, software piracy can lead to embarrassment, loss of reputation and credibility not to mention a potential jail sentence. Software piracy has also been known to be linked to organised crime.
Myth 2: Pirated software is as good as the original. The business risk of using pirated software is high. As data availability is critical in today＊s fast-paced competitive world, businesses cannot afford to lose data and to have systems suffer down time or crashes. Pirated software may affect systems capability in organisations, it may fail to deliver intended features, options and performance. Can you imagine losing all your data and never be able to retrieve it again 〞 how many customers would you lose as a result? In addition, the software would not be supported by the vendor or distributor if it is not properly licensed. Therefore, users lose out in the warranty of the product delivering its intended capability. In addition, users will not be able to access updated enhancements, security features and new innovations. This again can disrupt the business function and potentially mean losing out to competitors. Original software has undergone strict quality control and is therefore reliable, secure, guaranteed to work and includes all its intended components. In addition, using original software will give businesses peace of mind as they are operating within the law and not running the risk of severe legal repercussions.
Myth 3: Installing software without a license is not software piracy. The fact is, software is licensed, not purchased. When we purchase software, we buy the licence or legal right to use the software. But we do not own it 〞 the intellectual property of the software does not belong to us. Thus, we do not have the right to make extra copies of the software without the proper licences or install more copies of the software than permitted by the licence. Software resellers do not have the right to load copies of the software onto a computer without proper authorisation. In fact, software resellers and retailers should not even accept computers for service onto their premises if it loaded with pirated or unlicensed software 〞 this puts them in legal danger. We need to always ensure the installation and use of the software is in line with the terms outlined in the end-user licence agreement.
Myth 4: I will not get caught by antipiracy enforcers. Through 2006 Ops Tulen: Korporat & SME, the Government will be targeting its education and enforcement campaign at large corporations as well as the small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs). The raids have already begun 〞 a manufacturing company was recently convicted for using infringing software and fined RM120,000. Also, its general manager was arrested during the raid. Working with the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the Government has also formed Ops Tulen Teams to conduct visits to companies nationwide to educate senior management on the need to proactively audit their software and to use original licensed software. Senior management are accountable for their companies＊ compliance of the law, thus this should not be taken lightly. They need to ensure that their companies are compliant and do not leave this task just to the IT, finance or purchasing department. In conclusion, using original licensed software can only benefit businesses as it means the support and upgrades from vendors are guaranteed, and down time can be reduced. Using pirated unlicensed software just does not make business sense 〞 so don＊t risk it. Ensure software piracy stops with you!
Information on science and technology in the Philippines is now more accessible via a single portal called science.ph. Located at http://www.science.ph, the dotPH-registered domain is the first online S&T information search service in the country.
SINGAPORE : In the event of a flu pandemic, students in Singapore won't have to miss any lessons. School is out for Daniel for two days but it's no holiday. His school is testing out its e-learning programme to get students familiar with it. Teachers will be online all day to answer any questions students may have. "The lessons are usually more interesting because they use powerpoint and animate the slides. It's not like the teacher stands there and shouts 'You! Workbook page 13.' When I learn at home, even though the teachers aren't there, some of the notes still contain hints as to what will come out on the tests. But if it's the teachers talking in classes, they will not give hints," said Daniel Fernandez, a primary 5 student at Anglo Chinese Primary. Methodist Girls' School has also recently upgraded its e-learning system. If the school is shut, teachers will upload their lesson slides and conduct tests for students online. There will also be online forums where students can discuss study topics with their peers and post questions which will be answered by their teachers.
"The e-portal system that we are using has a tracking system, it enables teachers to set work for the students as well as track whether the students have done their work and what their scores are if it's a test. 96 percent of students here have broadband access, the remaining few percent who do not have access they should be able to get help from their friends via fax," said Heng Jee Sin, IT head of Methodist Girls' School. But developing an e-system like this does not come cheap. Schools are charged a minimum of $20 000 a year by vendors and some neighbourhood schools say they do not have the resources to pay for this. Furthermore, the number of students in neighbourhood schools who have broadband access at home is also slightly lower. To ensure that all students will have access to lessons in the event of school closure, the Education Ministry says it will support free-to-air broadcast services on television.
SINGAPORE : In a new milestone for Chinese language teaching, Singapore has launched its first online portal for Chinese language teachers. It aims to bring together over 3,500 teachers to share innovative ways to teach the language, starting with some 1,200 teachers from over 100 schools in the east and the south. This is a partnership between Microsoft Singapore, the Singapore Chinese Teachers' Union and schools. Teaching Chinese language in Singapore has been undergoing a review, and this new online portal is one way to help teachers cope with changes to the way they teach by allowing them to share lessons and ideas across schools. Sadi Yeo Guat Kwang, GPC Education member and executive secretary of the Chinese Teachers' Union, "One big concern is that it may actually increase the workload of teachers. A better way is -- for those who have already come out with innovative ideas, we should encourage them to share, so we do not have this problem of duplicating effort of everyone. Once we pool all together it will be more effective." Said Barney Lau, managing director of Microsoft Singapore, "You have communities of teachers coming together in a like-minded way to share information. Second of all, it allows teachers to search for information and documents and materials. And third of all it allows storage, submission and alteration of documents."
Teachers can log on to the website to gain access to a library of resources, including articles, tutorials and learning materials. Parents are also encouraged to participate in a special forum to exchange ideas and experiences. The Education Ministry says it is working towards similar portals for Malay, Tamil and English. And it is encouraged by the work Chinese language teachers are already doing incorporating IT into the curriculum. Said Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, "We're really putting emphasis on the teachers themselves, allowing teachers to use IT as they wish, to build on their own strengths, rather than having to adapt themselves to IT. IT must not be forced; it must not be something not natural to the teacher." The technological innovation doesn't just stop here. There are plans to link up this portal with similar ones in countries like China to encourage more cross-border collaboration and to boost Singapore's status as an education hub.
SINGAPORE : You can now watch your favourite MediaCorp programmes whenever and wherever you want. MediaCorp TV has launched a new subscription service called MediaCorp Online Broadband TV, or MOBTV for short. It lets viewers watch shows live from their computers or download their chosen programmes. They can even view free-to-air terrestrial TV shows from the last 14 days. The service costs between S$5 and S$12.90 a month, and includes never-seen-before footage from MediaCorp shows like Singapore Idol 2 and Superband.
SINGAPORE : Young environmental activists here want to see a more consolidated effort between government and groups to map the way ahead in environmental awareness and protection. This was one hot topic raised at a dialogue between 30 activists and Environment and Water Resources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim. Twenty-five-year old Angela Lee, a post-graduate student in knowledge management for sustainable product development, feels strongly about recycling. Having organised a two-month-long competition involving some 150 schools to collect the highest volume of recyclables, she now wants to inspire restaurants and eating outlets into going green. Said Ms Lee, "One of the ideas, suggestions that we can bring across to the F&B industry is that because every day they generate a lot of waste -- from food waste to plastic wastes to glasses -- so if we could actually get them to voluntarily, or maybe by law separate out these recyclables and channel more of their waste into the recycling bin, I guess that will help to reduce the amount of waste that we consume every day." Another green activist, 25-year old Mohammad Noh, would like to link up more effectively with players in the industry.
He said, "NGOs cannot be left alone to fend for ourselves. Besides funding, we also need other kinds of support in order to reach out to schools." Mumtaz Maideen, a teacher at Bukit View Primary School, said, "We would like to have a platform provided so that schools actually know that there are lots of NGOs who are supporting environmental programmes. We can collaborate together." To answer that call, a first-stop environmental portal, "Youth Habitat", is in the works. Developed by the Singapore Environment Council, this resource aims to help youths to exchange views and put ideas into action. Said Dr Yaacob, "What we want to do is to create platforms which are meaningful, that will help to facilitate the growth of more environmental NGOs, especially among our young. It is also a way to engage and push information towards them, and we hope they will also use the portal service to give us feedback and ideas." The portal is expected to be up by the end of this year.
SINGAPORE: Singapore Exchange is introducing a new innovative online hub for brokers, depository agents and other market participants to engage in post-trade services. It will be open-access, called SGX Prime and scheduled for roll-out by year-end. The move is part of SGX's ongoing efforts to upgrade its IT infrastructure and enhance its organisational agility. SGX Prime will be offer a choice of connectivity options to the exchange's clearing and depository systems, providing a straight-through-processing environment from execution to settlement. This will align Singapore with global financial markets in post trade processing.
The Software Industry Promotion Agency (Sipa) will launch a pilot project to integrate utility bill payment services in Phuket at the website www.thaionestop.org in May, followed by a wider rollout in Bangkok and the ICT Cities of Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen in October this year. The system uses a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) platform based on IBM Websphere to make payment of electricity, water and telephone bills available online. Speaking at a press conference alongside IBM executives, Sipa president Manoo Oradeedolchest explained that previously the problem of integration could not be overcome with what he termed "monolithic" applications.
Opening up certain parts of the internal systems to outsiders was simply not possible and bought with it too many security risks. Furthermore, CAT Telecom, TOT Corporation, the Metropolitan Water Authority and the Provincial Water Authority - the lead agencies in the pilot project - each have very different and incompatible systems. However, with systems designed as web services, Manoo explained that not only could selected portions of the system be securely exposed to third party agents, but it could be done with incremental changes and minor programming tasks rather than re-writing entire monolithic enterprise applications. "SOA allows us to seal off the database yet allow integration," Manoo explained.
The Sipa one-stop-service portal was developed on IBM Websphere and should, by next year, extend to include certain public health, immigration and judicial functions and be integrated into the national smart ID card system. The Sipa president explained that before, the rationale for integration was to provide a single piece of software for all agencies. However, not only was this task infeasible given the diversity of needs in different agencies, it would all but destroy the local software industry as all software and modifications would have to come from the same source.
However, with SOA, the local software industry would have plenty of work customising each reusable module and doing the programming modifications necessary for integration. He also explained that the system was different from current counter payment services as many bills could be combined into one transaction and inquiries could be made into the status of bills. Furthermore, other services such as requesting repairs or installing additional telephone lines could easily be added to the framework. Manoo also touched on the importance of interoperability in the greater context of e-government and noted that a parliamentary committee had, just before parliament was dissolved, had put forward a plan for e-Government integration based on SoA with certain milestones set for the next two years.
IBM Thailand's country manager for software Kittipong Asawapichayon explained that SOA was a paradigm shift liking software to lego. "The creator of Lego does not care about what a Lego block is to be used for, but he cares about how the bumps and holes fit together," Kittipong explained. Kittipong also noted that the paradigm of integration had changed from a web where modules connect to and interact with each other (knowing who they connected to) to an enterprise bus where SOA modules would simply plug into the bus where they would receive requests and dole out functionality without having to understand how the enterprise was put together.
According to news agency AFP, military-owned telco Viettel will be partially privatised sometime in the near future, with the government having recently approved a privatisation plan put forward by the telco. Under the proposal the military will keep 51% of the company with the remaining 49% to be put up for sale. Viettel claimed around 2.3 million users at the end of 2005.
HA NOI 〞 The country＊s mobile phone service providers are pinning their hopes on brisk sales of third generation (3G) technology telephones as they prepare to launch value-added 3G services later in the year. General manager of S-Fone Ho Hong Son said the CDMA-based mobile provider would upgrade its current CDMA 200-1x technology to handle transmission rates in excess of 2.4 Mbps later in the year. He said that services including video-on-demand and high-speed Internet access would be available once the upgrades are in place. Son added that S-Fone plans to expand network coverage to all cities and provinces by the end of the year. Relative newcomers EVN-Telecom and Ha Noi Telecom- both of which use CDMA networks- revealed they would also introduce 3G services, with a view to direct competition with the country＊s more established telecom providers.
EVN-Telecom director Nguyen Manh Bang said a 3G-ready network would enable its company to provide high-speed Internet access at a reasonable cost. Trinh Minh Chau, general director of Ha Noi Telecom, said his company＊s added value services would be very competitive. The company plans to offer a wide range of the latest handsets so customers can avail themselves of the new services, he said. Concerned that CDMA-based competitors might take an upper hand in the market this year, GSM-based mobile phone companies plan to install the EDGE system- a 3G equivalent network with a data transmission rate of up to 384 Kbps- by the end of 2006. Director of VinaPhone Hoang Trung Hai said his company would deploy EDGE transmitters throughout 20 cities and provinces nation-wide, adding that VinaPhone was also evaluating a series of e-commerce services for its customers. MobiFone announced it would spend around $200 million this year to introduce latest value-added services, while military-run Viettel said it would install EDGE transmission stations to 15 cities and provinces, beginning in June.
Health service providers are getting hyperactive windows from the blessing of cybernetic connection. Newly developed computer based gadgets are best companion for doctors along with their traditional equipment like stethoscope and thermometer in many countries. Last week 120 health practitioners were successfully trained up on ICT implications in medical science in an international course titled "e-Health & Learning: Health Informatics Training Courses for Practitioners (e-HL-HIC)." After the certificate distribution ceremony, the course contact person Dr Abul Kashem Mia, professor of BUET and Dr Ing Gianni Zanrei, system administrator of MiNE programme spoke to "The Independent" exclusively. Professor of computer science, Dr Md Abul Kashem Mia said: "A significant contribution can come from our doctors' community in developing a database system for keeping patients' records. Our doctors and hospitals are not following updated info preserving system.
They are not even habituated to keeping patients' health data in their chambers and hospitals. They give prescriptions, pathology test reports, x-ray reports, etcetera to the patients to preserve in their house. Eventually, many of the patients lose the records. In the developed countries doctors are obliged to keep the report in their data bank. But we are witnessing contrary scenario in this country. In the era of info-tech patients do not need files to go from one medical department to another. By entering a patient's name all concerned doctors can see her or his reports right in their chambers or hospitals. After our two successful IT projects for the doctors' community, we are watching them gradually develop positive attitude towards keeping patients records in their responsible area. Now they have realised that data based software will catapult their services as well as save some additional expenditure.
Barrister Aminul Huq, Minister for Post and Telecommunications, told The Independent that 64 districts and 232 upazilas will soon be brought under computer network reaping the benefit of the establishment of sub-marine cable network in the country. This will facilitate the telemedicine in the country bridging the rural-urban gap of health service. Rural doctors, even patients will be able to consult specialist doctors stationed in cities and towns. Earlier, the Minister inaugurated a free heart camp at Dowaripara, Pallabi, jointly organised by the Mother Teresa Memorial Society, Bangladesh and Al Helal Specialised Hospital, Dhaka. Minister in his inaugural speech appreciated the services of the Bangladeshi heart specialists and cardiac surgeons who have brought the latest technology and skill to the country. He also appreciated the Mother Teresa Memorial Society and the doctors of Al Helal Hospital for rendering such voluntary service. Dr. Mohammad Shahabuddin Khan, Chairman of Al Helal Hospital and cardiac surgeon Dr. Asit Barua Adhikari, president of MTMS-B, Dr. Capt (Retd) Maswoodur Rahman Prince, Dr. Mukitur Rahman, Dr. Faizul Huq, Siddique Rahman Siraj, Ekhlas Mollah and Mir Ahmed Ali Tutul spoke on the occasion.
Bangladesh will be connected to a high-speed overseas telecom link next week amid hopes it will foster the growth of IT in the impoverished country, an AFP report said. The AFP report also said the cable will directly connect Bangladesh to 11 countries in Western Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East and provide much needed extra bandwidth. "The connection with the submarine cable system will immediately connect our telecom backbone with the high-speed global telecom system known as the information superhighway," Abdul Malek Akhand, chairman of state-run Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB), told AFP. The link will give Bangladesh better voice and data transmission bandwidth enabling the country to offer outsourcing services such as call centers, data processing and medical transcriptions for the first time, he added. Bangladesh turned down an earlier opportunity in the late 1980s and analysts say the decision has hampered the growth of telecom and outsourcing services, according to the report.
※So far we were cut-off from other parts of the country. We had to walk for days to the dzongkhag headquarters for official work. Now, with telephone connections and Internet services, we are saved from all these trouble. We feel connected.§ The gup of Sombeykha was speaking to a group of dignitaries and other government officials about the recently installed satellite telephone service at the official launching ceremony of the e-post and Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) project by Bhutan Telecom and Bhutan Post on March 20. Five remote villages - Laya, Merak, Sombeykha, Shingkhar Lauri and Menjiwong in Serthi gewog - have been connected with VSAT technology and Internet services. The Indian government provided six VSAT terminals, worth Nu. 20 million, with the free use of their satellite space segment for two years. While equipment has already reached Lunana it could not be installed because of harsh weather. Telecom officials said that possible snowfall on their way held them back. ※If we go there and it starts snowing we would be stuck for about six months,§ said Bhutan Telecom's managing director, Thinley Dorji. ※The installation of the services in Lunana has been postponed until the end of April.§ Thinley Dorji said that in Merak, Bhutan Telecom had to hire 112 people and 26 horses to carry the equipment over steep terrain for two days from Phongmey. Eventually telecom officials decided to hire a chopper for about a week. ※Now when we go to Lunana, all we have to do is take our tools and install the equipment since it has already been transported there,§ Thinley Dorji said. VSAT technology is simple.
When people call from any part of the country to one of these far-flung places the message is first sent into space satellite. The telecom centre, or the hub, then distributes the calls to specific locations. Satellite technology has to be kept up-linked all the time, which requires a minimum 100 Watts of power. ※Had it not been for this project, it would have taken us years to reach these remote areas,§ Thinley Dorji added. Speaking to Kuensel, the Director of Telecommunication Development Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in Geneva, Mr. Hamadoun I Toure, said that, given the country's mountainous terrain, the VSAT technology was the most viable means of communications because satellite was more economical than other means of communications like cable and fibre optic, which were difficult, expensive and time consuming. Bhutan's ability to know what it wanted, where it was headed, and putting plans into action, was why ITU was committed to help Bhutan, he said. ※You have a plan, you believe in it, you are prepared to invest in it, to make it happen, and you are accountable for it,§ he said, adding that it was reassuring that Bhutan had done its part in a very clear and timely manner. ※That makes us even more keen on continuing our assistance to Bhutan and we will continue to do so.§ Bhutan Post also officially launched its e-post services in these remote areas. This new service will help people of these remote communities send and receive pictures and letters in both English and Dzongkha languages through the Internet. The letters sent or received can be printed and delivered to the people much faster than the normal postal system.
For a country with a population of a hundred crore plus, India has only 4.26 crore taxpayers. There＊s every chance that you＊ve heard successive finance ministers lament about this deplorable piece of statistic in their budget speech. This year, however, the FM could spell out a big, hairy, audacious goal-of doubling the taxpayer base by 2010-11. It＊s no sleight of hand. At its core, is a massive IT networking strategy that promises to shake up the fundamentals of the income-tax system in the country. Using the power of technology, the taxman will be able to instantly track every transaction we make-be it buying a house, flashing the plastic to buy jewellery or withdrawing money from the bank-at a click of a button. More on it in a bit. But here＊s the upshot: if the I-T department is able to ferret out defaulters and potential tax payers, it could give the finance minister the flexibility to lower tax rates and further push up compliance. The effects of this virtuous circle are already beginning to trickle in. This year, the I-T department had targeted to increase permanent account number (PAN) allotments by 20%. They look all set to do so. In fact, till 2010, the plan is to continue growing the tax base by 20% every year. And much of it is thanks to the new IT system that＊s likely to be entirely in place by 2008. The change will begin at the grassroots. Remember the last time you had to scramble to file your incometax returns within the stipulated deadline? The chances are you＊d probably had a hard time even locating the I-T office where your return would be accepted. And even if you did, you＊d probably had to deal with serpentine queues. Guess what? By 2008, once the I-T department＊s mammoth drive to seamlessly connect all its 510 offices across the country is over, you will be able to file your income-tax returns anywhere in India, instead of being restricted to a specific jurisdiction within a city.
Wipro Launches PCs for Rural India
Software giant Microsoft said that it would launch the latest version of its Office software suite by the end of the year and the company's India development centre has made a significant contribution to it. "India development team has played a key role in developing Office 2007. It has designed tools that support unified communication, pocket applications for mobile usage and has worked on many other functionalities," Mr Jeff Raikes, President, Microsoft Business Division, Microsoft Corporation said. Microsoft has 1,100 people at its India development centre. Meanwhile, Microsoft Corporation also previewed the 2007 Microsoft Office version, which is currently in beta phase. Mr Raikes also inaugurated a Microsoft Office solutions showcase featuring 18 information worker productivity solutions developed by its local Independent Software Vendors (ISV) partners for the Indian market. Based on the theme `Innovating for and with India', these ISVs demonstrated their applications in areas such as e-governance, education and defence, in addition to specific vertical solutions for the banking, publishing and retail sectors. The event also featured applications for everyday users such as a financial solution and Office Student & Teacher Edition. The applications on exhibit included the e-gram application by the Department of Panchayat, the National Manuscript Project by National Informatics Centrer (NIC) etc.
Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has begun testing a WiMAX broadband access network based on equipment provided by Aperto. Commercial WiMAX services are set to follow the 45 day trial. Aperto has supplied various elements of the WiMAX network and is providing technical assistance for the trial.
Nepal Telecom (NT) has begun to roll out pre-paid mobile lines to Bhairahawa, Butwai and Palpa, part of a total 25,000 new connections planned for the area. NT is also looking to provide pre-paid lines to Nepalgunj, Dhangadi, Bhadrapur and Mahendranager by May 2006, and has also started deploying pre-paid lines in Kathmandu.
KARACHI: As many as 200,000 jobs would be created in the next three years in the IT sector in Pakistan which is the fastest growing country in the telecommunication sector in Asia after China. The Federal Minister for Information Technology, Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, stated this while speaking as chief guest at a seminar organised at a local hotel on Wednesday by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). "We are planning to create 200,000 jobs in the IT sector in the next three years", he declared. Awais Leghari announced that the Ministry of IT and telecommunications is declaring 25 more existing universities into tier one specifically for the IT discipline. The career placement officers of the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) will be deployed in these institutions. The Minister said that on an average 100 to 200 students per university would be picked up depending upon the availability of the students for the internship programme and would be placed in the top 10 or 13 IT and IT enabled services companies. He also announced that unlimited amount of training resources would be offered to all the PSEB member IT and IT enabled service companies to add on the work force. Awais Leghari reiterated that the Ministry would be embarking on an aggressive programme for job creation in the IT sector. "My message through this conference is that please look again towards the IT discipline as it has a huge potential and my strong opinion is that if you are a good IT graduate there is no way a Pakistan company would not pick you up," he remarked adding that all good IT graduates are hired and employed and that we are supplementing the efforts to further increase the quality of IT graduates in the country. Awais Leghari said that the task of laying of the third submarine cable would commence by next month.
A DRAMATIC slump in the information technology sector has threatened the future of Monash University's IT faculty, one of the most prestigious in the country. Vice-chancellor Richard Larkins told a recent meeting of information technology staff that while he supported a stand-alone faculty, there was pressure to move the teaching of IT into other courses because of the huge drop in demand. Enrolments have fallen from 4716 students in February 2001 to 2497 this year. Monash, Australia's largest university, is the only member of the research-intensive Group of Eight universities with a stand-alone IT faculty. A recent review of the IT faculty resulted in a reduction in the number of undergraduate courses and schools within the faculty, as well as the loss of more than 20 academic jobs. The Age believes that a delegation of more than a dozen IT professors recently met the vice-chancellor, concerned over the restructure. But Professor Larkins cautioned staff to support the faculty's dean, Ron Weber, and senior management who implemented the changes.
The downturn has occurred across Victorian universities as IT enrolments slumped by up to 50 per cent at some institutions. The sharpest declines were in domestic student enrolments. Their numbers at Swinburne dropped by almost a quarter between 2001 and 2005. At Melbourne University, enrolments dropped from 2200 to 1608 in the same period. Interest from new students in IT degrees also continues to plummet, with a 15.4 per cent decrease in first-round offers in Victoria this year. Several IT staff told The Age they wanted to see the restructure succeed. "Staff were under great pressure throughout the faculty restructure, having seen many colleagues leave," one staff member said. "Many were offended by suggestions that they may not be supporting the faculty." Professor Larkins said the decline in student numbers was cyclical 〞 something that was being experienced by other universities 〞 but the IT job market was already picking up. However, it would take time to feed back to the courses students choose in year 12. "I'm sure the downturn is temporary," he added. (David Rood)
Australian internet users are barely moving along the information superhighway compared with other nations, a study shows. A report by the World Bank has Australia well behind other developed nations in terms of broadband internet speed - a key factor in modern-day business and essential to accessing new features on the web such as movie and music downloads and telephone calls. Official figures cited in the report showed that per head of population, Australia's broadband internet speed was just over one megabits per second (mbps). The figure was significantly down compared with Britain (13 mbps), France (8.4 mbps), Germany (6.85 mbps) Canada (6.8 mbps) and the United States (3.3 mbps), but was similar to Japan. But internet costs were relatively cheap, costing just under $25 a month in Australia, compared with Japan ($29), Britain ($33), the US ($20.50) and Canada ($17). The figures on internet speed are likely to add weight to Labor's argument that many Australians only have access to "fraudband" - broadband internet access at 256kbps - and the nation should aim for at least a 10mbps standard delivered through a new optical fibre network. While the government also would like to see the next generation broadband network rolled out, it points to private companies such as iiNet and Internode already providing services up to 24mbps in some city areas via the existing copper-wire network.
The study contradicts recent government statements about the popularity of high-speed internet connections. Although the government is claiming close to three million broadband subscriptions, the report said Australia had only 77 broadband connections for every 1,000 people. This was lower than Canada (165), Japan (146), United States (129), France (109) and Britain (103), but close to Germany's 84 connections per 1000 people. But Australians are among the top users of mobile phones, with 887 per 1000 people. The figure was higher than most European nations, as well as Japan and the US, but lower than Britain which has more than one mobile per person - a ratio of 1,042 to 1000. The high take up of mobiles in Australia may be due to the fact that mobile phone packages and calls are relatively cheap, compared with other countries. A bundle of mobile services cost $17.80 a month, well below Germany's $30.60, but higher than the US ($15) and budget-priced Canada ($9). The report - which examined telecommunications and information technology in 150 countries - ranked majority-government owned Telstra the world's 28th largest telco, with France Telecom topping the list. It said 130 countries had at least three competing mobile phone providers but almost half of all countries retained monopolies on fixed local and international calls.
MOBILE phone technology is so pervasive it has 〞 quite literally 〞 reached into people's hearts. Victorian man Malcolm Lacey yesterday became the first Australian to receive a heart implant called a defibrillator that communicates with his doctor's mobile phone. The technology, which uses the mobile phone network, will mean Mr Lacey's doctor will be alerted when something is wrong, and will receive regular updates on his heart rhythms. Each night, the patient gets settled and, at a programmed time, the implant downloads information about his heart to a mobile-phone-like transmitter. The data is then beamed, via satellite, across the mobile phone network to a computer. The computer processes and then sends on the information to the cardiologist, via internet, text message or fax. The system, already in the chests of 30,000 Europeans and Americans, means doctors can monitor their heart patients from the comfort of their own home 〞 regardless of where the patient happens to be in the world. After two heart attacks and a quadruple bypass, Mr Lacey's only chance of survival was a defibrillator. He suffers arrhythmia, where his heart "whacks in extra beats".
The defibrillator gives the organ a shock to settle it back to normal. Mr Lacey, 61, can now go camping around Australia knowing that the device and his heart can be monitored by his cardiologist, Jeff Alison, from the Monash Medical Centre. "He can look at the information that is being pumped out of the implant in my chest. It gives me a bit more reassurance that I can do almost anything, get back to normal, almost," Mr Lacey said. Dr Alison said he could now find out much earlier if the device was not working. Patients will have fewer appointments to check their implants. For country patients who drive hours for a 10-minute check-up, the new technology was particularly helpful, he said. The maker of the device, Biotronik, said one Australian patient has received a pacemaker with similar technology. But marketing manager Nick Evans said the company did not see the technology being used on pacemakers, mostly defibrillators. Last year, 3300 Australians had a defibrillator implanted.
Digital Radio to Be Introduced by 2009
The moratorium will commence from the start date for services in the state capital markets, and the multiplex licensees will need to achieve specified rollout and coverage requirements in these markets by the end of the moratorium period. The Australian Communications and Media Authority will have the power to plan and licence digital radio services and to oversee digital radio rollout including the development of Digital Radio Introduction Schemes. The Schemes will set out the technical, and other, requirements broadcasters must meet for the implementation of digital radio. The commercial broadcasting sector has expressed a desire to control the multiplexes used to deliver commercial digital radio services. The framework includes an option to allow them to do so, in conjunction with community broadcasters should they choose, and the legislative amendments will provide for this.
The introduction of a multiplex for the transmission of radio broadcasting raises unique competition issues that are not present in analogue. ※Accordingly, the legislation must ensure open, efficient and generally give non-discriminatory access to digital radio multiplexes and proposals to achieve this have been developed in consultation with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission,§ Senator Coonan said. ※A decision on whether specific funding assistance for the participation of the national and wide-coverage community broadcasters in the initial service rollout is necessary will be considered as part of the 2007-08 budget process.§ ※This will provide the opportunity for a number of technical issues relating to their rollout to be considered in more detail and for the scope for them to share facilities with commercial broadcasters to be explored.§ The Government＊s policy framework to guide the introduction of digital radio in Australia was announced on 14 October 2005.
THE company behind the world's largest healthcare hotline wants to run Australia's first national medical telephone advice service. CAS Services hopes to replicate across Australia the successful NHS Direct medical hotline it runs in Britain to allow anyone in rural or metropolitan areas to seek advice over the telephone on a range of health problems. The federal government sealed a deal with the states and territories in February to set up the revolutionary 24-hour National Health Call Centre Network by July next year. Tenders to help run the free hotline, which will be staffed by nurses, are expected to be called for by the federal government in the next few months. The general manager of CAS Service's Asian division, Helen Doumit, said if the company was chosen to run Australia's health hotline the service would probably be offered first to those living in the bush. "People from every walk of life will use this service," she said. "But rural areas are the ones with a desperate need for these services.
"It would be our strongest recommendation that they at least pilot it in a regional area and then roll it out." The federal and state governments hope that by making the hotline available, hospital emergency rooms will be under less pressure. CAS believes it could set up three main call centres staffed by nurses to handle calls from across Australia and offer advice on specific local health services. All calls between patients and nurses would be recorded for monitoring purposes, but the queries would be kept confidential. As well as services in England, Wales, Scotland and Portugal, CAS operates a trial health hotline with the Queensland government and an after-hours GP service in Tasmania. Its NHS Direct service, which has operated in England and Wales since 1999, receives about 20 million calls a year and has helped reduce the numbers of people turning up at hospital emergency rooms for treatment.
People feeling unwell call the hotline and are asked a series of questions by specially trained nurses who can advise them what to do, including going to hospital. Ms Doumit said the most common calls to NHS Direct were from people worried about a child's fever followed by those with severe diarrhoea and headaches. The nurses working for the hotline use special computer software to help them advise the callers what action to take. While the 24-hour NHS Direct service has been popular in England and Wales, it has been at the centre of some controversy this month over plans to cut hundreds of jobs. Ms Doumit said while some job cuts were expected, most of the losses would probably come from the service's internet arm which provides a host of online health information rather than from among the nurses working in call centres. The federal government has committed to providing $96 million for the Australian service, with the states and territories contributing $80 million over four years.
A GROUP of telecoms companies, including number two provider Optus, has joined together to form a plan for upgrading broadband around the nation. The companies - Optus, Macquarie Telecom, PowerTel, Primus, Internode, Soul and TransACT - want telcos to collectively fund the building of a new high-speed network of fibre cables around the country that all telcos could access. They are unhappy with a plan put forward by Telstra, which currently owns Australia's network of copper phone lines, to build new fibre cables. Under Telstra's plan, it would spend an estimated $3 billion over the next three to five years to roll out fibre cables in five capital cities capable of giving four million people high-speed broadband. The catch is that Telstra will only make such a huge investment if it is given some competition protections by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Macquarie Telecom chief executive David Tudehope said upgrading the infrastructure was only half the story. "Just as important is protecting and stimulating competition in broadband communications," Mr Tudehope said. "That is why we are calling for collective investment in an open access network.
"Under our proposal, Telstra would be joined by other telcos and internet service providers in making the necessary investment to upgrade the existing copper local loop into a high bandwidth fibre to the node network. "This approach will deliver high speed broadband services to more Australians, more quickly, than if the new network was a Telstra monopoly." Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan said a co-ordinated approach would work best. "Our proposal will also bring greater competitor access to services and this in turn will deliver improved broadband competition, better prices and product innovation," he said. "We plan to develop a detailed proposal which will set out the benefits that Australia will receive from a genuinely national, open and competitive broadband network. "We are appointing economic advisers to assist in this work, and will be putting the proposal forward to government and the ACCC."
DIGITAL TV and radio, faster internet and a world of new services delivered to your mobile phone - get ready for the high-tech budget. The federal Budget is expected to include new measures to prepare the way for Australia's digital future. Communications Minister Helen Coonan earlier this year released her media reform blueprint and digital action plan. Under the reforms digital TV will be switched on, and the analogue system turned off, between 2010 and 2012. Digital radio will be rolled out in state capitals by January 2009. While digital radio has had some success in trials, listeners are yet to be convinced of its merits. But digital TV is growing in popularity, with about 15 per cent of homes now tuned in to free-to-air services and another 13 per cent using digital pay TV. The government is initially banking on the ABC and SBS to help drive the digital TV take-up, but will also look to commercial broadcasters to take it further. The ABC has asked for $14 million a year over the next three years to produce content for its ABC2, broadband internet and other digital projects. This is on top of its base funding of $750 million and an extra $24 million a year to make more TV programs and improve its radio services.
SBS has sought funding for three digital projects under the banner of Driving Digital: two new digital TV channels, special event programming and new broadband content ($14 million); digital radio content ($1.7 million) and marketing to boost the take-up of digital services ($3 million). It has also asked for $166 million in base funding and an extra $20 million for overseas programs and sport, Australian content production and an expansion of SBS radio. One of the biggest ticket items in Senator Coonan's portfolio is the Connect Australia program, which came out of talks with the Nationals to secure the full sale of Telstra. It is expected the budget will provide $23 million for indigenous media, $236 million to subsidise the rollout of broadband internet in regional areas, $23 million for online health, education and government services, $9 million for remote mobile and satellite phone coverage and $6 million for consumer safeguards. Research also will be a priority, with $250 million over four years earmarked for the ICT Centre of Excellence to investigate new technologies, as part of the Backing Australia's Ability plan.
Students will be able to sip caffe lattes while researching assignments and download podcasts of their classes under moves being considered for the state's newest senior secondary school. Enrolments have opened for Coburg Senior High School, which is being touted by the Victorian Government as an opportunity for education innovation in Melbourne's northern suburbs. It will take its first students next year. The school for years 10 to 12 is on the former grounds of Moreland City College, which closed in 2004 after bad press. Don Collins, former principal at Monterey Secondary College and the inaugural principal of Coburg Senior, says the school will not make students "regurgitate" information. Instead, it will provide an adult learning environment, with open-plan classrooms and a cafe connected to the library. "What do we do out in the real world? We actually sit down ... in those sort of cafe spots ㏒ and why shouldn't a library and cafe be together, where you can actually have a blurred boundary?" he says. There will be a strong focus on technology. Mr Collins predicts the podcasting of lessons on the school intranet will become routine.
"We should be playing with machines that go 'bing', not the Bunsen burner," he says. The prep to year 12 Moreland City College closed with fewer than 300 students. The falling enrolments were linked to bad publicity, including student pranks in 2002 that resulted in the vandalism of buses belonging to an organisation for the disabled. Mr Collins says the new school will have "nothing to do with Moreland City College". "This is Coburg Senior High School ... it's a different entity." He says the school will be firm on discipline and require students to take responsibility for their education. "We're not running a creche here," he says. "Mediocrity is not an option." The school, which can accommodate up to 1000 students, will enrol year 10 students for next year. In addition to the VCE, it will offer vocational and training options. A $2.9 million refurbishment is under way, and links with Melbourne University, Kangan Batman TAFE and local industry are being explored. Education Minister Lynne Kosky says there is a possibility of providing a year 13 or 14 to ensure students are prepared for tertiary study. She also says it is significant that Melbourne University is looking at ways to help Coburg Senior students. "We have to change the representation of students from the northern region in our university sector," she says.
Using your mobile phone like a credit card, or being offered a round of golf with a pro as a reward, are just some of the credit card innovations that are on the way to Australia. And the days of having to fill out forms to receive card rewards are limited, as the advent of chip technology will allow instant redemptions and let you cash in at the time of purchase. News of the developments was detailed to business people and credit card nerds at this week's international consumer credit card summit in Sydney. Officially opening the summit was Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty who welcomed the new technology and took a swipe at the current stock standard piece of plastic. "The magnetic strip has outlived its use-by date," he told delegates, warning that 'phishing' technology, used by thieves to read and copy information on a credit card strip, is becoming more sophisticated. Mr Keelty encouraged the credit card industry to adopt chip technology, which allow scanners to read small computer chips in cards when processing transactions. Mastercard and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are already trialling a chip-based card called PayPass, which can also work as a debt card. Visa has released its own chip based or "contactless" card with plans for a widespread rollout in Australia in early 2007.
Such cards offer issuers big opportunites to drive consumer spending patterns while rewarding customers for using the technology. Take the current chip enabled card operating in Europe, which gives customers who spend 200 euros on a Wednesday between two and three in the afternoon half their cash back. And in Britain, super market giant Tesco has just released a card with no rewards that reimburses users with two months worth of interest payments at the end of each year. Then there are the so-called "aspirational programs" being adopted in the United States and Europe which reward card users with personal experiences they couldn't buy in a shop - like sitting in the dug-out with their favourite baseball team. One card currently on offer in the United States offers punters rewards, but the issuer will wipe the annual fee if none of the rewards are claimed. Then there are mobile phones. Mastercard senior client business leader Bill Saubert told the conference that technology allowing mobile phones to scan product bar codes using infra-red light had already been perfected. "The phone actually becomes the payment card," he said. Mr Saubert said such technology could be the way of the future for retailers and financial institutions issuing credit. "It's clear that mobile devices have the potential at least to completely change what it means to issue a payment card."
DOZENS of Victorian police officers are facing disciplinary action after an internal investigation discovered that sensitive personal files about a number of people, including a well-known TV personality, had been accessed without permission. The latest security breaches follow years of police file bungles and allegations officers regularly access the highly sensitive LEAP database without authorisation and for their own amusement. An audit of the Law Enforcement Assistance Program, which contains the personal details of millions of Victorians, has revealed as many as 35 officers inappropriately accessed information between September and April of people including friends, family and, in at least one case, a television star. Five officers have been fined while a further 30 are awaiting disciplinary hearings. The latest breaches were seized on by new Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu, who called on strife-hit Police Minister Tim Holding to resign. "Time's up, Tim. You've had enough chances. This is a debacle and the minister ought to call it quits," Mr Baillieu said.
"Steve Bracks should step in now to take control of this issue and fix it once and for all. We cannot continue to have a culture where people's privacy, their police database, is exposed to every whim and call of police officers." But Mr Holding resisted calls for his resignation, saying the discovery of the breaches was evidence the force's in-house auditing system worked. "We want police to get the message that they will be caught if they use LEAP improperly." he said. "These people were caught because police regularly audit the system to ensure it is being used correctly." Victorian Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon attempted to play down the latest breaches but admitted she was disturbed by the number of officers snared in the audit.
Domain name registration company Melbourne IT has entered into a conditional agreement to acquire WebCentral Group via a scheme of arrangement. The arrangement will be voted on by WebCentral shareholders at a scheme meeting in late August. "The proposed acquisition will bring together two of Australia's leading web-services businesses, generating significant benefits for customers, shareholders and staff of both companies," Melbourne IT chief executive Theo Hnarakis said. "Both companies expect that the combination of Melbourne IT and WebCentral Group will deliver substantial operating synergies, new and improved services and enhanced customer experience," the companies said in a statement. Mr Hnarakis said the proposed consideration values each WebCentral share at $1.53, for a total value of $61.26 million. He said the post merger will optimise the online success of channel partners and customers and WebCentral customers will continue to receive high levels of service. He said combined annual sales will exceed $130 million and approximately 400 staff worldwide. "The increased scale of the business will help facilitate an acceleration of innovation and investment in future growth," Mr Hnarakis said.
New Zealand and Australian Internet users are barely moving along the information superhighway compared with other countries, a World Bank study shows. The report, based on 2004 figures, has both countries well behind other developed countries in terms of broadband Internet speed 每 a key factor in modern-day business and essential to accessing new features on the Web such as movie and music downloads and telephone calls. Official figures cited in the report show that, per head, New Zealand and Australia's broadband Internet speed were just over one megabit per second. The figure was significantly down compared with Britain (13 mbps), France (8.4 mbps), Germany (6.85 mbps) Canada (6.8 mbps) and the United States (3.3 mbps), but was similar to Japan's. Internet costs were relatively cheap, just under NZ$20 a month in New Zealand, NZ$28.50 in Australia, compared with Japan NZ$32.80, Britain NZ$37.30, the US NZ$23.20 and Canada NZ$19.20. About 52 per cent of the New Zealand population were Internet users, slightly higher than Australia's percentage.
New Zealand had just 18 broadband users per 1000 people, just a fraction of the 77 per 1000 in Australia, in 2004. Early last week in New Zealand, Internet service providers ihug and CallPlus rejected Telecom's latest wholesale offer and asked the Commerce Commission for better terms. Ihug and CallPlus are resellers of Telecom's broadband services. ISP Slingshot chief executive Annette Presley said Telecom was delivering only crumbs of Internet speeds. The World Bank figures are likely to add weight to the Australian Labor Party's argument that the country should aim for at least a 10mbps standard delivered through a new optical fibre network. While the government also would like to see the next generation broadband network rolled out, it points to private companies such as iiNet and Internode already providing services up to 24mbps in some city areas via the existing copper-wire network.
Parents have more to worry about than their child grazing their knee in the playground -- they now should be concerned their toddlers are being kept "cybersafe" as well, an internet safety group said today. A campaign to keep preschoolers safe when playing on the internet and with other modern technology is to be launched this week, Netsafe said . The initiative, developed by NetSafe and IBM, offers advice on the safe and appropriate use of internet and technology use across the early childhood education sector . A brochure outlining the safe and responsible use of the internet and technology devices such as computers, digital cameras, mobile phones, video and web cameras, is currently being distributed to childcare centres nationwide. Later in the year, the initiative will see special NetSafe training modules available to the early childhood sector. NetSafe Programme manager Claire Belfour said that while the use of technology had become commonplace in schools, its use in the early childhood area was not yet widespread.
"This means we have the advantage of familiarising young New Zealanders and their families about cybersafety at the same time that the technology is being introduced to the sector, and not afterwards." The campaign was also designed to support parents and caregivers at home. "In addition to young children inadvertently finding inappropriate material or being exposed to online predators and cyber bullies, they observe and copy the online behaviour of their parents and older siblings to an extent often not realised by their families," Ms Balfour said. She cited the example of a New Zealand family that was surprised to receive a parcel of videos ordered online by their four-year-old. "This experience just goes to show how well youngsters can copy behaviour." "Young children may appear skilled in internet use, but they will not have yet developed the understanding and judgment to always keep themselves cybersafe," Ms Balfour said.
The 28th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) will be held in Shanghai, China's financial and business hub, from May 20 to 28. This is the first time that the ICSE 2006 is being held in a developing country. Themed "China's Software Industry Integrates into the World," the conference will provide a platform for researchers, practitioners and educators from around the world to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, experiences and concerns in the field of software engineering. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the 43 symposia, workshops and expositions. By late April, over 611 participants from 49 countries had registered to attend the event, with nearly half coming from the United States, Germany and Britain. Experts believe the conference will help to facilitate the exchange and cooperation between China's software industry and advanced software industries worldwide, and boost innovation in China. ICSE, a premier software engineering conference, was initiated in 1975 by the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Computer Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
SOUTH KOREA: Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute Hosts International Conference on "Web 2.0 + Mobile"
Korea to Build Up e-Learning Infrastructure
Education Ministry to Invest 14.2 Billion Won in 2006 College 'Informatization'
Minister Rho Introduces Korea's IT Industry to Harvard and MIT Students
Ministry of Information and Communication, Goyang Hold Seminar on IT Globalization
New York Times Reports on Korea's Efforts to Make Robots Members of Society
UZBEKISTAN: ICTP Develops Study on Use of Open Source Software
The research paper includes the study of the most important aspects of FOSS technology, examines the best international practices and most successful open source projects, covers the statistical information on currently used software in the government's IT environment, embraces the corresponding analysis of usage of commercial software and FOSS in Uzbekistan, provides recommendations and suggests approximate Action Plan of FOSS implementation taking into account short-term and long-term perspectives. The current research can help Uzbekistan to develop the specific steps required to work-out legal, political and technical norms and standards aimed at strengthening the FOSS implementation in Uzbekistan. UNDP's project "Assisting the Government of Uzbekistan in the formulation and implementation of ICT for development policy" is aimed at supporting the development of ICT policy in Uzbekistan and facilitating use of ICT for achieving development goals.
First Consultations Among Heads of Information and Press Departments of SCO MFAs
Tashkent Conference to Discuss E-Signature Use
Malaysia will use the 2008 World ICT (WICT) Congress to be held in Malaysia to showcase the country to the world. Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis said he would get other ministries, including Tourism, as well as City Hall and government agencies involved. He said during the 15th World ICT Congress 2006 in Austin last week, the Texas government and the city used the event to promote both the state and city to the world. ※It used the event brilliantly by getting the Governor and other top luminaries involved to give the state and Austin a high profile,§ he said here before leaving for Malaysia. ※It is important for Malaysia to make full use of the event. ※It will be a good opportunity to show Malaysia to the world as a destination for investment, trade and tourism besides our ICT capabilities.§ Dr Jamaluddin was here to give an early push for more international support for the 2008 congress in Kuala Lumpur.
Sources in the international consortium for the SEA-ME-WE-4 international cable system told Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star that national telco the Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) has declined an offer to participate in a capacity expansion scheme being undertaken by three of its 16 members. Singapore＊s SingTel, alongside India＊s VSNL and Bharti, opted to increase bandwidth allocations, but a BTTB official said the option was not taken up because its present bandwidth allocation is ＆adequate for the next ten years＊. The submarine link is functioning on a test basis, and, once fully operational, Bangladesh will get capacity of 10Gbps, 68 times the present capacity. Analysts pointed out that if the BTTB does not need extra bandwidth for local purposes, it can sell or lease it out to international communication companies, and the cost of expansion would be low because the basic cable system is already in place. All SEA-ME-WE-4 members except Bangladesh are already earning revenue from the cable. The Bangladeshi landing station is likely to be launched commercially before the end of this month following delays. To run the international cable service commercially there are plans afoot to set up a state-owned entity independent of BTTB.
Top policy makers yesterday termed digital divide dangerous for the country, saying it is creating imbalance in the society. "Digital divide is already existing in Bangladesh and widening very fast. Majority of the people do not have access to computer and education...it is very dangerous," said Dr Kamal Uddin Siddiqui, principal secretary to the prime minister, speaking at a consultation meeting. It will have an adverse impact on the society in the long run, he felt. "We are a homogeneous society. But lack of access to computer education is going to create imbalance in the society." The principal secretary termed information and communication technology very important for improving governance and reducing poverty not only in Bangladesh but also the South Asia. "We must use ICT in improving governance and alleviating poverty," said Kamal Uddin Siddiqui, adding that Bangladesh has problems in the ICT sector, although there have been some progress. Bangladesh Friendship Education Society (BFES) is hosting the three-day 'The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Regional Consultation Meeting on ICT Policy in South Asia' at Brac Inn in Dhaka. Mian Mushtaque Ahmed, secretary of the Ministry of Science and ICT, spoke at the meeting as special guest while Dr Mizanur Rahman Shelly, advisor to BFES and chairperson of the Center for Development Research, Bangladesh, presided over. Mian Mushtaque said Bangladesh is lagging behind in the ICT sector in many ways, seeking suggestions from the panels participating in the meeting how Bangladesh can reach out rural people in ICT use. Willie Currie, communications and information policy manager, and Karen Banks, networking and advocacy manager of APC, also spoke at the inaugural session.
MUMBAI: TCS, India's No 1 IT services company, announced its best ever sales and profit growth in five years on the back of large outsourcing orders. For the year ended March 2006, TCS'income grew 36% to Rs 13,252 crore ($2.97 billion), while the net profit jumped up 50% to Rs 2,967 crore ($649 million). Earnings per share (Re 1 paid up) rose to Rs 60.6 per share from Rs 42 last year. The company also announced its first bonus issue in the ratio 1:1, after being listed in the stock markets in 2004. The IT services behemoth integrated Tata Infotech a sister concern with revenues totalling Rs 700 crore, into TCS this quarter. The company's managing team also painted a rosy picture for the year ahead, saying that sales growth is expected to continue at current levels while margins are likely to expand. The company which added 89 clients in the quarter ended March 2006 and 330 clients this financial year, sees a committed order book, increased global IT spending and the ability to cross sell their products to existing clients to keep up its sales growth. It already has a letter of intent from an undisclosed company that will give $100 million in business each year, for the next five years. The last quarter was marked with an all round good performance.
An increase in services offered, larger orders from overseas clients marked by a volume growth of 8.2%, stable pricing and faster ramp up from their top 10 large accounts were main reasons the TCS management team attributed to their good show. In the next few years, the company expects a strong growth in revenues from their three acquisitions this fiscal - FNS, Combicrom and Pearl. Combicrom is still not a profitable company, while FNS is slowly regaining its lost market share in the banking space. They also said their joint venture with the Chinese government was well on track and has been negotiated. The final deal is expected to be signed in a month or two. TCS will host 400 employees in TCS. TCS with a marketvalue of $19.5 billion said that they just about missed hitting the much expected magical $3 billion total income mark due to the appreciating dollar. "We have just about missed the $3 billion mark, all thanks to the exchange rate,"said S Ramadorai, CEO and MD. TCS, said that they are the first Indian company to cross the 60,000 employees mark. They currently have 62,000 employees and plan to add another 30,500 during the next year. 9,200 employees joined TCS through campus recruitments. The company also said they had the lowest attrition in a sector riddled with problems. TCS said that this quarter on, they are seeing rising revenues from Europe. "Europe contributed 24% of revenues, up 2% from the last quarter," said N Chandrasekaran, executive vice-president.
The Supreme Court sought responses from the Centre and the telecom department on a PIL describing the communication towers 〞 put up at prominent locations by mobile phone service providers 〞 as health hazards, because they emit electromagnetic radiation. A Bench comprising Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal and Justices C K Thakker and R V Raveendran issued notices to a host of ministries 〞 including home, defence, communications and information & broadcasting 〞 on the PIL filed by an NGO, Karma Jyot Seva Trust. Appearing for the NGO, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said the constant electromagnetic radiation from the communication towers could lead to cancer and also cause neurological, cardiac, respiratory and ophthalmological disorders. Stating that there were no government guidelines on the placement of communication towers, the NGO cited a US law prohibiting erection of transmitter towers near schools and residential areas because of the health risk posed by them. With the massive proliferation of mobile phone users in the country, the service providers were putting up transmitters even on dilapidated buildings and thus posing danger to the residents, it said.
Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has reported net profits for the first quarter of 2006 of LKR1.5 billion (USD14.7 million), up 41% compared to 1Q05, despite continued losses from its mobile subsidiary and a levy on international calls. The operator＊s revenues rose 25% year-on-year to LKR8.6 billion. Sales of CDMA fixed-wireless phones during the quarter were ＆very good＊, with the telco connecting around 70,000 new CDMA customers, to bring its total to around 100,000 since launching the service in November 2005. During the quarter under review, SLT＊s fully owned mobile subsidiary Mobitel posted a LKR223 million loss. SLT says it paid out LKR511 million during the quarter in taxes on international incoming calls.
KARACHI: An e-commerce infrastructure is required to be introduced in Pakistan on an urgent basis to enjoy its benefits and to become an online global partner. The question for Pakistan today is first of survival and then for creating a niche in the emerging digital economy. According to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Misaq Consulting, a Canadian information technology (IT) concern, Qasim Mahmood e-commerce is still in its infancy and faces many barriers to grow. Some of them are unavailability of proper infrastructure, limited internet users, the issue of security of transactions on the internet, high bandwidth rates etc. Talking to the Business Recorder here on Saturday, Qasim Mahmood, currently visiting Pakistan, said that e-commerce was not a futuristic dream; it was essentially global in both concept and realisation. With the tremendous growth of the internet, businesses were beginning to find new ways to expand their opportunities, he said. Approximately, 300 million people world-wide had now access to the internet, he said, adding: "No matter what your business is, it is not possible to ignore 300 million potential customers. The impact of e-commerce would be pervasive, both on companies and on society as a whole, he said.
"Companies that choose to regard it only as an 'add-on' to their existing ways of doing business will gain only limited benefit. For those companies that are willing to change their organisations and business processes to fully exploit its potential, e-commerce offers the possibility of breakpoint changes," he said. Back in Canada, he said, Misaq Computer Consulting Inc, took part in many government and private sector projects to help customers in identifying security threats in their networks. This was done using GAP analysis of their network and process management, he said, and added customised solutions were developed based on industry and type of business to address specific security needs and processes. He said Misaq had made its name in IT security management, ITIL/ITSM best practices managed security services, managed solutions for network management. With experienced IT market skill level, understanding of global markets, certified ITIL services and model solutions for IT security management, Misaq Inc had proved its expertise in the North American market and was now planning to enter the Pakistan market to make a difference, he said. Mahmood is currently visiting Pakistan to explore the local market and to determine the possibilities and potential available here.
Explaining the concept of e-commerce, Mahmood said those e-commerce ran through four basic steps. The very first step was to build a website to let the world know about your existence. The website contains information about the company, product/services and other related information, which could help visitors to learn more about the hosts, he said. The second step involved luring or rather motivating customers buy on line, he said, adding this step required adopting advance level of software capable of handling orders. In the third stage came inventory, management and lastly, providing provisions of payments through online banking partnership between buyers and sellers, the most difficult and complex part of e-commerce, he said. Mahmood said the most common and popular forms of e-commerce were business-to-customers (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B). Business-to-government (B2G) and government-to-citizens (G2C) were other forms, running on the internet but with low steam. However, the use of former two still dominated the net, he said. "Unfortunately, Pakistan is far behind the developed countries in this regard," he said, and added: "Pakistani businessmen think that e-commerce means being able to make and receive payments through internet and any other activity through internet is not considered as e-commerce.
The Government is giving nearly $100,000 towards an internet meeting to be held in Wellington later in the month. Economic Development Minister Trevor Mallard said a meeting of international internet body ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) would get $95,500 in government funding. ICANN, the private sector not-for-profit organisation responsible for coordinating policy relating to internet domain names and addresses, is due to stage its next public meeting in New Zealand from March 27-31. The meeting, hosted by internetNZ which would get the funding, comprised around 20 separate but related meetings for registries, registrars, country-code managers, intellectual property lawyers, internet users and government representatives. "A conference of this size and significance has the potential to have major economic spin-offs for the New Zealand economy," Mr Mallard said. "It presents a significant opportunity to promote New Zealand, our ICT industry and the Asia-Pacific region's importance to the global economy."