|Winter 2007 Issue20|
| 100 Countries Adopt E-Government Programs to Modernize, Reform Public Services
ICANN to Test Domain Names in 11 Languages
New E-Service Sets Government Services at New Level
HK's Digital Rights Management Platform Wins World Summit Award
Singapore Tops Asian Gov't Tech Awards
R&D on Internet ＆Replacement＊ Starts
DUBAI: eGovt Sets Up ePay Gateway
MCD, India to Set Up One-stop Information Kiosks
Internet Postman Comes to Orissa , India
Australia Eyes Outsourcing Scheme for Online Passport Service
| ITU Approves WIMAX as IMT-2000 3G Standard
Google Powers Its Strategy with Green IT Thinking
International Treaty Sets Future Course for Wireless
AFRICA: Digital Divide, Social Divide, Paradigmatic Divide
African Leaders Endorse ICT to Cut Poverty
South Africa Adopts Open Source Software Policy
ASIA: Yahoo Plans More Mobile Tie-Ups in Asia
ADB Funds for E-Initiative
EUROPE: Central and East European Online Environmentalism Targeted
EU Council Adopts Common Position on New Customs Code
The Legal Significance of Electronic Signatures in EU
EU Plans to Open Up Phone, Internet Sector
United Kingdom: Public Sector IT Must Get Greener 每 Says Minister
LATIN AMERICA: Chile - Government to Plough USD80 Million into Internet
MORTH AMERICA: Canada - Ontario's Five-Year Strategy Plan
United States: EU Urges US to Change Online Gambling Law
U.S. Lawmakers Clamour for Cell Phone Subscriber 'Bill of Rights'
Comment on New Voting System Guidelines Online
US Regulators Mull New Media Rules
Senate Committee Passes IG, Telework, E-Gov Bills
|CHINA: Macao Gov't Launches Fund for IT Education
Close the Urban-rural Digital Gap
China to Audit Major Telecom Operators
China Eases Rules on Mobile Phone Production
New Rules on Computer Security Systems
China Set to Allow More Competition in Mobile Phone Market
JAPAN: Gov't Orders Docomo to Open Network to Japan Communications
Government to Amend Telecoms Legislation to Foster Competition
Results of Public Comment Invitation on Next-Generation Network Interconnection Rules
Authorization of Changes to the Interconnection Tariffs Concerning Category I
SOUTH KOREA: To Make Mandatory Setting Up of 'Ubiquitous City'
Internet Access Cut in Media Rooms
| Indonesia and Singapore to Enhance IT Sector Through Collaboration
MALAYSIA: Plans Spell Win-win Situation, Say IT Industry Players
Government to Withdraw 2.5GHz and 3.5GHz Spectrum
PHILIPPINES: CICT Eyes Another P1-B E-gov Fund for 2008
Philippine Regulator to Ease VoIP Rules
| Four South Asian Countries to Cooperate for ICT Connectivity
BANGLADESH: Intel Launches World Ahead Program
INDIA: Govt. to Spend INR 7K Crore a Year in IT Augmentation
Indian Govt. Approves E-Governance Programme for 323 Cities
Indian Govt. Implements MCA21 for E-filing
All RTOs in India to Be Computerised by March 2008
MP (India) to Set Up E-Kiosks to Tackle Unemployment
Indian Govt. Expands Policy to Speed Up FM Radio Spread
Indian Govt. Plans for National WiMAX Group
India Set to Release New Telecoms Rules
Indian Telecom Sector to Get Dedicated Satellite for Telecom Services
Govt Planning to Introduce Multi-use Smart ID Cards
SRI LANKA: Launches E-Champions
PAKISTAN: SCO to Commission Digital Exchanges in Northern Areas and AJK
| AZERBAIJAN: Narmobile Concludes New Roaming Agreements
IRAN: Cellphone Rates Low
KAZAKHSTAN: Kazakhstan Signs Multinational Telecom Deal
UZBEKISTAN: ICT Summit 2007- New Issues and Solutions
| AUSTRALIA: Court Finalises E-discovery Rules
Broadband at Third World Standards
ACMA Calls for Comment on Changes to Internet Content Regulation
ACCC Issues Fixed Line Service Discussion Papers
Labor Plans a Telecoms Revolution
Labor Mum on E-health Plans
Labor Unleashes E-schools Vision
FIJI: Interim Government Announces Telecoms Sector Open to All
NEW ZEALAND: Government Considers TSO Change
Building a Digital New Zealand
Minister Issues Digital Call to Action
ICT-NZ Supports Umbrella Digital Advisory Body
ITU Opens Up Huge Online Resource
Increasing Public Sector Efficiency Through Knowledge Management
AFRICA: Over 55 Billion Committed to Connect Africa
World Bank's $1 Billion to Spur Africa IT
Head of States Set Out ICT Goals
Nigeria: Negst Pushes Country Towards Effective Egovernance
South Africa: E-Gov Development Strategy
Asia' Public Sector IT Spend to Be $51-B in '07
EUROPE: Ireland - Citizens Become Accessibility Watchdogs
Slovenia: Significant Slovenian Progress in the Field of E-Government
United Kingdom: National School of Government & Nesta Highlight Public Sector Innovations
British Computer Society Awards Best MP Websites
MIDDLE EAST: Jordan - 15 Public Agencies to Offer SMS Services
NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Shared Services Raise Governance Challenges
| CHINA: Virtual Police to Patrol Online
Gov't Bloggers' Followers Just a Clique Away
Backbone Network for China's E-government Starts Operation
Online Service to Help Job-hunting College Students
JAPAN: New-Generation Network Promotion Forum Established
SOUTH KOREA: E-Government Captures China's Attention
Mobile Phone Vote Rekindles Public Attention
Korea to Provide E-governance Know-how to Other Countries
Gov＊t Agencies in Dispute Over Sharing of Data
MONGOLIA: E-Tax System Being Introduced
| CAMBODIA: KhmerOS to Have a Social Impact
INDONESIA: Government Plans Tender for Palapa Ring Project
MALAYSIA: Online Survey on Local Authorities
Applications for International Passports to Go Paperless
Malaysia Ranks 25th in Electronic Government
Techies Sidestep Malaysian Govt
PHILIPPINES: CIOs Cite ICT Procurement Problems, Issues
CICT to Develop Shared Software Services for Government Use
BIR Targeting 1.2M Online Taxpayers
Manila to Offer One-stop Business Permit Processing Soon
SINGAPORE: More Government Services to Go Online
S'pore Wants E-govt to Reach Masses
VIET NAM: E-Government to Keep Citizens in the Know and in Touch with Officials
|INDIA: Comat Leads in E-Governance
E-governance Is Must for Good Governance: CM of Madhya Pradesh
Chhattisgarh (India) Introduces E-Court System
Haryana (India) Goes for E-Tendering
EGov Financial System for NDMC Launched
ELCOT Successfully Implements First E-Governance Project
MCGM , India Launches Citizen Portal
Rajasthan Plans Urban Information System
Bihar (India) Panchayats Set for E-governance
NRB Launches Local Govt Information System in Punjab (India)
Indian Govt. to Set Up Data Centres in 28 States
E-governance in TN (India) Panchayats Soon
E-Governance Is Must in All Sectors: National Mission Mode Project
Punjab PWD to Start E-tendering from Jan 2008
MCD Decides Again to Revives Its E-Governance Initiatives
PAKISTAN: Launches Local Government Information System
|IRAN:﹛Syria to Implement E-Gov＊t Plan
TAJIKISTAN: Tajikistan Called to Protect Free Flow of Information on Internet
TURKEY: Single Web Site to Promote Turkey
|AUSTRALIA: Govt Calls for Number Plate Recognition System
New Electronic Voting System for Overseas ADF Personnel
NSW Names New CIO
Immigration Web to Stop Blunders
NEW ZEALAND: E-filing Helping Courts Save Time and Paper
InternetNZ Launches Public Consultation on Peering
| Policy Management Market Is Poised for Growth
ASIA: Cities Aim for Smart Card Link-up
EUROPE: Bulgaria - Siemens and HP in a Contest to Build E-Government in Bulgarian Cities
Germany: Residential Satellite Broadband Service Be Launched
Spain: Electronic ID Program Gathers Steam
Hungary: Mobile Base Topped 10.45 Million in September 每 Regulator
U.K. Study Shows Small Firms 'Failing The Green Test'
NORTH AMERECA: Canada - SME Telephony Markets Deregulated
US Regulators Shut Down Online Bank
US Online Ad Revenues Hit $10b
Survey: Open Source Gaining Traction in U.S. GovernmentCampaign
| CHINA: Potential to Develop Large IT-BPO Industry
China to Restructure Telecommunications Industry
China Modernizes Payments Networks
Online Traders Required to Get Licenses before Starting Business
China's Software Revenue Up 22.9% in First Eight Months
ICBC Internet Banking Transactions Hit 2.7 Tln Yuan in 1st 9 Months
Exports, Imports Data to Go Online
JAPAN: Business Restructuring Plan Approved
SOUTH KOREA: Credit Card Firms' 1st Half Earnings Surge 80 %
Korea's Electronic Financial Transactions Increase
Korea's Corporate Environment Declines
Koreans Waste W148.3 Bil. on Int'l Credit Cards - Lawmaker
IT Exports Expected to Jump 11% Next Year
Korea Sets Standards in IT Around the World
Internet Phone Services Challenge Korea's Calling Market
Korean Cellphone Makers Expand Global Market Share
| INDONESIA: Ease in E-business Start-Up: New Zealand's Lesson to Learn
MALAYSIA: Major Initiative by Malaysian Firm Towards E-Governance
PHILIPPINES: RP Firms Just Starting to Adopt IT Governance--IBM Execs
P2 Trillion Worth of IT Projects in the Pipeline
High-tech ID System Gets Additional Funding
Industry Body to Push OOXML in Philippines
Data Centers to Get Smart
THAILAND: Mobile 3G Timetable Proposed by TOT
VIET NAM: Website Promotes Effective E-commerce
| INDIA: Centre Puts E-auction in Spices on Fast Track
BSNL Invites Bids to Set Up 50, 000 WiMAX Kiosks in India
E-commerce Is INR 9,200 Crore Market in India
BMC, India Plans to Go Wi-Fi
DoT Plans to Auction for 3G Spectrum
PAKISTAN: PTCL Introduces VMS
| AZERBAIJAN: Azercell Offers Free GPRS to Post-Paid Users
IRAQ: Orascom and Korek to Form Joint GSM Venture
Asia-Cell Starts Service in Arbil
IRAN: Cellphones Outnumber Fixed Lines in Iran
TURKEY: NEC Enters Turkish Computer Market
Turkcell Gets Turkish 3G License as Competitors Shun Auction
Turk Telekom Picks Juniper
Foreigners Click on Turks' E-Trade
TURKMENISTAN: Russian Telecom Firm to Offer Services in Turkmenistan
UZBEKISTAN: MTS-Uzbekistan's Roaming Network Expanded to Tanzania
TeliaSonera Seeks to Expand Coscom's Network
Iran-UAE E-Commerce Chamber to Open
Status and Perspectives of Software Export Industry in Uzbekistan
South Korean, Japanese Companies to Purchase Majority Stake in Uzbek Internet Provider
| AUSTRALIA: Internet Economy 'Needs Open Networks'
Broadband Guaranteed for All Australians
iPrimus Plants Australia＊s First Green Broadband Program
EFTel Plans to Rollout VDSL
IT Companies Flag $50M of IT Opportunities and $250,000 of Scholarships for Aussies
Parties Need to Lift IT Game
Brisbane's Data #3 Takes Out IBM Business Partner Award
17 Awards, 11 Recipients: The 2007 Frost & Sullivan Australia Best Practices Awards
NEW ZEALAND: Telecom Completes Rev a Rollout
| Next-Generation Networks Set to Transform Communications
Kenya: National Fibre Rollout Set to Begin
AFRICA: Nigeria - 50,000 Base Stations Expected by 2010
ASIA: South Asia Lags Behind on Broadband Bandwagon, Analysts Say
Mobile Numbers Soar in Emerging Asia
Asian Countries Spending More on Health Care IT
EUROPE: Way to an Environmentally Sustainable Information Society
Denmark: Excels in the World of IT
LATIN AMERICA: Argentina - Broadband Connections Top 1.7 Million
Venezuela: First of CANTV and CVG＊s Fibre Link-Ups Completed
NORTH AMERICA: Canadian Governments Engage in E-Waste Clean Up
Canadian Municipalities Sign Up for Euniversity
|CHINA: Use SMS to Help Warn of Disastrous Weather Internet Spreading in China's Rural Areas China's On-line Population Hits 172 Mln by September Donation Register to Go Online Chinese Internet Use Pushes Television Towards Extinction World's Highest Mobile Phone Base Station Tests Successfully JAPAN: 'Net Cafe Refugee' Population Put at 5,400 Japan's Broadband Service Outpaces Korea's Municipal Roadmap for Terrestrial Digital TV Broadcasting Japan Has the World's Fastest Broadband Connection Research Group to Develop 10Gbps Network SOUTH KOREA: Bloggers Attracting International Readers Korea's Broadband Penetration Rate Tops 30% Over 90% of Korean Households Have High-Speed Internet Internet-Based TV Set to Get Legal Backing South Korea Opens Boot Camp to Confront Cyberspace Addiction Public Phones Becoming an Endangered Species MONGOLIA: Mongolian Heritage in Internet Under E-School Program|
| Use of ICT in Improving Quality of Education
MALAYSIA: Monitoring Rural Projects Online in Malaysia
PHILIPPINES: E-center to Rise in Batangas Town
Manila's Metro Rail Adopts SMS Ticketing
CICT to Computerize 320 Public High Schools
Asus Unveils Philippine Low-Cost Laptop
SINGAPORE: NUS Start-Up Produces New Software to Boost Creativity in Primary Schools
|INDIA: UP Begins E-scholarship for Timely Payment E-Filing of VAT Becomes Easy for Pune (India) Citizens MP (India) Launches Online Tax Facility for Transporters E-Payments Gaining Ground in Coimbatore (India) UP (India) Lags Behind in E-district Project Indian Railways to Expand Telemedicine Network 7 NGOs Receive Approval from Indian I&B Ministry to Set Up Community Radio Stations 700 Courts to Be Computerised with Web-connectivity PAKISTAN: NADRA Develops E-Toll System to Ease Traffic Congestion|
|Connecting the Nation by Completion of Microwave Ring Along the National Highway AFGHANISTAN: 2000 Digital Phone Lines Were Inaugurated in Nooristan Province KYRGYZSTAN: Kyrgyzstan Intends to Introduce Electronic Entry Visas UZBEKISTAN: New Information-Resource Centre Opened in Ferghana Tax Payers Will Submit Tax Reportings and Financial Statements in Electronic Format|
|AUSTRALIA: Electronic Future for Farms WA Desperately Seeking IT Workers ICT Careers Baffle Students News Service for Mobile Phones Aussies Want Web, TV Access on Mobiles NEW ZEALND: Freeview to Broadcast Parliament TV New Computer Hub for Timberlea Community|
| Seven Trends in Network Security
EUROPE: France Kicks Off Nationwide Spam Fight
NORTH AMERICA: Canada - The Economics of E-Security
Online Crime Fight Needs More Than Law Enforcement
United States: Tech Wonders on Homeland Security Horizon
Lawmakers Seek More Info on P2P Security Threats
New Commission Will Advise Next President on Cybersecurity
|CHINA: Officials Vow to Stamp Out Online Drug Sales City Bans Tracing True Identity of Web Posters Search Engines Told to Clean Up China Shuts Down 18,400 Illegal Websites Police Crack Beijing's Biggest Online Ticket Scalping Case Internet-based Illegal Lotteries Targeted JAPAN: Device to Limit Internet Access for Kids Private Sector to Help Japanese Police Monitor Internet in Cyber Patrols Japan Ahead of US on High-speed Internet Access Front Marubeni Unit Discovers Info Leak Affecting 14,000 Online Shoppers 10,000 IT Terms, Trendy Words Be Added to Kojien Dictionary Cyberbullying Bedevils Japan: Some Students Are Driven to Attempt Suicide Comprehensive Support System for Revitalizing Local Communities to Be Developed SOUTH KOREA: Burgeoning Internet Security Budget Fails to Stop Rising Hacking Attacks|
| MYANMAR: Hackers Exploit Myanmar Crisis
MALAYSIA: New Centre to Fight Cyberthreats
PHILIPPINES: DepEd Claims Cyber Ed Program Has Backing
|BANGLADESH: Call to Combat Cyber Crime INDIA: Parliament Pulls Up Govt. on Cyber Laws Cyber Crime Must Be Tackled: Indian Home Minister IT, ITeS Firms in India Most Vulnerable to Viruses PAKISTAN: Draconian Cyber Crime Law in Pakistan|
|IRAN: Security Vital in Internet Use|
|AUSTRALIA: Commonwealth Bank Partner with CA to Offer Free Security Parties Dodge Privacy: Group NEW ZEALAND: All-in-One Enterprise Security for Mobile Devices|
| GT-Summit and Expo to Be Held in Dubai
E-Commerce Middle East Summit 2008
Securitisation World MENA 2008
Fifth International Conference on E-Governance
ICEGOV 2007 - International Conference on Theory And Practice of Electronic Governance
Government Technology World 2008
Optimizing ICT for Education, Sharing Practical Experiences from The Asia And Pacific Region: ADB Headquarters, Manila, Philippines: 16-18 October 2007
ID Management Summit Asia 2008
Information Security Exhibition and Conference Isec2007
Cprsouth2: Empowering Rural Communities Through ICT Policy and Research
|Shenyang to Unveil Software Base HK Electronics Fair Aspires to Become World's Biggest China's 5th Internet Culture Expo IT Youth Elite to Gather for Chinese Forum CHINA: 2007 Spreadtrum Technology Forum to Be Held in Shanghai 5th China Internet Conference Held in Beijing 2007 Global Wi-Fi Summit to Open in China SOUTH KOREA: Hosting Asia's Largest Electronics Exhibition in 2008 Korea's Top Electronics Fair Showcases Latest High-tech Digital Products|
| RP Places 11th in APAC IT Competitiveness Study
RP to Host Asian Meeting on Technology, Environment
SINGAPORE: Resiliency Is Top IT Concern
THAILAND: ITU Revamps Tech Event for Bangkok
VIET NAM: Symposium Planned to Plug E-government
|BANGLADESH: Call for Developing FOSS in Bangladesh: First Ever Open Source Camp in Chittagong INDIA: Freescale Announces 3rd Technology Forum in Bangalore India to Host World Intellectual Property Forum E-Gov Conference in India|
|IRAN: President Commends Telecom Sector Iran Holds 1st E-Municipality Confab UZBEKISTAN: New Managers' Training Programme Getting Legal Ground|
|AUSTRALIA: SES Adopt Online Training Programme in Time for Storm Season NEW ZEALAND: Broadband Result Encouraging|
Newswise 〞 National and municipal authorities in more than 100 countries are introducing e-Government programs to modernize and reform public services. The authoritative new book, E-Governance, presents Global E-Governance initiatives in both developed and developing countries, presenting reports by sixty leading government, business and academic experts describing how many initiatives are essential to create ※information societies.§ The major components of E-Government are extensively presented, including: (1) transitions to information/ubiquitous societies in Japan, South Korea, Finland, and Spain; (2) priority e-Government applications and services in Indonesia, Philippines, China, Russia and other countries; (3) expansion of e-Municipality programs in China, South Korea; Estonia and Europe; (4) ICT applications ranging from Next Generation Networks, e-projects in Finland, Thailand＊s e-filing strategy, smart card applications in Hong Kong, SAR and ICT incubator experiences in Georgia and (5) the role of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in Japan, Thailand, and Europe.
The book is a highly practical resource for those seeking to learn how governments in several countries have designed and implemented e-Government strategies, rolled-out priority public service applications, and adopted necessary legal and regulatory policies including digital signature, authentication, privacy and security initiatives. These important trends and developments were presented at a major international conference sponsored by the Waseda University Institute of e-Government in Japan, organized by Prof. Toshio Obi, who served as editor of the e-Governance book. Underscoring the importance of e-governance, Obi said ※This is regarded as one of the most important dimensions in the Information Society. Global e-Governance for both public and private sectors is becoming extremely significant in an innovative and seamless world community.§
October 12, 2007 (Computerworld) -- The organization that oversees the Internet address system is launching an evaluation of International Domain Names (IDN) that will allow Internet users to test top-level domains in 11 languages. Currently, only the ASCII characters A through Z are available for use in the portions of the domain before the top-level domains, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said in a statement. A site with content that's entirely in Japanese, for example, can have the initial portion of its URL in Japanese, but the URL still needs to end in a .com or .net spelled out in ASCII characters, according to the statement. However, the test, which begins Monday, is the first step toward eliminating that requirement and allowing Internet users in other countries to browse the Web in their native languages, without having to use any English or the Roman alphabet when they type in a URL, ICANN said.
ICANN made the evaluation possible by the insertion into the root of the 11 versions of .test, which means they are alongside other top-level domains such as .net, .com, .info, .uk and .de at the core of the Internet, according to the statement. Beginning Monday, Internet users around the globe will be able to access wiki pages with the domain name example.test in 11 test languages: Arabic, Persian, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Russian, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Japanese and Tamil. The languages were selected based on the Internet communities that had the most interest in moving the project forward. The wikis will allow users to establish their own subpages with their own names in their own languages. "Users will be able to have their name in their language for their Internet when full IDN implementation makes available tens of thousands of characters from the languages of world," said Paul Twomey, ICANN's president and CEO, in the statement. "This will be one of the biggest changes to the Internet since it was created."
Optimiza (Al-Faris National/ (ASE:CEBC), a regional technology solutions and management consulting services company, and the Ministry of Information & Communications Technology (MoICT) / the e-Government program recently announced the signing of an agreement that stipulates the development of an electronic service that facilitates the issuance and renewal of vocational licenses in the country. The development comes as part of the e-government initiative launched by the MoICT in line with HM King Abdullah II＊s directives.This new service will enable the public to receive the necessary approvals to obtain the vocational license electronically from other related entities which include the Greater Amman Municipality, the Ministry of Trade & Industry, the Companies Control Department, Amman Chamber of Commerce and the Amman Chamber of Industry. The e-Service is promising to dramatically improve the service provided to the public by reducing the required time for licensing, simplifying processes and procedures and improving the overall quality of service provided by the government.
Eng. Basem Rousan, Minister of Information and Communications Technology said: ※This project will contribute to improving the efficiency and quality of service delivery in the public sector, as well as offer citizens more channel choices, both main objectives of the customer-centric e-Government programme. Omar Ma＊ani, Mayor of Amman, commented: ※We are extremely pleased with this partnership. Optimiza provides us with a total technology solution to improve the quality of service that GAM provides both the citizens of Amman and the investors. Hazem Malhas, CEO of Optimiza, reiterated Optimiza＊s commitment in providing the best solutions to its clients by saying: ※We are very proud that the government of Jordan has chosen Optimiza as its partner in this pioneering project. This service will definitely add value to the services the government offers to the general public and will assist in enhancing the performance of the Jordanian business sector. Optimiza will dedicate all its knowledge & experience in developing electronic systems that serve the ever changing demands of the growing sectors.§ From his side, Mr. Hassan Hourani, e-Government Project Manager said, ※This project comes as part of the government＊s MoICT initiative in developing the services offered to the public through the e-government project. It will be accessible to the public and will be supported by government employees who will receive the appropriate training to help the public utilize this service to its maximum.§ Optimiza will be working on developing this service by means of a signed agreement with the MoICT dated last August. The service will need 11 months to be fully operational.
Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company announced here Tuesday that its project "Digital Copyright.hk, One-Stop Digital Content Marketplace" has won the World Summit Award (WSA) 2007 in the e-business category. The winning project is a unified Digital Rights Management (DRM) platform for intellectual property protection. Cyberport obtained support in 2004 from the Innovation and Technology Fund administered by the Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Commission to develop this platform primarily for Hong Kong creative industries. It aims to enable content owners to publish their quality audio and visual materials by providing content identification and robust protection with DRM technologies. Meanwhile, a vast array of content is available on the platform for people to download legally and safely. Representative of Cyberport attended the World Summit Award gala ceremony on Nov. 5 in Venice, Italy.
Since 2003, the WSA has been held every two years under the auspices of the United Nations World Summit on Information Society. It is the world's premier contest for excellence in e-content and creativity, aimed raising global awareness of the richness and diversity of e-content in order to narrow the content gap. The WSA honors producers of interactive multimedia and innovative information and communication technology applications. This year, the WSA grand jury 2007 evaluated over 650 entries which were nominated from 168 countries to the Global WSA. The jury selected as winners the five most outstanding products in each of the eight WSA categories namely e-government, e-learning, e-health, e-inclusive, e-business, e-culture, e-entertainment and e-science. China won in three categories, and Cyberport's project was the only one from Hong Kong. It was also the only winning project representing Hong Kong in the past three WSAs.
MANILA, Philippines -- At least four of the nine awards given to government information technology projects in Asia Pacific went to Singapore, organizers said Thursday. Singapore's Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) and the National Healthcare Group bested other countries in four categories, namely service innovation, information management, technology leadership and business process. According to the organizers of the Asia Government Technology Awards, the winners were announced during the Government Technology Summit 2007 in Phuket, Thailand. More than 160 top government officials and technology stakeholders in the region attended the summit. "There can only be nine winners but myself and the rest of the judges were impressed and a little surprised by the high overall standard of nominations," said James Smith, managing editor of Public Sector Technology and Management (PSTM) magazine, and chairman of the award's judging committee, in a statement. The annual awards got a total of 212 individual nominations from 14 countries, the organizers said. The projects included initiatives pushed by the national and local governments, healthcare and educational agencies.
The summit was organized by the PSTM magazine, a regional enterprise technology publication for government, education and healthcare, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). "I think the volume of nominations from around the region also points to a desire among public sector agencies to benchmark their projects against their peers, something which this annual awards process facilitates," Smith added. The other winners are the Government of Gujarat in India, which bagged the award for connected government, while India's Directorate of Electronic Delivery of Citizen Services took home the top prize for digital inclusion. The Hong Kong Police Force won the wireless government category, while the Seoul Metropolitan Government bagged the e-government category. The Emirates Identity Authority topped the information security category with the UAE National ID Program. The countries that participated in this year's awards include Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates and Thailand.
Japan plans to start research on new networking technology that could one day replace the Internet amid its growing quality and security problems, according to the nation's communications ministry. US and European researchers already have started similar efforts to rebuild the underlying architecture of the Internet. Yoshihiro Onishi, assistant director at the Japanese communications ministry, said Japan must follow suit to stay competitive. Post-Internet network technology is expected to become imperative by 2020, he said. "The Internet is reaching its limit," he said. "We feel this research for the technology is definitely needed." When researchers largely knew one another, the Internet's early architects kept the shared network open and flexible, qualities that proved key to its rapid growth. But that later allowed spammers and hackers to roam freely. Many scientists are starting to believe a totally new network is needed. It could run parallel with the Internet or eventually replace it, or parts of the research could go into a major overhaul of the existing architecture. Researchers may also seek a network that consumes lower levels of energy. The Japanese ministry wants to set up an organization with private sector involvement by the end of the year that will do the groundwork for starting the research. It will request money in the fiscal year to begin April 1, although the amount has yet to be decided. Onishi said collaborating with other nations will be an option.
A spokesperson for the Dubai eGovernment announced that the organization has recently set up its ePay payment gateway which will facilitate online payment of donations towards Dubai Cares, Khaleej Times reported. He went on to add that the purpose of the online payment utility is to provide a higher level of security for payment transactions in order to promote a greater number of individuals and corporations in the UAE to submit donations. The Director of the Dubai eGovernment announced that the company is certain that the payment gateway will encourage significant contributions from businesses and individuals alike.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) (India) is planning to set up one-stop solution for you to pay your phone bills, electricity bills and charging cell phones in the nearest market of your colony. MCD is planning to set up 2.5 lakh kiosks across the country. These air-conditioned and weather-resistant information kiosks will be operated by a private firm and will help the cash-strapped MCD boost its revenue collections. The kiosk machine will be screen enabled and provide credit/debit card facility for payment and transactions. There is also a facility to charge a mobile phone in case of an emergency. It will also give information on parking lots and hospitals in the locality. The kiosk will also provide basic information on airlines and trains. MCD is hoping to generate revenue by charging a fixed commission on each transaction made. The MCD will also give out space for advertisement which includes visual displays flashing on the information screen.
In Orissa, a state transport bus service is providing Internet connectivity to rural regions of the state. The bus is equipped with a Wi-Fi box and is a source of help to artists in Raghurajpur like Sarat Mohapatra. The United Villages kiosk in Raghurajpur is equipped with a Wi-Fi antenna and computers and Mohapatra saves his emails on the hard disk. When the Wi-Fi enabled bus passes through Raghurajpur, it picks up his email and delivers it to a nearby town with Internet connectivity. The United Village concept is also known as Daknet, or Internet Post, and the bus is like a postman. It connects 25 remote villages in Orissa to already Internet-enabled areas.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is turning to outsourcing in a bid to provide greater service and availability for it Passports Online, a Web portal that provides services for issuing travel documents. The Australian Passport Office (APO) is responsible for the operation of DFAT's business processes and systems that support the production and issue of travel documents, and provides the Passports Online service to maximize access. According to DFAT documents, business continuity is of "particular concern" to DFAT and underlines all of the APO's business processes. As such, DFAT has decided to outsource the Passports Online service and is seeking a fully hosted solution, including the provision of software, hardware and support services "as necessary". "A key focus of these requirements is to minimize the risk of Passports Online being unavailable and any consequential delays in the provision of passport services," according to DFAT. Passports Online connects to the DFAT network via a secure link managed by DFAT and data is passed between the DFAT mainframe and Passports Online using IBM WebSphere and MQSeries.
The Australian Passport Information Service - operated by Centrelink - connects to Passports Online through the DFAT network, and DFAT expects the static content of the Passports Online will be managed through DFAT's Stellent-based content system. DFAT is seeking a three-year contract with the successful tenderer, with an option to extend it for two years. In addition to hosting, the contract includes provisions for application development as "Passports Online is a dynamic Web site for which there is a further requirement for updating of content and support services". DFAT wants the handover to occur around July 1, 2008. The contract stipulates 24 by 7 support for Passports Online, including helpdesk services, diagnosis and correction of system problems, system monitoring, recovery services, and third-party escalation. Passports Online does about 6.2 million hits per month, including three million page views, nearly two million document views, and 138,034 visits (40 per cent from the U.S.) from some 88,000 unique visitors. The contract also includes development support of the Passports Online application, and the successful tenderer will maintain production, development and test environment, including version control of source code.
The Radiocommunication Sector of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-R), which is affiliated with the United Nations, has approved WiMAX mobile broadband technology as a global 3G communications standard. The agreement was reached in a meeting in Geneva on 19 October, after a number of countries objected to the inclusion of WiMAX (based on the IEEE 802.16 standard) in the IMT-2000 standard for advanced mobile technologies. China in particular lobbied for a homegrown wireless broadband standard to be adopted globally. The decision paves the way for more technology-neutral 3G mobile licences being issued.The ITU-R voted to support WiMAX's underlying technology, Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDMA), which is also set to power future technologies, including Long Term Evolution (LTE) - designed as the next step in GSM evolution, and expected to be deployed in 2009/10.
If you took an arial tour of Google's Mountain view, Calif.-based headquarters, you'd find its eight rooftops covered with 9,212 solar panels. But that's only the beginning. To reach its goal of creating 50 megawatts of renewable generating capacity for its operations by 2012, Google is looking into the use of various forms of renewable energy, including solar, wind, geothermal and fuel cells, said Robyn Beavers, director of green business and operations strategy at Google. "We'll make sure we evaluate them all thoroughly and make the right choices that work for Google," said Beavers, who was at the Conference on Clean Energy in Boston this month to talk about Google's plans to become a more energy-efficient company. "This past May we switched on our system, which is 1.6 megawatts of solar panels in our Mountain View headquarters campus," she said in an interview. "And we've also built two carport structures -- shade structures over outdoor parking lots -- and mounted solar panels over the tops of those. You can park underneath the solar panels and charge your hybrid vehicle from the sun."
In addition, Beavers said Google installed solar hot water modules that use the sun's energy to heat the water in its new office in Hyderabad, India. The solar modules will cover all the hot water usage in the entire office building, she said. The company also negotiated discounts with residential solar panel installers in California so it can offer discounts to Google employees who want to put solar panels on their own homes, she said. "We try to encourage our employees to become more environmentally friendly in their own lives," Beavers said. "So we also offer employees a fuel-efficient vehicle incentive. If an employee buys an eco-friendly vehicle, we give them a rebate; the less gas an employee's vehicle uses, the more money they get, starting at $1,000 for a typical hybrid." Google is also in the process of doing a massive energy-efficiency overhaul, which includes performing energy audits at all of its office buildings, she said. "We're counting light bulbs, figuring out where we use electricity and how much, and then we make energy-efficient retrofits based on that data," Beavers said, such as replacing old fluorescent bulbs with more energy-efficient ones, she said. "We'll change all of our lighting and use fewer bulbs, which will save money in electricity and help pay for the overall project," she said. (By Linda Rosencrance)
Geneva, 16 November 2007 〞 The World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 (WRC-07) concluded its deliberations with the adoption of an international treaty to meet the global demand for radio-frequency spectrum. Over 2800 delegates representing 164 Member States and 104 Observers attended the four-week Conference, marked by intense negotiations on the future of wireless communications. Rapid technological developments and growth in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector have fuelled the demand for spectrum. The international treaty, known as Radio Regulations governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits were revised and updated by WRC-07 to achieve the global connectivity goals of the 21st Century. Dr Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-General of ITU, expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the Conference. "WRC-07 represents a major landmark for the future growth of the ICT industry, and everyone will benefit from the digital dividend that will emerge as a result of this Conference," he said. "There is a convergence of the needs of developing countries and developed countries to reduce the digital divide and this is the main success of this WRC-07 conference," said Mr Fran?ois Rancy, Chairman of WRC-07. "The Regional Groups fully collaborated to produce the spectrum identification for IMT 〞 the concept that embraces advanced broadband mobile technology for use on a global basis." WRC-07 addressed some 30 agenda items related to almost all terrestrial and space radio services and applications. These included future generations of mobile telephony, aeronautical telemetry and telecommand systems, satellite services including meteorological applications, maritime distress and safety signals, digital broadcasting, and the use of radio in the prediction and detection of natural disasters..
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The digital divide is nothing other than the reflection of the social divide in the digital world. The use of ICT for human development does offer opportunities to reduce the social divide for individual beings or communities; yet there exists a series of obstacles to overcome to make it possible for ICT use to bring the opportunities closer to these people and these groups of people. The very lack of existence of an infrastructure for connectivity is only the first obstacle, although it often receives an exclusive focus, due to the lack of an holistic approach. Offering an access to ICT does not necessarily imply that the people who benefit from the technologies can thus access opportunities for human development; education, more specifically a digital and information literacy, plays an essential part in the process. Telecommunication systems, computer hardware and software are predictable prerequisites; however, the true pillars of human-focused information societies (or societies of shared knowledge) are education, ethics, and participation, interacting together as a systemic process. As long as decision makers in the field of public policies or of ICT4D projects are not ready to consider these issues, and keep on favoring a mere technological vision, we will suffer from the most dangerous divide in terms of impact: the paradigmatic divide. (by Daniel Pimienta)
[KIGALI] African leaders have unanimously agreed to improve access to information communication technology (ICT) to address the continent's development shortfalls and cut poverty by 2012. The African leaders gathered in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, yesterday (29 October) at the 'Connect Africa Summit' 〞 convened by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 〞 to discuss ways of ensuring better access to ICT. In support of this, the World Bank announced at the summit that it will double its financing for African ICT initiatives, to US$2 billion over the next five years. The ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Toure said the meeting in Kigali is a way to stimulate the implementation of past resolutions agreed at international conferences, such as achieving universal ICT access for Africa. Information ministers, who met a day before the conference, agreed that all ICT infrastructure initiatives must be interlinked to facilitate delivery of both energy and access to ICTs. Leaders at the conference emphasised the need to create 'digital villages' so that people in rural areas would be less likely to migrate to urban areas. Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, said the biggest hindrance to Africa's development has been its lack of ability to provide fast Internet and telecommunications access to the millions of people, such as farmers, who require access to market information to sell their products at the best prices. "In ten short years, what was once an object of luxury and privilege, the mobile phone, has become a basic necessity in Africa," he said. Better technologies would also give African farmers access to information on seed varieties and better farming methods, and using new technologies in medical fields could also lead to the expansion of services such as telemedicine. Senegalese president Abdulaye Wade said the introduction of telemedicine in his country had resulted in a "cultural revolution" which saw doctors operate on a pregnant woman 500 kilometres away. Senegal is currently introducing new diagnostic technologies to digitally "revolutionise" its entire healthcare system, he said. Sha Zukang, UN under-secretary general on economic and social affairs said building a knowledge economy in Africa would not happen without adequately trained ICT personnel.
The Government of South Africa is planning to adopt a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) policy, which is a significant boost for the industry according to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan. According to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan, both the public and private sectors will be benefited from the expansion of OSS. This will encourage to start up the new businesses as well as allow the government to channel resources to much needed areas such as healthcare and education. OSS will provide an alternative option to South Africa against proprietary softwares. The collaboration between the government and OSS developers will encourage open source market. This in turn will result in the development of applications uniquely suited to the South African environment.
Yahoo is set to announce a series of partnerships with mobile carriers in Asia in coming weeks, as it looks to its mobile services division for growth, a Reuters report said. The Reuters report Yahoo president Susan Decker as saying that the US internet giant has been in talks with operators in Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia for new tie-ups for its mobile services. Yahoo's combined user base in Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, five of its key Asia Pacific markets, totals about 25 million users, according to Rose Tsou, senior vice president of Asia region. The Reuters report said in June, Yahoo had signed six agreements with Asian mobile operators, including LG Telecom in South Korea, Maxis Communications Berhad in Malaysia and Taiwan Mobile. Decker said internet users in Asia-Pacific were growing at the fastest compared to other parts of the world, and in 2010, the global market could expect to see 1.8 billion users, with Asia-Pacific taking up 36% of the pie. In 2000, there were 390 million internet users globally, with Asia counting for 20%, she said. In China, Yahoo owns 40% of Alibaba Group, whose business-to-business e-commerce unit is in the process of making a Hong Kong initial public offering that is expected to raise $1.5 billion, the report further said.
Guwahati, Nov. 9: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has presented a proposal to provide technical assistance for deploying innovative information and communication technologies (ICT) for supporting the e-governance initiative in Assam.The technical assistance, worth $500,000, would be funded by the Republic of Korea e-Asia and Knowledge Partnership Fund, which has been provided to the ADB. The technical assistance is scheduled to be implemented within a 10-month period from November to August 2008. The objective of e-Asia programme is to strengthen the capacity of developing member countries and provide technical assistance for promoting ICT and closing the digital divide, especially through national and regional strategies. E-governance has been recognised as a powerful tool in the hands of governments for reducing costs, enhancing revenues and improving the delivery of all the public services. Sources said the bank is taking up the project as it has been found that financial sustainability has been a major challenge in expanding the e-government and e-rural development projects across Assam. They pointed out that this was particularly true with respect to rural ICT investments as these entail longer payback periods than commercial ones owing to relatively heavier infrastructure costs and lower rates of return. In this context, cost innovative technologies, such as broadband access network or wireless network, can be considered as appropriate technology solutions. This will enable and expedite the e-government and e-rural development process in an effective and efficient manner. The technical assistance will help Dispur reduce the digital divide by expanding the Assam State Wide Area Network for e-governance delivery. This includes in its ambit rural area initiatives relating to agriculture, land records and registration and improvement of ICT accessibility and development of e-governance applications in accordance with the roadmap to be identified by the e-government masterplan.
UDAPEST, Hungary -- Fidanka and Eoin McGrath, a family soon expecting their first child, spent two of the hottest August days in a quite unusual way 每 having a friendly talk with police officials. Unlike the character of Bruce Willis who co-operated with hackers to save the nation in the summer Holywood blockbuster Die Hard 4, on a number of occasions authorities in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have targeted environmental activists for things they did 每 or did not do 每 over the internet. The McGraths were the last to experience that. The young couple could make a micro case study of successful coexistence between European integration and environmental sustainability. She 每 a Bulgarian environmental activist - and he 每 an Irish computer programmer - moved to Bulgaria＊s countryside to live on their own organic farm. The family life was disturbed abruptly this summer, when the two were called in by the local unit of the GDBOP 每 an abbreviation in Bulgarian for the Chief Directorate for Combat against Organised Crime. GDBOP is one of Bulgaria＊s special service agencies, which inherited the notorious communist State Security after 1990.
Eoin was the first to take up the invitation and appear at the police station - without a lawyer or translator - just to learn that he had been identified as the author of a bomb-threat. The threat, sent in February from a Russian server and signed by a non-existing environmental group, was popularised by mass media. It warned that in retaliation for the environmental damages in Bansko, planned explosions were ready to detonate and ignite a catastrophic avalanche over the ski centre. Eventually, the police did not find any explosives but the operations in the resort were disrupted for a few hours, media reported. Active environmental organisations from the Save Pirin coalition, which had campaigned against the resort＊s development, condemned the threat as a provocation. The interrogating officers urged McGrath to ※admit§, because that would ※make things easier§, the online daily MediaPool reported.
Neither Eoin, nor Fidanka McGrath admitted any involvement with the email threat during the two days. ※The police were friendly, but we don＊t know whether this was an interrogation technique or a speculation,§ Fidanka told MediaPool. The investigating police officer refused the media any comments. The incident sprang outrage among environmental campaigners, as it was the second in less then a month when authorities were putting pressure on activists for allegedly illegal online activities. ※Internet communications were involved again by the repressive organs [of the state] in order to prove how easy it is to organise a terrorist act in Bulgaria,§ wrote Petko Kovachev 每 a colleague of Fidanka McGrath at CEE Bankwatch, and founder of the Green Policy Institute in Sofia. The McGrath story looks like part of a true investigation, on a true illegal matter. This could not have been said on a previous occasion, just a month earlier.
Criminalisation of green bloggers in Bulgaria
The intervention of the police against bloggers, expressing opinion or posting information about the environment is completely unacceptable, said Dan McQuillan - the coordinator of Amnesty International＊s Irrepressible.info internet rights campaign. ※Authorities cannot clamp down on things written by bloggers, simply because they are inconvenient,§ he affirmed. Lawyers from the Access to Information Programme in Sofia backed his opinion. Publishing of information in the internet, including blogging, is a form in which the right to freedom of expression is exercised, guaranteed by the European Human Rights Convention and by the Bulgarian Constitution, the organisation stated. Bulgaria has not been the first in the region to exercise pressure against online environmentalism.
Romanian environmentalists watched online, visited offline
The report ※Ancient Gold Mines of Dacia 每Rosia Montana District§ written by Beatrice Cauuet, a scholar at the University of Toulouse in France, was the first proof of valuable archeological findings in the potential gold mining site, explained Stefanie Roth 每 a campaigner at Alburnus Maior. Roth, who received the Goldman Environmental prize for her campaigning work in Rosia Montana since 2002, was outraged by the action of the police. ※They were looking for one guilty person; playing the good cop and bad cop; trying to single out who posted the report on line§, Roth told. But the activists maintained their version 每 that the campaign had more than a thousand volunteers from all over the world and anyone of them could have posted it. A final ruling by the court that the publishing of the report served public interest, brought a happy end to the case, Roth recalled.
Fake campaigners and e-moles in Hungary
While a mole has been a most popular nickname for undercover police informers in latest history, cyberage has created its own prototype. Internet moles, or paid contributors to civil society online discussion forums have become very common, said Laszlo Perneczky - Pepe, a long-serving environmental activist from Hungary. E-moles are anonymous contributors propagating certain political or business interests. They participate in almost every public online forum, just using their nicknames; we sometimes even know who they are in real life and who pays their salaries, but there is nothing we can do 每 it is all legal, and this is the nature of the internet, Pepe commented.
Expansion of copyrights
International media and activists notice
※The FreeNet campaign demonstrates the intersection between the online freedom of speech/internet rights dimension, and the protection of the environment and citizen's rights to public participation,§ commented APC＊s Executive Director, Anriette Esterhuysen. Since 2005, APC has launched an initiative to analyse and promote the Aarhus convention globally, as well as other instruments that bridge the policy gap between Information Society and Environmental Sustainability, said Esterhuysen. McQuillan has also identified a deeper imperative arising from the nature of the information society, which is the fact that the internet itself is becoming an actor in many thematic fields of activism, including the environment. An example for that is the Aarhus Convention and the Pollutant Relase and Transfer Registers, which require the posting of environmental information online. ㄗBy Author: Pavel P Antonovㄘ
The Council of the European Union (EU) on Monday adopted a common position on a draft regulation, which is aimed at modernizing the current customs code for the 27-member bloc.The decision, made at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, followed a political agreement reached by the EU Council on June 25.It will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading under the co-decision procedure. The draft regulation, aimed at implementing the Lisbon program on growth and creation of jobs in the EU, is intended to replace the current customs code, which dates back to 1992, in order to adapt EU customs to changes in the international trade environment. The future code addresses issues concerning the requirements of an electronic environment, the simplification of rules and the changing nature of the tasks performed by the customs authorities.
The new regulation will simplify legislation and administration procedures both from the point of view of customs authorities and traders, notably by simplifying the structure and providing for more coherent terminology with fewer provisions and simpler rules, providing for radical reform of customs import and export procedures to reduce their number and make it easier to keep track of goods, rationalizing the customs guarantee system, extending the use of single authorizations, and implementing the ※e-Government§ initiative in the area of customs. Meanwhile, the new regulation abolishes the possibility to restrict the right to make customs declarations exclusively to customs representatives established in the member state concerned, as such restriction is incompatible with the internal market. A policy of ※centralized clearance§ will also be introduced as a facilitation that allows an importer or exporter to lodge his customs declarations in electronic form from his premises to the customs office where he is established, irrespective of the place where the goods are entering into or leaving the customs territory of the EU.
All European countries have implemented the EU＊s Electronic Signature Directive 1999/93/EC to a greater or lesser extent, with or without restrictions, by investing electronic signatures with clear functions that are for the most part laid down in the definition of the electronic signatures in various member states＊ laws. The authenticity of the origin of an electronic invoice and the integrity of its contents must, as a general rule, be guaranteed through a digital signature or electronic data interchange. The EU regulation on digital signatures was intended to deal with this issue at the multilateral level. Although the Directive has been adopted in all EU member states, there are differences in the legal status of digital signatures in the individual states.
The EU＊s Invoicing Directive 2001/115/EC allows EU member states to require advanced or qualified electronic signatures to prove that e-invoices are valid and have not been tampered with. The electronic signature concepts are inherited from the electronic signature directive. That directive gives qualified electronic signatures a status equivalent to that of handwritten signatures, such that they are accepted as evidence in court. The invoicing directive has also been implemented differently by different member states. The interaction between these two directives and their varying national transpositions creates a multilayered regulatory environment with a high degree of local specificity.
Article 3.7 of the invoicing directive provides that ＆Member States may make the use of electronic signatures in the public sector subject to possible additional requirements＊. This article, therefore, introduces what is called a ＆public sector exception＊, allowing member states to add specific ＆additional requirements＊ to those contained in the directive for the use of electronic signatures for e-government applications. It is widely recognized that public administrations need to be able to specify in detail the requirements of their public key infrastructures (PKI) in order to achieve a sufficient degree of security and interoperability for e-government applications within one country. The formulation of additional requirements on a general level for all kinds of e-government applications, however, may infringe the e-signature directive as well as general EU competition rules.
What Is The Legal Relevance Of The Electronic Signature In Specific Member States? In Sweden, the legal effects of the handwritten signature cannot be achieved by electronic means. In Norway, electronic signatures have legal significance only if electronic communication is allowed in the area in question. Italian law states that an electronic document with an electronic signature satisfies the legal requirement of writing. In Portugal, an electronic signature purported to be equivalent to a handwritten one is presumed to confirm the identity of the signatory, intention of signing and the integrity of the signed document. Similarly in Belgium, an electronic signature can serve as evidence so long as one can derive with certainty the identity of the author and the integrity of the contents to be signed. In the Czech Republic, the term ※handwritten signature§ has no particular legal significance; consequently, electronic signatures have an inherent legal effect unless a given law or act requires an official attested signature.
What Is The Advantage Of Allowing Electronic Signatures Under The EU Invoicing Directive? The main advantage of the electronic signature option presented in the EU Invoicing Directive is that it builds on an established regulatory framework and mature industry practices. Tax authorities are generally comfortable with the quality of signatures that meet their domestic criteria. Therefore, electronic signatures that meet local criteria provide a high level of compliance certainty. The electronic signature advantage is lost when a tax authority has to evaluate the trustworthiness of a signature by tracing it back to the certificate＊s source country. This could involve translation of the certificate and associated documents, contacting the sender＊s tax authorities to establish country-of-origin compliance, and other lengthy processes which could cause significant embarrassment, hassle and negotiation. If it comes to litigation, courts may simply reject signatures that do not meet all local rules.
The objective of any company engaging in e-invoicing is to make invoicing processes faster, better and cheaper while offering customers more value. In order to design the right electronic signature-based compliance approach for its e-invoicing system, the company needs to evaluate transaction flows from a VAT perspective. Whether the company chooses a corporation-wide internal system or an external service provider, what matters is the VAT definition of who sends and receives invoices, not the physical location or country of establishment of the company responsible for the invoicing service. Once these flows have been mapped out and analyzed in light of each relevant jurisdiction＊s requirements, the company can determine its need for localized signatures. The extent to which the company will choose to localize signatures depends on its attitude to risk, which may differ from company to company or even from process to process within companies. (By Ira Piltz)
(Associated Press via NewsEdge) The European Commission will present a plan to set up an EU-wide regulatory body with the power to separate telecom networks and access providers to foster competition and reduce costs for customers. Calling the existing panel of national telecom regulators a "do-nothing group" that has ignored the interests of EU consumers, the EU's executive arm will call for the creation of a European Telecom Market Authority, which could push national regulators to tackle large telecommunications companies and their stranglehold over national markets. Smaller telecom businesses blame regulators' inaction for holding back the rollout of high-speed internet across Europe. Only one in five households in wealthy Western Europe has broadband, with high prices and little choice keeping people offline. But the EU plan, widely discussed in the past weeks, faces fierce opposition from major companies such as France Telecom, which argue it could harm investment in next-generation networks. The proposal to break up networks from service branches at incumbent operators "goes in the wrong direction" and would hamper the companies' ability to coordinate complex investment decisions, warned Jacques Champeaux, France Telecom's senior vice president for regulatory affairs. Instead, France Telecom is proposing that rival internet providers could run new optical fiber cables alongside the incumbent company's own pipes, getting the pipeline capacity they need to offer competing services to end users. The European Competitive Telecoms Association, a group of recent telecom entrants that compete with once state-owned telephone providers, said that just under 20% of western European households now have broadband internet. It said this has changed radically as companies are able to use existing infrastructure to offer their own services, mentioning British moves to open up the market that saw an explosion of choice for customers.
Public sector computer systems need to become greener and more efficient, Cabinet Office minister Gillian Merron said Thursday. Speaking at the fourth European Ministerial e-Government Conference in Lisbon, the minister called on the U.K. Chief Information Officer Council to reduce the carbon footprint of government computers and improve the sustainability of public sector IT. Gillian Merron said: "Figures from industry suggest that, worldwide, information technology is responsible for about 1 billion tons of CO2 emissions each year -- that's between 2 per cent and 4 per cent of global energy. "The government is by far the biggest user of IT in the U.K., spending around ㏒12 billion a year. We have a responsibility to set a positive example on the environment, so I am asking our IT leaders to work with industry to find new ways to improve the sustainability of government computer systems. This doesn't just mean reducing the amount of electricity they use, but also looking at how they can be designed and built in ways that consume fewer materials and which make recycling easier."
John Suffolk, the Government's chief information officer, said: "There is real potential to deliver more sustainable IT that also costs less and provides better results for users. New technologies can help reduce energy consumption and allow more flexible working. There is already some excellent practice in place and we look forward to working with the IT industry to build on this and to deliver continued improvements in the future." Duncan Mitchell, chair of the Information Age Partnership, said: "The Information Age Partnership welcomes this challenge and looks forward to working alongside the government to achieve its aims. The IT industry is focused on making existing systems more sustainable and is ideally placed to advise how service transformation can be used to reduce the environmental impact of activities in the public and private sector alike." The Chief Information Officer Council will now work with the Information Age Partnership to take a systematic look at how Government can work with the industry to put public sector IT onto a more sustainable footing. They will publish their initial report in 2008.
The Chilean government has announced plans to invest USD80 million to subsidise projects designed to boost internet coverage during 2008-09, writes BNamericas citing Pablo Bello, head of the telecoms regulator Subtel. Bello made the announcement at a presentation of the latest broadband internet index for Chile developed by US equipment vendor Cisco and tech consultancy IDC. The latest report shows broadband penetration of 7.9% at the end of June, with 1.2 million connections, up 33% year-on-year.
Back in 1998, Y2K loomed, Microsoft Office was rolling out, and the Internet was a work in progress. Who foresaw the meteoric rise of Google, Facebook and YouTube? A technology strategy has to steer through the murky waters of an unpredictable future. Ontario's 1998 I&IT strategic plan laid the foundation to enable the provincial government to cope with technology wildcards. Ten years later, Ontario's new I&IT strategic plan has to divine the shape of things to come, again. "A strategic plan is a way to engage the organization and get everyone to say, 'Yeah, that's a future we like the look of,'" says Rose Langhout, head of I&IT policy and planning at Ontario's Ministry of Government Services (MGS). Slated for implementation in April 2008, the new plan being developed in consultation with ministries will set the direction of technology initiatives for the next five years and will serve as the foundation that Ontario's I&IT clusters can use to set their own program plans in motion. There's a fundamental shift in the philosophy of this new strategy, says Langhout. "Although the previous plan was not designed to be about saving millions of dollars, that's what it came to be about. Part of the reason we need a fresh plan is that we've done that $100 million saving and want to turn to other things."
The Ontario government's IT infrastructure has changed dramatically in 10 years, notes Rob Dowler, chief corporate strategist at MGS. Consolidation and standardization have been prominent features in reshaping it, and both will intensify, he adds. "In 1998, we had 22 separate and isolated computer environments, but today we have eight I&IT clusters that work together. "There were no common standards or shared I&IT governance: IT departments made their own decisions via the ministries. And few government services were online," says Dowler. "Today, 70 per cent of key services are online and we want to move to 85 per cent. We now also have a common components program and other corporate standards, and an IT leadership committee that meets regularly." New directions are being set to build on this foundation to improve alignment of IT with the Ontario government's public service goals. "We're moving beyond the e-Ontario strategy, for better or worse - there is more to IT than financial efficiency. This plan will harvest some of the benefits of the infrastructure." Performance management and metrics will play a larger role in the future. "We're interested in taking the terabytes of data accumulating and turning them into performance measures," says Dowler, adding that the government is concerned to ensure services are benchmarked against external tiers and there are clear targets to improve program management.
Ramps and risks Mindful of the U.K.'s unhappy experience with big-bang public sector projects that failed, the strategic plan will stress project management methodologies and evaluation criteria. "When developing new applications, we want to ensure they fit within overall standards and are put through a gateway process with proper exit ramps and consideration of risks and mitigation factors." Developing efficient and transparent procurement standards in general is an emerging issue for government, says Dowler. In particular, the plan will focus on developing standards around procurement of open source software. "Open source is something governments can't ignore. But we want to ensure we have policies and guidelines that allow apples-to-apples comparisons of open source to regular products and have vendor support so we're not exposed to liability. We want to put in a series of approvals and checkpoints before people go to an open source environment." Dowler highlights two significant areas, one old and one new. Dealing with legacy systems will require significant IT work across OPS (the Ontario Public Service), he says. And embedding green IT mechanisms to improve energy efficiency is a new issue coming to the fore that has surprising benefits. (By Rosie Lombardi, CIO Government Review)
The US must change an internet gambling law that discriminates against European companies by preventing them from offering services in the US market, the European Union's top trade official, quoted by a Reuters report, said. The Reuters report further quoted EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson as syaing that "what we need to see is a change in US legislation that removes that discrimination against EU operators." The European Union and other trading partners have been in compensation talks with the US over Washington's decision to retroactively remove gambling services from the market-opening commitments it made as part of the 1994 Uruguay Round world trade agreement, the Reuters report said. The US took that step after the World Trade Organization ruled in a case brought by the tiny Caribbean nation Antigua and Barbuda, the report said. Congress has since passed a broader online gambling ban, it added. EU-based gambling firms have urged the bloc to seek as much as $100 billion in compensation for being shut out of the US market. The Reuters report said Mandelson would talk on Thursday with Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, about his bill to roll back the online gambling ban.
Customers of mobile-phone carriers shouldn't have to pay early termination fees if they're called to overseas military service or have their contracts automatically extended every time they call customer support, critics said Wednesday. Several lawmakers called for the U.S. Congress to pass a mobile-phone subscriber bill of rights during a hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Last month, Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, introduced the Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act,, which would require mobile phone carriers to give customers more complete information on their coverage, prorate early termination fees, and prohibit carriers from misidentifying their own fees as government taxes.
More information about coverage and dropped calls is needed, Klobuchar said. Verizon Wireless Inc. currently has a billboard near Fosston, a town in northwestern Minnesota, that says, "Count on Verizon Wireless to keep you connected." Yet, Verizon phones don't get a signal near the billboard, she said. "I believe you can have a competitive industry when people have full knowledge and are able to make decisions based on price comparisons ... or the service-quality comparisons," Klobuchar said. "It's very difficult for my middle-class people in Minnesota, who don't have a lot of disposable income, to make their decisions if they don't have full information." The Minnesota Attorney General's Office has fielded complaints from military members headed overseas who have to pay hundreds of dollars to get out of their mobile phone contracts, said Lori Swanson, the attorney general.
In another case, customers who made small changes to their service, such as buying batteries, had their service contracts extended without their knowledge; one woman who called Sprint Nextel Corp. to complain that she had been overbilled had her contract automatically extended, Swanson said. "The burden should not be on the consumer to figure out the rules of the cell-phone shell game," Swanson said. "There needs to be more transparency and more fundamental fairness." Sprint Nextel denied that it was extending contracts without letting customers know. "We dispute every single one of her allegations," spokesman John Taylor said of Swanson. (By Grant Gross)
The Election Assistance Commission has opened the first of two planned comment periods on a major revision of its Voluntary Voting System Guidelines with the launch of an online tool for posting comments. The guidelines were developed by EAC's Technical Guidelines Development Committee. The first public draft was completed in August. The commission described the new guidelines as a complete rewrite of the standards adopted in 2005 intended to address the next generation of voting systems. The guidelines provide a set of specifications and requirements against which voting systems can be tested to determine if they provide all the basic functionality, accessibility and security capabilities required of voting systems. They apply to any type of voting system but have received increased attention lately because of questions about the security and reliability of electronic touch-screen systems being used by many states. The new draft prohibits wireless connections on electronic voting systems, addresses software independence and contains updated requirements for a voter-verifiable paper audit trail on electronic systems. Although voluntary, the guidelines have been used by most states for certifying voting systems. The commission also accredits test labs to certify the systems based on the recommendations of the National Institute of Standards and Technology＊s National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program. The current comment period is the first of two 120-day windows for submitting comments. The commission will consider comments in revising the current draft, and the revision will be released for a second comment period. The commission also will hold public hearings on the drafts during both comment periods. The final version of the guidelines will be adopted by vote of the commission at a public meeting and published in the Federal Register. Because of the lengthy comment periods, it is not likely that the new version will be available for the 2008 general elections. The Election Assistance Commission was created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 as a response to balloting problems in the contested 2000 presidential election. It took over responsibility for certification standards, which previously had been developed by the Federal Election Commission and administered by state election officials. In addition to submitting comments online, the public can also mail comments to the EAC at 1225 New York Avenue NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC, 20005. All comments, both electronic and mailed, will be posted on the EAC Web site. The current version of the guidelines generated 6,000 comments when released for review in 2005. (by William Jackson)
(Associated Press via NewsEdge) For the second time in four years, the US government is rewriting media ownership rules, a process that probably will allow big companies to get even bigger. While the stakes this time are smaller, the furor surrounding the process has, if anything, grown. Democratic members of the Federal Communications Commission have accused the chairman, Republican Kevin Martin, of calling public hearings without adequate notice and rushing the review process. Martin wants a vote by year's end. Well-organized opponents have staged protests, attacked the FCC's economic studies as biased in favor of liberalizing the rules and complained that the agency is not doing enough to promote minority ownership. Congress is getting involved, too. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee plans to hear testimony on the issues. A House panel has scheduled a hearing for December 6. The FCC's final public hearing on media ownership is set for Friday in Seattle. Thanks to Congress, the debate this time does not include the issue that galvanized opposition to media consolidation in 2003: a national audience cap on television broadcasters. The FCC voted to raise the cap from 35% to 45%. It followed intense lobbying from Viacom, then-owner of CBS, which was at 38%, and News Corp., owner of Fox Broadcasting which was at 39%. After the vote, Congress set the cap at 39%. The priority for broadcasters now has shifted to two other rules: A prohibition against a radio or television broadcaster from owning a daily newspaper in the same community, and a ban on a single company owning two television stations in the same market, except in certain circumstances.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today approved its version of the Inspector General Reform Act along with three other bills that will affect agency policies on e-government, telework and real property disposal. By voice vote, senators sent the manager＊s amendment offered by Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to the floor for a full vote. Should the full Senate pass the measure, it would go to a conference committee to iron out the differences with the House version. The House passed its version Oct. 8. The White House threatened to veto that version, but a senior administration official said the administration has been working closely with the Senate on its version. ※We have worked with key Senate staff on every large and small piece of the IG bill,§ said Clay Johnson, the Office of Management and Budget＊s deputy director for management. ※This is something we are doing with them, not to them. What we want to do and what the Senate wants to do is very similar.§ Johnson added that OMB met with committee staff members and it was one of the most effective meetings he has ever had with lawmakers' staffs. The committee also approved the E-Government Reauthorization Act, the Telework Enhancement Act and a bill to create a test program for agencies to dispose of surplus real property.
The IG bill received the most discussion, but none garnered any real opposition. ※This would be an important improvement from the 1978 legislation,§ said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a former state auditor and a co-sponsor of the legislation. ※We would strengthen the IG＊s ability to be independent, but we also worked with the administration to deal with their concerns.§ Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the committee＊s ranking member, added that the bill strikes the right balance to increase IGs＊ protection without giving them full autonomy. Also, lawmakers replaced the telework bill with a substitute amendment offered by Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Ted Stevens (R-Ala.). ※This will strengthen the Telework Act, which is 10 years old,§ Stevens said. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), the committee's chairman, added that the bill would help agencies adopt telework, which they have been slow to do. ※I think this bill will help overcome some of the institutional inertia against telework,§ he said.
The bill would require agencies to develop a telework policy, determine employee eligibility to telecommute and develop written agreements with those workers who will work outside the office. The legislation also would require agencies to have an interactive training program for all employees and managers. The Office of Personnel Management would have to develop policies and guidance for telework in areas of pay and leave, agency closure, performance management and other areas. Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency must develop policies and guidance for telework as it relates to continuity of operations and long-term emergencies. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) introduced a House version Nov. 7 called the Telework Improvement Act of 2007. For the real property act, OMB would conduct a test program to dispose of federal buildings, technology equipment, office furniture and other goods. OMB should ensure agencies list all property for disposal on a Web site and let the public receive updates via e-mail. Agencies would keep 20 percent of the revenue from the sale of their property along with administrative costs, while the rest would be returned to the Treasury. ※Agencies don＊t sell things because they get nothing out of it,§ said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a co-sponsor of the bill. ※We proposed in the pilot agencies sell off 750 properties and keep some of the proceeds and use it to meet their mission goals.§ Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.) introduced a companion bill July 16, but it has not gotten out of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. (by Jason Miller)
The government of the Macao Special Administrative Region has launched a fund valued 150 million patacas (18.75 million U.S. dollars) to boost school IT education, local media reported Wednesday. Macao Daily News, the leading local Chinese-language newspaper, reported that the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau has set up the three-year funding scheme with the aid of the non-governmental Macao Foundation. Some 13 local schools have received fund in the academic year of 2007/2008 to improve their IT educational infrastructure, to enhance IT training and to purchase IT hardwares and equipment, according to the newspaper. Macao, a city with a population of 520,000, has some 60,000 elementary and primary school students.
The digital gap between urban and rural areas should be bridged, says an article in Shanghai Securities News. The following is an excerpt: A report about the quality of Internet services in rural China by the China Internet Network Information Center shows that the popularity rate of the Internet is only 5.1 percent in rural areas. The rate in urban areas is 21.6 percent. Meanwhile, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture said at a recent press conference that the income gap between urban and rural residents is growing. The income ratio between urban and rural residents was 3.21:1 in 2004 and 3.22:1 in 2005. It rose to 3.28:1 last year. The digital and income gaps are closely connected. Social and economic development entered a new age in the 1990s as information became one of the three pillars supporting growth, along with new materials and sources of energy. The collection and analysis of data, together with the production and transformation of information, has become an engine for economic growth. Efforts to obtain, define and utilize information are vital ways to hone the country's human resources. And human resources will play a decisive role in the long-term development of the economy and in raising incomes for laborers. Low incomes have restricted the ability of farmers to obtain and interpret information.
About 39.5 percent of the rural residents surveyed said the lack of facilities was the major reason for their not using the Internet. The lack of access to information and the inability to interpret it have resulted in a kind of "information poverty" among many rural residents that helps confine them to a vicious circle of poverty. Globally, the digital divide has fostered inequality in international economic development, further marginalizing the least-developed countries. Efforts should be made to close the digital divide and narrow the income gap in China. Measures should be taken to boost the utilization of information technology in rural areas. Besides providing fiscal inputs, the government could draw up policies to encourage domestic computer manufacturers to develop low-priced computers. Increasing farmers' incomes is the most effective way to bridge the digital divide. The cost of using the Internet is still a burden for farmers. Though China is home to the world's second largest Internet and broadband market, prices are still too high for average residents. Low incomes have sapped farmers' demand for Internet services. Last but not least, education and training should be upgraded in rural areas to increase rural people's awareness of information technology.
Chinese auditors will launch an investigation into the country's five largest telecommunications operators from early October, the National Audit Office (NAO) has announced. Special audit teams will scrutinize China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, China Netcom and China Railcom to see whether they comply with the country's financial and economic laws. The investigation, which will last for two months as part of an NAO plan mapped out earlier this year, aims to encourage these state-owned firms to improve management, raise economic returns and sharpen their competitive edge, said the NAO. Last year four of the five firms - excluding China Railcom - reaped combined profits of 104.73 billion yuan (US$13.96 billion), about 14 percent of the total made by the 159 central state-owned enterprises.
China's State Council has abolished some 186 administrative examination and approval items covering mobile communication system and terminals. The move indicates that the country will formally cancel the mobile phone production license examination and approval system implemented since 2004. Apart from mobile phone production, the State Council also abolished the other nine telecom administrative examination and approval items, including qualification certification of communications construction enterprises, qualification certification of communication exploitation design enterprises, examination and approval of communications and electronic investment projects, and so on. Previously, China had required that manufacturers should procure production licenses from the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) if they want to turn out mobile phones.
MII had issued 49 mobile phone production licenses in total to 38 enterprises from 1998 to 2005, including 30 GSM licenses and 19 CDMA licenses. After the system reform in 2005, a great number of manufacturers turned to mobile phone production. Accordingly, the mobile phone production capacity in China is also on the rapid rise. Statistics from MII show that the total output in the Chinese market from January to July has reached 300 million units. However, some observers expressed alarm that after the abolishment of mobile phone production examination and approval system, more and more mobile phones will flood the market. But officials said although the mobile phone production examination and approval system will be abolished, MII's network access admission system still can maintain the order of the mobile phone manufacturing industry.
Legislators in Guangdong Province are planning to amend a draft regulation on the security of computer-based information systems. The key amendments include ensuring website operators "establish a sound security system" and the introduction of "serious punishments for violators of computer information systems". He Yanfeng, a deputy to the Guangdong provincial people's congress, said: "The amendments are aimed at further developing computer information technology." In recent years, the province has had many cases where the security of information systems has been breached. Actions defined as posing a threat to security include entering a system without permission, or illegally using data contained within a system. Under the draft regulation, the publication of misleading or false information online is strictly forbidden. Also, disclosing Internet users' e-mail addresses or other personal information to a third party, and producing or spreading Internet viruses are prohibited. "Individuals or companies that are found to be engaging in such activities will be subject to strict punishments," He said.
These will include fines of between 5,000 and 15,000 yuan (US$670-$2,000), she said. "Decoding illegally imported software products, which are usually without authentication codes, will also be strictly forbidden," He said, adding that all "decoding business" should be carried out by the local public security authority. Under the draft, Internet cafes are also required to set up standardized computer information administration systems in a bid to prevent "potential threats". He said: "Public security departments and other government organizations will also be punished if they are found to have illegally disclosed information about computer users." Chen Shuhuang, a lawyer with the Guangzhou-based Hanmeng Law Firm, said the amended draft was "a bigger step towards the protection of computer information systems". "The rules will also better protect the information stored about people online," he said.
A pledge by China's regulators to let fixed-line phone operators enter the faster-growing mobile market could lead to much greater competition in the telecom industry, analysts said Monday. Vice Minister of Information Industry Xi Guohua used a forum in Beijing over the weekend to announce plans by the government to grant licences to fixed-line telecom operators soon, the Xinhua news agency reported. "The rapid development of mobile telecom services had lured away subscribers of fixed-line services," Xinhua said, citing Xi. His ministry confirmed the remarks to AFP Monday. Fixed-line operators welcomed the news, but said they still needed to know more before popping the champagne. "We're still looking for a timetable," said Qin Shaojuan, a spokesman for China Netcom, one of the two large fixed-line operators in China. "But if they really are going to give a licence, that's extremely good news for us." The vice minister's remark followed months of speculation that the government was considering ways to restructure an uneven telecom market, where mobile is as hot and vibrant as fixed-line is stagnant. "Fixed-line operators are facing immense pressure," said Kang Zhiyi, a Beijing-based analyst with TX Consulting.
"Whether you look at revenue or profit growth, the difference with the mobile segment is large." China Telecom Corp., the nation's top fixed-line operator, said late last month its net profit for the first nine months was little changed from a year earlier amid continued competition from cellphone providers. By contrast, China Mobile Ltd., Asia's biggest mobile phone company, said its net profit for the same period grew nearly 30 percent, buoyed by strong subscriber growth and a wider rural reach. The difference in corporate fortunes reflect broader forces at work in the Chinese market. The number of mobile phone users in China was 523.3 million at the end of September, up 13.5 percent from the end of 2006, according to official data. The government expects the number to rise to 540 million by the end of 2007. The number of fixed-line users in China was 371.7 million, a rise of 1.1 percent from late last year. In reaction to the Vice Minister's Xi's remarks, shares in China Telecom rose 4.0 percent in early trade Monday in Hong Kong, while China Netcom, the other major fixed-line operator, gained 4.7 percent.
A restructuring of the industry would come at a crucial time as the market is preparing for the arrival of third-generation mobile telephony, or 3G, as opposed to the currently dominant 2G. 3G allows various more advanced functions, including the use of broadband wireless data via mobile devices. No detailed information was available from the government on how it planned to allow China Telecom and China Netcom to become involved in mobile operations. Unconfirmed media reports have suggested that China Mobile's smaller rival, state-owned mobile carrier China Unicom, could be split up between China Telecom and China Netcom. "Dividing China Unicom could be a way to do it," said Jiang Lifeng, an analyst with CCID Consulting based in Beijing. "China Unicom has two networks, but in itself, it's not a very strong player, so splitting its assets could help reinvigorate the competition in the market," he said.
TOKYO 〞 The communications ministry on Friday asked its dispute settlement panel to deliberate upon its proposal to order NTT DoCoMo Inc to lease its cellphone network to Japan Communications Inc, ministry officials said. The panel dedicated to settle disputes between telecom carriers is expected to side with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, which is seeking to encourage new mobile telecom service providers to enter the market to create more competition, sources close to the matter said. Japan Communications is the nation's first mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, offering wireless data communications services using Willcom Inc.'s personal handy-phone system, or PHS, network. It also wants to rely on the NTT DoCoMo network, Japan's largest cellphone carrier, in order to expand its business.
The government of Japan, acting through the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), has published a new competition promotion programme for 2010 designed to 'revitalise' the country＊s communications industry. According to Telecompaper, citing a report from the Nikkei daily, the primary focus of the project is to make it easier for fixed and mobile virtual network operators to enter the market. It is understood the MIC plans to draft guidelines for the incumbent mobile operators by March 2008 to ensure they will not hinder these plans. The strategy is expected to include requirements for operators to disclose their charging methodology and usage rules for any companies wishing to access their networks. The communications ministry further hopes to break the operators' monopoly on customer billing and authentication services for mobile payments, the paper said. Japan also plans to encourage credit card firms and other financial services providers to provide similar services, with the government stating a case for a change to accounting rules which would mean mobile operators can no longer tack sales incentives onto mobile connection fees.
From September 21 to October 19, 2007, MIC invited public comment and proposals on next-generation network interconnection rules. MIC now discloses the 31 comments it received.
The Ministry for Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) today authorized changes to the interconnection tariffs concerning Category I designated telecommunications facilities of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corporation and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Corporation (NTT East and NTT West) (changes to the collocation procedures, etc. in accordance with the partial amendment to the Regulations for Enforcement of the Telecommunications Business Law and such). Based on Telecommunications Council Report No. 113 dated October 26, 2007, MIC recognized that the application for correction from NTT East and NTT West was appropriate and authorized it. On August 31, 2007, MIC consulted the Telecommunications Council on authorization of changes to the interconnection tariffs concerning Category I designated telecommunications facilities of NTT East and NTT West (changes to the collocation procedures, etc. in accordance with the partial amendment to the Regulations for Enforcement of the Telecommunications Business Law and such). On October 29, 2007, MIC requested NTT East and NTT West to take the measures given below, based on the report from the Telecommunication Council (Telecommunications Council Report No. 113 dated on October 26, 2007). In response to this, MIC received an application from NTT East and NTT West for correction concerning the changes to the interconnection tariffs.
Main correction measures:
The government said Sunday (Sept. 16) it will soon submit legislation to make it mandatory starting next year for the central and provincial governments to create a "ubiquitous city" with state-of-the-art communication networks if they are building a city 3.3 million square meters or bigger. A "ubiquitous city" refers to a city in which people can log onto the Internet anywhere and where there are intelligent sensors on infrastructures that allow city dwellers to receive information about many things, including transportation. The Ministry of Construction and Transportation said it plans to submit the bill in November after consulting with agencies that will be responsible for ensuring the project is carried out in the second half of next year. Korea, one of the most wired countries in the world, boasts high penetration rates for the Internet and mobile communications. A third of the country's 49 million people have access to high-speed Internet connections.
As promised, the government cut off Internet access to media rooms yesterday, saying it plans to seal them off today - a day later than scheduled. As part of a new government media policy, dozens of media rooms at individual agencies are being consolidated into three briefing centers. Most of the Foreign Ministry reporters are boycotting government briefings in protest and hope to continue working out of the media rooms. The press corps of the National Tax Service released a statement yesterday saying ※the consolidation of the media rooms infringes on the people＊s right to know. Therefore, we refuse to report on any government briefings conducted at the new centers.§ Blue House spokesman Cheon Ho-seon said the Roh Moo-hyun administration won＊t yield. ※We will go ahead as planned,§ Cheon said. ※There should be no physical confrontations. On this occasion, journalists should reconsider their demands, including whether what they are really fighting for is the public＊s right to know.§ Facing opposition from the press, the Government Information Agency said last month that it would drop interview restrictions from its new guidelines. The journalists argue that any media reform should be done by the media, not by the government. The agency has promised to support press reporting activities and said the new measures were designed to root out collaboration among reporters and the exclusiveness of the media rooms. (By Brian Lee Staff Writer) [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Indonesia and Singapore will be cooperating in information communications and technology, as stated in an agreement. The move will enable the two countries to engage in media collaboration which will in turn boost the ICT sector. Indonesia is also looking for investment in its fibre optics networks across the country and Singapore＊s expertise would be greatly welcomed, says Dr Mohammad Nuh, Minister for Communications and Information Technology in Indonesia. In addition to co-productions and the sale of media content, the two countries will be in a partnership to develop e-Commerce, e-Education, e-Government and e-Business platforms to create more business opportunities for both parties. "The Memorandum of Understanding provides a framework. It signals strong political commitment on the part of the Republic of Indonesia's government and the Republic of Singapore's government that we want to cooperate," says Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts of Singapore. Following the agreement, a joint committee will be set up, headed by senior government officials from both countries, to execute the objectives as stated in the agreement. The committee will also be setting targets for the goals and timeliness of the projects agreed upon.
Plans aimed at boosting broadband penetration in the country, as announced in the Budget, will be well received, according to information technology industry players. They said that giving employers who provide staff with computers and broadband Internet facilities a tax deduction helped create a win-win situation. ※The employers will benefit from tax savings and there will be a strong spill-over effect,§ said David Wong, chairman of the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia (Pikom). He said if employers bought PCs for their employees, they would bring the machines home. ※This will give their family members the opportunity to use these computers. ※We have a 26% household PC penetration (in a population of 27 million). This move would increase that rate,§ he said. To further improve broadband penetration, the Government is providing companies that offer last-mile network facilities a significant incentive. Such companies will get an investment allowance of 100% on capital expenditure incurred for broadband infrastructure, up to Dec 31, 2010, and should increase broadband penetration from 12% to 50% by then. Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, chief executive officer of the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), believes the move will alleviate the financial burdens of these service providers.
※They have to spend huge amounts of money initially and may only see profits after a few years,§ he said. The Government has also allocated RM15mil to be spent on programmes to educate rural folk on the benefits of using information and communications technology (ICT). In addition, telecommunications industry regulator, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission will spend RM45mil to provide Internet services to rural schools. Companies undertaking ICT activities outside the country's cyber-cities and cyber-centres are also being encouraged to move into these areas. The Government will discontinue its incentives for companies located outside these cyber-cities and cyber-centres. Wong, however, said he was surprised by the announcement. ※This is a step backward. Incentives should be extended to companies outside cyber-cities and cyber-centres. ※But then again, there are many such cyber-centres coming up, so relocating shouldn't be a problem,§ he said.
The Malaysian government has said it will withdraw the 2.5GHz and 3.5GHz spectrum licences that were given out on a trial basis to telcos in 2005. The move follows Kuala Lumpur＊s decision two months ago to encourage the industry to concentrate on 2.3GHz WiMAX, 3G and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) platforms, to boost broadband take-up in the country. ＆Those [trial licences] without customers will be immediately withdrawn, while those with customers will be given five years to do so under the MCMC regulations,＊ said Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik. Seven companies were given access to 3.5GHz spectrum: namely Airzed Broadband, AtlasONE, TT dotCom, Maxis Broadband, Telekom Malaysia, NasionCom and eB Technologies. Airzed Broadband, AtlasONE, Jaring Communications, Maxis Broadband, TM, TT dotCom and eB Technologies meanwhile were given access to the 2.5GHz spectrum. The 2.3GHz WiMAX spectrum was awarded earlier this year to YTL E-Solutions, Packet One Networks, Asiaspace Dotcom (all Peninsular Malaysia) and REDtone-CNX Broadband (Sabah and Sarawak).
The Commission on Information and Communications Technology is eyeing to get another billion pesos from the Budget department next year to fund e-government projects. Since 2004, under a mandate from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has been allotting a special e-government fund that goes to IT projects of different government agencies. From an initial P400 million three years ago, the DBM has been disbursing around a billion pesos each year as "special line allocation" channeled through CICT, which disburses the budget after reviewing project proposals from different agencies. CICT commissioner Tim Diaz de Rivera noted that the amount has been fairly consistent because P1 billion is the commission's "absorptive" capacity, meaning just the right amount that the CICT can allocate within a year. He admits, though, that some agencies like the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BoC) tend to corner a sizable share of the budget due to existing ongoing IT projects.
"Compared to BIR or BoC, other agencies are not as advanced or technically capable in preparing project proposals," Diaz de Rivera said via phone interview. Each proposal goes through a review committee represented by the CICT and other agencies like the DBM and NEDA (National Economic Development Authority). "For other agencies, it usually works on a case-to-case basis when awarding funding. But we are looking to remedy that. CICT is looking at conducting workshops that will guide other agencies to prepare better project proposals," Diaz de Rivera added.
PHILIPPINES--The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has proposed new rules regarding interconnection agreements between telecom carriers and voice over IP (VoIP) providers in the country. NTC Chief Jorge Sarmiento has reportedly said that the proposals are aimed at addressing mounting complaints coming from VoIP firms, which need to "negotiate" separate interconnection agreements with local telephone carriers. According to a news article by Inquirer.net, the Philippine telecommunications regulator said the rules will tackle the "easing of requirements for interconnection agreements" that VoIP firms are required to sign with telecom carriers before these VoIP providers can offer the service. One major problem VoIP vendors have is the "difficulties" in "sealing" the interconnection contracts with the telephone carriers, Sarmiento said. Under the regulator's new set of rules, VoIP providers will only need to sign a single interconnection agreement with a telephone carrier. The proposals will also compel VoIP vendors to pay "routing" charges for calls passing through other telephone carriers with no existing interconnection deal with the VoIP firm, instead of paying additional interconnection fees to each telephone network, Sarmiento noted. Sarmiento added that the NTC may put a cap on the routing charges. The executive did not disclosed the proposed routing fees, saying only that a hearing on the proposed rules will be conducted by the NTC this month. According to the NTC, there are more than 20 service providers currently offering VoIP. But the number of VoIP providers is larger, considering thousands of small cyber cafes and Internet shops that are now offering VoIP and pitching the service as a cheaper alternative to long distance telephone calls.
Senior officials from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal have agreed to collaborate on a subregional ICT project to improve connectivity among the four countries. The proposal from South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) was reached at the fourth ICT working group meeting to discuss the proposed SASEC Information Highway Project in New Delhi, India on 8-9 October 2007. This is the first multi-country project, supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The SASEC Information Highway Project consists of three key components. It will establish the SASEC regional network to integrate member countries and reduce Internet costs, particularly for the land-locked countries of Bhutan and Nepal. The project will also build the SASEC village network to expand broadband wireless connectivity to rural communities and enable them to better access services like tele-medicine, distance learning, and e-government services.
Intel Corporation has launched World Ahead Program in collaboration with the government of Bangladesh. The programe includes education initiatives also in effort to provide people in developing countries with the benefits of better, faster access to ICT. Intel has partnered with Grameen Solutions to promote economic and social development through ICT and to create affordable technology solutions for ordinary people. Under the terms of the agreement, Intel and Grameen Solutions will jointly promote and support digital inclusion projects across Bangladesh to improve education, connectivity and access to technology and localized Internet content and software applications. Together they will deploy a PC ownership program that will offer low-cost PCs on easy monthly installments and will launch a project to set up telecenters across the country. The telecenters will enable employment opportunities for rural citizens to offer services such as Internet access, photocopying, printing and PC usage for e-government and e-commerce services. The centers will be financed through micro-loans. Intel and Grameen plan to collaborate through public and private partnerships on the deployment of WiMAX technology.
The Indian Government is planning to spend more than INR 7000 crore every year to purchase computers and IT enabled services. The Government is planning to make it mandatory for all departments to allocate 2-3% of their total planned expenditure on IT and IT-related services. The Department of Information Technology (DIT) has a proposed, which is approved by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. The scheme will be in place for two to three years on a trial basis. DIT expects that the recommendation will not put any extra burden on the government departments and ministries. The centre is already working out on a proposal to make it mandatory for all the ministries and government departments to give preferences to the domestic manufacturers for purchase of computers and other hardware items. The steps would give a boost to the domestic hardware and software sector, which is growing at a rate of over 25% per annum.
The Indian Government has approved an ambitious programme for 323 cities in the country to provide e-Governance services. These e-Governance service will enable citizens to get birth and death certificates, pay property tax, water and power-bills and submit building plans online, anywhere anytime. The cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) has approved the programme for INR 787 crore project in the 11th five-year plan. But the government is yet to decide whether it should be a separate centrally sponsored scheme or should be included in Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission. However, the Urban Development (UD) Ministry has requested the Planning Commission to sanction a separate scheme for e-Governance, as urban renewal mission covers only 43 cities and its funding pattern is also different. The Urban Development ministry says that in the year 2007-08 as many as 35 cities will be covered under the e-governance programme.
The Indian Ministry of Corporate Affairs has implemented an e-Governance Project called 'MCA21' to improve the speed and certainty in delivery of MCA services in a transparent manner. Primarily, this improvement would be ensured through he mechanism of secure electronic filing (e-filing) and easy online payment for all the services provided by the Registrar of Companies. Therefore, it is a step towards an end-to-end paperless delivery of the Government services with widespread use of Digital Signature to carry out e-filing in a secure manner with the Information Technology Act, 2000. The Ministry has firstly started the project from Coimbatore, now it is available at all the ROC locations. A total of 25.32 lakh documents have been filed online since the launch of this project. The stakeholders can now file their documents on-line at any time and from anywhere in a 24 X 7 X 365 time frame from the comfort of their offices or homes without physically visiting the ROC offices.
The Indian Government announced that all the Road Transport Offices (RTOs) throughout the country would be computerised by March, 2008 in a INR 190-crore project. The government has asked the National Informatics Centre to execute the project at the cost of INR 190 crore. Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and the National Capital Territory of Delhi have arranged the software from private firms, which would be given to NIC to make it usable nationwide. The government has set up a Committee under the Chairmanship of the Commissioner of Road Transport, Tamil Nadu, to monitor the progress being made by the states in this connection.
The Madhya Pradesh Government will set 9232 common service centres in the state to create job opportunities for unemployed youths. While addressing the committee meeting, Kailash Vijayvargiya, Minister for Information and Technology said soon government will set up common services centre under the e-Governance plan. The Union government has sanctioned a grant of INR 1.3 crore for Madhya Pradesh under the national e-governance plan. These centres would help rendering fast services to the common man in the field of education, health and entertainment, besides providing various data.
The Union Government has expanded a new policy to speed up the spread of FM Radio in the country. Presently, the government has granted permission for operationalisation of 266 channels including the 21 operationalised under the old (1999) scheme and out of this, a total of 116 channels are currently in operation. It is expected that the rest of them would be operational by the end of the current financial year. Recently, the government has invited bids for allotment of 97 channels in 48 cities and also has plans for further expansion of the private FM radio stations in future. So far, the government has received 95 applications under the new guidelines and permission has been granted to five organizations.
The Government of India plans to set up a national working group on WiMAX consisting of all stakeholders, including government, service providers, equipment manufacturers and test equipment suppliers. The national group will formulate the strategy for active participation in the Global WiMax Forum proceedings. The working group would be based on the lines of existing nine international representative groups on WiMAX. With this movement, it is expected that India will achieve its ambitious target of 20 million broadband connections by 2010. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has also expressed the need for having a certification and proof of concept application lab for WiMax equipment. WiMax is expected to play a key role in boosting broadband penetration and providing services such as e-governance, e-health and e-education in India. The technology would also help mobile voice and video services increase their penetration as these services are mostly dependent on broadband wireless technologies like WiMax.
A government panel will agree rules governing the award of future telecoms licences in 10 days, India's telecoms minister, quoted by a Reuters report, said. The Reuters report said about 30 firms have submitted around 300 applications to set up telecoms services in the world's hottest wireless market, where low call rates and rising incomes are spurring breakneck growth. The committee, set up by the government, has been charged with scrutinising the applications, the report said. "The report will be submitted in 10 days," the minister, A. Raja, quoted by the Reuters report, said. Among those interested in getting licences are real-estate firms such as DLF , Unitech and Parsvnath Developers , and diversified group Videocon Industries, he said. Raja said that by 2010 India would have one rural mobile phone user for every five urban subscribers, up from one for every 25 now, the report said. Local and global wireless carriers are looking to expand in India and the country's patchwork of relatively untapped villages, home to hundreds of millions of people, are seen as a major driver of future growth, the Reuters report said. US giant AT&T said its Indian unit had applied for licences to provide services in India in association with its local partner Mahindra Telecommunications, the repor said. Vodafone Group , the world's second-biggest mobile firm, earlier this year paid $11.1 billion for a controlling stake in Hutchison Essar, since renamed Vodafone Essar, from Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecom International, the report further said.
The Telecom Commission (TC) has approved the department of telecom (DoT) proposal to have an independent, dedicated satellite for telecom services. The project, which is estimated, to cost about $500 million is likely to the awarded to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The TC approval came after the DoT has submitted the recommendations of its internal committee. The launch of the satellite will take about 24 months because the DoT will first have to work out the modalities, after which the Isro will take 12-24 months to build the satellite. The satellite will largely cater to public sector company BSNL, which has been entrusted with the task of executing most of the government's rural programmes. At the same time, the DoT will also extend these facilities to public sector company MTNL and private operators. Currently, private operators lease transponder space from foreign satellites. Most operators in India have a heavy requirement for satellite bandwidth, especially as a backup to link their rural networks.
The Government of India is working on proposal to use multi-application smart cards with unique IDs or citizens to better monitor 'aam aadmi' schemes and reduce the claims of multiple fraudulent. The Indian Home Ministry is already coming up with a scheme for ID cards, which will meet with security concerns. The need for a multi-purpose national identity card has been felt for purposes as diverse as drawing benefits from government's flagship schemes like NREGA or getting ration from PDS shops. The main purpose to issue integrated smart cards is to provide a credible individual identification system to help in identifying targeted beneficiaries, ensure e-governance by improving the citizen-government interface and improving the security conditions. The government has suggested the introduction of Integrated Smart Card System (ISCS) for the major entitlement schemes. According to the proposal, ISCS will be based on the national level unique ID being launched by the Ministry of Home Affairs, using the unique ID as the identifier to avoid duplication of benefits and check corruption and fraud.
The program was intended to equip 30 CIOs with the skills to drive a successful e-Government. Sri Lanka launched an ※e-Champions§ program designed to equip a core group of 30 CIOs with the knowledge and skills to drive the implementation of an effective e-Government in Sri Lanka. The program combines a series of knowledge sharing sessions, workshops and international study tours. The sessions placed an emphasis on interactivity and invited overseas as well as local renowned experts to share their knowledge. ※The learning, the exposure and experiences they gain will go a long way towards their abilities to take the e-Sri Lanka vision forward. The need to put a 'human face' to all government services is imperative,§ COO of Information and Communication Technology Agency Reshan Dewapura said. More than 100 countries are introducing e-Government programs to modernise and reform public services.
ISLAMABAD (November 22 2007): After successful commissioning of modern 1000 lines digital exchange of at Athmuqaam, District Neelum, Special Communications Organisation (SCO) working on providing a these facilities to Northern Areas and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The SCO commissioned two more modern digital exchanges at Doonghi, Kotli comprising 500 lines and leepa valley with 800 lines on Wednesday morning, says a press release. Commissioning of these two exchanges will allow the people of AJK to remain linked with rest of the world round the clock.
Azerbaijan＊s most recently launched cellco Narmobile has inked international roaming agreements with Poland＊s P4, Georgia＊s Magticom and Telenor Pakistan. Narmobile is the brand name of Azerfon, owned by German vendor Siemens (20%), state controlled telco AzTelekom (10%) and British investment groups Estel and Selex (30% apiece). It commenced commercial services on 21 March 2007 and its users can roam on the networks of 447 operators in 219 countries worldwide.
Rates for cellphone conversation and SMS services are lower in Iran compared to those in 14 Asian and African countries whose rates have been analyzed, Fars news agency wrote. Calculating the parity rate of per dollar at 9,350 rials, cellphone rates in Armenia, Sudan, Bahrain, Congo, Belgium, UK, Saudi Arabia and Jordan stand at 11,780, 1,000, 4,310, 4,220, 7,330, 1,240, and 790 rials per mintue respectively while in Iran it is 447 rials per mintue. Charges are cheaper in only a few countries such as Bangladesh (330 rials), Nigeria (210 rials) and Pakistan (350 rials) per mintue. The cost of SMS services in UK, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Sudan and Jordan is 1,860, 4,840, 3,270, 1,400 and 230 rials respectively. Only Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nigeria have lower SMS charges which stand at 50-70 rials.
Following a meeting in Astana, officials of the state-owned KazakhTeleKom firm on October 22 concluded a multinational agreement with Chinese, Russian, and Uzbek telecommunications operators, Kazakh television reported. The agreement calls for the expansion of telecommunications links between the four countries' networks and includes a protocol forging a new joint expansion of the Kazakh hub connection to Uzbekistan, to be implemented by Uzbekistan's state-owned Ozbektelekom telecommunications company. With the technical expertise of British Telecom, the new partners also agreed to construct new telecommunications lines with Chinese and Russian companies. RG
The Fifth Summit on Information and Communication Technologies 每 ICT SUMMIT 2007, will be held on 27-28 September in Tashkent. From year to year the ICT Summit draws the increasing attention of ICT experts and has become one of the main events in the sphere of ICT in Uzbekistan, and causes interest of the international experts of other near and far countries. This year, the ICT SUMMIT celebrates its fifth anniversary and it will be main event, which will conclude ICT week "InfoCom 2007". ICT SUMMIT creates a unique platform for representatives of government, educational, non-governmental organizations, academic and business communities to summarize the work of ICT week, define new trends, achievements and benefits of implementation of ICTs in various areas and jointly discuss and identify measures to address issues emerging from the wide-scale application and rapid development of ICTs. Over 300 delegates from countries such as Azerbaijan, Canada, Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Netherlands, Russia, Thailand, United Kingdom, Ukraine and others will participate in the work of the Summit.
Representatives of state agencies, local and foreign IT companies, IT - experts from different areas, and also representatives of the international organizations are invited to participate in the work of the Summit. The work of the ICT Summit 2007 will be organized in the form of plenary sessions and thematic sections. The general topics cover tendencies and main changes in regulatory policy, achievements and issues in realizations of national ICT development programs, infrastructure development and other relative issues. The ICT SUMMIT 2007 is organized by Coordination Council for development of computerization and information and communication technologies.The Committee on Press and IT issues of Oliy Majlis Legislative Chamber, the Communication and Information Agency of Uzbekistan (UzACI), UNDP office in Uzbekistan through "ICT Policy" Project and Association of IT Companies and Organizations of Uzbekistan. In view of processes of globalization, ICT entered almost all fields of economy.
Uzbekistan pays special attention to develop ICT in all spheres. Under the initiative of the Government, the Program for development of computerization and ICTs in 2002-2010 is being implemented. The national legislation in ICT sphere is being updated to meet the requirements of international law, is regulating fields of author's and allied rights, electronic signature, e-commerce, e-payments, electronic document circulation. The important question in construction of the open information society on principles of respect of the national priorities of economic, social and cultural development is ensuring the information security. It is important to note that ICT Summit allows experts, government agencies, international organizations and private sector to substantially analyze the condition of the ICT market, to get acquainted with new achievements in this field, to find new reliable partners, to attract additional investments for further development of ICTs in Uzbekistan.
THE Federal Court of Australia will bring Australia's legal system into the computer age with new rules on discovery of electronic documents set for release before Christmas. Seamus Byrne, director of forensic technology at Vincents Chartered Accountants and a member of the court's working party on e-discovery, said the planned Practice Note would be a turning point. It is expected to emulate the US model, the 2006 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which imposes strict obligations on companies on their handling of electronically stored information and ensuring its availability for commercial litigation. Mr Byrne said the revised note "will bring e-discovery to the masses", and re-level the playing field that has in recent years been skewed in favour of large corporations and top-tier law firms. Protracted litigation between corporate players and inquiries into financial misconduct have also placed extreme pressure on federal and state court resources. The Federal Court note is expected to go further than the Supreme Court of Victoria's e-litigation guidelines launched in February, and will have ramifications nationally. In theory, discovery should be a relatively simple process, Mr Byrne said. "You identify the relevant documents that your party has, review them and exchange them with the other side," he said. "In practice the discovery process is often unnecessarily affected by the adversarial nature of the law.
"The scope of discovery is generally where costs blow out: if you say you're going to discover everything, the process essentially becomes endless. "So the aim is to use e-discovery reform to reinforce the principle that the ability to go to court should be available and accessible to all." The court practice note, currently being finalised, will for the first time require parties to attend a pre-discovery meeting aimed at agreeing on the scope and method of discovery, a key part of the US approach. "Lawyers and relevant personnel, such as an organisation's chief information officer, will be required to work through the electronically stored information they have in a non-adversarial way," Mr Byrne said. "If you can refine the scope, that's where the efficiencies lie. "At pre-discovery, you'd have a general idea as to what documents may be relevant, say emails from this date to this date, from this person or that department, stored on the email server or on backup tapes." Compliance with the court practice note will be mandated as proscriptive in the majority of matters, say those exceeding a certain volume of documents, likely to be 200, after a brief period of grace. This is expected to drive an explosion in the e-discovery business, which in the US is tipped to reach $US5 billion in products and services by 2011.
Observers said local uptake would be slower, as Australians were not as litigious as North Americans. However, the new rules would make it easier for sole practitioners and consumer lobby groups to get back into the game. Electronic discovery goes far beyond traditional paper record discovery or information held on company systems. It includes email, instant messaging, voicemail and voice over internet protocol communications, files held on laptops, handheld devices and mobile phones, PowerPoint, PDF, video and audio files, and storage devices such as USBs, discs and even iPods. US courts had focused corporate attention with staggering financial penalties for e-discovery violations, Mr Byrne said, but Australian courts were still looking mainly at common-law principles. "In the event you cannot produce your documents for discovery, or if it appears that you have intentionally destroyed relevant documents, the court will increasingly draw an adverse inference," he said. "In that case, sanctions or criminal contempt would apply, and you may be liable to some sort of penalty."
Mr Byrne, Australia's only lawyer with computer security and forensic qualifications, said the court expected businesses to become more proactive in managing their document handling and archival systems. "The overriding obligation will be to preserve relevant electronically stored information and be able to produce material in a timely fashion," he said. "You would have to demonstrate that any destruction of documents had been done in good faith." Annette Hughes, a Melbourne partner of Allens Arthur Robinson, said the Victorian Supreme Court note had been framed as largely advisory and was yet to have much impact in practice. "It has been set up in a way that gives people time to learn about the basic issues surrounding the interface between technology and the courtrooms," she said. "We've found ourselves in this electronic age rather quickly, and we're just catching up in law." Ms Hughes said the Victorian note was ambitious in its scope, dealing with everything from e-discovery right through to electronic trials. "When it was launched, the court made it clear that it would be a work in progress, so we'll see amendments as time goes on," she said.
"The next step has to be a proscriptive rule, so it essentially applies to all cases where, say, there are more than 500 documents. "When the court says it doesn't want parties printing out emails, for example, and exchanging them in hard copy, that's when we'll see the rubber start to hit the road." Meanwhile, the Federal Court is undergoing a massive technology overhaul as part of its eCourt strategy. This involves introducing automated case tracking, electronic lodgement, filing and document management systems, videoconferencing facilities, secure court search tools and even electronic courtroom for hearings in remote locations. Work is well advanced in the court's Sydney premises, which are under renovation, but the Queensland Supreme Court's new hi-tech complex in Brisbane is expected to be the first jurisdiction to adopt the Federal Court practice note in 2008.
Federal Labor says its plan for Australia's broadband network will produce speeds 40 times faster than the current standards. A new report from the US has found Australians are paying nine times more for broadband than other western nations, and download speeds are 35 times slower than the leader Japan. The report ranked Australia as 26th out of 30 countries for its transfer speeds. The Opposition's Stephen Conroy says the Federal Government has let Australia's broadband network slip to Third World standards. He had pledged that Labor will build a high-speed national fibre network that would lower prices and deliver 40-times faster broadband as part of its "education revolution" if it wins office. "Labor has a vision for what this country needs," he said. "We believe that our e-health, our e-education application, the chances for our children, our small businesses, will all be improved if we build this technology. "We've got to get a more competitive, open network than we've currently got," he said.
"That's why Labor's committed to a high speed national network which is 40 times faster but has competition introduced because everybody, all the providers can use it. "This will drive down prices." But the Federal Government has rejected the claim that Australia's broadband speeds are comparable to those in the Third World. Minister for Communications Helen Coonan says the Government is rolling out a national network that will improve speeds and deliver broadband to 99 per cent of the nation over the next two years. And she says Labor is not offering Australians a credible alternative. "Labor offers nothing other than a pie in the sky plan," she said. "It won't be delivered till 2013, a quarter of the population will be missed out and their proposal will have prices upwards of $100 a month. Ms Coonan says access to the Government's proposed new broadband network will cost between $30 and $65 a month.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has put out a call for comment on proposed changes to a number of legal instruments ahead of the introduction of a new regulatory framework for Internet and mobile content in January 2008. The media watchdog is seeking comment on three legal instruments: a new Restricted Access Systems Declaration, a draft amendment to the Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2005 (No.1) and a draft amendment to the Numbering Plan. The proposed new Restricted Access Systems Declaration would, for the first time, combine regulation of access to age-restricted internet content hosted in Australia with that of mobile content and newer types of content 每 for example, live streamed content 每 under a single framework. ※Both the community and providers of content should benefit from a uniform approach to managing access to age-restricted electronic content,§ said Chris Chapman, ACMA chairman.
The draft amendment to the Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2005 (No.1) would remove content-related provisions for mobile phones, which would be consolidated under the new regulatory framework. ACMA is seeking the views of stakeholders in having the remaining customer protections in the Mobile Premium Services Self Regulatory Scheme, which address prices, terms and conditions for mobile premium services, covered by a consumer code. Comment is also being sought on a draft amendment to the Numbering Plan that would require age restricted content delivered via premium SMS and MMS services to use numbers beginning with 195 and 196. The new schedule commences on 20 January 2008 and provides for the prohibition of, and restriction of access to, certain classifications of content over a broad range of content services delivered over mobile devices and the Internet.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued two discussion papers in relation to fixed line service exemption applications from Telstra. This brings the total number of exemption applications from Telstra currently being assessed by the ACCC to seven. The first discussion paper relates to Telstra's applications for exemption from the standard access obligations for the public switched telephone network originating service (PSTN OA). Telstra has sought exemption in a total of 404 exchange service areas (ESAs), comprising 17 ESAs in CBD areas and 387 ESAs in metropolitan areas. The second discussion paper relates to Telstra's applications for exemption from the standard access obligations for the local carriage service (LCS) and wholesale line rental (WLR) service in 16 ESAs in metropolitan Australia. These exemption applications follow Telstra's earlier applications for LCS and WLR exemptions in 371 ESAs, lodged with the ACCC in July. Graeme Samuel, ACCC Chairman, said Telstra submits that there is sufficient competitive infrastructure in the proposed exemption areas that regulation of these services is no longer necessary.
"Under the Trade Practices Act 1974, the ACCC must decide within six months whether granting Telstra the exemptions from its standard access obligations in the proposed exchange areas would be in the long-term interests of end users," he said. As part of assessing the exemption applications, the ACCC is inviting interested parties to respond to issues raised in the discussion papers. The ACCC is seeking comment on issues relevant to the consideration of the exemption applications, including market definition, current and potential state of competition in upstream and downstream markets, and the effect of the exemptions on incentives for efficient investment. The ACCC will consider submissions in response to the two discussion papers which must be lodged with the ACCC by Friday, 14 December. The discussion papers will be available on the ACCC website at www.accc.com.au.
LABOR has promised a better internal split of Telstra as part of a promised "revolution" in telecommunications regulations aimed at reducing Australia's high broadband prices by improving competition. ElectionIn an interview with The Australian, Opposition communications spokesman Stephen Conroy described as "flawed" the so-called operational separation regime, which is supposed to provide transparency into the way Telstra charges its retail partners for network services. "We'll get rid of it and start again," Senator Conroy said. "We'll have a tougher operational separation regime. "The operational separation regime is a complete joke, all it does is tie up resources that cost consumers ultimately, and achieves zero. We don't believe that is a worthwhile way to regulate." The comments are the strongest signal yet from Labor that it will get tougher on Australia's biggest telecommunications company, which has been in a pitched battle with the federal Government over regulations. His comments have been supported by the industry.
"The next Government needs to move beyond the flawed model we had to live with," Macquarie Telecoms regulatory chief Matt Healy said. "At the heart of that model is Telstra's structure. You can't shy away from it. Regulators around the world are dealing with it, even New Zealand, previously the laughing stock of the telecoms world is tackling it head on and its time we did the same." Senator Conroy highlighted the British model where "BT wholesale is going gangbusters" and the emerging environment in New Zealand, as good examples of what can be done. If Labor pulled off a plan to build a new fibre network using a public-private partnership model, that may help institute structural changes to the industry, he said. "If we can get the structure right for the network, we can completely revolutionise the regulation in this sector," he said.
E-HEALTH failed to get a mention in Labor's campaign launch today, despite confirming a $2 billion commitment to hospital reform and new healthcare programs. Instead, education was the big IT winner. But while Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd promised to deliver internet access to the nation's schools at speeds of up 100Mbps, it seems there is no such plan to link doctors, hospitals and other medical providers to the proposed fibre-to-the-node network. Advanced broadband capabilities are needed to support new medical imaging and diagnostic tools, remote support through telemedicine, patient record-sharing and population health initiatives. The lack of specific announcements on health IT will disappoint many observers, including the Health Informatics Society of Australia which, frustrated by the absence of a national vision for transforming healthcare, has today released its own e-health blueprint. More than 200 of the nation's leading health information experts say an agreed vision and "appropriately resourced plan" are urgently needed to beat a looming crisis due to an unprecedented bulging in demand and simultaneous reduction in availability of staff. HISA says the federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, shadow minister Nicola Roxon and Australian Medical Association president Rosanna Capolingua seem to think that "health informatics is merely an enabling technology, with the presumption that if you get the other plans in place, e-health will somehow sort itself out".
"We, on the other hand, believe this to be a major and complex engineering project on the scale of a Snowy Mountains scheme that can only happen with a good plan and the resources to implement it," HISA said. "Too often, there has not been a good understanding of what needs to be done, and the constancy of purpose required to get it done. "Australia needs political champions who can provide the necessary leadership in collaboration with the healthcare community to move us quickly to a new healthcare system." HISA's blueprint outlines a strategy built on engaging consumers, transforming care delivery at the point of care, improving population health, aligning financial and other incentives and managing privacy, security and confidentiality concerns. "Policy development and implementation bodies, both government and private, need to deliver clear leadership of e-health programs," it says. "They also need a deep understanding of the cultural and operational complexities and to ensure programs are properly structured."
KEVIN Rudd has undercut John Howard's spending but offered an expansive plan to "completely network" Australia's schools. In his policy launch in Brisbane today, Mr Rudd said his promises today would cost less than a quarter of the $10 billion Prime Minister John Howard announced on Monday. But he said it was necessary to rein in spending to help reduce the likelihood of future interest rates hikes, something the Reserve Bank had warned about this week. But that did not stop Mr Rudd in his speech promising a computer for every student in years nine to 12, and connecting Australia＊s 9000 primary and secondary schools to the planned National Broadband network at speeds of up to 100 megabits a second. Most of the schools will be connected via fibre optics, but the more remote schools will have access via other means such as dial up and satellite services. Labor will provide an extra $100 million to include schools in its $4.7 billion fibre optic national broadband network, and has set aside $1 billion to get more computers on desktops. "This is an education revolution - I want to turn every secondary school in Australia into a digital school," he said. "I want to provide every secondary school student with the foundations to move into the digital economy of the future." Schools which already had computers could use the money to upgrade, and all of the computers would be replaced as required to keep them at the cutting edge.
He stressed the future of Australian children depended on them being equipped with the skills and technology needed to compete in the modern world. "The economies we are competing against are making a huge new investment in education," Mr Rudd said. "They know that knowledge-intensive economies will be the wealthiest economies of the future." "We must take action now. We need nothing less than an education revolution now." "I am intensely proud of Labor＊s plan for education. It＊s core business for Labor. It is core business for me. And it＊s a core part of our nation＊s pathway to the future," he said. Mr Rudd said Mr Howard did not understand the challenges that faced the nation: climate change, water, the digital economy, the health system, and the need for an education revolution. "Mr Howard has no plans for the future because he is not going to be there to deal with the challenges of the future," he said. Mr Rudd had already announced five ※chapters＊＊ in his education revolution: pre-literacy and numeracy education for four-year-olds, a 50 per cent tax refund on home computers and broadband connections, incentives for maths and science teachers, increased funding for Asian language teaching, and state-of-the-art trades training centres in schools. The next chapter, number six started with a boost to skills training: 450,000 training places including 65,000 apprenticeships. "One third of these additional places will be allocated to people currently outside or marginally attached to the workforce - to equip them with the skills they need to gain employment," he said.
Fiji＊s interim Minister for Commerce, Industry, Investment and Communications Taito Waradi confirmed today that the country＊s telecommunications sector is now fully deregulated. In a statement, the minister said the new Telecommunications Bill, which is designed to provide for the deregulation of the monopolised sector, was adopted via a cabinet decision on Tuesday. Online news journal Fijilive quotes Waradi as saying ＆The 1989 decree is now repealed. This new bill now replaces [the old one] which for the last 18 years locked us into exclusivity. We are now operating in a deregulated environment. There is no [longer a telecoms] monopoly in Fiji.＊ The new Act 79 becomes effective immediately, the minister added, with the first aim being to create the Telecom Board Authority of Fiji to implement the act and regulate the industry. One of the stumbling blocks has been the subject of compensation for operators losing their monopoly status in the market. Here, Waradi says section 80 of the Act deals with the removal of exclusivity and will be implemented at a later date. Mediation talks with the telecom operators involved are due to start next week. ＆As the promulgation of the Bill will effectively end the currency of the exclusive privileges granted to Telecom Fiji and Fiji International Telecommunications (FINTEL), an agreement has been reached between Government and the industry to enter into negotiations on the seven years remaining of the exclusivity licence,＊ the minister said. Speaking for the two operators, parent company Amalgamated Telecom Holdings said it was unaware of the new law entering into force, but would study the minister＊s statement with interest.
The government of New Zealand is considering a proposal to alter legislation covering the Telecommunications Service Obligation (TSO) which will allow companies other than Telecom New Zealand to bid to offer services in unprofitable rural areas. Currently all telcos contribute to the TSO, with the funds offered to Telecom to subsidise its rural networks. Telecom and its main wireline market rival, TelstraClear, contribute around 69% of the total TSO, with Vodafone and five other firms contributing the remainder.
※New Zealand＊s Digital Content Strategy, launched today, will help Kiwis create, share and use new digital content,＊＊ said Minister for Information Technology David Cunliffe and Minister Responsible for the National Library Judith Tizard. Digital content includes the stock of official information, commercial content and the on-line stories of ordinary New Zealanders. ※We need to build our own Kiwi content to grow our high-tech businesses, strengthen our unique national identity, and provide a rich stock of creative material for future generations,＊＊ the Ministers said. The strategy provides a framework for approaching the opportunities and responsibilities presented by a digital environment. It incorporates feedback from the community and businesses to ensure it meets the needs of New Zealanders. ※The strategy takes the first steps towards unlocking content, digitising and preserving that content, promoting standards, and generating new industry opportunities. These steps will be built on over time. ※Our focus is on ensuring that our content works for us, and that it is visible and relevant. New Zealand is full of world-beating creative companies. Digital content strategies will help them find new market opportunities. ※We look forward now to the Digital Future Summit 2.0, Auckland, 28/29 November 2007. This will be an opportunity to reflect on progress over recent years and map out a robust approach to take advantage of digital technology." A copy of the Digital Content Strategy and supporting documents are available at www.digitalcontent.govt.nz
Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Hon David Cunliffe, has issued a call to action to all digital leaders, community groups and organisations with an interest in advancing New Zealand＊s digital future. ※The Digital Futures Summit 2.0 on 28 and 29 November will provide the forum for an inclusive and interactive conversation about the current state of our digital world and the direction for New Zealand＊s digital future. ※I am encouraging a wide range of stakeholders to be a part of the process and make a positive contribution to the Summit and the refresh of New Zealand＊s Digital Strategy. This will be an important opportunity to help shape our shared digital future,§ said Mr Cunliffe. Individuals and businesses concerned about broadband speed and access, high-tech business growth, and the social and sustainability issues that technology brings, should seize the opportunity to attend and contribute to planning New Zealand＊s digital future. The five key themes for the Summit and Digital Strategy refresh are: · Affordable, fast broadband for all New Zealanders · ICT driving creativity, innovation, productivity and wealth creation · ICT skills and capability 每 education and lifelong learning · New Zealand community content 每 strengthening communities and celebrating our uniqueness · Sustainable New Zealand 每 ICT supporting a sustainable economy.
※Every aspect of our lives is now impacted by technology in some shape or form. ICT drives economic development and is key to our advancement in many fields. ※Places at the Summit are filling up fast. I encourage anyone with ideas about New Zealand＊s digital future to get online and register now.§ To start a national conversation about ICT issues a blog has been set up to enable people to contribute ideas to the Digital Future Summit and refresh of the Digital Strategy. New Zealanders are encouraged to participate in the online discussion forums at www.digitalstategy.govt.nz/blog. The Digital Strategy was first released in April 2005. The Digital Future Summit 2.0 will provide key guidance for the planned refresh of the strategy in 2008. Register your attendance for the Digital Futures Summit 2.0 at http://www.digitalsummit.org.nz/.
ICT-New Zealand (ICT-NZ) supports the Digital Strategy refresh and concurrent creation of an umbrella digital advisory body, as announced yesterday by the Communications and Information Technology Minister David Cunliffe. We have been strong advocates for a collaborative approach to developing and growing the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in New Zealand and this strategy endorses our efforts. The New Zealand ICT sector continues to deepen its contribution to the New Zealand economy both as an industry and as a broad economic enabler. We look forward to working with this new body to foster a more productive and prosperous digital future for all New Zealanders.
Geneva, 10 September 2007 〞 ITU Standards produced by the Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) are now available online without charge. The announcement follows a highly successful trial conducted from January-October 2007, during which some two million ITU-T Recommendations were downloaded throughout the world. The aim of the trial was to ※increase the visibility and easy availability of the output of ITU-T§. Offering standards for free is a significant step for the standards community as well as the wider information and communication technologies (ICT) industry. Now, anyone with Internet access will be able to download any of over 3000 ITU-T Recommendations. These are used by equipment manufacturers, telecommunication network operators and service providers throughout the world to drive the information society. The move further demonstrates ITU＊s commitment to bridging the digital divide by extending the results of its work to the global community.
Mr Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU＊s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), presented the results of the trial to the 2007 meeting of ITU＊s Council. He said that not only had the experiment been a success in raising awareness of ITU-T, it would also attract new members. Most importantly, he noted, it had helped efforts to bridge the ※standardization gap§ between countries with resources to pursue standardization issues and those without. ※There has been very positive feedback from developing countries,§ said Johnson. ※Last year exactly 500 ITU-T Recommendations had been sold to developing countries; this year, after allowing free access, they have downloaded some 300 000.§ ITU-T Recommendations are developed in a unique contribution-driven and consensus-based environment by representatives of industry and government, with industry providing the most significant technical input. A strong focus of current standards work is laying the foundations for the next-generation network (NGN). Other key areas include IPTV, ICT in vehicles, cybersecurity, quality of service, multimedia, emergency communications and standards for access, such as VDSL 2 〞 very high speed digital subscriber line 2, the newest and most advanced standard of DSL broadband wireline communications.
The work of immigration officials in Milan and homecare workers in four Finnish municipalities has become more efficient since the IST project KIWI began testing a knowledge management system aimed at turning civil servants into collaborative knowledge workers. The Web-based and mobile-accessible KIWI platform enables the acquisition, integration, analysis and sharing of distributed information in multimedia formats, overcoming many of the problems caused by the complex communication and workflow processes that exist within and between government departments. The trials at the beginning of last year have led to the adoption of the system at the Italian and Finnish pilot sites, with public administrations in other European regions currently interested in testing the platform. ※Public administrations in general have shown themselves to be very keen on the KIWI solutions as they have seen the benefits of the adoption of the platform,§ explains KIWI scientific coordinator Emilio Bugli Innocenti at NETXCALIBUR in Italy. According to Alberto Savoldelli, the administrative coordinator of the project at AIP in Italy, those benefits can be summed up as ※efficiency, transparency and quality of service within administrations, and between administrations and citizens.§ Most significantly, the platform can effectively be used in any area of government, as clearly shown by the trials.
Trials underline the benefits
The KIWI platform explained
※The KIWI solution leverages the relationships between public administrations＊ organisational processes, people and technology to collect and share the right information with the right people at the right time in order to improve productivity and quality of service,§ adds Bugli Innocenti. Though public administrations are generally considered to be lagging behind the private sector in their adoption of knowledge management solutions, there is nonetheless a trend toward improving workflow processes within the scope of moves toward e-government, the coordinators say. There are several key differences in the knowledge management systems needed by government offices, however. ※Public administrations require customised, dedicated systems that reflect their organisational structure and their work processes,§ Savoldelli explains. ※From a technological and methodological viewpoint, the difference between the private and public sector lies in designing systems that fit into the way public administrations operate and the way they handle information exchange.§ The Italian and Finnish trials showed that the KIWI system amply covers those needs, leading other public administrations to consider adopting the system. ※Public administrations in Europe and even Asia have asked to trial the KIWI services and agreements with them are under discussion,§ Bugli Innocenti says.
Geneva, Nov 1 (Prensa Latina) Commitments for over 55 billion dollars were made to interconnect all African capitals and major cities with Information and Communications Technology (ICT) broadband infrastructure and strengthen connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012.A report issued by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) on the recently concluded Connect Africa Summit, held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 29 to 30 October, says that by 2015, broadband and ICT services will be extended to all African villages. According to the release, these goals should enable the achievement of the broader Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Many analysts, however, doubt the continent as a whole would achieve those objectives taking into account most of the less developed nations are in Africa.
The Summit paved the way to meet the World Summit on the Information Society goals for capacity building, establishing an environment for investment, and e-government services. As to the role of governments it was decided to harmonize the regulatory framework in order to stimulate integration in large-scale projects, above all cooperation in capacity building. Africa＊s mobile market has been the fastest-growing of any region over the last five years, and has grown twice as fast as the global market. Mobile operators of the GSM Association announced USD 50 billion in new investment over the next 5 years to expand and upgrade networks across Africa by 2012, providing coverage to over 90 per cent of the population. ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure expressed his conviction that new investment in ICT infrastructure will lead to new jobs and overall economic growth. The Under-Secretary General of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang, on his part, said the African private sector working with their international partners, the support of the international community and commitment from governments, universal connectivity in Africa is no longer a utopian dream.
The World Bank's private arm, the International Financing Corp. (IFC), is investing in Africa's fiber-optic cable systems by giving loans to governments and private partners, service providers and investors to extend access to ICT. "The World Bank is now doubling its commitment in Africa's broadband infrastructure development in the next five years by investing $1 billion in broadband infrastructure development," said World Bank director of operations, Hartwig Schafer. He added that the aim of the funds is to make sure that the continent catches up with the rest of the world in broadband connectivity. With the announcement, made this week at the Connect Africa summit in Kigali, Rwanda, the World Bank is raising its commitment to African ICT to $2 billion by 2012, from its current investment program of $1 billion over the past five years. Many African broadband projects remain incomplete due to lack of funds, said Rwandan president Paul Kagame at the Connect Africa summit. The bank is also pushing African governments to ease restrictions on the acquisition of international gateway licenses in order to promote competition by service providers and lower telecom.
Acquiring an international gateway license in Kenya costs $214, 000, a figure that service providers say is beyond their ability to pay and prohibits development. In August this year, the bank approved a $32.5 million loan to East African Submarine Cable System project, designed to connect 21 countries in Africa to each other and the rest of the world. Celtel International, Africa's second largest mobile service provider, received a $320 million loan for expansion in five countries on the continent, including Madagascar, Uganda, Sierre Leon and Malawi. Celtel has a presence in 14 African countries. Schafer said the bank would also partner with universities, ICT regional regulatory associations and IT institutions in Africa to offer training and capacity development for regulatory staff. According to the bank, from 1995 to 2005, it invested $25 billion in the ICT sector in Sub-Saharan Africa through private operators and investors. Sub-Saharan African includes Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya. (By Michael Malakata)
Heads of State and Government and Ministers from African countries who met in Kigali, Rwanda for the Connect Africa Summit showed a willingness to collaborate with partners from the information communications technology industry, financial institutions, international and regional organizations and civil society to speed the process in realizing the connectivity on the African continent. In a communiqu谷, the senior officials of governments set out some five goals they intend to fulfill in ensuring that all the capitals in Africa have Internet connection. They intend to follow the Plan of Action established during the World Summit on the Information Society and the UN Millennium Development Goals to; interconnect all African capitals and major cities with ICT broadband infrastructure by 2012. Under the plan African villages will get to the broadband and ICT services connectivity by 2015. This is a move aimed at implementing shared access initiatives like community tele-centres and village phones. The continent will also adopt key regulatory measures that promote affordable, widespread access to a full range of broadband ICT services. This will include technology and service neutral licensing practices. Support for the development of a critical mass of ICT skills required through the establishment of a network of ICT Centres of Excellence in each sub-region of Africa. This is aimed at achieving a broad network of inter-linked physical and virtual centers. The initiative is also aimed at adopting a national e-strategy, including a cyber-security framework, and deploy at least one flagship e-government service as well as e-education, e-commerce and e-health services using accessible technologies in each country in Africa by 2012, with the aim of making multiple e-government and other e-services widely available by 2015. (By Judith Akolo)
LagosIn the country＊s march towards a formidable but sustainable eNation in line with global trends, various policies were formulated by government among which was the need to set up a wholly indigenous front-end interoperability and content management agency that will be fully committed to this cause. The determined effort by government to provide good governance through due diligence, accountability and transparency alternately spawned the need to begin public sector reforms and the integration of all ministries, parastatals, departments and agencies in Nigeria. In many forums and debates, it was held as one of the pathways to fast track the realization of our aspirations as a global eNation.
In 2001, the United Nations in its e-readiness report was unequivocal on the benefits derivable from authenticating and articulating the various platforms that will ensure the growth and sustenance of eNations as the knowledge economy increasingly swayed the world to new heights. And so in year 2003, the government of Nigeria moved to establish The National eGovernment Strategies Limited - NeGSt., with Dr. Olu Agunloye; a product of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - MIT in the USA, as the effective and substantive chief executive and head of operations. He was chief operating officer for seven years, at the Federal Road Safety Corp. With the mandate to implement the Nigerian eGovernment programme, the new agency set out on its task to build, implement and sustain the various platforms it had crafted, drawing from the experiences of countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, the United States and even South Africa .
For its operations, the agency drew from the three levels of funding made available from shareholders that include banks such as UBA, EcoBank, Wema, Afribank, GTB and Skyebank. There are pioneer or blind investors as well as those that can be described as intellectual property owners. The lot includes technical solution providers and consultants who contributed to various aspects of the national e-government project that was taking root. Funds also came from specific projects such as the Teachers＊ Registration Project nurtured by Skyebank and the e-immigration by a consortium of four banks.
There is also the 10% shareholding by the government of Nigeria that is held in trust by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology through NITDA, charged with the promotion of standards and regulations in all IT issues. Partners in Commerce, Industry, Finance, Oil and Gas sectors of the economy as well as Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government have all looked to the benefits and are plugging in to share in the harvest of bounties listed in various NeGSt initiatives. NeGSt is also set to bountifully reap from the various e-projects it has initiated in the 42 months that it had existed. Key among these is the eNYCS, developed for the National Youth Service Corp and financed by Afribank to enhance data on youth service placements and operations in Nigeria.
The ePassport programme developed for the Nigerian Immigration Department and financed by Skye Bank as it eliminates multiple acquisition, identity theft and forgery seen in the system will provide timely immigration data bank in the country. The ECOWAS platform for e-vehicle licensing developed by the agency has only recently been demonstrated. While it has been commended for robust character and content, it stands recommended for adoption by member states as a way of fostering better trade relations. vehicular movement and registration. All of these fall in the e-projects that we can point to in recent times. Other eSuites developed by NeGSt include those that will ensure the efficiency and functionality of the different layers of the country＊s economy as well as citizen-centric schemes. The pensions automation scheme, spun to eliminate the lopsided method in use presently lends credence to efforts being made at developing and entrenching a viable scheme. (By Hilda Esin)
The South African government has revealed details of the next stage of development for its e-government strategy, reports newswire ITWeb. At a media briefing, public service and administration minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi said the government would now look to establish an interactive community relationships portal and to provide community development workers with mobile internet access. "We want to make e-government more interactive so that people can ask specific questions," she said, while acknowledging that content on government portals was a problem. She said that a task team had been set up to make sure departments update their websites regularly. Fraser-Moleketi also gave details of a pilot project to equip community development staff who work on the road with mobile phones and laptops with internet access.
SINGAPORE: Asia＊s public sector IT spending to be $51.5 billion in 2007, with the market growing at a compound annual rate of 6.9 per cent from 2006 through 2010, according to Springboard Research study on public sector IT spending in Asia (including Japan). Study reveals that growth was steady in the region. The study also revealed that Japan, while growing much slower than the rest of Asia, is still by far the largest market in the region, accounting for 45 per cent of public sector IT spending. China and Australia are the next largest markets, accounting for 20 per cent, and 11 per cent, respectively, of public sector technology spending. India is the fastest growing market in the region, and the market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 19.5 per cent through 2010. While federal IT spending accounts for 72 per cent of all expenditures, Springboard is seeing increased growth in spending at the next level, comprised of state, regional, provincial and local governments. ※This segment of the market is growing at close to 10 per cent a year across the region and state-level spending is growing twice as fast as federal spending in more mature markets like Japan, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan,§ said Jonathan Silber, research manager for Springboard Research. ※This is an opportunity, but it also represents more real estate that vendors need to cover as there are a lot more organizations at this level. Also, local government spending has tended to grow slower than state and regional spending; but in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, we have seen strong local spending growth that is as fast or faster than federal and state spending,§ Silber added. Key sub-verticals within the public sector include education (public and private), which will account for 22 per cent of spending in 2007. Other key sub-verticals are healthcare (public and private) and defense/security, with healthcare being the fastest growth sub-vertical across the region. ※We are seeing strong growth in technology spending in healthcare across the board. In most countries, it is the fastest growing sub-vertical as countries invest heavily in infrastructure and to support aging populations in places like Australia, Japan, and Korea,§ Silber explained.
01.11.2007 - Armed with just a mobile phone with integrated camera, Dublin＊s citizens will soon be able to snap pictures of wheelchair-unfriendly pavements which will then be sent straight to City Council and logged as a report.John Donovan, head of innovation at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and project manager for ICiNG (Innovative Cities of the Next Generation) which is rolling out this pilot scheme, says that in essence this will be an ＆issue tracker＊ where the report begins with a citizen on the street and automatically becomes a job number for the city council to deal with. The person who reports the complaint will be able to track the progress of the accessibility-unfriendly pavement and will be notified as soon as the job is completed. This pilot scheme is part of a series of projects designed to enable the ＆e-citizen＊ through accessible technology such as mobile phones and Dublin City Council (DCC) along with DIT are focusing on using this in the regeneration efforts in the Grangegorman area. Dublin residents taking part in such projects need only download some software onto their phone for the system to work. This citizen alert platform could also be extended to create community groups said Donovan. For example, one idea that people from the Grangegorman area came up with was using it to share video documentaries of how the area was developing among community groups like specific apartment blocks. Details of the case studies, including the issue tracker for wheelchair accessibility, will be presented at the Cities of Knowledge conference held in Dublin on 20 November, with rollout of these pilots expected to begin in March of next year. (By Marie Boran)
Slovenia has moved up on 2nd place among European states by the measurement of the European Commission.In the scope of 4th Ministerial conference on e-government which took place in Lisbon in the framework of Portuguese Presidency of the European Union (EU) in September 2007, the results of annual measurement of European Commission (EC) about development of e-services in the Member states of EU were announced. This year＊s results show the excellent progress of Slovenia, which moved up from 7nt to 2nd place since the year 2006. Slovenia shares the 2nd place with Malta. The 1sth place is kept by Austria. Vice-president of the EC Siim Kallas has specially stressed out the progress of Slovenia, Malta and Estonia. The progress means great acknowledgment to Slovenia for its endevaour to achieve effective e-government. Among the explanation of the results of annual measurement of EC at the Conference, the Slovenian State portal E-uprava was specially preised as the best practice in the domain of a personalised and targeted gateway to public service delivery. Slovenia achieved a scoring of 93% for its national portal, the EU27+ average is at 75%. Ministry of Public Administration also received special recognition for the case of good practice (»ePractice.eu good Practice label«) at the Conference. It recieved the recognition for the case of forming the programme for Reduction of Administrative Burdens (RAB) by the means of development of new informational system, which supports the programme RAB. Ministry recieved this special recognition on the basis of recommendation of the European e-Governmnet Awards 2007 Consortium. The recognition was awarded only to those 10% of the best cases, which were estimated by experts with more than 80 points.
Despite the talk, innovation is very rarely taken seriously. But the National School of Government, Young Foundation and NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) have joined forces with new research to show that the public sector can innovate, but often it is despite, not because of, the systems they are working in. The Public Innovation Conference ＆Creating the Conditions＊ yesterday heard from a heavy-weight line up of innovators from across systems of public service delivery in health, education, housing and crime. Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Sir Gus O＊Donnell opened the conference, and Sir Ian Watmore, Permanent Secretary of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills joined Cabinet Minister Ed Miliband to discuss with delegates how government could better support innovators and innovations already present in the public sector.
Key findings from the case studies featured at the conference showed that: > Innovation comes mostly from those most in contact with social problems, service users, front line staff and pockets of professionals rather than executives, researchers or policy thinkers. > The spread of innovation is dependent on public organisations shortening their delivery chains to get closer to social problems. > The innovation journey can be like ＆hacking through a jungle＊ as there is no well-defined path to follow. > The spread of innovation depends on the receptiveness of the gatekeepers, allies and adopters. Examples of champions from the case studies include Mike Farrar, chief executive of West Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority who backed ＆Patient Opinion＊; Sir Norman Glass who ring-fenced Treasury funding for ＆Sure Start＊; and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair who promoted the idea of Police Community Support Officers. > Entrenched institutional structures act as significant barriers to public innovation as well as a culture of targets, risk-aversion and short-termism. > The most systemic obstacle to innovation is the collision between public institutions and small groups of innovators who have little common ground; go-betweens are needed to make connections.
Key recommendations from the research include: > A call for financial investment in innovation, including in new and existing networks across the public sector. > More research based on the ＆connect and develop＊ model in conjunction with universities, which aims to create an understanding of customers before developing products and services for them. > Incentivising, rewarding and promoting civil servants who take the risk of backing innovation, making it central to leadership, human resources and corporate thinking.
To underline the integral role that IT now plays in parliamentary communications, the British Computer Society (BCS) has announced the winners of its first MP Website Awards. The new BCS MP Website Awards has sought to spotlight and applaud MPs who the Society believes have best used their websites to passionately communicate their political platform. Judging criteria also marked MPs on sites that effectively engage with their constituents and present the world of politics, particularly to young people, in an exciting and dynamic manner. Websites were judged and are awarded today according to three categories:
There is also an award for the MP whose website was selected as overall winner and considered to be an outstanding example of the very best incorporation of all three qualities. In addition three MPs were also commended for exemplary websites that demonstrated passion, commitment and excitement. Judging of all MP websites was undertaken by BCS President Professor Nigel Shadbolt and key political journalists including Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail, Patrick Wintour of the Guardian, Michael Kallenbach of UK Press Gazette and - to ensure broad appeal to all ages - Matthew Darroch Thompson (aka Webster) of The Oldie. And because accessibility is vital in engaging people with disabilities, all sites were also appraised by AbilityNet, the national charity that helps disabled adults and children use computers and the internet by adapting and adjusting their technology. Judges were looking for MP websites that successfully engage and excite, yet usefully inform with honourable purpose. In addition, judging criteria took into account ease of navigation, accessibility and effective use of modern media techniques such as blogs, pod or video casts and instant messaging.
According to BCS chief executive David Clarke, ※IT now offers the world of politics the ability to present itself in a more exciting and communicative form. Today＊s computer technology enables ministers and MPs to engage with constituents and voters in a two-way dialogue that enhances the democratic process. ※If used creatively and with IT processes that are familiar to young people, it will also attract and persuade more of them to take a keener interest in the political process which is surely vital for the safeguard of our democracy§. Speaking for the judging panel, Professor Nigel Shadbolt said that standards varied enormously. Some of the worst comments were: ※Is he more interested in himself or his voters?§, ※Wouldn＊t vote for him.§, ※Which party does this woman belong to?§ and ※Self promoting as usual.§ Professor Shadbolt added: ※Of particular concern was the large number of MP websites that failed to be shortlisted because they failed the accessibility test. ※This means that the large minority of the population with various disabilities would be unable to properly access these sites. And this last category, particularly with an ageing and increasingly IT reliant society, they ignore at their political peril.§ ※The best were able to combine excellent content with newest forms of media, such as video and blogging in a bid to get up-to-date, relevant and well-written information out to a cross-section of their constituency.§
(MENAFN - Jordan Times) AMMAN - Starting December, cellular phone subscribers will be receiving SMSs informing them, for example, that their driving licence would expire in a certain period of time, or that they should report to a certain public agency to complete some business with the government.The new service will be provided under a project implemented by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology. It involves a total of 15 public agencies and ministries that will send short messages to cellular phones related to announcements and services offered by these agencies, according to Director of e-Government Programme Hassan Horani. ※People will receive an SMS informing them that their national ID cards or passports or family notebooks are about to expire, or they will be sent an SMS that they need to renew their car licences. In addition, the recipients can send SMS to public agencies inquiring about their income or sales taxes, the status of an application for a shop licence or the volume of customs on their imported goods,§ Horani told The Jordan Times on Sunday.
During the first year of implementation, when at least five million messages are expected to be traded, the e-Government programme will shoulder the financial cost of the public agencies sending SMSs to cellular holders while recipients will pay the usual tariff for an SMS, according to Horani, who revealed that the total cost of the project stands at about JD70,000. ※During the first year, about a total of 75 services will be available to the public via SMSs and there are plans to increase the number of services offered after the first year,§ Horani said. The official said a tender was referred to a local mobile provider, which will start during this week linking the partners to a network. The next step will go beyond informative SMS to a procedure that would allow people to complete their transactions with public agencies via their cellular phones, Horani said. In their reaction to the announcement, citizens interviewed by The Jordan Times gave the plans a thumbs up. Yousef Mohammad, a shopkeeper at Jabal Hussein, said: ※I think it is a good service. Yes, I would like to be reminded of appointments to discuss my tax statement with assessors.§ A university student, Wael Ali, said the service is likely to promote the concept of e-Government among Jordanians. ※It＊s time we saw e-Government services translated from paper to practice,§ he said.
Technology is supposed to serve humans, but it runs faster than them. People are playing catch-up now, trying to sort out the rules that will allow everyone to play nicely together on Wikipedia and YouTube. A similar movement is afoot in the public sector. Technology that allows different government entities to share resources and information horizontally opens vast new possibilities to improve services - but also butts squarely against traditional vertical silos of accountability. Governance structures are now being stretched in new directions to foster but control innovation. "The foundation issue for everyone in government is governance around shared services," says Rose Langhout, head of I&IT strategy, policy and planning at the Ontario Ministry of Government Services (MGS).
While the first wave of consolidation - sharing IT and other common services within jurisdictions - is still a work in progress, there are fewer question marks around its governance, she says. "We now have a track record, and there are many examples of mature shared services organizations." In Ontario, various committees comprised of deputy ministers, corporate chiefs and CIOs have been formed, and forums created to share and resolve common issues across ministries. "People are always a bit torn between what's good for the enterprise and what's good for their ministry, but what governance does is create a context for managing that balancing act," she says. While the basic model for shared services is fairly established, there are many new governance challenges that need to be worked through, she says. Identity authentication is a major area that can boost efficiency significantly across jurisdictions.
Single process For example, provinces track life events - births and deaths - but the federal government issues pension cheques. "There's a long and venerable tradition of continuing to send cheques after people pass away, and then you have to claw back the money," says Langhout. Government initiatives are underway to share information to prevent these snafus, and also to consolidate citizen services that cross jurisdictions. "For newborns, we're testing a single process that allows parents to apply for a birth certificate, health card and SIN number," she says. In Ontario, the governance body that oversaw PKI implementation broadened its mandate two years ago to oversee all identity authentication, regardless of technology, she says. "However, not all jurisdictions have that kind of governance body." Different provinces are at different stages - British Columbia is piloting virtual identity cards, but other provinces are still developing mechanisms. "A task force is working across jurisdictions to develop a standards-setting process to handle this in a pan-Canadian way. There's been some progress but this isn't cooked yet," she says.
The intent is to agree on the underlying standards that define identity to enable different technologies to interact, and not to use a single technology. "What gets in the way of sharing information is not having confidence another jurisdiction is using the same level of trust as we do. If we can get the inputs right, then we can share personal information appropriately while also respecting privacy rights." New forms of horizontal sharing are also coming down the pipe and these will require new governance models, says Langhout. "There's a lively discussion in government around horizontal policy and how to do that," she says. To deal with many broad social issues such as poverty and recidivism, many ministries must work in concert. "It's not about all your business, but a piece of it that you want to do differently and in collaboration with others."
The governance model from the shared services sphere doesn't fit this new policy sharing form, nor does it fit well in Ontario's I&IT cluster model. "This reinforces the importance of I&IT having the ability to govern itself horizontally across government because more and more we're being asked to support initiatives that are not ministry-specific," Langhout says. Another area that has major growth potential, but where there is no track record, lies in sharing investments in IT infrastructure across different levels and types of public sector organizations, she says. "Provinces, municipalities, agencies, boards - all invest in IT and there's probably a lot of overlap. If we could figure out how to collaborate better, we could produce better results for the one taxpayer at the end." These initiatives will also need new governance models that allow disparate organizations to agree on the business rules. "For example, if the province of Ontario wants to work with the municipality of Waterloo and a local school board on a project, then we'd need a group that represents all these players and can make decisions about their collective resources," she says. (By Rosie Lombardi, contributor, CIO Government Review)
China is sending out two virtual police officers to patrol the internet to combat online pornography and other "illicit activity". The virtual officers, a man and a woman, "will appear either on motorcycles, in a car or on foot, at the bottom of users' computer screens every 30 minutes to remind them of Internet security," the China Daily said. The two will monitor major news portals and all Web sites and online forums based in Beijing from this Saturday. "They will be on the watch for Web sites that incite secession, promote superstition, gambling and fraud," an official with the Beijing municipal public security bureau was quoted as saying. The newspaper did not explain how the two officers would monitor sites or enforce laws, but said users could click on the pop-up icons to link to an Internet surveillance centre where infractions could be reported. China already keeps a close watch on the Internet and media and will interrupt signals from the likes of CNN or BBC and black out television screens if a sensitive topic, such as Tibet, Taiwan or media freedom, comes up.
In another clampdown, about 40 online pornographic novels and related Web sites had been blacklisted for "damaging young people's hearts", the China Youth Daily said. "To curb online pornography is the main focus of recent work," the newspaper said, citing the General Administration of Press and Publication. In April, Chinese President Hu Jintao launched a campaign to rid the country's unruly Internet of "unhealthy" content and make it a platform for Communist Party doctrine. But despite a vast system of filters and tens of thousands of Internet monitors employed to wipe out salacious content and ideas contrary to Communist ideology, pornography is rife. So far, 128,000 Web pages with pornographic content had been detected and 244 sites closed down, the Internet surveillance centre of the Beijing municipal public security bureau was quoted as saying. "We have achieved visible results in recent months but there is still a long way to go," Zhao Hongzhi, deputy chief of the centre, was quoted as saying.
Blogging, a form of citizen journalism, has caught on so much in China that even some government officials are getting into it. The highest-ranking official or former official to write a blog is Zhao Qizheng, former director of the State Council Information Office, now president of the Journalism School of Renmin University in Beijing. He launched the blog "Zhao Qizheng and his books" (http://blog.sina.com.cn/zhaoqizheng) on August 3 and uploaded several chapters of his latest work In the One World - 101 Tips on How to Communicate with Foreigners. One of them, about the importance of smiling, has been read by nearly 40,000 netizens since it was posted a week ago. In a letter of August 14, Zhao thanked netizens for reading and commenting on his blog and apologized that he could not respond to each comment or question because he could only surf the Internet for limited time every day, and that he was a slow typist. Some netizens have used his blog to speak directly with the former top news official. One of them, called "Peach", a journalism student complained of a perceived lack of jobs in the industry and asked for his advice. The direct interaction between bloggers is one of the most appealing elements about this form of communication. Arguably the most popular blog run by an official is that of Liao Xinbo, deputy director of the provincial health bureau of South China's Guangdong Province. Liao calls himself "Doctor Brother Bozi" and his blog (http://blog.sina.com.cn/liaoxinbo) has been read more than 650,000 times since it was launched last April. At present it ranks the sixth most popular blog in Guangdong. The health official is known for being outspoken.
On Monday, he posted an article by an anonymous doctor which blamed China's apparent failure on medical reform over the last 30 years on the lack of fair pay for doctors. "If the situation continues, the next medical reform is doomed to fail again," the post warned. Liao also argued in his blog that health services were not a commodity that should be "bought" by patients, a key point that health providers need to serve the public, instead of trying to rake in money. Netizens who agreed with Liao proposed the official lobby his allies at the provincial people's congress - the legislative body - to draft a law especially for medical contracts. Netizens even went as far as drafting their own medical contract law, which Liao posted on August 24 commenting: "I have never studied laws and cannot give any comments. I wish my friends who are interested to give their ideas". Dozens of lawyers responded. According to one of them, legal tangles in the medical sector were difficult to settle because there were already too many laws, but not one powerful or specific enough to tackle problems with malpractice disputes. The netizen proposed that it was with some urgency that a law was drafted that covered the entire sector, instead of one that specifically dealt with contracts. Whether or not the fact the netizens' law proposals were right or wrong, their interaction with this sort of blogging demonstrates how ordinary people can debate the merits of such proposals.
Liao's blog, with its inspiring discussions, provides a prime example of a form of "direct democracy". There are no figures available as to how many officials have blogs in China. However, in Suqian, a mid-sized city in east China's Jiangsu Province, 81 middle and high-ranking officials in the municipal government have opened blogs on the government website (http://blog.suqian.gov.cn/). Their Communist Party secretary, Zhang Xinshi, took the lead. "Zhang hopes that those who are in charge at the different government organs can also have blogs so that they can express their ideas, attract people's discussions and build an efficient channel of communication between officials and ordinary citizens," said a Suqian Daily report about a working conference this April. Zhang has updated his blog almost every day and written long articles on weekends about a wide range of topics from global climate change to professional education. An article on "civilized behavior" prompted the local Suqian Daily to open a column about the topic, and more than 100,000 pupils and high school students distributed pamphlets on civilized behavior in the streets of his city.
Almost each of Zhang's online articles was read more than 400 times, but there have been few posted responses from the public. When a comment was made, it often turned out to be a pledge of a subordinate to implement the Party secretary's ideas, not public feedback. A report in the People's Daily last month said officials in Suqian had published more than 1,700 articles on their blogs and these articles were read by more than 760,000 netizens. "It is a good thing that officials opened blogs and strengthen their communication with the ordinary citizens," Xie Chuntao, professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, said. As part of China's e-governance construction, 12,000 government websites have been built in the past decade, according a report by Xinhua News Agency last December. More than 96 percent of the central government organs, 90 percent of provincial governments, 96 percent of municipal governments and 77 percent of county governments have their own websites. "By further exploring the communication possibilities of blogs, officials may better win the citizens' trust if there is successful communication between the two sides," said Mao Shoulong, political science professor at Renmin University of China in a commentary in the People's Daily last year.
But he also feared that some officials may have their opinion influenced by the "small club in cyberspace". "Actually, if we want the government to get nearer to the ordinary citizens, we can make more efforts on improving our democratic system instead of using the highly personalized blogs," he said. "At the current stage, we can improve the government websites that widely exist, and make them work better in publicizing policies and communicating with netizens. This is a more constructive choice."
A backbone network of e-government linking China's central-level departments started operation on Sunday. With such a standard platform, the organs of the Party, National People's Congress, government, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, court and procuratorate will have their own websites or sub-network linked together, said Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan at the opening ceremony. The existing e-government networks at central-level departments will be linked to the backbone network, he said. China announced in May 2006 that it will finish a backbone network linking all Party and government departments at the central and local levels in three years. Management rules, technical standards and service policy will be issued to make sure the stable performance of the network, Zeng said. Meanwhile all departments are urged to build database and computerize information to facilitate information sharing. The backbone network provides Chinese governments at all levels with two systems, an internal system and an external system which is linked to the world wide web. "E-governing will help the government to improve efficiency and service to the public as an important part of the country's administration reform," Zeng said. He urged all the e-government network users to publicize their administration procedures and public information through the backbone network.
More than 100,000 job vacancies in different companies have been provided online to college students since Tuesday, which is part of the efforts of the Chinese government to help them with this year's job hunting. The online job fair, first of its kind this year, was jointly organized by the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Ministry of Personnel, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the State Development and Reform Commission, and the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council. The five government departments will hold at least 13 online job fairs, including construction, health, agricultural and commercial sectors, an official with the MOE said. The MOE, and nine other government departments will offer other helps to job-hunting students, including free job-hunting consulting, skill training, internship program, and financial support for impoverished graduates. They have also made policy to lead the students to work in undeveloped western regions of the country.
"This move is to meet the urgent demand for jobs amid surging numbers of college graduates," the official said. China will also establish some pilot bases to encourage students to start their own business. China has been under great pressure as the number of college graduates keeps surging. According to statistics, 5.59 million students will graduate from higher education institutions in 2008, an increase of 640,000 over this year. About 30 percent or 1.4 million college graduates failed to find a job on graduation in 2007. Earlier this month, Chinese Vice-Minister of Labor and Social Security Zhang Xiaojian said that the employment issue would become "more protruding" as more college graduates entering the job market each year. Statistics show that a total of 11.84 million urban Chinese found jobs last year, the first time China saw the number of newly employed urban people exceed 10 million in one year.
The New-Generation Network Promotion Forum (Chair: Professor Emeritus SAITO Tadao, the University of Tokyo) is inaugurated today for strategic and comprehensive promotion of initiatives to develop new-generation networks. MIC has held meetings of the Study Group on Network Architecture (Chair: Prof. TOKUDA Hideyuki, Keio University) to study the concepts, technological challenges, and promotional measures for new-generation networks. The study group recommended that, in order to develop new-generation networks ahead of other countries and ensure Japan's competitiveness, a forum be established for the promotion of R&D on new-generation networks and government-industry-academic cooperation. In response, the New-Generation Network Promotion Forum is established today through government-industry-academic cooperation. MIC, as represented by the secretary, will actively participate in the forum activities.
To mark the 15 yeas of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the People's Republic of China, Korea held a two-day Dynamic Korea event from Aug. 22 in Beijing. During the event, Korea's Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs launched an e-government publicity booth to promote the Korean government's vision and strategy of e-government and introduce the nation's top five electronic public services: On-nara Business Process System (BPS), information network village (Invil), the electronic procurement service, the immigration system named Korea Immigration Smart Service, and the mobile phone-based rescue service named U-119. The Korean government's On-nara BPS makes detailed analysis of tasks by recording every step of the working procedure from decision-making to implementation. Benchmarked from the e-system at the Presidential Blue House, BPS began its pilot service at the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs in July 2005 Invil is designed to reduce the digital divide between rural and urban regions by increasing availability of e-government services and to increase the income level of local residents by boosting local economies through e-commerce and eventually improving the quality of life in rural communities. Korea's Public Procurement Service has won the e-Asia Award for its online procurement system at the 25th Asia Pacific Council for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (AFACT) held in Aug. 2007. PPS is the nation's largest online shopping mall for public organizations.
The United Nations Division for Public Administration and Development Management awarded the United Nations Public Service Award (UNPSA) for 2007 to Korea's Ministry of Justice for its immigration clearance service KISS (Korea Immigration Smart Service). Dynamic Korea event raises China's public interest in e-government. Not only government officials but also journalists and experts from various sectors and universities visited Korea's e-government booth during the event. Reflecting China's growing interest in establishing e-government, officials from China's Ministry of State Council Information Office, Beijing City office and Ministry of Information, journalists from CCTV and China's major newspapers and experts from electronic technology sector and academia gathered to look around the booth and consider adopting the e-government systems in the future. ※It is very unprecedented for China that it allowed another country to build a publicity booth inside the Great Hall of the People,§ one of Chinese staff that participated in the event said, reflecting China's strong interest in Korea's e-government.
The Chinese visitors' curiosity and interest in e-government was very similar to that shown by Koreans at the beginning stages of building an e-government system. Despite the differences in volume, working methods and information environment of the two countries, both Korea and China realize that establishing e-government is a requirement for survival and government administration innovation. Not only e-government, Chinese visitors also showed strong interest in Invil which allows any individual to access desired information regardless of occupation, age or location. Since nearly 70 percent of Chinese reside in rural areas, the digital divide has become a social issues in China. Beijng hopes to adopt Seoul's e-government model. To narrow the digital gap, Qian Xiaoqian, Deputy Director of the State Council Information Office in charge of conducting China's e-government project, expressed his will to learn Korea's experience and know-how from building information villages and operate a related pilot project. Korea's Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs and China's State Council Information Office signed a memorandum of understanding in the e-government sector in Feb. 2007. Through the MOU, I hope both countries can have active exchanges so that China can successfully adopt Korea's e-government model in the near future. (by Kim Nam-seok)
The unprecedented mobile phone voting used by the United New Democratic Party (UNDP) has drawn public interest as more people registered for the electoral college than earlier expected. A total of 240,289 people registered to pick the party's standard-bearer to take on Grand National Party (GNP) presidential nominee Lee Myung-bak in the Dec. 19 election. The voter turnout of 70.6 percent for the first round of phone voting on Tuesday also shows that the new system encouraged more citizens to join the race. In the previous four rounds of off-line voting, the turnout was a mere 19.2 percent. Apparently mindful of the influence of mobile voting, the three presidential contenders geared up to gain more support in the second vote conducted from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. A total of 75,000 people were eligible to vote. Former Gyeonggi Governor Sohn Hak-kyu said he was confident that he will win the mobile vote again, setting the stage for a come-from-behind victory, though he currently ranks second in the overall cumulative tally. The frontrunner, former Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, also expressed confidence that he will top the second mobile vote, saying that he could beat Sohn by a margin of at least three to four percentage points. Chung's camp said it will not be easy for Sohn to beat the frontrunner because he lags far behind.
In the overall tally, Chung leads the nomination race with support of 41.6 percent, with Sohn trailing at 32.6 percent. Former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, who is reportedly backed by President Roh Moo-hyun, places third with 25.7 percent. In the first mobile vote, Sohn won 7,649 votes or 36.5 percent of 20,938 eligible votes cast nationwide, whereas Chung garnered 7,004 votes or 33.5 percent, and Lee, 6,285 votes or 30 percent. During his visit to Daegu Thursday, former Governor Sohn vowed to seek compromise with reform-minded politicians to field a single candidate for the election, if he wins the nomination. To this end, he said he will try to meet with independent runner Moon Kook-hyun, presidential nominee Sim Dae-pyung of the People First Party and a candidate from the Democratic Party (DP). The third and last mobile vote is to take place no later than Oct. 14. The fifth and last off-line vote is scheduled to take place on Oct. 14 nationwide. The UNDP, launched in early August by former members of the now-defunct ruling Uri Party and some from the DP, plans to announce its presidential nominee at its convention on Oct. 15. (By Kim Sue-young Staff Reporter)
The Korean government has been awarded an opportunity to show the world how far its electronic governance system has come and even to transfer such know-how to other countries. Korea's Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs is holding a workshop in Seoul from Oct. 23-26 for chief information officers and experts on electronic governance from 19 nations to share information and knowledge on systems development. The workshop comes at the request of the United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN) whose 19 members said they wanted to learn from Korea's highly acclaimed e-governance system. UNPAN is a global networking tool that connects relevant international and regional institutions worldwide for the promotion of better public administration. So far, Korea has been teaching Korea's best practices of government innovation and e-government to other countries, including China, Spain, India and several Middle Eastern countries. Seoul has been pushing its e-governance initiative since 2002 with the goal of narrowing the information gap between cities and regional villages and improving communication between public administration, citizens and businesses. Korea's e-governance capability was rated number 1 among 198 nations in an annual survey by U.S.-based Brown University last year. Korea has also ranked fifth in a United Nations' survey on e-government infrastructure two years in a row, topping other Asian countries for its online readiness and high level of information integration. Korean government websites provide a variety of online services such as tax reports, lists of successful candidates for state exams and reunion information for families separated by the division of the peninsula. PDA access, user fees and foreign language translation were also among the merits cited.
Two government agencies are in dispute over the sharing of a database on the country's businesses and their tax payment records. For months the National Statistical Office (NSO) has been asking the National Tax Service (NTS) to provide such information to help it reduce budget spending on its statistical research as well as increase its data accuracy. The statistical office conducts research and surveys concerning the nation's businesses and households to produce precise and up-to-date statistics, spending tens of billions of won in taxpayers' money every year. However, the tax agency has refused to share the data, contending that protecting the private information of taxpayers is more important. The NSO said Sunday that it will soon set up a taskforce to hold consultation talks with the NTS and persuade it to provide taxpayers' information. It is also planning to beef up public relations activities to sway public opinion to its side as well as draw support from politicians. In January, the statistical office sent two employees to the NTS and found out that business tax data could be used in producing 21 of its statistical analyses. It has held a series of consultations with the tax agency over the sharing of tax records since then. In May, the NSO officially requested the NTS provide the tax data. The NSO is arguing if it is allowed to access NTS' data, it can cut down survey costs by 6.8 billion won each year. The Board of Audit and Inspection also said in July that the statistical office could have saved some 12.5 billion won since 2005 if it had access to the NTS' tax database. Also, citing a survey of 484 businesses, the NSO said about 81 percent of respondents supported the NSO's use of their business information and tax records. However, the tax agency sent official notices to the NSO, once in July and October, refusing to share the data. It said the country's tax law allows tax payment records to be used only for tax-related state affairs, insisting such data cannot be either released to a third party or used for other purposes. The NTS also said if the business tax payment data is released outside or shared with other state agencies, it will damage its credibility with taxpayers and thus make it more difficult to carry out its work.
The National Tax Administration has begun to introduce "E-tax" system in order to receive tax reports from taxpayers in on-line form. Via the home-page of the tax service, value added tax reports and value added tax bills will be received in the form of files by programming. On the basis of the value added tax bill, sale and purchase size of taxpayers will be analyzed comparing with the tax report, according to specialists.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- The goal of the KhmerOS project is to produce the basic computer technology necessary for Cambodia to enter the age of technology. The requirements for this technology are clear: It must be in Khmer (Cambodian) language, sustainable, and well adapted to the socio-economic situation of the country. Cambodia not being a profitable market for software companies, the only option left to undertake this effort is to base it on Free and Open Source software (FOSS), which allows translation, adaptation and free distribution of the software. Even more, FOSS does not have the high computer-power requirements that proprietary software has, allowing the deployment of low-power-consumption computer solutions that strongly affect sustainability. The project's focus on local language is based on two simple concatenated ideas. a) A country can only open its doors to development if its citizens have widespread access to basic technology; and b) Widespread access only happen when the technology is in the country's own language, otherwise it stays in the hands of a minority that masters a foreign language. The use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) responds to the need for modifiable, low-cost low-power-consumption software that fulfills the needs of the country.
Starting in 2004 as a NGO project, during its first year of operation KhmerOS translated to Khmer - and adapted to Cambodian culture - a complete set of Free and Open Source computer applications (word processing, spreadsheet, presentation tool, Internet browser, e-mail client, etc.). All these applications worked in both Windows and Linux platforms. The project also standardized and developed Khmer script fonts, designed and manufactured keyboards for Khmer, developed support programs (such as a typing tutor), and edited and printed manuals in Khmer for the applications. In 2005 KhmerOS became a joint project between the NGO and the government's National ICT Development Authority (NiDA), starting to reach out to teachers and government officials. From 2005 to 2007 KhmerOS trained, directly or through associated programs, over 1,000 teachers and 3,000 government employees, opening different bodies of the administration to the possibility of working with computers (which they could not do using English language). Installation campaigns took the applications to all provinces of Cambodia, installing them in a large amount of Windows-based computes.
Indonesia＊s Information and Communication Minister Muhammad Nuh says the government will launch a tender for its Palapa Ring project 每 a fibre-optic network spanning Surabaya, East Java 每 on 10 November 2007. If completed, the new network could provide telephony and internet services to some 40,000 villages. The Jakarta Post reports that the state also plans to make provision for Wi-Fi infrastructure in east Indonesia where telecoms networks are currently woefully underdeveloped, and will offer free hotspots to boost internet uptake. The Palapa Ring project, which was initiated in January 2005 during the first Indonesia Infrastructure Summit, is part of the government's plan to boost telecommunications penetration in the country, which currently stands at 20%. The construction of a fibre-optic ring will connect Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua, and eight network connections, or backhauls. With an estimated 35,280km of submarine and 21,807km of terrrestrial fibre-optic cable, the project would connect 33 provinces and 440 cities. Construction is expected to start in early 2008 and the ring network is expected to enter into full operation in 2011.
Ratepayers and the public can now assess and provide feedback on the level of services offered by all 144 local authorities in the peninsula to the Prime Minister's Department via an online survey. The move, undertaken for the first time by the Government, allows individuals, non-governmental organisations and the business community to evaluate counter services and courtesy of personnel behind the counters, how telephone calls are handled and how public complaints are managed. Results of the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu) survey would be collated and used to further improve the public delivery system of local authorities. Mampu director-general Datuk Normah Md Yusof said complaints, which needed urgent attention, would be directed to the respective city halls or district or municipal councils for immediate action. "This feedback will also act as yardstick to assess how effective are the improvements made by the respective local authorities. "We will also use the feedback to improve the weaknesses, apart from getting a clear and holistic perspective of how much of improvements local authorities have made and whether it is customer-focused."
"The services of local authorities impact the everyday lives of the public, be it residents or those involved in commercial activities," she said. Normah said that Mampu, which comes under the Prime Minister's Department, had made the 24 survey questions as simple as possible for the people to provide feedback on their experiences when dealing with local authorities. She said the survey would cover the areas of office environment, counter service, services provided by the local authority, complaint management, website and telephone call management. The survey would also enable the public to provide suggestions on ways of improving the services of their respective local authorities. The forms could be assessed via the Government's official portal myGovernment at www.gov.my, under the quick links -local authority feedback.
Applicants for international passports will not be required to fill any forms from Dec 1, said Home Ministry's secretary-general Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat. He said their thumbprints and latest passport-sized photographs would, however, be needed when they made the applications. Aseh said the paperless application would be made possible as the Immigration Department could verify immediately the identity of an applicant through its computer system, which is linked to the National Registration Department. ''The passports will be issued to the applicants on the same day,'' he told reporters after handing over Hari Raya goodies to the state Immigration Department officers and staff at Bangunan Sultan Iskander here Thursday. He said the department had started issuing instant passports to the applicants in Sabah and Sarawak on the same day since Oct 1. States in the peninsula had implemented the instant passport issuances earlier. Aseh said the ministry had planned to build a RM60mil complex here to house all its departments and agencies, which include the Immigration Derpartment, National Registration Department, Rela and the Registrar of Societies. ''Housing all the agencies under one roof will enhance service delivery to the public,§ he added. Aseh said the ministry had identified a site in Petra Jaya for the project, and is in the process of acquiring the land from the state government. Construction work for the proposed complex should start by next year.
PENANG, Nov 9 (Bernama) -- Malaysia has been ranked 25th in electronic government, according to a survey conducted recently by Brown University, Rhode Island. Telehealth and E-Government Multimedia Development Corporation Sdn Bhd, Senior Manager Gayah Gulam Haidar said the situation improved from last year when Malaysia was at 36th place and from 2005 (at 157th). A total of 198 countries were placed in the electronic government ranking, she told reporters at the Electronic Government Promotion here, today. Korea tops the list followed by Canada and Singapore. Meanwhile, Director of Electronic Government Development, Malaysian Administration Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu), Dr Zakaria Abdul Hadi said the electronic government promotion held at Queensbay Mall here today was aimed at increasing awareness among the public on the online service provided by the government. The promotion, held from today till Sunday, involved seven government agencies.
MALAYSIA--As police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands of activists Saturday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysians had to turn to the Internet in search of news reports and updates. On Nov. 10, some reported 30,000 people staged a rally in the country's capital, calling for electoral reforms to ensure a free and fair general election which is expected early-2008. Organized by Bersih (which means "clean" in Malay), the rally involved a coalition of some 70 non-governmental organizations and opposition parties. Mainstream print and broadcast media were advised to play down the incident, and most took heed. Undeterred by the government-imposed media blackout, many turned instead to alternative new media--encompassing an array of online news sites, blogs and YouTube videos--to get updates on the country's biggest anti-government street protest in a decade. This move parallels recent events in Pakistan, where students turned to the Internet to bypass media blackout and galvanize the community during the Nov. 7 protest rally against President Pervez Musharraf.
MANILA, Philippines -- The Chief Information Officers Forum (CIOF), an organization of CIOs from government and private institutions, identified concerns that delay the implementation of IT projects in the Philippines. Those fail to succeed due to procurement issues are government projects related to IT or modernization. During a recent roundtable discussion on government procurement, some member CIOs pointed out reasons for such delays and came up with various papers citing the problems as well as coming up with suggestions to improve procurement. The group met as part of the Information Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) project, a joint activity of the Department of Science and Technology and the Canadian International Development Research Center. Its main goals are to bring together theses and case studies on the use of ICT for development and get policy recommendations and experiences. During his presentation, Angelo Timoteo Diaz de Rivera, director general of the National Computer Center and officer-in-charge of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology, pointed out that failed bids, delay in the release of funds, project modifications, change in project management and problems with service providers are among the main reasons why government IT projects are often delayed.
The Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) plans to develop shared software services for government use, starting with a real property tax system that was developed by the National Computer Center (NCC). Through the NCC＊s Center of Excellence project, the CICT is looking at developing shared software applications. One of these government applications include the Real Property Tax System, which is an open source-based software, now used by 300 municipalities in the country, said CICT Commissioner Tim Diaz de Rivera in an interview. "We've deployed the Real Property Tax System in 300 municipalities. But it really takes months to set up the database for this system," the government executive said. The difficulties in deploying such a system, and issues involving the lack of open source experts to man the system has led the CICT to think of developing a shared software services system, Diaz de Rivera added. The idea is to develop a shared application for fifth- and sixth-class municipalities. So the real property tax system can now be accessed via the web. The system will be set up in the provincial capital, which would translate to more cost savings and easier deployment, the government executive said. The real property tax system was deployed in six municipalities in Cebu, he said.
"We will pilot this using the shared services of the application service provider (ASP) model so that several local government units (LGUs) can collaborate in improving the software and customizing it to their needs. We have identified the second district of Cebu as the pilot municipality," the CICT executive said. Diaz de Rivera said there are more government applications that are available to other agencies. They include software system for financials, an electronic library (eLibrary) developed for the National Library, electronic governance system for local government units (eLGU) now used in NCC. But CICT is looking at creating shared services for a national government accounting system, business permit and licenses system, real property taxes and treasury management. During a conference of government executives, Diaz de Rivera said the CICT will also push the use of the Department of Budget and Management's Integrated Budgeting System in other agencies. The system has helped DBM in its budget execution process and eGovernance. Meanwhile, the government executive said that the NCC is now conducting pilot test of collaboration software for back office productivity.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is looking to increase the number of corporate taxpayers online following the ongoing upgrade of its Electronic Filing and Payment System or eFPS. By law, businesses with market capitalization above P10 million are required to file their taxes online. BIR's eFPS has logged in around 14,000 taxpayers so far, according to BIR assistant commissioner Alberto Pio de Roda. "We are targeting 1.2 million taxpayers by the end of the year," he said. The eFPS upgrade, awarded to Sun Microsystems and system integrator Soluziona, is due for completion by December. The project aims to upgrade BIR's existing hardware (about six to eight CPUs), with minimal addition of resources as possible. "Basically, the upgrade would involve server virtualization and load balancing to allow scale. Once this is achieved, we will be able to start adding more hardware into the system," Pio de Roda said. By adding more taxpayers into the system, he added, the BIR is also looking to recover P40 billion in collection deficit during the first six months of the year. The eFPS was first launched in 2003 and started out with 600 of the country's largest corporate taxpayers.
A "one-stop shop" that will help fast-track the processing of permits and other services will soon be opened at the Manila City Hall to assist businessmen who intend to invest in the capital city. Mayor Alfredo Lim ordered the creation of the "one-stop shop" to simplify the usually tedious procedures involved in transactions being made in the five-story City Hall. Among the permits businessmen need to secure are business permits, health permits, license taxes, compliance certificates. The one-stop shop will also serve as an information center to prevent unnecessary trips to the wrong offices. Earlier, a satellite office was opened in District 4 or the Sampaloc area for the convenience of residents there. The mayor said five more satellite offices were to be opened in the city＊s remaining districts. Three key personnel were appointed by the mayor to develop the guidelines for the one-stop shop: lawyer Luis del Mundo Jr. of the City Treasurer's Office; Senen Tomada of the business promotion and development office; and Edgardo Tan, electronic data processing services. City Administrator Jesus Mari Marzan said a strict monitoring of frontline service offices would be done to ensure compliance with the mayor's directive to make City Hall transactions easier, especially for poor residents.
All government services are expected to be available online soon and they will be citizen-centric, said Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. Speaking at the e-Government Summit on Tuesday, he said the aim is to give Singaporeans better access to the government online, whether it is to help shape public policy, give feedback or make simple transactions. This vision of an integrated government is expected to be achieved by 2010. Dr Balakrishnan said: "This will enable everyone to engage the government more effectively, and save you the hassle of going from one government agency to the next. "We used to have this question of going through wrong doors and more wrong doors and I think the electronic platform allows us to ensure that it is always an open door." But with greater dependence on e-government systems, the Minister said security systems would be strengthened to guard against cyber terrorism and other threats. Dr Balakrishnan also pointed out that the e-government efforts have not gone unnoticed. Singapore's public service came up tops in the latest Accenture's Leadership In Customer Service report.
SINGAPORE--Building on the current advancements in the government's online initiatives, Singapore's public e-services must move ahead to reach more of the country's citizens, urges a senior government official. Speaking Tuesday at the e-Government Summit 2007, a component of the annual Global Entrepolis conference, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore's Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA), said the country's public e-services need to be extended to reach more people. This can be achieved by adopting new strategies, the minister said. "Our citizens and businesses expect to engage and transact with all government agencies, anytime and anywhere," said Dr. Balakrishnan, touching on several recent moves by the government to make e-services more accessible. One such example is the REACH portal, which incorporates Web 2.0 features such as blogs, social networking, online chat and short text messaging functions, said Balakrishnan. To reach citizens who are not IT-literate, 28 CitizenConnect centers have also been set up across the island-state. These manned Internet kiosks offer free instructions to guide people on how to interact with the government online. "Technology has changed expectations," said the cabinet minister. Recalling a recent e-mail message he received, Dr. Balakrishnan described how an irate citizen was upset that he had received a response from the minister's staff, instead of a personal response from the senior government official.
Dr. Balakrishnan recalled with a laugh that this incident reflected how "expectations have changed with the times", where citizens now expect their government to be "immediately responsive and personal". Recounting the development of Singapore's e-government beginnings, Dr. Balakrishnan said the 1980s were marked by work automation and reducing its paper trail. The 1990s saw interfaces built between the government and private sector, such as TradeNet, MediNet and LawNet. "Today, our citizens view personalization and mobility as equally critical to meet their e-lifestyle demands," he said. To address this, the government's MyeCitizen portal was revamped to allow its content to be customized, including lifestyle information such as entertainment and travel services. The portal provides Singaporeans with a consolidated dashboard of government services that they can access online. Some services have also been extended to the mobile realm. Dr. Balakrishnan said: "To give our citizens and business access to public services on the move, we have put more than 150 e-government services on mobile platforms." These include the country's Central Provident Fund (CPF), and information on traffic conditions.
The e-Government system is aimed at improving transparency and accessibility to the public. Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Vu Duc Dam discussed these issues with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper. Can we say that the first step to building e-Government is computerising administration? Yes. When the system and administrative procedures are computerised, everything will run smoother, more effectively and more transparently. At that point, all interchanges between people and authorities will occur in a clearer, faster manner as well. A study conducted by Brown University in the US has shown that Viet Nam has made great advances in e-Government development, now ranking 90th in development as opposed to 126th in 2006. Is this good news for Viet Nam? It＊s quite good news, but we should not feel overly satisfied as we still rank behind 89 other countries and economies. To attain an e-Government as developed as Singapore＊s, the Republic of Korea＊s or those of Scandinavian countries, where people can work directly with authorities via internet anytime, anywhere, Viet Nam still must complete a great deal of work. For citizens, the Government must provide consistent access and must represent a singular authority via the internet through its various channels.
In this way, citizens can monitor their requests and understand authorisation channels and directives more clearly. Many people argue that Viet Nam doesn＊t have e-citizens, so the process of building e-Government will be slow. What are your thoughts on this? I don＊t think it＊s worth worrying about. People will not only be eager to use e-Government, but they will also be likely to expand their use of such systems. As the State builds e-Government, it in turn encourages people to become e- citizens. Most citizens will want to have an easy access code that will be used to maintain contact with the Government instead of a series of other identification means. What is the situation with making citizens and enterprises a key focus when building e-Government? Providing quick responses to the requests of citizens and enterprises still requires much work. Obviously most ministries, sectors and localities have websites or portals to maintain contact with people. However, most of them provide primarily one-way information and do not yet always issue the most updated information. Though some sectors and localities have started processing opinions from people, this has not occurred with great regularity. What are the difficulties of building e-Government in Viet Nam? Anything new always poses some difficulties. e-Government requires changes involving operational systems, people and synchronous solutions.
Luckily, the growing demand by citizens and enterprises for e-Government provides great motivation to get things up and running very soon. And if all ministers and People＊s Committee chairmen push online communications, changes will occur with even greater speed and effectiveness. How has the Ministry of Information and Communication implemented the project of building e-Government? We have drafted and submitted a project on e-Government to the Prime Minister ranging from the present time to 2010. It is entitled "The Programme to Apply Information Technology in State companies" and was influenced by local and international suggestions.
Bangalore based Comat Technologies is a leading e-Governance and Information-based services provider to rural India. Comat with it's partner 3i Infotech has already set up around 800 ICT-enabled kiosks in Karnataka under the PPP model. The company is providing e-Governance services in several states, including Haryana, Uttaranchal, Tripura and Sikkim. Comat has partnered with these Governments to set up Common Service Centres across Districts, Tehsil and Gram Panchayat level. Comat will set up 706 CSC's across the Uttaranchal state benefiting 6.3 million population in its rural areas. Comat is already a part of Uttaranchal's e-Governance initiatives like Land records computerization, Electoral Identity cards, Computerization of social welfare department etc. Soon, Comat will expand its e-Governance services in North Eastern states like Tripura and Sikkim.
The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh (India), Shivraj Singh Chouhan stated that e-governance is necessary tool to provide efficient and transparent administration. While inaugurating an `online tax payment and dealer point registration system' in the State Transport Department, he said e-Governance is must for good governance. The new facility will save time and enable dealers to deposit tax online and get their registration number from their offices itself. The Transportation Department has undertaken 100 percent computersation to serve more than five lakh people associated with the transport profession. In addition, electronic weighing scales would be installed at the inter-state transport check points shortly.
Chhattisgarh has introduced the first e-Court system in the state capital, Raipur. This is for the first time, the hearing of murder case used video conferencing. The state government is planning to connect all the police stations, district jails and sub-jails and courts through Internet to speed up in disposing cases related to undertrials and even registering first information reports (FIR) at the respective stations. Chhattisgarh is the eighth Indian state to implement the e-court facility in India, which is part of the ambitious and revolutionary INR 8.54 billion project for computerising the country's entire judicial process from the trial courts to the Supreme Court.
After Madhya Pradesh, the Haryana Government is planning to introduce e-Tendering system in its state to bring transparent and competitive bidding. The Haryana Public Works (Building and Roads) Department has procured all contracts through e-Tenders for the recently sanctioned Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana Phase VII projects. E-Tendering system will reduce tender related corruption. Based on the experience of Haryana Public Works Department, the system would be extended to other works of the PWD Department and other departments.
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has launched its computerised accounting reforms system which is known as the eGov Financial System. The system's main feature is implementation of a fully integrated accrual-based double-entry accounting system that has been developed by eGovernments Foundation exclusively for Indian municipalities. It is based on the National Municipal Accounting Manual launched by the Urban Development Ministry in association with the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India in February 2005. The eGov Financial System is a fully online system which ensures controls like role-based access and reduces data entry errors. It also ensures that all the reports are generated in real-time to enable better decision making by the Council. Apart from its numerous advantages, this system will enable citizens to log on and track their bills and payments through real time data.
The Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), India has successfully tested the first e-governance project on its open source software in Tier-I locations of the State for the Civil Supplies Department. First time ELCOT has tested its 100 percent open source tools, including open source software desktop systems in an enterprise environment, on TN State Wide Area Network (TNSWAN). According to C. Umashankar, Managing Director of ELCOT, the connectivity is working fine in Tier-I locations and its is ready to enter Tier-II locations. Currently, the ELCOT team is working on other e-governance projects related to old age pension, registration of properties and commercial taxes, online tool for new VAT dealers' registration and facilitating filing of monthly returns. In the first phase, TNSWAN will be spread across 708 locations. These include 30 district Collectorates, 206 taluk offices, 385 block offices, all 30 DRDAs, 73 RDOs, all Collectors' camp offices and 14 vital locations in Chennai City. Tier-1 locations consisting of Collectorates have been connected at 8-12 mega bytes per second (mbps) speed with the Chennai Data Centre and Tier-2 locations comprising taluk and block offices at 2 mbps speed to the Collectorate.
The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) (India) has launched its Citizen Portal dedicated to the citizens of Mumbai. The Citizen's Service portal enabled by solutions, consulting and services by a consortium of SAP AG, Siemens Information Systems Ltd. and ABM Knowledgeware Ltd. will operate efficiently and transparently delivering benefits directly from government-to-citizens and government-to-business interactions. It will fulfill the needs of the citizens, administrators, employees and corporates. The portal will provide online availability of services through interactive forms, secured payment gateway for online payments, online registration of complaints and status monitoring, property tax, water billing and e-Tendering processes.
The Rajasthan Government (India) has decided to establish the Rajasthan Urban Information System (RUIS) comprising Rajasthan Urban Planning System (RUPS) and Rajasthan Urban Management System (RUMS). Under the INR 40 crore project, RUIS will provide mapping and GIS tools for planning, implementation and e-Governance solutions for urban development initiatives in 39 cities and towns in the state. RUIS is part of Rajasthan's State Urban Agenda for Rajasthan (SUARAJ) programme for planned urban development in the state. RUIS is also be part of the Rajasthan Spatial Data Centre (RSDC) that would be hosting both rural and urban information system for Rajasthan. Both RUIS and RUPS will individually have Urban Spatial Information System (RUSIS) that will provide the spatial data while Urban Data Bank Indicators (RUDBI) will provide the data bank and indices. They will be linked together through a Spatial Decision Support system (SDSS) that will provide the state with powerful mapping and GIS tools for good planning, implementation and e-Governance solutions in urban areas. The Government of Rajasthan already has a state-of-art state datacentre offering IT based infrastructure catering to various departments across the state.
The Government of Bihar has approved a proposal to introduce e-governance in all its 8,479 panchayats at a cost of INR 252 million. The Bihar State Electronics Development Corporation (BSEDC) )will design the software for the e-Governance project in cooperation with the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). The Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (ILFS) will monitor its implementation. Under the project, panchayat information centres or panchayat portals called 'Vasudha Kendras' will be set up. This will enable villagers to connect with the outside world and provide affordable and easy access to information about the government and its policies. 'Vasudha Kendras' will be connected to all state departments through the Internet and the government will provide computers and Internet connections at the panchayat level centre. The project aims to establish direct contact with villagers and making the functioning of the government more transparent. According to the plan, eight government departments, including the Chief Minister Secretariat, will be linked to the State-wide Area Network (SWAN). Video-conferencing facility has also been set up in the state's 38 district headquarters.
The National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) has launched a National Reconstruction Information Management System in all districts of Punjab to monitor and support local governments. The system is an IT-based programme so as to develop the process of e-Governance at the district level. While speaking at the seminar, organised by NRB and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Punjab government, Chairman Daniyal Aziz stated that the system will be a powerful tool for good governance and a reliable source to get prompt and detailed information about the local government. The system was introduced in Toba Tek Singh and Narowal districts of Punjab to check feasibility and effectiveness of this IT-based system for the district administration.
The Union Government of India is ready to set up large number of data centres across the country to provide technological underpinning for initiatives under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). Once the cabinet approves the project, the implementation is expected to take six to eight months. The state data centre proposal is part of the NeGP Plan to provide digital services to citizens. Under the proposal, the Ministry will incubate centres and other initiatives like service portals in all 28 states. These centres will provide4 secure data storage facilities, online delivery of services, disaster recovery, remote management and service integration. The final number of data centres needed in each state will depend on the size of the state. Under the new norms, each data centre will be operated, managed and controlled by government staff with assistance of outside experts. Private suppliers will provide physical infrastructure, while government will provide software and service infrastructure.
The Tamil Nadu (TN) Government has added nineteen more major panchayats in its 'e-Panchayat' program, an initiative as part of e-Governance to empower people with electronic knowledge-based systems. The government has selected 475 villages in the state under the initiative at a budget of INR 8.31 crore. Under this e-Panchayat plan, information on various works would be available to the people in the purview of the respective gram panchayat. The government is in the process of computing basic data to the villages. The project will also help in preparation of panchayat raj action plan and management information system for sectors like agriculture, revenue, horticulture, sericulture, animal husbandry, fisheries, education, health and family welfare, nutrition, water supply and sanitation, housing, electricity, public distribution system, self-help, and other link departments. E-panchayat will help in downloading forms, information on citizen's charter, various Acts and GOs, panchayat profile, government programmes, developmental works, status on applications submitted, grievance registration and status inquiry, budget information and provide links to important sites. Information network for births and deaths, house tax, trade licences, pension schemes, works, land records, marriages, marketing, grievance redressal and government orders are also available on the initiative.
The Government of India is planning to launch the INR 800-crore National Mission Mode Project for civic bodies across the country. The project will be implemented in 423 urban local bodies over a period of five years in a phased manner. In the first phase, the Uttar Pradesh Government is planing to cover 35 municipalities, which will include all major cities in the state. e-governance in municipalities will include facilities like payment of utility bills, issuance of death/birth certificates, grievances and redressal, and waste management services. The successful implementation of the project will increase the efficiency of the ULBs and provide single window services to the citizens.
The Punjab (India) PWD (B&R) department has decided to introduce the revolutionary policy of e-tendering and e-procurement from January 2008 to ensure transparency and accountability in the functioning of department. PWD (B&R) Department has been included in the first phase of computerization by the Department of IT by introducing e-procurement. The department will complete the project by June, 2008. These will include systems for works management, financial management, personnel management, office automation, messaging and file tracking. In addition applications specific to the road sector like GIS-based Road Information System and Road Asset Management System will also be rolled out. The Government of Punjab is planning to implement a State Wide Area Network, State Data Centre and Computerized Kiosks to provide citizen services.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has again decided to revive its e-Governance initiative. The civic body is again hiring a private consultant to provide technical advice and draw a roadmap. The civic body has already invited expressions of interest and expected to finalise a consultant by the end of next month. The MCD had also signed an MoU with Infosys's e-governance foundation to provide training and software expertise to make all its departments and the Citizen Service Bureaus (CSBs) digital. The civic body has also procured software services from Wipro and CDAC to digitise its property tax and education departments, hospital services, and salary system for municipal employees.
The National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) has launched a National Reconstruction Information Management System in all districts of Punjab to monitor and support local governments. The system is an IT-based programme so as to develop the process of e-Governance at the district level. While speaking at the seminar, organised by NRB and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Punjab government, Chairman Daniyal Aziz stated that the system will be a powerful tool for good governance and a reliable source to get prompt and detailed information about the local government. The system was introduced in Toba Tek Singh and Narowal districts of Punjab to check feasibility and effectiveness of this IT-based system for the district administration.
Iranian Long-Distance Telecommunications Industries Company will implement e-government project in Syria. Announcing this, the company＊s managing director further said that negotiations with Syrian officials in this respect began a year ago, IRNA reported. Massih Qaemian explained that a memorandum of understanding would be signed with the Syrian party by next month, adding the executive operations would begin two months later. The company is the contractor for fuel smart card project in Iran. Highlighting that e-government project would be implemented in Syria through smart cards, he said that gasoline and diesel distribution in Syria would be covered by the smart card project. Fuel smart card system enjoys the most advanced information technology in terms of design and installation. Under the project, gasoline is supplied through smart cards to do away with lavish fuel consumption.
Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, on 21 September called on Tajikistan to bring its legislation in line with its OSCE commitments by revoking recent criminal code amendments that restrict the freedom of speech. The amendments to articles 135 and 136, recently signed into law by President Emomali Rakhmon, call for prosecution of the "intentional distribution via the Internet of knowingly false, libellous and insulting information, as well as expletive words and phrases which denigrate the dignity of human personality". "Under this law, any factual mistake or strong opinion published, re-published, reported or discussed on the Internet, can be penalized," said Haraszti. He added that the new legislation used words including "Internet", "information" and "distribution" so vaguely that it could be broadly interpreted and arbitrarily implemented to criminalize public discussions. "Distribution could mean sharing, debating, or just obtaining information through any Internet-based media, from e-mails to personal websites, from online diaries to news portals," Haraszti said. "Tajikistan missed an opportunity to transfer all press offences from the criminal to the civil-law court, as expected by international standards of facilitating free discussion of public issues," he said. "I ask the Majlisi Oli, Tajikistan's Parliament, to bring the legislation in line with the country's OSCE commitments to protect the free flow of information. Whether published on the Internet or in any other media, only explicit incitement to violence or discrimination should be criminalised; the rest of the verbal offences should belong to civil courts."
Over 30 different Web sites promoting Turkey in different countries and languages have been gathered under the single Web portal by the Culture and Tourism Ministry. People interested in visiting Turkey will find useful information on accommodations and activities in the country under the single Web portal www.goturkey.com, Ozgur Ozaslan of the ministry told the Anatolia news agency. ※The Web site will mostly feature video clips and photographs promoting tourist destinations and facilities in Turkey. Opinions of tourists who have visited Turkey will also be showcased. We wanted the new Web portal to be interesting and to encourage tourism,§ he said. The Web site, a collaborative project of the ministry, Hacettepe University and the Scientific and Technological Research Council, will feature video clips to acquaint foreigners with Turkish cuisine, language, and handicrafts. The Web site, which will enable online sales, is scheduled to be activated in October and will be available in 10 languages.
The Federal Government is calling on the states and territories to support the development of a national automatic system to recognise number plates. Justice Minister David Johnston says the technology has been used successfully overseas, and has now been recommended by a parliamentary inquiry into organised crime. Senator Johnston says the national CrimTrac agency is already conducting a study to see how the technology could best be used in Australia.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is confident its trial of electronic voting for defence personnel overseas will allow them to submit a secure vote. For the first time at a federal election, Australian Defence Force (ADF) staff deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Timor and the Solomon Islands have the option to vote electronically through a Defence internal-only website. AEC assistant director of electronic voting Judy Birkenhead says any widening of the electronic system is up for discussion. "The Joint Standing Committee makes these recommendations and that's what we're required to follow," she said. "At the end of the election, they'll review the process again and they may or may not make a recommendations to widen that up but at this stage it was only for Defence personnel in four areas." Ms Birkenhead is confident the system is secure. "The voting system we have has been audited, independently audited and certified, to ensure that there's no malicious code or ability for tampering," she said. "Also the software itself is located on the Defence-restricted network, so it's a secure intranet - it's not available on the worldwide web."
THE NSW government has wrapped up a five-month hunt for its new chief information officer with the appointment of a technology boss nabbed from the financial services sector. Emmanuel Rodriguez will have to navigate multiple troubled projects as the new NSW government CIO. NSW Minister for Commence Eric Roozendaal announced that former Prudential Corporation Asia CIO Emmanuel Rodriguez has been named as the state's new chief information officer. Mr Rodriguez, who will start early next month, replaces former NSW government IT head Paul Edgecumbe, who stepped down from the job in May following the launch of the state's ambitious People First technology revamp. "The role of government chief information officer is crucial because the value of information and communication technology has never been more critical for government than it is now," Mr Roozendaal said in a statement. "We face difficult issues, particularly around the requirements of e-government and more importantly front-line service requirements." Mr Roozendaal said Mr Rodriguez is charged with steering People First, which aims to deliver $565 million in computing and communications savings.
He will also handle strategic ICT planning, consolidation of NSW government technology infrastructure and the development of programs aimed at transforming government service delivery. "This is a very important role within the NSW government and I am relishing the opportunity," said Mr Rodriguez. "People First is a comprehensive strategic ICT plan, built on solid foundations and my initial priorities will be to work with the CIO Executive Council to prioritise and drive forward the individual projects that have been identified under the strategy." Mr Rodriguez faces a stiff challenge delivering People First in a public service that has been plagued by extensive IT project cost and schedule overruns as well as a number of high profile failures that are still the subject of legal action. The state has undertaken a number of procurement reforms aimed at stamping out the recurrence of such problems, but Mr Rodriguez will have to navigate through a few of troubled, ongoing projects. Chief among them are NSW Police's beleaguered IT overhaul, a bungled NSW court management system and controversial information system projects at the NSW Department of Health.
THE Department of Immigration is planning to hook a web of government and private agencies into its $495 million Systems for People platform in a move expected to improve its visa enforcement capabilities and national security. Migration agents and community and settlement service providers will be given access to new internet portals being developed as part of the project, as Immigration works to avoid a repeat of the Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez Solon scandals. Department chief information officer Bob Correll said some external organisations already had access to new computing platforms through portals launched this year. In one instance, a contracted detention centre operator had been linked into the department through a procurement portal. Additional detention centres are to be connected to the procurement portal next year in a move intended to improve access to critical detainee information, such as medical alerts. Labor has not raised any objections to the Systems for People project. Mr Correll said the department hoped to increase access to a wide array of organisations as it amalgamated reams of data stored in silos throughout the organisation. Organisations slated to receive access include migration, welfare and community service operators such as the Red Cross, and state agencies such as corrective services departments could also be connected to the system.
The department hopes that expanding the system to include other organisations will improve management of visitors, immigrants and asylum seekers, and beef up enforcement. Data swapping with agencies such as the Department of Education, Science and Training, for example, would allow Immigration to check that student visa holders were attending courses as required. Relationships between visa holders could be unearthed through data mining, giving the department's compliance division new tools in efforts to track down visitors who are in the country unlawfully. The activities will be enabled through the integration of client information into a database that mirrors the massive customer relationship management systems used by financial institutions. Access to the information in the database will be governed by a series of portals that dictate details that internal and external users are allowed to see. The portal model and various other aspects of Systems for People draw on the Commonwealth Bank's $250 million CommSee CRM project and one of the key developers of CommSee sits on the Systems for People steering committee. Immigration has previously struggled to create a complete picture of visitors and migrants through its systems because information has been stored in disparate databases split across regional, state and departmental business lines.
Mr Correll said it was likely to be some time before the full array of links to external organisations was established and Immigration's first priority was overhauling internal client management and visa processing capabilities. Systems for People is about 18 months into its five-year program of work. Mr Correll said Immigration had already averted one potential repeat of earlier detention scandals when an Australian citizen with mental health problems presented herself as an immigrant who wanted to return home. Immigration is gearing up for its next wave of portal releases, scheduled for January, including general skilled migration and border security information access points. Both systems are expected to strengthen national security by providing a clearer picture of threats posed by some prospective immigrants, and more tightly integrating terror watch lists into visa processing systems.
The electronic filing (e-filing) of unpaid infringements will mean a million fewer pieces of paper a year for Court staff to manage. Courts Minister, Rick Barker, was photographed outside Parliament with 40 reams of paper, representing the amount of paper and processing that will be saved every week, 52 weeks a year, by shifting to electronic filing of infringement notices. "This Labour-led government is committed to developing efficient and effective public sector models to promote sustainability and lead the way on this issue," Mr Barker said. "The e-filing of unpaid infringements is the first step in a bid to cope with the mountains of paper that the Courts deal with and will have a positive impact on efficiency and the environment. It is a cost effective solution based on sustainable practice. "Prosecuting Authorities such as councils and the Police are now able to file infringement notices in a standard electronic file format and submit them on-line through a Ministry of Justice web-site. To continue with a paper focused filing system would be inefficient and would not deliver on Labour's commitment to sustainable workplace practices.
"Nationally there are 94 Prosecuting Authorities that operate an infringement regime and were required to transition to e-filing. 97% of the infringement volume filed on an annual basis could now be e-filed and the agencies responsible for the remaining 3% will be transitioned as their systems become ready. "Making the public sector carbon neutral is a key plank of the Labour-led Government's response to climate change and our drive to make New Zealand a sustainable, carbon neutral nation. The e-filing of unpaid infringements is a step in the right direction for Courts and is an example of sustainable behaviour also impacting positively on processes and efficiency," Mr Barker said. Last year 1,060,059 infringements were filed by Prosecuting Authorities. On this basis 2120 reams of paper will be saved each year because of e-filing and 40 reams will be saved every week.
InternetNZ (the Internet Society of New Zealand Inc) today launches a public consultation on Internet peering, a subject that relates to the performance and reliability of the Internet. This follows the release of a report commissioned by the Society entitled ※Issues regarding Internet peering and interconnection in New Zealand§. Some key issues identified in the report include conflicting interpretations of the term peering, cost of transit, lack of reliable internet traffic data and statistics and the challenges faced by content providers InternetNZ invites comments on any issues presented in the report and what further steps should be considered in progressing peering and data interconnection issues in New Zealand. A consultation document is attached and submissions have been invited either by email in response to that document, or at the website http://peering.internetnz.net.nz, where comments can be attached to the individual questions. The mission of InternetNZ is to protect and promote the Internet in New Zealand. InternetNZ is a public policy advocate for Internet and telecommunications issues that further an open and uncaptureable Internet. InternetNZ promotes neutral peering and neutral peering exchanges on the basis that it provides diversity for the Internet network and assists in improving network performance.
The Yankee Group is forecasting that the market for policy management is facing rapid growth, and that it will be a central component of next-generation network architectures. Policy management solutions are expected to generate more than $100 million in product investment in 2007. This modest amount is expected to grow to more than $700 million by the end of 2010. Mark Bieberich, author of the study, sees three main drivers. ※First, the ARPU (average revenue per user) trends in fixed and mobile are down. This forces service providers to look for new revenue streams. Second, video is the key driver of IP traffic and bandwidth growth now and for the next five years. And finally, adoption rates for new services are unpredictable, and providers need to be ready.§
Wireless and fixed-line telecommunications operators are poised to contribute more than 85 per cent of the market＊s revenue during the next four years. Security is a central part of the story. Policies can be a great enabler for security, especially at the control layer, and are applicable in numerous environments. ※If you want to secure IP-based inter carrier connections,§ says Bieberich, ※policy management ensures that you can control all policies at the border.§ The market is divided between large infrastructure vendors, pure-play ISVs, and operations support system (OSS) players such as Telcordia (owned by SAIC), Amdocs, and Mississauga, Ont.-headquartered RedKnee. On the ISV front, Bridgewater Systems of Ottawa is a niche player in subscriber-centric policy management. ※We basically create that decision point so that the service provider can make policy,§ says Ann Hatchell, director of marketing for Bridgewater. ※This allows the operators to control access to the network for IP-based services, from downloading ring tones to movie clips.§
According to Yankee Group, there is increasingly strategic value of policy management in next generation networks. The research firm interviewed network planners at wireless, fixed and cable operators worldwide. Respondents saw favourable results for revenue, network resource/control, quality of experience, security, and operational efficiency for cost reduction. These arguments won＊t find any disagreement from Bridgewater. The company provides policy management solutions that are technology-agnostic and vendor-neutral. All doors are open for next generation technologies, whether based on GSM, CDMA, WiMAX, fixed line, or converged. Whereas Bieberich saw three adoption drivers, Hatchell identifies three subscriber information types. ※The first is static and defined by the service tier and the billing model. The second is more dynamic, based on the IP address, device type, and time. And then there is the more historical information: is there a pre-paid account balance, or does the subscriber have to be redirected to a payment portal?§
Among Bridgewater＊s approximately 20 customers in the wireless space are Aliant, Bell, Sprint, and Verizon. Overseas, wireline customers include Telecom New Zealand and British Telecom (BT). Daryl Dunbar, director of portfolio innovation at BT, confirms the Yankee Group＊s observation that service providers are experiencing a decline in their traditional market. ※We are approaching the saturation point in broadband connectivity,§ he says. ※Innovation is the growth area, and that will come with service applications.§ The problem for vendors in the space 〞 and for carriers too, although they may not realize it 〞 is that each service provider organization has so many different internal players. ※Many people are invested in solving point problems on an ad hoc basis,§ says Bieberich. ※If Bell Canada needs a video caller admission control function, the transport layer people might be involved. But policy management for network attachments, or the rating and charging policies on a per-charge basis, those might come from the OSS side.§ What does this mean? Expect intense partnering activity between the OSS companies, policy management ISVs, and the large infrastructure companies. (By Tim Wilson)
Travelling between cities in Asia could become slightly more seamless in the near future, under a Japanese plan to integrate payment systems for railways and other domestic transport in Japan, China, South Korea and elsewhere using electronic ※smart cards§. Smart 每 or integrated chip technology 每 cards are already in use on underground and commuter railways, buses and toll highways in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. In Japan alone, more than 25m have been sold since 2001. They have led to the growth of secondary businesses such as shopping malls within stations. A single unified system within Asia would reduce the need for cash foreign exchange and relieve travellers of the burden of calculating fares and buying tickets in unfamiliar cities. Japan's transport ministry yesterday established a study group 每 comprising Japanese corporate heavyweights such as Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi 每 to examine ways to integrate differing Asian card standards. The aim is to introduce a regional system by 2011. South-east Asian countries have already agreed with China, Japan and South Korea to study such a system under the ※Asean+3§ regional framework, the ministry said. Japan is expected to be the first to develop specific proposals. Although the government was loath to say which country's technology would be used, Japan clearly has an advantage. Sony-made cards are currently used in Hong Kong, Singapore, New Delhi, Bangkok and the Chinese city of Shenzen. Sony said integration would be a matter of unifying underlying data systems, since they all use Sony technology. A spokesman for Octopus Cards, which operates Hong Kong's smart card system, said the company was open to regional integration. The similarity of ※contactless§ systems in Japan and Hong Kong meant the physical process could be easy. The Octopus card was designed for the city's transport system but is now used for everything from retail payments to security systems. (by Jonathan Soble and Mariko Sanchanta in Tokyo and Robin Kwong in Hong Kong)
Bulgarian subsidiaries of Siemens and Hewlett-Packard (HP) were among the candidates to build the electronic government (e-government) infrastructure in three major Bulgarian cities, the Ministry of State Administration and Administrative Reform said on October 23, as quoted by investor.bg.Siemens IT Solutions and Services EOOD, HP Bulgaria EOOD, as well as three Bulgarian consortia 每 Centre for e-Government, Storma and InfoProgress were the five applicants to take part in a tender, organised by the ministry, to build and maintain the IT infrastructure of the territorial e-government centres in the capital Sofia, the Black Sea city of Varna and in Sliven, Southern Bulgaria. The order would include the design, development and implementation of projects for offering electronic services and creating the network for integrated administrative servicing at a central and local level. One of the cornerstones of the initiative would be the launch of a Unified Portal for Access to Electronic Administrative Service (UPAEAS), and another would be to create a single document exchange environment. The project would run for three years and it was to be implemented in three stages. The first stage would see the building of the technological infrastructure and the development of certain electronic services. During the second stage, the successful bidder would have to provide the proper database security and protection system. The third and final stage should see the launch of all administrative services online.
Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat Communications and US-basd Viasat have announced that their consumer broadband satellite service will be available in Germany from the end of September, with selected other European markets to follow before the end of the year. Called ＆Tooway＊, the service is aimed at residential users with only a low-speed dial-up available, initially offering maximum downlink speeds of up to 2Mbps and maximum uplink speeds of up to 384kbps. Consumer tariffs and hardware prices will be defined by local service providers partnering in the distribution of the Tooway service. The first distribution partners and service providers in Germany are Internetagentur Schott and Teles. Tooway will be provided via Ka-band capacity on Eutelsat's HOT Bird 6 satellite and Ku-band capacity on the Eurobird 3 satellite.
Spain＊s Interior Ministry announced it has distributed 1.2 million chip-based national ID cards and expects to issue at least 800,000 more by the end of the year. Eventually, more than 30 million Spaniards will carry them. ID cards have been a fixture in Spain for more than 50 years. But the current program, called DNI-e, for Documento Nacional de Identificaci車n electr車nica, opens up the possibility for new applications. Over the years, the DNI has evolved from its earliest role as a mandatory document for internal spot checks by police to being the standard identification for everything from getting a driver＊s license or passport to collecting a pension and social security benefits. The new card does all that. In addition, cardholders will be able to use the ID to securely conduct business with the government online. The card is equipped with a contact interface and more than 32 kilobytes of memory. There are three levels of access within the chip. The ※public zone§ is accessible for reading without restrictions, the ※private zone§ can be read using the owner＊s PIN, and the ※security zone§ is accessible with a card reader.
The online user guide for the DNI-e card states the card is valid for all types of e-government transactions, from requesting a scholarship grant to making tax payments and carrying out business with private companies. Other governments, including those in Finland and Belgium, however, have offered this type of digital-certificate functionality on their cards without generating a lot of interest from citizens. Spain＊s program was launched in February 2006 with a 7,000-card pilot program that followed three years of development. It has slowly accelerated, and now more than 100,000 new cards are issued each month, said the government. Several government departments or agencies are involved in the DNI-e program, including the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Tourism, and the national mint. The program will cost an estimated 313 million euros. (US$450.4 million). The 2007 budget is 77 million euros.
Hungary＊s mobile network operators collectively added 112,000 subscribers (including all registered SIMs active or otherwise) in September to boost the total to 10.45 million by the end of the month, the National Communications Authority (NHH) reported on Wednesday. By the start of October cellular penetration reached 104.4% the watchdog said. Based on total mobile subscriptions, Pannon＊s market share was 34.85% at 30 September (down from 34.86% the previous month), while T-Mobile claimed 44.08% (44.09%) and Vodafone had 21.07% (21.05%). However, based on active subscriptions only at that date (ie subscriptions actually generating traffic), the country total was 9.65 million, of which Pannon had 33.35% (33.56% previously), T-Mobile had 45.04% (44.90%) and Vodafone had 21.61% (21.54%). The NHH also said that 4,855 mobile numbers were switched under mobile number portability (MNP) in September. Since this service was made available in May 2004, a total of 180,268 numbers have been switched, it said.
A quarter of small firms have not taken any steps to make their businesses greener and a growing number are recognizing they are not environmentally friendly, according to new research from the SERTeam at the Open University and Lloyds TSB Business. The study reveals that the number of small firms who see themselves as environmentally friendly has actually fallen over the past few years -- perhaps an indication of the growing awareness amongst firms of how much they must do to be more environmentally sound. More than half (52 per cent) of the U.K.'s small businesses believe they still have some way to go before they become environmentally friendly -- a nine per cent increase on a similar survey in 1999. This is despite the fact that most firms (57 per cent) realize customers are becoming increasingly sensitive to green business issues. And greener technology featured low on the list for most smaller firms when it comes to environmental sustainability. Only a quarter (26 per cent) have begun to make more use of tools such videoconferencing to reduce their reliance on meetings, and only nine per cent have changed the focus of their products and services to make them more environmentally friendly, for example by dealing only with software suppliers who are greener. The firms questioned cite several reasons for their lack of action. A fifth (21 per cent) blamed a lack of information on environmental issues, while 15 per cent said they lacked the time to make the necessary changes and 12 per cent said they didn't fully understand green laws like the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, which was set by the European Union to ensure the safe disposal of IT assets, Professor John Stanworth, of Westminster Business School, who authored the report, said: "The days of plentiful and relatively cheap energy seem to be numbered. Our smaller firms would be well-advised to assess -- sooner, rather than later -- the opportunities and costs that will arise from the demands of an increasingly energy-efficient future." The SERTeam interviewed more than 100 SMEs for each of its surveys.
Bell Canada has been given clearance by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to set its own fixed line telephony rates for SMEs in 59 large urban markets across Ontario and Quebec, including Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. The incumbent telco＊s rates for small businesses in smaller metropolitan areas were deemed by the regulator to lack sufficient competition to warrant deregulation. Recent deregulation in the residential telephony sector has already seen Bell, its sister telco Bell Aliant, and fellow regional incumbents Telus, MTS Allstream and SaskTel, offer discounted prices for home telephone services and introduce options for consumers to bundle landlines with other services, including ADSL internet and TV, for further discounts. The rule changes have allowed the wireline operators to compete more effectively with cablecos such as Rogers, Shaw, Cogeco, Videotron, Access and Eastlink.
(Associated Press via NewsEdge) NetBank, an online bank with $2.5 billion in assets, was shut down by the US government because of an excessive level of mortgage defaults. It was the largest savings and loan failure since the tail end of the industry's crisis more than 14 years ago. Federal regulators appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as a receiver for Alpharetta, Ga.-based NetBank. Customers with less than $100,000 deposited with NetBank will be protected by FDIC insurance. While dozens of mortgage companies have closed due to soaring defaults of home loans made to borrowers with weak, or subprime, credit, those problems previously had occurred among non-bank lenders such as New Century Financial. NetBank, in contrast, is federally regulated.
Loose mortgage standards in recent years, especially among lenders catering to subprime borrowers, have resulted in a spike in home loan defaults. Bert Ely, a banking consultant based in Alexandria, Va., said NetBank was in "deep trouble" before the subprime mortgage market's woes accelerated this year. Regulators, he said, "should have closed it a long time ago." While some Internet-only banks are successful, he said, operating one without retail branches can be a difficult strategy to maintain. The FDIC said that $1.5 billion of NetBank's insured deposits will be assumed by ING Bank, also a major online bank that is part of Dutch financial giant ING Groep NV. ING will pay $14 million for the deposits and receive 104,000 new customers. NetBank, which had no physical branches, sustained significant losses last year "primarily due to early payment defaults on loans sold, weak underwriting, poor documentation, a lack of proper controls, and failed business strategies," the Office of Thrift Supervision said in a statement.
(Associated Press via NewsEdge) US Internet advertising revenues grew more than 26% to about $10 billion in the first six months of the year, according to a study. Keyword ads, such as those displayed alongside search results at Google and other search engines, remain the most lucrative, accounting for about 40% of online revenues. Display ads made up 21% of total revenue and classifieds had 17%. Other formats include video, email and sponsorship ads. The figures come from a PricewaterhouseCoopers study conducted quarterly by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an industry trade group. Despite the growth, online ads remain a small part of overall advertising spending, although the Internet is widely expect to command more of the marketing dollars now going to television, print and other traditional media.
November 02, 2007 (IDG News Service) -- More than half of all U.S. government executives have rolled out open-source software at their agencies, and 71% believe their agency can benefit from the software, according to a survey released Thursday. Fifty-five percent of respondents said their agencies have been involved or are currently involved in an open-source implementation, according to the survey, commissioned by the Federal Open Source Alliance, a group pushing the use of open-source software in government. The alliance is made up of Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Red Hat. In addition, 29% of respondents who haven't adopted open-source software plan to do so in the next six to 12 months, the survey said. "Open source is really gaining momentum in the federal marketplace," said Cathy Martin, director of public sector initiatives at HP. "It really came out loud and clear here. It was a little stronger than I even anticipated."
The survey of 218 IT decision-makers in the U.S. government found that 88% of those in intelligence agencies said that their operations can benefit from open source. That may not be surprising, given that the U.S. National Security agency has been supporting a secure Linux project, called Security Enhanced Linux, since 2001. Ninety percent of the respondents who have implemented open-source software said they believe their agency benefits. The top reasons for embracing open-source software, according to the survey, were the ability to access advanced security capabilities and customize open-source applications. Backers also cited a trend toward consolidated data centers. Back-office implementations seem to be where open source is making its gains in the U.S. government, Martin said. "I don't think the drivers are more on the desktop," she said. "I think they're in the data center."
Oddly, security was one of the main reasons among survey respondents who haven't implemented open source. The top rationale for not adopting open-source software was organizational reluctance to change, according to the survey. Another major concern was a lack of consistent standards in open-source products. More than 97% of respondents said the open-source implementations they've been involved with were successful or partially successful. "When you compare that with your general success rate in IT deployments, that's phenomenal," Martin said. Open source makes sense for federal agencies, added Morris Segal, a software architect who has worked on government contracts for more than 20 years.
Segal, who attended a Red Hat users conference in Washington, D.C., this week, is currently working on a project for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, using Linux and other open-source software, as well as Microsoft software, to create Web portals. The portals need to be able to run software developed using both Microsoft and open-source tools, he said. Open source is "going to grow everywhere," he said. "It just makes sense." One of the main reasons for using open-source software, he said, is because it has traction in the development community. "When you have a proprietary solution, you pretty much are owned by the proprietor," Segal added. "With an open solution, you have lots of choices." This is the first survey the alliance has done, but it plans to conduct a similar survey annually to track the trends of open-source software in the U.S. government, Martin said. (By Grant Gross)
China has the potential to develop a large IT-BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry, said a report released by Indian famous IT chamber of commerce NASSCOM here on Tuesday. With substantial domestic market potential, a sizable educated workforce and strong government emphasis on developing the sector, China will become a major player in IT-BPO industry, said the report. The NASSCOM report "Tracing China's IT Software Services Industry Evolution," a white paper series of which this is the first, shows that the body considered China as an alternate market, competitive destination and/or potential partners for India. Speaking at a press conference, NASSCOM President Kiran Karnik said, "China has come a long way in establishing itself as a destination for IT sourcing, with all stakeholders including government, academia and industry working towards improving the regulatory environment, offering incentives to IT companies and increasing the talent pool."
IT software and services is a fledging sector of the Chinese economy, estimated at 12.2 billion U.S. dollars in terms of revenue in 2006. And the domestic market accounts for over 86 percent of the total IT software and service revenues, said the report. However, the total value of IT software and services exported from China was estimated at 1.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2006, a growth of 41 percent over the previous year. And Japan and South Korea are the largest export markets for Chinese IT software and services, the report added. "Presently the Chinese IT market is hugely skewed towards IT hardware which is 90 percent of the total market size. The IT software and services sector accounts for just about 0.5 percent of China's gross domestic product in 2006," said NASSCOM Vice President Ameet Nivsarkar.
China's supervisor of state-owned assets has planned to launch restructuring of the telecommunications sector in the fourth quarter of this year and finish the reform in March 2008, the latest issue of Caijing Magazine reported. Caijing, one of China's most influential financial publications, said the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which has been mulling over the reform since 2004, has formulated a restructuring plan, but it is not finalized yet and needs approval from higher levels. Currently China has four major players in the telecommunications sector, namely China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecommunications and China Netcom. The sharp differences among their operational results have fused the restructuring. According to their half-year reports, China Mobile recorded a net profit of 37.9 billion yuan (US$4.99 billion); while that of China Unicom, 5.65 billion yuan; China Telecommunications,13.48 billion yuan; and China Netcom, 6.713 billion yuan.
A telecommunications expert said that the SASAC has hoped that the major operators can solve the restructuring problems through talks among themselves, but it did not go very well. "Directed by the government while handling in line with market rules will be the main pattern of the restructuring," he said. Chen Jinqiao, deputy chief engineer of the Telecommunications Research Institute under the Ministry of Information Industry, said the major target of the upcoming restructuring is to "realize a harmonized development of the telecommunications market," after which the competitors will narrow their differences in asset scales. Whichever way the restructuring goes, the report says, the key influence on the development of the industry is still monopolizing the position of State-owned capital, for private and foreign capital, entering China's domestic telecommunications operational market is still "a mission impossible".
China has rapidly evolved into an economic powerhouse, but its banking, check payments and credit- and debit-card systems haven＊t kept pace in the vast country where much is rural, people traditionally didn＊t travel much, and payment-processing remains surprisingly local within provinces. But that＊s changing, according to consultancy The Tower Group, which says the People＊s Republic of China is now putting in place a modern, sophisticated payment system based on high-speed fiber-optic networks expected to benefit China＊s consumers and businesses. The Chinese government already has rolled out what＊s called the Chinese National Advanced Payment System (CNAPS) over the past few years for high-value interbank transactions in China＊s renminbi currency, as well as a separate network for lower-value renminbi transactions that works much like automated clearinghouse transactions (ACH) in the United States. The latest modernization effort is a check-image exchange system introduced just this year, according to Tower Group Analyst Colin Kerr, author of the report, ※Year of the Pig: Chinese Interbank payment Systems.§ (2007 is the Year of the Pig in traditional Chinese astrology, and it＊s a belief that people born now tend toward being ※honest, straightforward and patient.§) China＊s national check-image exchange system, which went live in June in six cities and provinces, allows checks to be exchanged electronically among banks and electronic acknowledgments delivered for check settlement using the national electronic payment networks developed under CNAPS. ※Traditional paper-check clearing in China has been local, limited to particular cities and used primarily by corporations,§ says Tower Group in its report. ※However, one ambition of the Chinese government is to encourage consumer use of checks as a secure alternative to cash, especially for large-value transactions such as automobile purchase.§
The Chinese government also is encouraging growth and international acceptance in debit cards issued by bank sponsors of China UnionPay, an effort begun five years ago to unite China＊s disparate debit-card networks into a single infrastructure for clearing and settlement. ※However, progress on this front has been relatively slow, largely because of incompatible technologies at the regional switches,§ Tower Group notes. China remains a ※fiscally conservative culture, where debit cards outstrip credit cards by a ratio of 22-to-1,§ Tower Group points out. According to sources cited by Tower Group, last year there were about 1.1 billion debit cards in circulation but only 50 million credit cards in a nation of 1.32 billion people. Although more than 30,000 banking institutions are said to exist in China today, the four state-operated banks 〞 Bank of China; China Construction Bank; the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China; and the Agricultural Bank of China 〞 are the dominant ones driving the modernization effort. The four banks have the Electronic Interbank Network at their disposal, but connecting banks in distant rural areas remains a challenge. China has special distinctions, such as having only one time zone for so vast a country, but two currencies, the second being the Hong Kong dollar. Hong Kong was re-united with the People＊s Republic of China as a ※Special Administrative Region§ under an agreement with Great Britain and the People＊s Republic of China in 1997. Hong Kong remains a global banking hub and has a separate clearing system.
Corporate entities and individuals must obtain a license before starting online sales operations in Beijing under new rules. The Regulations Regarding IT Application Promotion of Beijing, adopted by the Standing Committee of the Municipal People's Congress, make the capital the first region in the country to introduce such a requirement. Article 26 of the regulations, which are effective from Dec. 1,stipulate that an online sales business must hold a trading permit and publish details of the license on its website. Meanwhile, e-commerce service providers should monitor ID information, legal business operation permits, credit records, and set up complaint centers to facilitate supervision of online trading. An executive with Taobao.com, a leading e-commerce service website, insisted it had operated a complete system for standardizing transactions and supervision, but promised to cooperate with administrative departments in the drive to further regulate the e-commerce market. Under existing regulations, online traders must register their real identities as requested by e-commerce service providers, but are not required to obtain business licenses.
China's software industry reported a revenue of 343.89 billion yuan (US$45.73 billion) for the first eight months of this year, up 22.9 percent year-on-year, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Information Industry. Of the total revenue, software products accounted for 121.25 billion yuan, up 24.1 percent; system integration made up 84.05 billion yuan, up 18.5 percent; software technological services was 55.81 billion yuan, up 23.9 percent; embedded system software was 74.26 billion yuan, up 24.5 percent; and IC design collected 8.52 billion yuan, up 27.6 percent. A spokesman of the ministry said this year a series of policies would be promulgated to further encourage the development of software and integrated circuits. Efforts will also be made to foster and regulate domestic software market, and support products with self-owned intellectual property rights through government purchasing. He said that currently China's software industry lags far behind the international advanced level, with less than six percent of the global software market share, and it even can not match the development of hardware manufacturing in the country.
Personal online banking transactions of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) totaled 2.7 trillion yuan in the first nine months this year, up 230 percent over the same period in 2006, said the bank here Thursday. By the end of September, personal online banking clients of the ICBC had surpassed 36 million while e-banking, which also includes mobile phone banking and telephone banking, has accounted for 35.1percent of its total business volume, it said. The ratio is about five percentage points higher than at the end of last year, according to a related report. The total number of its personal e-banking customers topped 30.66 million by the end of June, 54 percent more than a year ago. Of the total, 7.41 million were registered in the first half of this year. The main reasons for the robust growth of e-banking business include the steady increase of ICBC's personal e-banking account transfer, personal remittance and payment services, rapid growth of investment managing business such as e-Fund, and the sound development of e-banking assets business, said the bank. (One U.S. dollar equals 7.51 yuan)
Information on the country's imports and exports including quality and quarantine standards, regulations and policies will be made available online in March, the authorities said yesterday. The move to strengthen standards and safety covers more than 4,000 kinds of goods in 14 major categories and sub-categories, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) stated on its website. "As China's economy and trade with other countries develops rapidly, the amount of imports and exports has also increased greatly, making it an urgent task for quality inspection departments to ensure the safety of commodities and to safeguard the nation's image," the administration said. "The database aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the latest quality inspection and quarantine information worldwide, including quality and quarantine standards, regulations and administrative procedures." To help foreign enterprises and organizations understand China's quality inspection and quarantine policies and procedures, and familiarize themselves with the country's import and export goods, an English version of the database will follow in June. By the end of next September, the database will include information on more than 140 types of food products.
"Food safety issues are attracting increasing attention worldwide," the deputy director of AQSIQ's food production and supervision department, Wang Hong, said in an online interview yesterday. "It is a top concern for consumers and also a challenge the government must face. "New technologies and materials have helped modernize food production but they have also triggered new problems, such as the safety of new ingredients, additives and packaging." The State Council approved in principle a draft law on food safety late last month, as a supplement to the existing Food Hygiene Law. The draft law stipulates that imported food and additives must meet the country's national safety standards. Meanwhile, food exports should satisfy the requirements set by importers and pass local entry inspections and quarantine. At the end of August, China had 448,000 food production and processing companies, including 26,000 medium- and large-sized ones. Following a number of recent investigations, other measures to improve food safety have been introduced, including upgrading quality standards and tightening inspections.
Pursuant to Article 5 of the Law on Special Measures for Industrial Revitalization (Law No. 131 of 1999), MIC today approved the business restructuring plan of CTY Co., Ltd. (President: MORI Michimoto), Joetsu Cable Vision Inc. (President: OSHIMA Seiji) and NCT Co., Ltd. (President: SHIMODA Kunio). Since improving productivity is crucial to achieve sustainable development of the Japanese economy, the Law on Special Measures for Industrial Revitalization was established to contribute to the revitalization of Japanese industry by providing measures to facilitate efforts of corporations to restructure their business. With the approval granted today, the applicants are now eligible for reduced registration license tax for incorporation and other incentives.
Korean credit card companies' first-half earnings jumped 80 percent from a year earlier, mainly thanks to one-time profits, the financial watchdog said Thursday (Aug. 30). According to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), the nation's six credit card firms logged a combined net profit of 1.9 trillion won ($2.00 billion) in the January-June period, compared with 1.1 trillion won a year earlier. First-half earnings sharply increased due to a 597-billion-won corporate tax cut for industry leader LG Card Co., a 177-billion won profit from the initial public offering of its smaller rival Samsung Card Co. and the industry's recovery of loan-loss reserves worth 189.4 billion won, the FSS said. As the companies have stayed in the black since the second quarter of 2005, their financial health and asset qualities steadily improved, the watchdog said. As of the end of June, the industry's average delinquency rate dropped 0.76 percentage point from six months earlier to 4.77 percent. The adjusted capital adequacy ratio, a key barometer of financial health, rose 4.25 percentage points to 28.66 percent, well above the benchmark guideline of 8 percent. In the first half, LG Card logged the biggest earnings of 1.2 trillion won, followed by Samsung Card with 386.7 billion won and Hyundai Card Co. with 135.4 billion won. Shinhan Card Co. posted a net profit of 111.2 billion won, trailed by Lotte Card Co. with 73.2 billion won and BC Card Co. with 23.2 billion won, the watchdog said.
Korea's electronic financial transactions rose in the second quarter from three months earlier as online securities trading sharply gained, the financial watchdog said Wednesday (Sept. 19). According to the Financial Supervisory Service, the volume of online securities transactions advanced 19.7 percent from three months earlier to 1,348 trillion won ($1.45 trillion) in the April-June period. The number of subscribers for online securities trading gained 6.4 percent on-quarter to 7.2 million. The combined fee income logged by 32 brokerage companies jumped 40.9 percent to 499.3 billion won. Korea's benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) advanced 21.5 percent in the first six months of the year. Meanwhile, 18 local and foreign lenders saw a steady increase in the use of Internet banking. The number of subscribers rose 3.4 percent on-quarter to 71 million. The volume of funds transferred online gained 10.1 percent to 2,406 trillion won, with the number of transactions rising 10.7 percent to 1.1 billion. The volume of online credit card spending remained little changed at 17.9 trillion won in the second quarter, accounting for 20.4 percent of the entire credit purchases. Insurance policies purchased online dropped 33 percent on-quarter to 45,000, taking up a mere 0.3 percent of new contracts sold in the second quarter, the watchdog said.
Korea's corporate environment has worsened since last year, according to "Doing Business 2008", a report by the World Bank released Tuesday. South Korea fell from no. 23 in 2006 to no. 30 this year in terms of how easy it is to do business here. Portugal undertook the most effective reforms for a business-friendly environment, the report says. But South Korea implemented no reforms that helped improve the corporate environment. South Korea ranked 110th in Starting a Business, down nine places from 2006; 131st in Employing Workers, down one place; 64th in Protecting Investors, down two places; 22nd in Simplifying Licenses, down from 16th; 68th in Registering Property, down from 65th; 36th in Getting Credit, down from 32nd; and 11th in Closing a Business, down from 10th in 2006. According to the report, 10 different stages are needed for a person to start a business in Korea, while it takes 17 days and 16.9 percent of per capita gross national income to start a business in the country. In contrast, the OECD averages six stages, 14.9 days, and 5.1 percent of per capita GNI. For the second year running, Singapore topped the rankings, followed by New Zealand, the U.S., Hong Kong, Denmark, the U.K., Canada, Ireland, Australia and Iceland.
Park, a 42-year-old office worker, has five credit cards. Of the W35 million that he charged to his cards last year, just W1 million was for overseas transactions (US$1=W916). Yet all of Park's cards are from Visa or Mastercard and allow both domestic and overseas spending. Few consumers are aware that they have to pay more for such cards. In fact, when a consumer uses such an international card in Korea, he pays a royalty of 0.03 of his payment to the card company, and when he uses it abroad he pays more than 0.1 percent. Domestic card issuers pay these royalties to the foreign card companies, but the burden is passed on to the cardholders in the form of annual membership fees. For this reason, membership fees for international credit cards are more than W10,000, up to five times higher than the fee for credit cards that only work in Korea. In Park's case, he is wasting more than W20,000 in unnecessary membership fees every year since all five of his cards allow overseas transactions. Most card issuers don't bother telling their customers that domestic cards are available, but push international cards instead. Kim, a 40-year-old employee, said, "I requested for a credit card that doesn't allow overseas transactions, but the card company issued me an international card without even explaining why." According to an employee of a card company, issuers try to sell as many international cards as possible because foreign card companies offer them marketing support based on the volume of cards they sell. According to Financial Supervisory Service statistics submitted to lawmaker Kim Young-joo (United New Democratic Party), only one out of 10 international credit cards issued in Korea is used overseas. However, 83.2 percent of credit cards currently being used in Korea are international and come from either Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club or JCB. Just 16.8 percent are for domestic use only. That means an estimated W148.3 billion in unnecessary royalties left the country from Jan. 2004 to May 2007, or around W50 billion every year. "The wasted credit card royalties is worth as much as 278,000 exported Hyundai cars," Kim said.
A domestic think tank said on Wednesday Korea's IT industry will continue to grow next year in terms of both output and exports. The head of the Korea Information Society Development Institute forecast Korea's IT exports to jump 11 percent next year compared to 2007 to reach US$139 billion. Suk Ho-ick speaking at an IT conference hosted by the Information and Communication Ministry added that outbound shipments of communication-related parts and devices are expected to rise whereas those for information and broadcasting will likely drop. Meanwhile IT production is also projected to jump six percent next year reaching about $300 billion.
When it comes to IT, even international companies with much longer histories than Korean firms are scrambling to adopt Korean-developed standards. Samsung Electronics' supply chain management (SCM) system is an IT infrastructure that even Sony, the world's leading electronics maker, is envious of. The system automatically adjusts production volumes and parts orders in real time when products are removed from shelves. Sony reportedly lags behind in cost reduction because it does not have as precise a system as Samsung's. Rumor has it that Sony has asked NEC, the Japanese company responsible for building Sony's infrastructure, to develop an SCM system like Samsung's, and that has prompted NEC staff to visit the Korean company four times since late last year to learn its techniques. The situation is same in the government administration field. The Korean Intellectual Property Office's Patents Net was named among the best in the world by the World Intellectual Property Organization and has attracted attention from 40 nations worldwide including Europe, Japan and Singapore. Set up by LG CNS, the system makes it possible to take care of the entire patent application process on the Internet. The Financial Supervisory Service's Data Analysis, Retrieval and Transfer System (DART: http://dart.fss.or.kr) is an Internet-based public disclosure service that provides information on listed companies. Renowned investor Warren Buffet has hailed it as by far the world's best. It provides full texts of public disclosure materials such as financial statements and securities reporting documents both in Korean and English. Although the U.S. and Canada were faster than Korea in launching electronic public disclosure systems, the Korean system is recognized for its top-quality service. Moreover, Korea was the first country to provide the service on the Internet. Many Korean IT standards have also become global standards. Mobile WiMAX, which is based on the Korean-made wireless broadband Internet technology WiBro, was adopted as a global standard by the International Telecommunication Union in Switzerland on Oct. 19. Digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) technology, which has been exported to 10 nations including Germany and China, is another example of a Korean standard becoming a global one. Samsung Electronics, Hynix and other Korean semiconductor firms, meanwhile, are increasing their influence in the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC), the leading developer of global standards for the semiconductor and computer industries. In the mobile phone industry, the fact that Korean design standards are now global has helped Korean manufacturers expand their market share around the world. For instance, the design of the button board where the "send" button is placed on the upper left side became a global standard after Samsung Electronics first introduced it in 1993. Samsung and LG Electronics have also led global handset design trends with their sophisticated folder and slide phones.
As businesses scour the market for the next big-buck concept they're turning to an old standby: phone calls. This time the medium is the Internet because it costs less than cellular and land-based services. One pioneer of the cutting-edge calling market is cable TV operators. After taking on broadcasting and online services they're now providing cheaper phone service through the Web. And their sales pitch is hard to beat: call long-distance for the same rate as ringing up your neighbor. According to industry sources, KT, the nation's largest fixed-line phone and Internet service provider, changed its business plan to launch a Web-based phone service before year's end. That's a year earlier than planned. KT also plans to streamline its service fee setup in response to moves by cellular carriers to slash fees for same-network services. The Information and Communication Ministry plans to allow users to keep their original phone numbers even as they adopt Web-based services. If this latest trend translates into a real cut in prices felt by consumers, then industry experts say consumers will give up their habit of frequently changing service providers to save money.
Korean mobile phone makers expanded their global market share in the third quarter. Data released by a market research firm Strategy Analytics on Monday show Samsung Electronics grabbed 15 percent of the global cell phone market, up half a percentage point from a quarter earlier. LG Electronics took up nearly eight percent of the global pie, up three-tenths of a point. That makes Samsung's the second most widely used handsets and LG the fifth most popular worldwide. Industry leader Nokia saw its market share go up slightly to 39 percent while Motorola came in third and Sony fourth.
News that Indonesian public servants are resisting the introduction of electronic business transactions known as e-government should not surprise anyone familiar with similar systems overseas. The benefits to the consumer are huge; the downside for the bureaucrat is just as large. Once e-government processes are installed correctly pen pushers become redundant. Also forfeited are the opportunities for pocketing extra fees. E-government came to Indonesia with a 2001 Presidential instruction on Telematica, meaning telecommunication, media and information. It was supposed to put citizens on-line to access services; not to keep them waiting in line. According to an ASEAN review only 23 of 265 regencies in the country have "prepared" e-government networks. In many cases these are just websites that may or may not get regularly updated. Six years on, Djoko Agung Harijadi, the boss of e-government, has reportedly said the public service isn't ready for the system, citing 'resistance' and 'a lack of awareness.' One of the best examples of how e-government works can be found in New Zealand (NZ).
This country ranks equal first alongside Denmark and Finland as the world's number one cleanskin in Transparency International's corruption perception index. Indonesia comes in at 143 along with Gambia and Russia. One reason for NZ's favorable rating has to be the widespread use of e-government, which removes any chance for corrupt public servants to milk the system or treat their fellow citizens with contempt. Indonesia ranks 123 on the World Bank's list of countries based on ease in doing business. NZ comes in second place, just behind Singapore. It takes around six months to start a business in Indonesia. In NZ it takes just one day. Registration can be done from home or the office -- anywhere with an Internet connection. A printer and scanner are also required. The only other physical requirements are a reasonable level of English and a credit card.
Imagine holding a ＆Smart Card＊ the size of a normal business card and do a variety of functions from access control, to e-banking, to paying utility bills, e-passport besides being a national identity document. Yes, it is possible and a Malaysian-based company HeiTech Padu Berhad has done it. They have already covered the entire population of the country and also three provinces in Indonesia. Work is on to bring the entire data regarding citizens in countries s uch as Singapore, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea. Malaysia＊s national identification card, the MyKad, is the world＊s first national ID card and one of the largest issuances of dual interface technology. MyKad has been issued to all citizens. Contained within the MyKad are secured applications for national identification, driving licence, passport details, MEPS cash, health information, automated teller machines, public key infrastructure and ＆Touch ＆n Go§ (a cashless solution for paying transport and toll charges). The customised technology has been used by governments of Bahrain, Syria, Morocco, Kuwait and Myanmar. Dzulkiffi Abd. Latif, Vice-President/Director of International Business Development and Operations, says the company has provided considerable IT support and diverse solutions to private companies in a broad range of sectors and industry. HeiTech＊s electronic government solution suite links people, process and technology in a seamless integrated manner to deliver value and convenience to the citizens which had made it much sought-after in the ASEAN region, he says.
The company＊s knowledge in technology specifics and in system integration assures governments of secure information infrastructure, delivery of peak performance and attainment of high productivity. The Population Management solution provides governments with a consistent view of each citizen. The company＊s solution integrates the entire population of citizens＊ information about birth, adoption, death, marriage and divorce into a single solution database for all citizens＊ needs. Registration of citizens＊ birth, adoption, death, marriage and divorce along with the issuance of the national identification card has been made easier by the ＆Smart Card＊. With Immigration Management solution, the Immigration Department can now issue citizens with Smart Passports where security biometric chips are embedded into them for automated data capturing and authentication and enforce a higher degree of control at entry and exit points of Autogates. In short, it is an end-to-end integrated solution that supports all immigration needs for both governments and citizens. These include border control and clearance; application and issuance of passports, travel documents, entry permits and Certificate of Status; and revenue collection administration. The company prides itself in its transformation capability for the immigration to effect a higher degree of service level to the citizens while upholding national security.
MAKATI CITY, Philippines -- The level of awareness and the interest to comply with regulatory and information technology governance issues are high in the Philippines, but only a few companies are practicing it, IBM executives said. "The awareness and the interest to comply are high. But on the actual compliance, they're just starting. We don't know the extent of compliance," said Aileen Judan-Jiao, country services executive of IBM Global Technology Services Philippines. Introducing a suite of IT governance services, framework and tools, IBM executives said the "highly regulated" industries are expected to initially adopt IT governance since they are now under pressure to become more visible and accountable to stakeholders and customers. IT governance involves, among others, managing risks and information security within organizations, ensuring compliance to regulatory mandates like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and keeping the "lights on" in the face of natural or man-made disasters. In the Philippines, Judan-Jiao said local organizations now consider typhoons and floods as the top two events which organizations have to prepare for. "You cannot get away from IT governance," the IBM executive stressed, noting that banks, multinational companies, and publicly listed business process outsourcing companies are among those leading in the adoption of IT governance.
Peter Rajnak, solutions manager for security of the IBM Software Group for the Asean region, added that the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand are among the countries that are just starting to implement IT governance. Asked why there is lower adoption of IT governance in the country, Judan-Jiao replied: "We don't have a strong e-governance agency to implement compliance across all industry." But she quickly added that the Commission on Information and Communications Technology has started to put together guidelines to help local organizations comply with certain regulatory standards. Rajnak, for his part, said that the Asian culture is a factor in the compliance of some companies. "It takes time to change the regulatory culture," he added. Asked if government readiness is another factor affecting adoption of IT governance in the country, Rajnak said that "generally, it is a factor." IT governance and risk management will grow to a $30-billion global market by 2008, IBM said, citing the AMR Research's analyst report titled "Market Demand for Governance, Risk Management and Compliance 2007-2008.§
MANILA, Philippines -- The controversial National Broadband Network (NBN) and Cyber Education Project (CEP) would sink the country deeper in debt because the government already owns other broadband networks and 31 information and communication technology (ICT) projects that have a combined cost of more than P2 trillion. Most of the funds for the ongoing and proposed projects came or will come from foreign loans, a government listing showed. Two of the projects are broadband networks that the government already owns -- the Philippine Administrative Network Project (PANP) and the Philippine Research, Education and Government Information Network (PREGINET). The 31 ongoing and proposed ICT projects, plus the two existing government broadband networks, are the precursors of the NBN that would add about P15 billion to the more than P2 trillion that was already spent and would be spent on the government＊s ICT projects. Aside from the P15 billion that the Philippine government would borrow from China for the NBN, which was awarded to Chinese firm ZTE Corp., another P23 billion would be borrowed from China for the Department of Education＊s CEP.
MANILA, Philippines -- The multi-agency project Unified Multi-purpose ID System (UMID) is set for the next phase of implementation after receiving $502,534 from the United States government through the US Trade and Development Agency. The Philippine government, through the e-Government Fund of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), has also allocated a corresponding amount of P88.75 million. The next phase of UMID, which started pilot tests late last year, is to create 5,000 biometric cards with electronic chips. Likewise, an automated fingerprint identification system would be fine-tuned and integration with a common reference number for the pilot test recipients at the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), National Statistics Office (NSO) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHILHEALTH). The next phase will also see the purchase of several biometric machines that capture the image of the would-be cardholder, signature and index finger prints. The other card-issuing government agencies that are part of the UMID project are the Government Service Insurance System, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Pag-IBIG, Philippine Postal Office, Commission on Election, Social Security System, Land Bank and Philippine Postal Saving Bank. Through UMID, Filipino citizens need only one type of card that have unique common reference numbers to grant them access to government services.
In an interview with INQUIRER.net, NEDA Assistant Director-General Danny Pabellon said the next phase would start in the first week of October. It would still be a full government project and no private sector has been tapped to conduct the project. Pabellon said that NEDA is still working on the technical specification, the terms of reference and the request for proposals, which is set to be completed by December 2007. The documents are to be finally released by February 2008. ※This would be a build, operate and transfer project. By June 2008, we＊ll be approving the contract to the winning bidder and full nationwide implementation will start in July 2008. Dispelling misconceptions of potential security breaches of UMID, Pabellon noted that only 14 items will be included in the card. These are the cardholder＊s name, address, birth date and birthplace, sex, picture, signature, height, weight, marital status, parents＊ names, index finger prints and tax identification number. ※All the rest of the information are retained by the respective government agencies. We＊ll ensure the security of each of the databases to prevent information theft,§ Pabellon reassured. The UMID is similar to the United States＊ Social Security Card, which contains information about American citizens and indexes their employment records, student records and even health and credit card records. While not a requirement, the social security card speeds up processing of government services rendered to individuals. Moreover, the UMID will not be a required card. Filipino citizens can still get separate cards from the different agencies to access individual services.
PHILIPPINES--Microsoft and industry body Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) have teamed up to drive the adoption of Office Open XML in the Philippines. Representatives from both organizations, in a briefing last week, said they will hold various campaigns, as well as hold talks with government and private sector groups, with the aim to disseminate information about Office Open XML (OOXML) across the country. Microsoft's OOXML, or sometimes referred to as Open XML, is an XML-based document file format specification used for electronic data creation and delivery. It lost its initial bid for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification, after failing to secure enough votes from participating countries in September. According to Dave Walsh, Microsoft's senior standard program manager, the Philippines was one of the countries which voted "no" on the use of OOXML. "The country voted 'no' with clarifications. This means the panel voting on the standard still needs more information about Open XML," Walsh said at the briefing last week. The next discussion on the issue has been scheduled for February 2008 in Geneva, he said. At this meeting, Managers of the OOXML specification are expected to address technical comments that accompanied the votes, after which, Microsoft can modify and resubmit its proposal. A decision on whether OOXML is ratified, or not, will be revealed in March 2008, Walsh said.
SINGAPORE--The next-generation data center is likely to be one that is able to support automation and provide high efficiencies, describes an Intel executive. Speaking to ZDNet Asia at IDC's InfraVision conference held here Thursday, William Wu, Intel's Asia-Pacific regional marketing manager for server platforms, noted that the complexities and challenges faced by data centers today are driving the need for the next generation of data centers to be "intelligent, automated and efficient". Wu went on to describe a generation of intelligent data centers that have the ability to run on its own, requiring "very little human intervention". So little, in fact, that the only time manual labor will be needed is when new servers are installed, he added. "No one's supposed to go into the data center [and] you can do everything remotely," he explained. "There must be a lot of intelligence in [the data center]...[to] be able to predict what's going on, what's the next requirement, what's the next failure... Fundamentally, that should be the future of the data center." In addition, next-generation data centers should not be illuminated, Wu noted. Lights generate heat, he said, adding that data center administrators will then have to look at ways to cool down the heat.
However, he noted that "there is still a long journey" ahead for data centers to reach that level of sophistication. "Some of the technologies available today can [be] used to achieve that, [but] some of them are not ready yet," Wu said. "For example, if I want to run everything out of DC [power], today, I can't buy a server [that uses DC]. I have to customize it," he said. "So, it'll be very nice if, eventually, the market comes out with some kind of standard that can be purchased from any [server] vendor." Another technology that is "critically missing" is the automation of line migration, he said, referring to the migration of one server to another sever without interrupting the application. "This technology itself can enable a lot of wonderful things for IT, but it's not quite there yet today," Wu said. The Intel executive predicts that the first of these next-generation data centers are likely to appear between two and five years' time.
Thai Mobile＊s proposed 3G network rollout has taken a step towards becoming reality after the floundering cellco＊s state-run owner TOT announced that it would submit a draft plan and feasibility study to its board, including an 18-month launch timetable. TOT plans to seek overseas loans of THB14-17 billion (USD430-520 million) to deploy a W-CDMA network, with the Finance Ministry acting as guarantor. It intends to upgrade Thai Mobile＊s GSM infrastructure to W-CDMA at its existing 533 base stations and mobile exchanges before expanding the network nationwide in two phases. The first phase plan covers Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Pathum Thani, while the second phase will expand services to six provinces: Nakhon Sawan, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Phuket and Surat Thani.
The National Electronic Commerce Gate has become a gateway for businesses to find partners and strike up relationships, according to government officials. The website, www.ecvn.com, is considered one of the most effective Business-to-Business (B2B) websites in Viet Nam, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said. In a recent survey of 202 members, 38 said they signed 236 contracts with 185 partners through the website. Membership has spawned relationships with 5,000 partners, with many preparing to ink contracts with their partners. Tran Huu Linh, the ministry＊s vice head of the Electronic Commerce Division, said membership was increasing. Seventy one per cent of the members had set up electronic services, such as granting certificates of origin, recruiting staff, and providing market information as well as setting up online offices. In the near future, the website will be available in French and Chinese as well as Vietnamese and English. New services, including transport, logistics, and export information, will be provided soon. The government＊s plan until the year 2010 is to get 60 per cent of big businesses, 80 per cent of small 每 and medium-sized companies and 10 per cent of individual businesses to take part in e-commerce.
Viet Nam has 200,000 companies, of which 18,000 have their own websites. But e-commerce is very limited. To improve the situation, the government has issued laws related to the field, including the electronic transaction law, trade law and a decree on electronic commerce. "Laws will encourage e-commerce and protect the rights of participants," Linh added. The ministry has mapped out a plan to develop electronic transactions, including three websites in Ha Noi, Dong Nai Province and Da Nang. These websites have been linked with international websites to bolster business partnerships.
The Indian Commerce Ministry is promoting electronic auctions to provide a pricing-based information platform for growers, especially in the spices sector. After launching the e-Auction for tea, the Ministry is planning to launch e-Auction for cardamom nationwide and make it available at all the 15 centres, where product is traded. While speaking at the launch of the coffee futures trading platform of the National Commodity & Derivative Exchange (NCDEX), the Union Minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh, said the NCDEX was working to launch an electronic spot exchange for coffee with the Coffee Board. The e-Auction of cardamom launched at Bodinayakanur will now go national. These models of trading will help to provide market-related information for growers.
The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has been inviting tenders for setting up 50,000 Common Service Centres (CSCs) across the country. The initiative would be one of the largest deployment of WiMax in the world. In the first phase, all CSCs will use the traditional method of connecting to high speed Internet and providing other ICT services via fibre cable. Although Government of India has not unveiled the 3G spectrum policy, but DoT has allocated WiMax spectrum to BSNL for this project. According to sources, BSNL will allocate the spectrum in the 2.5 GHz frequency band for its wireless broadband foray. The project is expected to be completed by August 2008. These CSCs will primarily cater to semi-urban and rural areas of the country. The Communication Minister, A Raja has directed BSNL to work in co-ordination with the Department of Information Technology in order to ensure that the project is completed within the time frame. Companies like Telsima Corp, Aperto Networks and Alcatel Lucent have shown their interest in bidding for the WiMAX project in these 70 cities.
It is expected that e-Commerce market in India will reach INR 9,210 crore by the end of the financial year, 2007-08. e-Commerce had an estimated market of INR 7,080 crore at the end of 2006-07. According to the research conducted by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB), it is expected that e-commerce market will grow at an average rate of 30 per cent in 2007-08. This would be followed by Online Classifieds, which is projected to reach INR 820 crore. Online Retailing stood at INR 850 crore in the year 2006-07 and is expected to be a INR 1,105 crore industry at the end of 2007-08. The recent growth in malls and hypermarkets shows the growth of e-Commerce. According to the study, the three major triggers of e-Commerce in India were saving of time, convenience associated with shopping at home and the availability of a range of products. Moving ahead, e-Commerce will be accessed through mobile phones rather than PCs.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to go wireless, after reaping the benefits of e-governance with online payments of bills and death and birth registration. In the first phase, BMC will connect its headquarter, 24 ward offices, four zonal offices and four civic hospitals with Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi project has been pipeline for the last two year but it was declared officially by the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which is also the official consultant for the BMC's e-governance initiative. The civic administrators will float bids for the INR 10 lakh project of INR 1,500 per computer. Unlike the Pune Municipal Corporation, the BMC will bear the entire cost of the Wi-Fi project. While private players will only provide services and modems. BMC has partnered with Intel for Unwiring Pune project The project will cover 280 sq km and enable people to access Internet through their laptops or personal digital assistants from anywhere without a cable. With the Wi-Fi connectivity, all civic officers would be able to use their laptops and access Internet even while visiting ward offices or civic headquarters. Currently, TCS is providing 54 Kbps Wi-Fi connectivity through the LAN server but it will go up to 108kbps with the Wi-Fi. The BMC is also developing its disaster management telecommunication through radio-trunking, a system used to maximise capacity of two-way communication, especially during emergencies.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Government of India has decided to go for open auction of spectrum for 3G services, including mobile services, which will provide high-speed data over the Internet to users. Communications Minister A Raja stated that initially three operators are expected to be given spectrum of up to 10 MHz each and both 2G operators, including current services provider and new players including foreign companies can bid for 3G spectrum in the 2.1 GHz band. Special agency will conduct an e-auction for 3G spectrum. The lowest bid will become the base price for the subsequent round of bidding for the remaining players. After accepting the recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), DoT has still some stiff conditions. Besides the initial one-time spectrum, successful operators will also have to pay an additional spectrum charge of 0.5 per cent of revenue, which will be increased to 1 per cent after three years. CDMA service providers can also avail of 1.25 MHz of spectrum, which is still available in the 800 MHz band to offer 3G services at an amount proportionate to the highest bid for spectrum in the 2.1 GHz band. DoT also issued guidelines to boost broadband wireless services. Under this, each service provider will be allotted 10 MHz, again through open auction in the 2.5 GHz band.
KARACHI (November 22 2007): The newly introduced Voice Messaging Service (VMS) of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) would enable customers to get messages even when they are away from their landline. PTCL has made the VMS optional and the subscriber would have the option to activate or deactivate the service using their own telephone set, said a press release issued on Wednesday. The VMS also provides the facility of communication through voice messaging using PTCL landline telephones, said the statement. For activation and deactivation of voice messaging and to know the procedure of activation/deactivation by the customer itself, PTCL has established a 24-hours help desk, which could be contacted by dialling 1236, it said. For greater convenience of the customers, PTCL has made available voice messaging feature free of cost at selected telephones in the country. The company also made it clear that no call is charged to the mail box subscriber and the calling number is charged on local or long distance tariff as the case may be, said the release.
Azercell, Azerbaijan＊s dominant cellco by subscribers, has announced that all subscribers taking a post-paid package will get 5MB of free GPRS data traffic at the start of every billing cycle from now until 5 January 2008. Unused entitlement cannot be carried forward. Azercell was established on 19 January 1996 by Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri and the Azerbaijan Ministry of Telecommunications. The company launched services on 15 December 1996. According to TeleGeography＊s GlobalComms database, it had 2.6 million subscribers at the end of June 2007, an approximate 75% market share
Egyptian group Orascom Telecom Holdings (OTH), which decided not to participate in the recent auction for national mobile licences in Iraq, has announced a joint venture with Kurdish cellco Korek Telecom, which won one of the new 15-year concessions. OTH, via its subsidiary Iraqna, had been operating a cellular network under temporary licence since February 2004, but it backed out of August＊s auction saying the asking price of the permits was too high at USD1.25 billion plus an 18% revenue-sharing agreement. Under the deal inked yesterday, both cellcos will contribute their existing infrastructure to the joint venture, in which OTH will hold 70% and Korek the other 30%. The new combined entity has been valued at USD2.2 billion and will have a good footing in northern Iraq, uncharted territory for other Iraqi cellcos due to the lack of licences in the region of Kurdistan. The new cellco has a subscriber base of four million subscribers, which give it around a 40% market share, making it market leader. Under the agreement, Korek Telecom will have a call option on 18% of OTH's equity stake to be executed by 2 November 2007, while OTH will never be obliged to reduce its holding below 51%.
Iraqi cellco Asia-Cell has launched services in the Kurdish city of Arbil. Spokesman Abdullah Hassan said, ＆We will start our services in Arbil＃and the company's subscribers in Iraq have reached three and a half million since its establishment.＊ Asia-Cell was originally licensed in 2003 to operate in the northern region, and in August this year it won one of three nationwide licenses at an auction held in Amman, the Jordanian capital. The cost of the concession was USD1.25 billion. It is Asia-Cell＊s first foray into the Kurdistan region, where the main providers are Korek Telecom, which also won a nationwide license in August, and Sana Tel, owned by the Halabja Group. The third national concessionaire, Kuwaiti-backed MTC Atheer, has said it intends to start offering mobile services in Kurdistan before 2008. ＆We started working in Kirkuk, [and] we are in the experimental period in Mosul. The company will launch services in Kurdistan by the end of the year,＊ said Atheer PR Officer Ussama Batti.
The Telecommunications Company of Iran (TCI) says the country now has more cellular subscribers than fixed line users. The mobile penetration rate has reached 33%, with a total of over 28.5 million subscribers. TCI claims 68% of the mobile market with around 19.5 million customers, with the MTN subsidiary IranCell in second place with 3.5 million subscribers. Another private firm, Taliya, has around a million users, while two other operators 每 Telecommunications Kish Company and Mobile Telecommunication Company of Esfahan 每 operate small regional networks with only a few thousand users each. A report from IranMania, which quotes TCI chairman Vafa Ghaffarian, says the province of Tehran is home to around 5.5 million mobile users, while the provinces of Esfahan, Fars, Hamedan and Khuzestan are all home to more than a million subscribers each. More information on the Iranian mobile market can be found in TeleGeography＊s GlobalComms database.
Japanese technology producer and dealer NEC Computers is stepping into the Turkish market targeting corporate customers with their Virtual PCs, a kind of new generation thin client, in addition to desktops, notebooks and servers that are available for personal use. NEC employs more than 154,000 people world-wide and realized, for the last fiscal year, a sales turnover of $41.2 billion.
Turkcell, Turkey's largest mobile-phone company, was the only company to buy a license for high-speed wireless services, as competitors declined to bid in an auction Friday. Turkcell bid 321 million euros ($439 million) for a 20-year license to operate so-called third generation services on a bandwidth of 45 megahertz. That was the highest bandwidth of the four licenses the regulator was due to auction Friday. Nobody bid for the other ones. Turkey's two other cellular operators, Vodafone Group Plc and Avea, had said they would submit offers and France Telecom SA's mobile-phone unit Orange SA also applied for tender documents. ※We have made a radical choice by not participating in the bid,§ said C邦neyt T邦rktan, Avea's general director. ※We would have lost right from the beginning if we purchased the 3G license prior to the procurement of free competition conditions, by implementing regulations for issues such as the number transportability and balanced charge policies§ ※Previously operators used to just jump upon the opportunity of a 3G. However new they calculate the pros and cons. That is exactly what we did. At the end we have to think of our partners,§ he added.
It will take between three and six months for Turkcell to start providing high-speed services once today's auction is approved by the Telecommunications Board, Sureyya Ciliv, chief executive officer of Turkcell, told reporters in Ankara where the auction was held. "Communication speed will be 20 times faster with 3G, and customers will get services such as video calls, TV broadcast and high-speed internet access on their phones,'' Ciliv said. "If finalized, this will put Turkcell ahead of the competition,'' said Nergis Kasabali, an analyst at Ata Invest in Istanbul.Number Portability Avea did not bid for the tender because the market is not competitive without a system of number portability, requiring phone companies to allow customers to keep their numbers when they switch operators, the company said in an emailed statement. Vodafone was also unhappy with the regulator's decision to auction the licenses before introducing the number portability, Milliyet newspaper reported on Sept. 4 citing Attila Vitai, chief executive of Vodafone's Turkish unit. Turkcell may invest as much as $480 million annually to develop its third-generation network, Ciliv said in an interview in February. Turkey has about 55 million mobile phone users, and Turkcell has a market share of about 60 percent.
Turk Telekom has selected Juniper Networks to deploy core routers to upgrade its network capacity and accelerate the introduction of new revenue-generating services. The deployment is designed to consolidate the telco＊s existing TDM (Time Division Multiplexing), IP and voice networks onto a single core IP/MPLS network, supporting voice, video and data services. Turk Telekom is upgrading and expanding its broadband infrastructure in response to an increase in demand for core network capacity and performance to support a range of bandwidth-intensive voice, data and content services. It aims to have nine million broadband subscribers by the end of 2008, up from 3.4 million at the end of June 2007.
Over 16 million Internet users are logging on in Turkey each year. While Turkey is emerging as an important market, foreign investors have started to cast a hungry eye on an increasing number of Turkish web sites. With the rapid expansion of e-commerce, just about everything, from concert tickets to holiday home rentals are just a click away. E-commerce in Turkey swelled from $15 million to $200 million in just seven years. Hoping to hit $1 billion by 2008, the market has started to attract the attention of foreign investors interested in purchasing or partnering with well-known Internet sites.While Turkey saw its first web surfers in 1995, within the last 12 years, the Internet has become a part of daily life. And as of 2000, Turkey had more than two million Internet users. However, the financial crisis of 2001 saw web-based commerce, like many other sectors, hit a slump. As of 2004, it began to bounce back started as the number of users continued to rise, hitting a new high of 16 million in 2007.
700 percent rise in seven years -- Global Internet statistics reveal that Internet use in Turkey has increased by 700 percent since 2000. The number of sites and the scope of Internet services continue to grow and new developments are taking place in e-government. Taxation, identification and passport services are available online and several types of invoice payment and charge inquiry transactions can be conducted online. According to a survey conducted by Brown University concerning online services offered by public institutions in 198 countries, Turkey ranks among the top ten, in fact, ahead of developed countries like Germany and Switzerland. The e-commerce market is expected to pull in nearly $1 billion in 2008. This figure also reveals the potential of the market. The New Commerce Law, which obliges companies to have Web sites, currently on hold in Parliament, is helping to boost foreign investor interest in Turkey.
Some of the world's largest web-based firms are among the companies interested in Turkey. For example, Ebay, one of world's largest online auction houses, purchased gittigidiyor.com, and Ticketmaster has acquired Biletix. These deals, along with the swift entrance of the Canadian Internet firm WSI, reveal that the volume of the sector has potential for further growth. German players are showing interest in buying a majority share in Turkey's first business network cember.net, which currently has 250,000 members. Investors in the United States are interested in the shares of tourism operator gezi.net. Franchise.net, which counts Turkey among its operational holdings, and the U.S. Internet giant Lycos's legal tug-of-war over its domain name are seen as significant proof of increasing foreign interest.WSI, which entered Turkey with the consultancy firm Uzunhekim and provides Internet solutions for customers in 18 companies, employs a staff of seven people in Turkey, said WSI Turkey representative Hakan Uzunhekim.
※We have 220 employees worldwide for technical support. Companies show enormous interest. We provide services for sectors like production, education, cosmetics, engineering, tourism, transportation, entertainment, interior decoration and jewellery,§ WSI England Representative Chris Schofield compares Turkey's current e-commerce market to the United Kingdom's market of two years ago. The UK has experienced notable growth in e-commerce, said Schofield. ※In 2000, commerce over Internet was almost non-existent in the UK. Today, sales over Internet in the country make ten percent of all trade. In three years' time, the share of Internet sales will make 20 percent of all sales.§
Value grows three-fold in six months: Schofield says Turkey has the potential to see this growth in terms of technological infrastructure. ※Half of 2006's advertising expenses in the UK were spent on advertising on the Web. The Internet will replace traditional marketing,§ said Schofield. Cember.net was established as a communication forum for the business world. The site, currently with approximately 250,000 users, is the first online business network in Turkey. German and U.S. companies are looking to purchase the site, said Caglar Erol, the founder of Cember.net, adding however, that it is too early for the venture at the moment. ※Foreign investors are increasing their standing in the market. Foreign entrepreneurs enter the market when the prices are still low. The Internet is maturing. The offers we are getting today are three times the offers we got six months ago.§ There is lack of vision regarding the Internet in the business world, Erol added. ※
The businessmen who have established themselves are those who started business at least 20 years ago. All of them got acquainted with Internet at least five years ago. However, they have to consider something. Until five years ago, tickets were written manually, but now everything is online. Those that are out of date will need time to adapt to the new system. Those that adapt quickly will obtain a lion's share of the market.§It is impossible to survive in the online market with just advertising revenues, said Erol, adding that subscription is a must. Erol plans to make changes to cember.net's infrastructure and to increase its staff to 10 full-time employees. US after gezi.netGezi.net, working with 800 hotels and 60 travel agencies, aims to end the current year with a turnover of $4.2 million. According to data from 200,000-member-strong alexa.com, Gezi.net is Turkey's most-visited vacation and travel site and is among those attracting foreign attention.
The Internet plays a major role in development projects in Turkey, said H邦seyin ogut, gezi.net's Advertising and Marketing Manager. ※Currently, everyone invests in technology and the Internet. And Turkey is really very attractive for such investments. Particularly international consultancy companies demand information. Demand comes mostly from the United States. I suppose the interest will continue to grow, and purchases and mergers will increase particularly in e-commerce.§Between June and September, 40,000 visitors hit gezi.net daily, said ogut. At present, online travel arrangements take 8 percent of the total travel market. Plane tickets have the largest share in this rate while hotel and accommodation rank second. Important market for EuropeGerman firm franchise.net, active in 15 countries, has also recently entered the Turkish market. Today, the Internet affects the franchising sector just as much as the other sectors, said Halil Yelek, managing director of franchise-net.
※Turkey, with its 16 million Internet users, has become a very important market for Europe.§In four years' time, the number of the franchising companies will increase four-fold, said Yelek. ※Undoubtedly, the Internet has a share in this revival. Now entrepreneurs looking to expand their knowledge of Turkey conduct all their surveys over Internet. Currently, 200 foreign companies offer franchise opportunities in Turkey. However, we expect this figure to increase gradually. As franchise-net, we will benefit from all the opportunities that the Internet offers. We will make a proper position in the developing web-based market, and expand our presence.§ It is important to make an effort for the development of these channels, said Yelek. Activity in e-commerce to increase Dogan Gazetecilik's online services include fanatik.com, radikal.com, milliyet.com, arabam.com, emlak.com, insankaynaklari.com, hangiotel.com and arakibulaki.com.
If firms from the United States or Europe want to do business in Turkey, they should first seek local partners, said Cigdem Toraman, Dogan Gazetecilik's Business Development Director. ※If the company has a ready product and localization is not required, then it can enter the market alone. Otherwise, it should work with local partners. Ebay's purchase of 10 percent of gittigidiyor.com is the best example of this.§ Lycos preparing to file a suit over domain nameLycos, active in 40 countries, is preparing to enter the Turkish market. However, a legal battle with Antalya-based Lycos Gida uretim Pazarlama Uhracat ve Pthalat Ltd Sti over the firm's name has been filed with the Turkish Patent Institution. With the Institution's negative response, Lycos Inc. is preparing to appeal the decision. ※I would not think of selling even if they offer $10 million,§ said A. Muhsin Tuzer, editor-in-chief of Lycos.com.tr. ※I receive many support letters from all over Turkey. Money is not everything.
§ Google and Yahoo came to Turkey with a ＆tr' extension and the company said that it should do just the same, T邦zer added. ※They try to threaten us in the disguise of clemency.§ Foreign investors find a younger market on the InternetThe desire to access a younger market of consumers drives foreign capital's increasing interest in e-commerce, said Fatih Cekirge, editor-in-chief of Hurriyet.com.tr. ※Foreigner investors enter the web-based market since the Internet opens the door to a younger population. The Internet is a shortcut to reach both educated and high-income consumers.§ Things will accelerate as opportunities and the speed of the Internet rise, he said. ※The number of visitors of Hurriyet.com.tr, 650,000 a day just six months ago, has reached 1.2 million, and the number will increase along with the number of Internet users.§ Different platforms are emerging besides communication, and Turkey has the opportunity to make transactions in many areas like employment and real estate searches, Cekirge said.ㄗby SEVDA YUZBASIOGLUㄘ
An unnamed Ashgabat-based official of the Russian MTS telecommunications company announced on October 15 that the company plans to start offering mobile Internet services in Turkmenistan beginning next month, Reuters reported. The telecommunications sector in Turkmenistan remains seriously underdeveloped, with Internet penetration limited to only about a few hundred regular users. MTS currently has about 250,000 mobile-phone users in Turkmenistan, while its main domestic rival, Altyn Asyr GSM, has about 43,000. The country's sole Internet provider, Turkmentelekom, prevents private users from accessing a number of opposition and media websites. RG
MTS-Uzbekistan Company has expanded the geography of its international roaming network, the company's website says. In the late August this year, Vodacom (Tanzania) mobile operator was added to the list of the company's partners. MTS-Uzbekistan remains an absolute leader in the market for mobile services of Uzbekistan both in terms of the number of subscribers and in terms of the number of roaming partners: today the company has 251 partnership agreements with the operators in 140 countries of the world. Activation of the international roaming service currently costs: US$10 one-off payment and a minimum account balance before sending for roaming of US$200.
Citing the head of Coscom, Finnish business news website Kauppalehti Online reports that TeliaSonera is to invest more than EUR110 million (USD154 million) in expanding the Uzbek cellco＊s GSM network. The operator is controlled by TeliaSonera through MCT Group, which TeliaSonera acquired in July 2007.
Iran-UAE Chamber of E-Commerce will be launched on Oct. 15, announced the head of the chamber while speaking to reporters late Saturday. Atena Azad noted that 20 percent of the transactions between Iranian and UAE businesspersons are conducted online, and predicted that the e-commerce chamber would make a positive contribution to trade between the two countries. She added that the chamber will work under the supervision of International Habib Allied Company which is registered both in Iran and the Persian Gulf Arab emirate. Recalling the four decades of trade relations between Iran and the UAE, Azad said Iran currently exports to 180 countries while the UAE ships goods to 205 countries. The businesswoman elaborated that e-commerce would serve as a direct link between customer and merchant without the intervention of middlemen. It will also help issue online visa, arrange exhibits as well as provide facilities for university students. According to her, the chamber would have groups of consultants on transportation, legal affairs, banking and commerce. Azad noted that e-commerce would expedite transactions, increase competitiveness, cut expenses and inflation, improve exports, production and employment. According to studies, total international export of products and services stands at $7,000 billion of which $500 billion are spent on preparing export documents, she explained. Electronic commerce will help lower costs by 21-70 percent against traditional commercial transactions. ㄗby Sadeq Dehqanㄘ
Nowadays the information technologies sector appears to be one of the most dynamically developing economy sectors in many countries, while the software industry and the market for software products are progressing even faster. The annual growth rate of global software market ranges from 10% to 20%, according to different estimates. The considerable part of this sector is taken by export oriented software development or so-called software outsourcing. This concept includes both custom software development and export of packaged software. By the end of 2006 the total volume of global software export market has made more than US$30 billion. The list of software exporters is headed by India with US$10 billion in revenue per year, followed by Ireland with US$4 billion in revenue per year and China with US$3 billion in revenue per year. Russia that in 2006 exported software products worth US$1 billion is on the fourth place that is quite comparable now to software exports from 3 leading countries considering high growth rates of Russian IT Market.
The development of software export industry is very important for Uzbekistan considering availability of highly skilled professionals and competitive prices for offered services. In order to receive a broad picture from expert point of view on volumes, structure and tendencies of software export industry in Uzbekistan and to develop recommendations on its further development, the UNDP's "ICT Policy" project with assistance from Association of IT companies and organizations of Uzbekistan has initiated a research study on "Software export industry in Uzbekistan". Results of the research, which is the first of such type in Uzbekistan, have been received on the basis of the polling of companies and organizations representing the software industry in Uzbekistan. The polling results have provided the basis for the final report that includes the current status analysis and indentifies the problems in the industry. The research has demonstrated that software export market in Uzbekistan is still in its infancy stage and relatively small.
Nevertheless, the dynamics of its development is very positive and the market has a strong tendency to further growth due to high human resource potential, relatively good quality of developed products and provided services, rather low software development costs, quick response to market requirements and client expectations as well as other factors that attract foreign clients. There are also certain perspectives concerning the development of market supported by a good mood of software exporters to expand their businesses through development of new activities and extension of range of services. At the same time, the research study has exposed serious problems experienced by software development companies and affecting their further development. First of all, it is the shortage of specialists caused by high market growth rates and insufficient quantity of prepared professionals 每 programmers, designers, system analysts, managers, and marketing experts. The shortage of specialists is aggravated with their outflow to foreign countries or so-called "brain drain" issue.
Because of high quality labor scarcity situation, the development teams are forced to work in small groups, and this fact accordingly affects the software export volumes. The specific limitations constraining the development of software export industry are imposed also by the necessity to further improve the taxation system, customs regulation, currency control, and to overcome the existing software export related administrative barriers. There is also a serious issue of absence of proper reputation of Uzbek companies at the international market caused by insufficient level of marketing support abroad. Undoubtedly, the software export industry can become one of the most important industries in Uzbekistan. However it requires strong government support that is seen in perfection of administrative and legislative regulations; professional training development; maintenance and development of modern technical infrastructure; provision of marketing assistance to companies at foreign markets; provision of support for quality control certification; assistance for undertaking scientific research activities.
Along with the necessity of government support of software export industry, the research has also highlighted the special role of IT Association of Uzbekistan on protection and promotion of interests of software exporters and assisting them with their problems at state level. The research results will be useful to local companies that plan in the near future both to increase their software exports and to make first steps in this direction. The research results will be also useful to foreign companies that intent to understand the software development industry in Uzbekistan, to learn the current situation, possible opportunities and problems, if they plan to take advantage of software development services in Uzbekistan and to import software products from Uzbekistan. The online version of the research (in Russian) is available on ICTP project website. 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.
Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister Abdulla Oripov confirmed on October 31 that a group comprised of a South Korean and a Japanese telecommunications firm will take over Uzbekistan's primary Internet service provider, according to the Uzbek National News Agency's website. Oripov, who also serves as the director-general of the Uzbek state agency for communication and information, said that the move stemmed from the strategic goal of "attracting foreign investment in various spheres of the economy." According to the terms of the deal released by Oripov, the Korea Telecom group and Japan's Sumitomo Corporation have agreed to purchase, for an undisclosed sum, an 85 percent share of the country's East Telecom Internet service provider, with the remaining 15 percent stake to be retained by the state-affiliated Uzbektelecom company. RG
Australia has a great opportunity to streamline its internet and communications networks, but only if the government sets up the ground rules, according to an industry report to be released next week. The 2007 Australia - NGN, VoIP, FttN and FttH report, published by telecommunications research company Buddecomm, warns that large telecommunication companies must be made to let go of their traditional business models if the rollout of new next generation networks (NGNs) is to be successful. "What's needed for the internet economy is open networks," said Buddecom managing director, and report co-author, Paul Budde. He recommends that the Australian government set up policies similar to those surrounding the Optus Elders' (OPEL) rural broadband roll-out, to ensure future networks aren't monopolised. "Every one agrees that telecommunications is an important national infrastructure," Mr Budde said. "Every service provider should be able to access that on an equivalent basis. In other words, if Telstra wants to sell services over that network to Telstra resale, it should be at the same conditions as to Optus, AAPT, Yahoo or Google." "It should be a transparent system. (Therefore) the government needs to set up policy guidelines that secures that the network will be open. "Without government policies, it's hardly likely anybody will voluntarily give up their monopoly."
The use of NGN promises to bring together different telecommunication services such as telephone, internet and mobile services, to provide a simpler structure for business and consumers. "For the last 100 years the telecommunication network has been built to deliver telephone calls," Mr Budde said. "The situation now is that the majority of traffic on that the telecommunication network is internet. You really have to transform (the) system to one that needs to be able to efficiently and cost effectively deliver applications. To do this, NGN will use internet protocol (IP) networks in place of traditional telephone systems, which are expected to be phased out over the coming decade. The growth in the use of web-based applications, voice over IP (VoIP) telephony and streaming video, means the Australian telecom industry is under enormous pressure to upgrade to NGN. "The fact that within three years nearly five million people have signed up to broadband, without much fanfare or advertising, speaks volumes about the level of interest," Mr Budde said. The report commends Telstra's plans to migrate its voice and broadband access networks into a single IP based infrastructure, known as the Network Transformation Project. It also says the rollout of fibre-to-the-home (FttH) is likely to follow where demand is highest for next-generation services, but that it is likely to take at least a decade for most homes to be connected.
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon Helen Coonan today announced eight further broadband providers had been approved under the $163 million Australian Broadband Guarantee. ※The Australia Broadband Guarantee is a safety net for Australians who cannot receive an affordable metro-comparable broadband service,§ Senator Coonan said. ※A subsidy of up to $2750 is available under the Australian Broadband Guarantee for each premises that cannot currently access a metro-comparable broadband service. ※There are now 14 applicants for registration under the Australian Broadband Guarantee that have been approved to participate in the program. These providers are committed to offering affordable broadband to households, small businesses and Indigenous Community Councils right around the country,§ Senator Coonan said. Seven applicants have finalised the registration process and have entered into funding agreements with the Government. Currently registered providers are Australian Private Networks, Elders, HarbourIT, Internode, Westnet, Westvic Broadband and Wideband Networks. Senator Coonan said a further seven applicants have been approved to join the program. ※In order to be registered and to be able to offer subsidised services, these applicants need to execute their funding deeds with the Government.
These applicants are Amcom, Broadband Wireless, McPherson Media, Ocean Broadband, Optus, Skymesh, and Telstra. Unless and until the funding deed has been duly executed by the provider, the providers will not be able to participate in the program. ※Those applicants that have already been invited to finalise their registration under the program and have been offered a funding deed, have until Wednesday, 10 October 2007 to return to the Department executed copies of the funding deed. ※The remaining applicants will shortly be invited to finalise their registration under the program and will be sent a funding agreement for execution. These providers will be given one week from the date of offer to execute and return the funding agreement to the Department,§ Senator Coonan said. The Department will be writing to all impacted applicants separately to advise them of the deadline that will apply to their offer of registration. If an applicant does not execute and return the funding deeds to the Department within the notified deadline, the offer of registration for the program will lapse.
Senator Coonan said after the second registration round which closed on 2 October 2007, the Government does not intend to offer any future registration rounds under the Australian Broadband Guarantee. ※Applicants should therefore ensure they take the necessary steps before the notified deadlines if they wish to participate in the program. ※The Australian Government＊s Australia Connected initiative provides a seamless plan that guarantees an affordable broadband service for 100 per cent of Australians regardless of where they live. ※This is in stark contrast to the Labor Party who will leave around 25 per cent of the Australian population stranded under its poorly costed and light on detail proposal. Labor＊s fibre-to-the-node proposal is a fantasy for millions of rural and regional Australians that live more than 1.5 kilometres from a node. ※This proves the point that Labor will turn regional and rural Australia into a telecommunications backwater with no targeted government assistance for future telecommunications upgrades.
※The Australian Government has protected the $2 billion principal of the Communications Fund so that only the interest earned from the fund＊s investments - up to $400 million every three years - can be spent. This legislation ensures that the Communications Fund, which the Labor Party has committed to drain, will continue to support areas that need ongoing targeted government assistance 每 that is rural and regional areas where commercial solutions are not always viable,§ Senator Coonan said.
iPrimus has teamed up with Landcare Australia and launched Australia＊s first Green Broadband plan which aims to assist its customers to reduce their carbon footprint. For 95c a month, iPrimus customers can sign up to its Green Broadband program which will plant five trees per year on their behalf. ※We have certain obligations as a corporation to society and the environment and this is just one way that are trying to do our part,§ said iPrimus CEO Ravi Bhatia. ※It＊s a problem we need to address and as a consequence more people are wanting to do something positive for the environment.§ Bhatia said iPrimus and Landcare worked together to develop a conservative mathematical model to determine that five trees per household would neutralise the environmental impact of a typical family＊s broadband usage. The model was based on the assumption that each customer＊s household would have one PC and two laptops at its disposal. From there they figured out the amount of electricity these devices and the network itself would consume and then doubled it for good measure. Ravi said iPrimus has invested several hundred thousand dollars to develop the program and partnership with Landcare. ※We haven＊t set a solid target for how many of our customers we want to sign up but we expect it will be a large proportion of them,§ he said.
Brian Scarsbrick, a spokesperson for Landcare said: ※In addition to reducing the carbon footprint of the customers, trees planted under the iPrimus/Landcare initiative will also help restore natural habitat for endangered species; improve water quality in catchment areas; reduce the effects of salinity and other environmental degradation. Green Broadband is a great opportunity for consumers to help our environment.§ iPrimus estimates the Green Broadband program could result in up to 1,000,000 trees being planted over the next four years. Green Broadband customers will also receive a personalised e-certificate recognising their contribution to the environment and will have access to a dedicated website providing information and regular updates on the Landcare tree-planting projects.
Australian Internet provider, EFTel Limited has announced its plans to rollout of nationwide Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line 2 (VDSL2), the next generation in high-speed broadband delivery nationwide. The ASX-listed provider believes VDSL2 will enable speeds of up to 100Mbps, 4 times faster than ADSL2+ and from 12 to 400 times faster than ADSL. The network, to be called BroadbandNext, will be built on Multiservice access node (MSAN) technology. MSANs are apparently a leap ahead of the traditional DSLAM Broadband technology being rolled out by most providers. In its statement to the ASX, EFTel said the project will commence in February 2008, with the MSANs will be aggressively rolled out at a rate of 15 exchanges per month, with an initial schedule of 70 exchanges nationwide. EFTel＊s CEO Simon Ehrenfeld said its MSANs can deliver VDSL2, ADSL2+, traditional ADSL, SHDSL corporate solutions, normal PSTN Voice services, IP Video, VoIP, and Bare DSL. More importantly, the rollout brings EFTel some freedom from the Telstra cost prison, according Ehrenfled. ※This is the most exciting event in the history of EFTel. We are delivering a service to the Australian public that is new, technically advanced, delivers the blindingly fast broadband consumers have been asking for, and leaves major competitors in our wake,§ he said.
EFTel is partnering with ASX-listed PIPE Networks and Chinese giant Huawei Technologies to ensure an effective network capacity in Australia. EFTel＊s major projects manager Luke MacKinnon said after dialogue between EFTel and telcos of varying sizes throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas, it was clear that VDSL2 is also the technology which will be best suited to a Fibre to the Node (FTTN) environment in the future. ※If and when FTTN occurs, the network infrastructure will be redeployable,§ he said. EFTel Ltd will be retailing VDSL2 and its other new services through its flagship EFTel retail brand as well as its aaNet brand. Its wholesale division, DFT Wholesale Internet, will be offering access to its numerous ISP customers. VDSL2 is expected to be certified for use on the public switched telephone network in the first quarter of 2008.
$50 million worth of Australian IT jobs and $250,000 worth of scholarships are on offer in the next twelve months, a consortium of ICT vendors including IBM, Microsoft, CSC and KPMG announced at the ACS Foundation＊s ＆Great IT Jobs Debate＊, this week. The event delegates consisting of 25 CEOs, CIOs, educational representatives, employees and ICT graduates agreed to combine industry and marketing muscle to broaden the brand 'ICT' when it comes to communicating the benefits and opportunities of the sector to potential employees. Moderated by global workforce specialist and best selling author, Peter Sheahan, the debate focused on job opportunities within the ICT industry and the challenges confronting the industry's workforce in the coming three to five years. An initiative of the ACS Foundation and supported by the ACS. Some key topics discussed included: The growth and opporunities of ICT industry, employment opportunities as well the industry's best relationship with the Australian economy?
ACS Foundation executive director, John Ridge, said the Debate was the first in a series of annual events to bring industry minds together to leverage the significant job opportunities afforded by the Australian ICT sector. ※Australia＊s ICT sector is a gold mine of opportunity for current and future workers 每 and if we can harness this opportunity carefully, our sector can help take the Australian economy into a new frontier,§ said Ridge. The 11 universities supporting the new ACS Foundation scholarships so far include the following: University of Technology Sydney; University of Sydney; Charles Stuart University; Queensland University of Technology; University of Queensland; University of Canberra; Australian National University; RMIT; Curtin University; Edith Cowen University and Murdoch University. Information and applications for these scholarships can be found via the relevant University web sites and the ACS Foundation web site.
TECH industry players say neither of the major parties has done well on technology policy in the election campaign. With a week to go, analysts, vendors, and industry representatives said the major parties had fallen short in the areas of recruitment, commercialisation, broadband and innovation. The Information Technology Contract and Recruitment Association said the Opposition had gained ground on the Government in the area of skills. Executive director Norman Lacy said Labor had made "historic" progress in bringing itself level with the Government's policies on independent contracting for small IT businesses. He also commended Labor for shifting responsibility for independent contractors into the small business portfolio. "The issue for individual contractors is that they ought to operate under commercial legislation, not industrial relations." Adrian Di Marco, managing director of technology services firm TechnologyOne, said a key issue was lack of commercialisation support. The Government hadn't set up the proper structures to commercialise the technology research and development that went on locally, but things wouldn't be different under Labor, Mr Di Marco said. "They're not addressing the whole issue of commercialisation. I call it the abyss of commercialisation, where all these companies keep going off the cliff and dying.
"They need to start touching on things such as creating a level playing field, so young companies can bid for work against large multinational companies." ACS president Philip Argy also said both parties had missed the point in IT policy. The broadband debate was short-sighted, and the parties should be thinking about what would be needed in 15 to 20 years, he said. "Both parties have timelines that are vastly too short. We should be talking about a vision for 10-15 years." On education, "why isn't anybody talking about training teachers to teach the kids to avoid Google-schmoogle syndrome, where kids cut and paste search results and the teacher gives them 10/10. Where's the planning to teach kids to critically analyse sources of info?" S2 Intelligence analyst Dr Bruce McCabe said the ALP was on the right track on using education to drive innovation. "Most of the Government's policies labelled ICT are irrelevant. The ALP has a much more developed view of boosting the education sector at tertiary and secondary level, which will boost innovation generally." Australian Information Industry Association chief executive Sheryle Moon agreed it was important for the next government to push innovation and commercialisation. "Governments need to recognise the value of the industry as an enabler, and that innovation led by technology is the way we'll solve the big problems facing Australia, particular in climate and energy."
Brisbane ICT solutions provider Data #3 is the winner of IBM's System i Business Partner of the Year for 2007. In addition to year on year growth in IBM System i solution offerings, the award recognises Data #3＊s expertise and capability and the way this has been applied to help its customers achieve their business and technology objectives. Data #3 was selected from 840 registered IBM partners across Australia and New Zealand. "We are delighted to win this prestigious award. It is testimony to our enterprise team＊s deep knowledge, expertise and capability in IBM platforms and how they can be implemented to deliver the best possible outcome to our customers," says John Grant, Managing Director, Data #3. Bruce Crouch, General Manager for Data #3＊s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions says the company has been in partnership with IBM for more than 25 years and will continue to invest in IBM＊s range of platform products. He says this award acknowledges that Data #3 is a leader in building effective enterprise infrastructure solutions for the data centre for organisations from SMEs to large business. "These solutions encompass infrastructure consolidation (optimisation), virtualisation, business continuity and disaster recovery, information life cycle management, information availability and data protection, storage and systems management and enterprise application deployment," says Crouch.
Frost & Sullivan today presented 17 awards to the best and brightest in the Australian Information & Communications Technology (ICT) industry. Some of the 'who's who' in Australia's ICT landscape made the honour roll of award recipients. To celebrate, Frost & Sullivan hosted the 2nd annual best practices awards at the Hilton in Sydney. This year's awards are focused on three sectors: digital media advertising, unified communications and enterprise outsourcing. Each of these sectors has a dedicated local researching analyst who produces a series of in-depth reports during the year that are available in Frost & Sullivan's growth partnership services. Says Mark Dougan, managing director for Frost & Sullivan Australia, "An integral part of our research program is recognising both market and customer leadership. "Market leadership is based on our assessment of who leads the market in terms of market share and growth over the past year. Customer leadership is based on the views of customers and end users on the levels of satisfaction they have with various suppliers." This year's Awards is supported by Aspect Software (silver sponsor) and Salesforce.com (bronze sponsor), Viocorp (official internet broadcaster) along with MediaConnect & M&a, Marketing & Advertising. Computerworld Australia is the official media partner. Says Michael Stelzer, country manager Australia & New Zealand from Aspect Software, "Aspect has had a long association with Frost & Sullivan - particularly in the APAC region, where they have been very active researching the market and partnering with their clients to develop innovative growth strategies."
"At Aspect, we define ourselves as the worlds' largest company focused exclusively on the Contact Centre - and we depend extensively on Frost & Sullivan's market research to help us formulate our go-to-market strategies and we believe our involvement with this Awards program takes our partnership one step further." The Frost & Sullivan Awards banquet, held annually, recognises outstanding performance by companies in the ICT industry in Australia. Introduced for the first time in 2006, the Awards attracted some of the leading names in technology on a single platform to compete for the most coveted titles in ICT. Benchmarked against leading companies in each category, the recipients of these awards represent the best-of-breed in the country. "More than ever, Australian businesses are embracing new and innovative technology models to drive agility and sustained competitive advantage. These awards play an important role in recognising the convergence between business success and technology requirements," said Steve Russell, president and CEO Asia Pacific, salesforce.com Adds Mr Dougan of the Awards, "Of course these are all highly competitive markets, and many high quality vendors or suppliers compete neck and neck. Receiving a Frost & Sullivan award is therefore a tremendous recognition of success both in the marketplace, and in the minds of customers."
Telecom New Zealand says it has completed the upgrade of its nationwide wireless broadband network with CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Revision A technology. The rollout of the NZD18.5 million (USD14 million) network began in Auckland last December and it now covers around 80% of New Zealand＊s population. Telecom says average download speed on the Rev A system are 800kbps, while upload speeds average 300kbps.
Geneva, 4 September 2007 〞 ITU has released a major publication, Trends in Telecommunication Reform: the Road to NGN. In its 8th edition, Trends reports on the evolution of circuit-switched telecommunication into "next-generation" networks, as operators around the world fight to remain competitive. The Report aims at enabling regulators and policy-makers in developing countries to better understand the changes transforming the ICT sector so they can evolve their policy and regulatory frameworks to leverage today＊s technological and market developments. Next-generation networks (NGN) herald the shift from a "one network, one service" approach, to the delivery of many services over a single network. Based on the Internet Protocol (IP), NGN migration builds on the expansion of broadband networks, the rise of Voice over IP (VoIP), fixed-mobile convergence and IP television (IPTV). These new networks are being developed using a number of technologies, including wireless and mobile, fibre and cable, or by upgrades to existing copper lines. While some operators are focused on upgrading their core 〞 or transport 〞 networks to NGN, others are tackling their access networks that reach the end user.
Fixed-line operators face increased competition from wireless telecommunication operators, providers of cable television networks and large Internet content providers with strong brands and deep pockets. The search for new revenue streams from the increasingly popular triple or quadruple play bundled package of IPTV, voice calls and ultra-high-speed broadband Internet access has accelerated the rolling out of fibre networks closer to homes and offices. In addition, operators increasingly seek to collect advertising revenue from the range of user-generated, social-networking and other content running on ever-higher speed broadband networks, dubbed "ultra broadband" or "broaderband" technology. At the same time, mobile operators are upgrading their networks to find new revenue streams fed by offers of seamless connectivity to bandwidth-intensive applications like mobile TV.
ICT sector in transition
Growth in the ICT sector has been nothing short of buoyant in the past year. By the end of 2006, there were a total of nearly 4 billion mobile and fixed line subscribers and over 1 billion Internet users worldwide. This included 1.27 billion fixed line subscribers and 2.68 billion mobile subscribers. These numbers are even more impressive when updated to include two of the fastest growing markets: China and India, which in the first quarter of 2007 had reported nearly 200 million more subscribers between them 〞 87 million in China, and about 110 million more in India. Some 61 per cent of the world＊s mobile subscribers are in developing countries, fuelled by countries like Brazil, China, India and Russia. Mobile penetration rates in developing countries, excluding the least developed countries (LDCs), grew from 26 per cent in 2005 to nearly 34 per cent in 2006. While there is still considerable potential for Internet growth in developing countries, where the average level of Internet usage in 2006 was only 10 per cent, an increasing number of developing and emerging countries have joined the ranks of the list of top broadband subscribers (ranked by total number of subscribers rather than penetration rates), including Argentina, Brazil, India, Mexico, Poland, Russia and Turkey. But the least developed countries still lag behind. Only 22 out of 50 LDCs offered broadband service in 2006, and users in these countries often pay extortionate rates for relatively low-speed broadband.
New regulatory frameworks to the rescue
What about the needs of end-users? NGN is regarded as an effective tool to achieve the goals of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), especially to provide universal access to ICT. By enabling new businesses to flourish in rural and urban areas in both developed and developing countries, NGN helps achieve the broader development goals, promising socio-economic growth, reducing poverty and integrating citizens into the global economy, while preserving and promoting local content and culture. Associated with Internet access at higher transmission speeds than ADSL, NGN will facilitate a full range of public services such as e-government and e-health. For this reason, government policy makers and regulators increasingly question not whether they should promote this relentless evolution, but rather how they can hasten it.
This year＊s Trends in Telecommunication Reform contains ten chapters each addressing different NGN-related challenges and opportunities to enable regulators to harness the potential of NGN to build an Information Society for all. It includes an ICT market and regulatory overview to set the stage for the following chapters; an NGN overview, to introduce the more detailed discussion in the later chapters; an analysis of NGN technology in an effort to demystify the plethora of NGN terms under discussion; a look at fixed-mobile convergence as one of the trends leading to NGN deployments; interconnection and access in an NGN environment; international Internet interconnection, which will take on greater importance as networks become increasingly IP-based; universal access and NGN; Quality of Service (QoS), consumer protection and cybersecurity in an NGN environment; the enabling environment for NGN; a conclusion and a look ahead.
The Kenyan government says the construction of its national fibre backbone network will begin early next year and will take around six months to complete. The network rollout has received approval from the Treasury, Telecompaper reports. Deployment has been split into three sections, covering western Kenya, the coast and northeast, and central Kenya. Three equipment suppliers have been chosen, with each responsible for one of the regional sections; Huawei will deploy networks in Nairobi and the central region, ZTE will cover the west, and Sagem will handle the rollout in the coastal and northeastern regions. Meanwhile, the Kenyan government has selected Alcatel-Lucent of France as the main equipment supplier for the KES6.2 billion (USD82 million) East Africa Marine System (TEAMS) undersea cable link. The cable will connect Mombasa in Kenya with Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, and will offer greater links to international networks. Completion is scheduled for mid-2009. Alcatel-Lucent has already been awarded the tender to deploy another undersea link which will have a landing in Kenya, the East Africa Submarine System (EASSy).
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it expects there to be some 40,000 GSM base stations in the country by 2010, along with around 10,000 CDMA towers. At the moment, there are approximately 10,000 GSM towers and 2,000 CDMA stations. Ernest Ndukwe, the regulator＊s CEO, noted that 97% of Nigeria＊s 38 million phone customers are mobile subscribers, with just 3% using landlines. However customers are still complaining about network congestion and dropped calls on mobile networks. He cited problems caused by planning controls, particularly in Lagos and Abuja, which slow down the installation of new base station antennae, as well as the unreliable power supply, that forces operators to install expensive back-up generators and fuel supplies. If these are stolen or vandalised, it can cause network problems until the cellco can investigate and repair the damage. However, Ndukwe also blamed the operators themselves, which he said have promoted excessive use of the networks before capacity was available to support them. ＆Some of the operating companies have been irresponsible with respect to forward planning and forecasting,＊ said the regulator. ＆This will incur future sanctions if found to contribute to deterioration in quality of service.＊ The NCC recently fined cellco Glo Mobile NGN5 million (USD40,600) for breaching an earlier ban on promotions directly encouraging subscribers to make more calls.
Home to some 1.5 billion people, South Asia is paying a high price to access the Internet as service providers have been slow to deliver cheaper broadband connections, analysts, quoted by an AFP report, said. The ADP report said the region has embraced telephones, mobile phones and computers and India has a flourishing software and outsourcing industry, noted industry watchers at the first South Asia Broadband Congress here earlier this month. But South Asia has lagged behind in hopping onto the broadband bandwagon, Sanjay Gupta of India's Midas Communication Technology, was quoted by the AFP report as saying. "There's not enough local language content and affordable connections. Currently, broadband penetration is very low, estimated to be less than 3% in the region, and it boils down to cost," Gupta, in the AFP report, said. Home users in Pakistan pay the most in the region, with annual broadband prices of $2,660, followed by Bangladesh at $2,066, according to Colombo-based LIRNEasia, a regional telecom think-tank, quoted by the report. The same service costs $242 in Sri Lanka, $223 in India and $112 in Maldives, LIRNEasia also said. The AFP report further said In March, India logged 40 million Internet subscribers, which included 2.3 million broadband users, according to India's Department of Telecommunications. Figures for broadband users in other South Asian countries were not available but officials at the conference said penetration was low, the AFP report further said.
A robust demand for mobile services is driving cellular growth in the emerging Asian markets of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, says research house IDC. The four markets grew a combined 72.9% to $3.1 billion in 2006, with subscribers up 118.5% to 89.3 million. In 2006, voice revenue increased 66.4% year-on-year while non-voice revenue grew 103.6% and accounted for 20.5% of the total mobile service revenue 每 a big jump from 2005, says IDC. Mobile penetration is still low in these countries at below 30%. Growth in the prepaid segment, which dominates the market at 95% of the total subscriber base, continued to be more aggressive than that of the contract segment. Prepaid subscribers in all four countries surged by 124.8% in 2006, while contract subscribers grew more fairly at 42.6%. IDC forecasts a strong compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.9% for mobile services revenue in all four countries over the next five years.
China is leading emerging markets in Asia -- including China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam -- in an increasing percentage of the IT spending in the healthcare industry across Asia. In its latest research on IT adoption in the healthcare industry in Asia, Springboard Research found that emerging markets account for 59 percent of the US$3.4 billion in healthcare IT spending in Asia (excluding Japan) in 2007, with this share expected to increase to 64 percent of spending by 2010. "While it is no surprise to IT vendors that the emerging markets in Asia are growing quickly, the percentage of the total healthcare IT spending could provide a surprise to many vendors," said Jonathan Silber, research manager for Springboard Research. Silber notes that the key strategy for vendors is to understand the solution trends in each market and tailor their strategies to make sure they are going after their addressable market, instead of just a big number. "With the way the market is fragmented you can not have a regional strategy--it needs to be focused on the countries and solutions where a vendor can execute," added Mr. Silber.
Healthcare IT spending in the emerging markets of Asia is still very much a hardware based play as these economies build their basic IT infrastructure. Sixty-one percent of the 2007 spending was on hardware and this is expected to continue relatively steady, dropping slowly to 57 percent in 2010 as spending starts to move more into software and IT services. Both software and IT services are expected to grow across these emerging markets at a compound average growth rate of about 15 percent between 2006 and 2010. "China is the 800 pound gorilla of technology in the Asian healthcare industry. It is already the largest market and is starting to dwarf the other emerging markets in the region. If a vendor has limited resources to cover multiple emerging markets in the region, they need to make a key decision on whether to focus their resources solely on China to better capture the opportunity or spread them out among multiple countries where the opportunity is much smaller," added Mr. Silber. "We are seeing the larger vendors with scale, resources, and an existing channel network reaps the greatest benefits at this point."
Springboard's research has shown an increased emergence of local ISVs and SIs in the healthcare sector in Asia's emerging economies, specifically in niche solution areas. These local firms are both partnering and competing with the multinational players to meet the local needs of the Asian healthcare industry. Springboard expects competition to increase over the next few years as more multinational providers focus on the healthcare opportunity in these countries. The Springboard Research study, IT in the Healthcare Industry in Asia-IT Vendors Make a House Call, examines key trends, market sizing, and forecasts in the Asia (excluding Japan) public and private healthcare industry. A key focus area of the report is the inclusion of an array of market data, including market size and growth forecasts, for key technologies by country. Springboard also analyzes what is driving IT adoption by country as well as what social, economic, and government actions and policies are driving IT spending within each country. This extensive research study aims to help IT vendors identify key target markets and segments in the healthcare industry to help them better understand and penetrate this industry.
Belgrade, Serbia -- Individual activists and organisations are invited to join an online discussion on the potential of information technology for environmental sustainability. APC, the global civil society network promoting information technology for social change, BlueLink Bulgaria, and Ekoforum Serbia will produce a live online talk show from Belgrade in partnership with the UNECE Aarhus Convention Secretariat. Streamed over the internet via APC＊s global network of members, people from around the world will be able to watch this interactive broadcast on the relationship between environmental sustainability and information technology (IT). During the event, representatives from civil society, government and business will share success stories and lessons learned, and engage in dialogue about how to bridge the paradigm and policy gap between IT and environmental stewardship. The talk show contributes to the overarching purpose of the Information Technology for Environmental Sustainability (ITES) initiative to bridge environmental sustainability and information society policy goals. It also aims to make successful, environmentally-strategic IT practices developed in the UNECE region known throughout the world. This cross-cutting event is relevant to the ※Environment for Europe§ agenda 每 in particular, to item 5(b) on Southeastern European perspectives on capacity-building and item 6(b) on sustainable consumption and production through partnerships in environmental policy implementation. Participants APC members, national IT agencies and environment ministries, environmental and ICT civil society organisations, donors, and international organisations, businesses, media representatives, as well as individual bloggers and environmental activists will participate in the talk show. Venue: Conference Press Centre, Sava Centre, Belgrade, Serbia Time: 7-8 pm. (CET), 11 October 2007
Denmark wins a prestigious eEurope award and tops the list of the 53 most IT savvy countries in the world Denmark won its eEurope award in the category called Transformation for the project EID (Electronic Invoicing in Denmark). This Transformation category is one of four award categories. The other three are: Enabling eGovernment, Businesses and Citizens and Impact. Claus Juhl, managing director of the Agency for Financial Management and Administrative Affairs which is behind the Danish e-invoicing, says: "That we won today shows both that Denmark is on the cutting edge with digital solutions - and that it pays to be up front. E-invoicing is based on a EU standard and it encourages us to try to make e-invoicing a common European solution. If this turns out successfully it will be a competitive advantage for Danish companies". Mr. Juhl also added that winning the award has inspired the agency to pursue more digital projects.
In other tech news it was revealed earlier this month that Denmark has surpassed neighboring Sweden in IDC's so-called "Information Society Index". The index looks at 53 of the world's leading IT countries and evaluates them according to different criteria. The IDC investigates the way in which information technology is spread and how it is used in practice. This is measured according to a number of parameters e.g. the spread of broad bands, the use of Internet, the use of IT in teaching, the number of computers and how many private homes that are connected to the Internet. The four main areas that IDC looks at and collects data on are: PC, Internet, telecommunications and society and the company found that Denmark comes out on top in all four areas. Among other things the research showed that 67 per cent of the Danish population has access to the Internet. Of these, 84 per cent also have Internet connections in their homes. 22 per cent of the households use broadband connections. In the top five Denmark is followed by Sweden, USA, Switzerland and Canada.
The number of residential broadband connections in Argentina reached 1.7 million at the end of June 2007, reports BNamericas, quoting national statistics office Indec. This is up 66.2% year-on-year compared to 1.04 million at end-June 2006. The total number of residential internet connections, including dial-up, totalled 2.7 million on 30 June, up 19.8% from 2.3 million a year earlier. Some 695,000 dial-up connections were non-contract. Meanwhile, corporate internet access increased 21.4% year-on-year to total 253,590 connections by the end of 1H2007. Within the corporate segment, the number of broadband connections grew 38.7% to 185,340 while the total number of dial-up connections fell 10.9% to 45,549 over the same period.
Venezuelan state-owned telcos CANTV and CVG Telecom (Telecom Venezuela) have completed the first of two planned link-ups this year to join their fibre-optic backbone networks, reports BNamericas. The 490km southern branch of Telecom Venezuela＊s network connecting the city of Puerto Ordaz with the border town of Santa Elena de Uairen is now connected to CANTV＊s backbone. CANTV expects to have fully combined the two networks by end-2008, doubling its existing 7,500km of route fibre.
Reduce, reuse and recycle don't just apply to pop cans and water bottles. Computers, printers and monitors - known as e-waste - are also being added to that waste-reduction pile in the name of protecting the environment. Last week was Waste Reduction Week in Canada, an event which saw governments across the country stepping up efforts to improve their respective e-waste management initiatives. One of the provinces that participated in last week's waste reduction awareness was Manitoba, where Ministers Jim Rondeau and Stan Struthers announced an e-waste roundup project that collected between 250 to 300 tonnes of e-waste at 19 depots in communities across Manitoba.
"We encourage businesses, Manitobans, and everyone to reduce waste," said Jim Ferguson, waste reduction co-ordinator for Green Manitoba. "Our initiative on e-waste and the Product Stewardship Regulation is intended to bring a formal stewardship responsibility for the distribution and sale of electronic equipment in Manitoba." Ferguson added that they have been working on stewardship programs in the province for some time. "We had public consultations on a packaging stewardship regulation and then these two regulations announced this week for packaging and household hazardous waste are the final two regulations in the series under our stewardship program initiative." Ferguson said that in the first phase of the stewardship program, the regulation would apply to products such as rechargeable batteries, televisions, computers, laptops, cellphones, microwaves and all components of those products. "Once the program is up and running for a full year than we'd be bringing in other digital and video audio equipment later under the umbrella of the stewardship program," he said.
The City of Toronto has also been stepping up its efforts on e-waste. Currently, the City is in the process of selecting a vendor to purchase the city's used technology assets to reduce the amount of e-waste being sent to landfill sites. These vendors would also be responsible for properly disposing the components that are not suitable for re-use in accordance with government environmental regulations, according to City of Toronto spokesperson Alex Mozo via e-mail. "The City also has an IT Asset Disposal Policy that allows the donation of surplus assets to the City of Toronto's grant-receiving, not-for-profit organizations and to other not-for-profit organizations throughout Toronto," said Mozo. Under the Technical Exchange Program of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) the city can also donate surplus technology assets to Soyapongo and Botswana, according to Mozo. In Manitoba, the public has been actively joining the drive to reduce waste, said Ferguson. He noted that approximately 345 citizens have participated in the electric hybrid vehicle rebate program, and that taxi drivers in particular have been receptive to that program.
"On the e-waste side, we did run a three-month drop-off for residential recycling of electronic waste, televisions and computers, and we collected almost 300 tonnes of material," said Ferguson. Other provinces have also been initiating e-waste stewardship programs, including B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan, he said. Saskatchewan's Waste Electronic Equipment Program (SWEEP), for instance, was spearheaded by the Electronics Product Stewardship Canada (EPSC) in response to the Waste Electronic Equipment Regulation issued by the provincial government in October 2005. "Once fully implemented, our product stewardship program will be the most comprehensive in terms of the household hazardous waste - electronics, tires, and all the other materials, packaging and printed papers as well," said Ferguson. The City of Toronto created the Waste Prevention Group this year to work with those divisions whose business, policies or processes create waste for other divisions, according to Mozo. The city also has a number of campaigns to help educate and encourage residents and businesses to assist with waste reduction. (By Lisa Williams, senior writer, InterGovWorld.com)
An e-learning initiative is underway across municipalities in Canada, allowing employees to have access to over 1,300 technical and business courses online. Dubbed eUniversity, the program was initiated by the British Columbia chapter of the Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA BC) in February, and later extended to other MISA chapters across Canada. To date, 26 municipalities have signed up for the eUniversity program, said Colin Redwood, chair of the education committee at MISA BC. Vancouver-based online learning provider Chalk Media is providing the learning content management system for the eUniversity portal. MISA BC signed a three-year commitment with Chalk Media to run the municipal e-learning system, said Redwood, who is also manager of information services at the Corporation of Delta, a municipality in B.C. Redwood said the online learning tool has provided big benefits to certain municipalities, especially those in remote locations, which would have otherwise required staff to travel to city centres in order to get training. "We don't think that the e-learning is really a substitute for other kinds of courses, but it does have some real advantages in complementing more traditional courses in a sense that people can do it at their own time," Redwood said.
The portal has two components, said Redwood. The first one provides access to Mind Leader courses, which range from technical programs, including courses on Linux, Novell, Microsoft and Cisco technologies, to end-user business skills development. The second component involves tools that allow users to develop their own courses, with the possibility of sharing those courses with other municipalities that may find need for them, said Redwood. The course-sharing aspect across municipalities may be the easy part. According to Redwood, it's the actual course development by municipalities that can be challenging. Although the feature for developing custom courses is available (a fire department in B.C. has already developed its own course through the tool), Redwood said there hasn't been many takers. "We would like to see some courses developed if we can find someone to step forward and put the effort into developing the course material," said Redwood, adding that the work involved is usually purely voluntary. To access the eUniversity portal, municipalities would have to sign up and purchase licences through MISA BC for the Mind Leader courses. A minimum number of licences is prescribed for municipalities signing up, which would depend on municipal population, said Redwood. For instance, municipalities with a population of less than 10,000 may get a minimum of one licence, while municipalities with a population of more than 100,000 would need a minimum of 10 licenses, a statement from the MISA Ontario Web site indicated.
The eUniversity can be an affordable option for municipalities to provide training to employees, said Redwood. He explained that although a licence can only be assigned to one user at a given time, the agreement with Chalk Media allows the municipality to re-assign the license so that once a user completes a course, the training administrator can simply deactivate the user and re-assign the license to someone else. Sharing the cost of the e-learning system was also a big driver for extending the eUniversity portal beyond MISA BC to other Canadian municipalities, said Vic Morcom, who was one of the proponents of the e-learning tool. "Because it's on the Web it just makes sense (to extend the service), so the more people involved the more we share the cost; so we drive the cost down by sharing," said Morcom, who has since retired as manager of information services at the City of Abbotsford in B.C. Morcom said the ability for user-developed courses was one of the business requirements for the e-learning portal from the beginning. For the e-learning system to work within municipalities, however, it needs the support of the HR department, which is usually in charge of staff training, said Morcom. (By: Mari-Len De Guzman, editor, CIO Government Review)
Short message service (SMS) has played an important role in helping disastrous weather forecast in China, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said on Saturday. Since this year, the Sichuan branch of China Mobile, the country's largest mobile communication operator, has invested 150 million yuan (US$20 million) to install information terminals, devices that can receive short messages, among the 50,000 villages across the southwest province. "These machines have sent flood warnings among locals at the earliest time, allowing them to get prepared to the full extent," said sources with the CMA. Before Typhoon Sepat swept China's central province of Hunan, local meteorological authorities issued typhoon warnings by sending short messages to 2.25 million mobile phone users all over the province. "Thanks to the timely warning, construction on transportation projects and production in collieries had suspended before the typhoon arrived," said the sources. Weather authorities in Jiangxi and Hainan provinces also sent flood forecast to the public.
China has more than 508 million mobile phone users by the end of July this year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Information Industry. "The increasing number of mobile phones makes it possible for disaster warnings through SMS," said Zeng Jianqiu, a professor with the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. By August 22 this year, natural disasters in China had affected 310 million people and led to direct economic losses of 126.4 billion yuan (US$16.85 billion ), according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. However, both the number of people affected and the death toll decreased in a year with more severe natural disasters compared with last year. "One of the major reasons is that China has built an emergency response system at all levels and implemented the people-first principle in disaster relief work," said Li Xueju, minister of civil affairs.
The Internet has been extending fairly rapidly in China's rural areas, with the number of rural net users reaching 37.41 million by the end of June, approximately 5.1 percent of the total of rural population. Statistics from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) show that at the same time urban netizens had reached 125 million, or 21.6 percent of urban population. China's rural net users were 23.1 million at the end of 2006, indicating that in six months 14.3 million farmers newly got access to the Internet. NDRC's report said the rapidly improving telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas has obviously facilitated the increase of net users. In its 11th Five-Year Program (2006-2010), the Ministry of Information Industry vowed to extend phone service to every village and enable every township to have access to Internet. The main force of rural net users are young farmers and migrant workers, who can use computers to enjoy on-line music, games and videos as skillfully as urban users. However, rural net users rarely use the Internet for news, on-line shopping, on-line banking and trading stocks. In some rural areas, the Internet has been used for special purposes featuring agricultural information and technologies and price information of farm produce, among others. Liu Manqiang, deputy director of the Information Research Center under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that "information communication can bring about huge added value, an important goal of the country's information drive is to enable more farmers to benefit from the development of information industry."
The number of Internet users in China reached an estimated 172 million by the end of September, or about 13 percent of the total population, according to the Ministry of Information Industry (MII). The figure, announced by MII Vice Minister Lou Qinjian at the Ninth Hi-tech Fair in Shenzhen on Friday, indicates more than 100 Chinese people are acquiring Internet access every minute. About 10 million new users gained access to the Internet in the past three months, as the figure stood at 162 million for the first half. Lou said the ministry expected the figure to reach 200 million, about 15 percent of the population, by 2010 at an annual growth rate of eight percent, as stated in its fifth five-year plan (2006-2010). However, the figure would easily top 200 million no later than the end of next year, if the growth rate in the past three months was maintained. The number of Internet users in rural areas in the first nine months was unavailable, but the number stood at 37.41 million by the end of June, approximately 5.1 percent of the rural population.
China's first human organ donation information platform will be launched in Shenzhen, a city in South China's Guangdong Province, in the first half of next year, the local Red Cross said. "The platform is a communication agent for hospitals and the Red Cross," Zhao Lizhen, the secretary-general of Shenzhen Red Cross, told China Daily yesterday. Hospitals will provide the Red Cross with the records of donors and patients. When the donors are ready for transplant operations, the Red Cross will pick patients strictly according to their orders, Zhao said. The procedure ensures all patients have a fair opportunity to receive transplant operations, and potentially prevent some patients from jumping the queue by bribing doctors. The Red Cross began work on the platform in February at a cost of 1.3 million yuan ($171,000) from the municipal government. Zhao said the development of relevant software would be finished by the end of the year. The Red Cross has hired experts to assess every donor and patient.
The People's Congress of Shenzhen passed a regulation for human organ donations in 2003, ensuring an open and accountable legal process for human organ donations and transplants. Donors and recipients will never know each other's information. Zhao said the platform is based on the regulation. Even though the public can log into the website, the information about donors and receivers will be only open to relevant people from hospitals and the Red Cross. Zhao said there are plans to increase the scope of the platform to connect with more hospitals and medical organizations of other provinces. More than 4,000 people who would like to donate their corneas have registered, according to the Red Cross and 150 of them have been matched with recipients.
For 30-year-old Wang Hong, the television set is filled with memories. It is reminiscent of her childhood, when owning a TV set was a luxury that brought pride to the family. As an adult, it is still the mainstay of her life. She turns on the TV the moment she gets home from work, although she has trouble remembering what she watches each day. Her husband is focused on a different piece of electronic equipment. He is glued to the computer at home, where checking e-mails, chatting, and watching programs on the Internet are crucial to his daily routine. This scenario is typical of the modern lifestyle, as revealed in a recent survey conducted by the China Youth Daily and Sina.com that asked 5,674 people how they fill their spare time. 31.3 percent of the respondents said they often watch television, 53.9 percent sometimes, and 14.8 percent never. When asked whether their lives would be affected if the TV disappeared, only 23.1 percent thought it would, while a staggering 84.1 percent thought they would feel affected if the Net was gone. The statistics issued by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) show that China had 162 million netizens by the end of last June, second only to the United States in number. 13 percent of Chinese households have an Internet connection, and the average citizen spends 18.6 hours sitting at the computer each week.
An interesting fact revealed through the survey is that most users surf the Net around 8:00 in the evening, originally the prime time reserved for television. 43.3 percent of the respondents said both elderly family members and children in their families watch TV, while the young are typically at computers. 27.1 percent said they used to reach for the remote control during down time, but now they＊re increasingly turning to a keyboard. 60.3 percent of respondents only watch for time-sensitive programs such as news, sports, and live broadcasts. Li Li, an employee at a public relations company, is a self-declared couch potato. She enjoys the comfort that comes from watching television because she can just sit back and set her chores aside. ※If there is a soccer game, I will definitely watch it on television instead of the Net,§ Lin, a high school teacher, said. ※The internet cannot ensure smooth delivery with standard definition.§ Quite a few respondents agree with Lin, arguing that they put a higher premium on delivery quality, an issue that will take a long time for network providers to wrestle with. However, some researchers think it won＊t be long before the Internet can offer smooth and high-def programs. Part of the Internet＊s success comes from the myriad of choices and freedom it offers.
72.4 percent of the respondents turn to the Net because there is more information; 55.2 percent say the Internet makes information easier to read; 42 percent say they can circumvent annoying ads online; 12.4 percent haven＊t subscribed to TV service for a long time; and, 12.1 percent have computers but no TV set at home. However, other figures still show that the television won＊t fall into oblivion anytime soon. 30.2 percent of those surveyed will turn on the TV when returning home and 7.2 percent have no personal computers. Some people think it is a fool＊s errand to pit TV against computers, because they are just two different means for transmitting information. While the content they deliver is almost the same, most of the programs on the Net are culled from the TV.
The world's highest mobile phone base station tested successfully on Tuesday on Mount Qomolangma, also known as Mount Everest, at an altitude of 6,500 meters. The station, run by China Mobile, the largest mobile phone service provider in China, will provide services for mountaineers on the world's highest peak and the torch relay for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, a worker called the mobile phone of Wang Jianzhou, general manager of China Mobile, via the station and the conversation was clear, said a company spokesman. He said the station's construction was "incredibly difficult" as the oxygen level at the site was only 38 percent of that at ground level. Immediately after the call, workers packed away the equipment for the winter, during which time temperatures on Mount Qomolangma can fall to as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius. The components will be assembled again before the Olympic torch relay scheduled for next May, the spokesman said. The company began hiring porters and yaks to transport equipment and material to the station on October 25 and the process lasted more than 20 days. Five engineers, with the help of three professional mountaineers, arrived at the site on Thursday and installed equipment over the following two days. An official with Tibet Mobile, the Tibetan subsidiary of China Mobile, said they would base the station's operation period on the needs of mountaineers and scientific surveys. China Mobile has already built two other stations on Mount Qomolangma at 5,200 meters and 5,820 meters. The new station means that the mobile phone service covers the entire climbing route of Mount Qomolangma.
Around 5,400 people with no fixed address spend their nights at 24-hour Internet cafes across Japan, of whom 27 percent are in their 20s, the health ministry said Tuesday. In its first survey on so-called Net cafe refugees, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry also determined that people in their 50s comprise 23 percent of the total, and half of them work low-paying day-hire jobs. In the survey conducted in June and July, the ministry gave questionnaires to about 1,700 sleepover customers at 87 Net cafes across Japan, while separately interviewing 362 people outside Net cafes in Tokyo and Osaka. The ministry found that 8 percent of the respondents sleep in Net cafes because they have no home. Based on this figure, the ministry estimated that about 5,400 people in Japan use Net cafes as a home substitute. In Tokyo, 58 percent are short-term laborers and 17 percent are unemployed. The monthly income of those in Tokyo averages ¥110,000, compared with ¥80,000 in Osaka, with more than 40 percent of the respondents having experienced sleeping on the streets. In Tokyo, 33 percent lost their home after quitting work and 20 percent said they left dorms and live-in housing after leaving their jobs.
The survey also found 66 percent of the respondents experience difficulty in saving money to rent an apartment while 38 percent were concerned whether they could continue paying rent. Many said looking for a job is difficult because they lack a fixed address. "We are just beginning to understand the underlying dynamics," ministry official Jun Teraoka said. "This survey will help us identify and tackle the many labor and welfare issues involved in this phenomenon." Takeshi Ikuta, who heads a support group for homeless people in Osaka, said Net cafe refugees should be considered homeless, and the younger ones should be viewed as vulnerable. "The government should take support measures for people working under unstable labor conditions before they are trapped in a pattern of sleeping in Net cafes," Ikuta said. Customers at a typical Net cafe can stay overnight for ¥1,000 to ¥2,000 in a small cubicle equipped with a reclining chair, computer and TV. Many cafes offer free soft-drink refills and some even have showers.
The ministry attributes the rise in people making such cafes their home to the ballooning number of young people who hop from one temporary job to the next. Estimates put the figure at 2 million.The job-hoppers are a byproduct of the economic crisis that hit a decade ago, as well as a shift in values among younger generations less ready to conform to Japan's more traditional corporate work ethic, analysts say. Many Net cafe inhabitants rely on their cell phones to arrange day jobs that don't require a fixed address. But the casual nature of the work means they often receive low wages and no training, social security or health insurance. The phenomenon has also raised health concerns. In 2005, 13 people contracted tuberculosis at a Net cafe in Kawasaki that health officials suspect originated from the cafe's homeless population. Refuge sought by the homeless is not limited to Net cafes. Many also congregate in all-night saunas and 24-hour fast food outlets, according to the study. A government survey released earlier this year found about 18,500 people 〞 mostly 40 or older 〞 live on the street nationwide, down 27 percent from a similar survey four years ago. But analysts say the Net cafe refugees signal the existence of hidden forms of homelessness not counted in previous tallies, especially among younger people.
How does "IT powerhouse" Korea measure up to other countries in terms of Internet speed? Disappointingly, it's only in second place. Japan has the world's fastest Internet connections, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, while the U.S. is at the bottom of the list. At 61 megabits per second, Japan's broadband service is 30 times faster than that of the U.S. at 2 mbps, the Post said citing data from Information Technology and Information Foundation. Korea ranked second with 46 mbps, followed by Finland with 21 mbps, Sweden with 18 mbps and Canada with 8 mbps. "Americans invented the Internet, but the Japanese are running away with it," the article said. "This is partly a matter of geography and demographics: Japan is relatively small, highly urbanized and densely populated." Korea is in first place for the number of broadband subscribers. According to data from International Telecommunications Union, there were 24.9 broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants in Korea in 2005. Next on the list was Canada with 17.6, Switzerland with 17, Sweden with 15.1, Norway with 15, Israel with 14.3, Japan with 14.1, Finland with 12.8, the U.S. with 11.4, France with 11.2 and the U.K. with 10.3.
Terrestrial digital TV broadcasting services were launched in the three metropolitan areas (Kanto, Chukyo and Kinki areas) in December 2003, and they have reached all prefectures of Japan last December. In view of a smooth transition of analog broadcasting to digital broadcasting, MIC and the National Council for Promotion of Terrestrial Digital Broadcasting have recently developed a municipal roadmap (that consists of the municipal-level schedule on coverage households, which indicates when terrestrial digital TV broadcasting services become available in each municipality, and the time schedule on coverage areas, which is created at the prefecture level), following the roadmap to construct relay stations that was revised last December. The roadmaps are now available on a MIC website dedicated to information on terrestrial digital broadcasting (URL: http://www.soumu.go.jp/joho_tsusin/dtv/zenkoku/index.html). Based on the Telecommunications Council's fourth interim report (issued on August 2, 2007), "Optimal Utilization of Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting and Roles of Administration toward Penetration thereof," MIC will promote development of digital relay stations and renovation of community reception facilities in remote locations so that digital broadcasting can cover 100% of the areas covered by analog broadcasting. For the areas where digital broadcasting services are not available by 2011 in spite of such an approach, MIC is considering the provision of digital broadcasting services via satellite as a tentative measure.
Japan currently holds the record for the world＊s fastest yet cheapest internet connections, according to recent studies. The high-speed applications are being rolled out for low-cost, high-definition teleconferencing for telemedicine. This enables urban doctors to diagnose patients in rural areas and to encourage people to work from homes. Telephone company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone launched a nationwide project aided by government subsidies and tax breaks to construct a build-out of fiber-optic lines to homes. This will enable pathologists using high-definition video and remote-controlled microscopes to examine tissue samples from patients living in areas without access to major hospitals. The clarity and richness in the image details would make it possible for a definitive remote diagnosis of cancer. In South Korea, broadband speeds are high while prices remain low. Citizens are able to access "video on demand" online with high-definition settings for less than Americans pay to rent a DVD.
According to a report in Sunday＊s Nikkei daily, a group of Japanese researchers is being assembled to develop a next-generation IP network capable of transferring data at speeds of up to 10Gbps, ten times faster than the next generation network (NGN) due to be launched in the country next year. It is understood the group will be set up by the government-linked National Institute of Information and Communications Technology and other privately owned companies. The group is expected to be supported by the likes of national PTO Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp (NTT), Fujitsu, KDDI Corp, Hitachi, Toshiba and NEC Corp. It will invest upwards of JPY30 billion (USD260 million) over the next five years with the aim of developing a commercial network by around 2015.
Blogs can be used for a variety of purposes in cyberspace. They can be your personal diary, collection for your hobby or a medium for breaking news. In Korea where over 40 percent of the population reads blogs, some of the big portal sites provide free blog space for members and highlight ※today's popular blog sites§ on the front page of their portals everyday. Blog contents could be as trivial as some of the funniest TV shows of the 70s or as cerebral as 19th century philosophy. Unfortunately, most Koreans cannot really share their local jokes with people overseas due to language barriers. Although Naver, the biggest portal site in Korea opened an automatic translation service online, it is only available for Korean-to-Japanese translations so far, as few other languages share so much common grammar sequences. But more and more people are opening English blogs in Korea, standing at the forefront to tell the world what Korea is like beyond tourist brochures and TV shows. Foreigners living in Korea or Korean-Americans getting a glimpse of ※home§ are leading the way. So here are some of the notable English blogs by Koreans or Korean-Americans that describe various aspects of the society including food, street scene, political issues and other general information. Tae-woo Danny Kim, 29, runs a blog Technokimchi.com (www.technokimchi.com) that provides various information on Korea's cutting edge high tech culture to some 200 regular visitors.
He decided to open this particular blog because he couldn't stand to miss the chance to introduce Korea's unique gadget culture -- watching movies through mobile phones on the subway, large quantity text messages, fabulous online games like Lineage, and other trends that appear a couple of years earlier than overseas. After being interviewed by CNN's ※Eye on Korea§ to explain Korea's online culture and broadband Kim revealed he is receiving more traffic then usual. Lately he received requests for interviews and business-related questions from 60 nations. Kim Chang-won, a co-CEO of Korea's leading blog software company TNC began Web 2.0 Asia (www.web20asia.com) since last year with similar intentions; to tell the world more about the advanced Web environment in Asia and share ideas. After all, he wrote in his blog, ※Korea for one, boasts the highest household penetration of broadband internet in the world: Successful web companies abound.§ Kim, too, was approached by CNN and made a special contribution: ※A day in the (digital) life of a South Korean boy.§ Both Kims opened their English blog to match the high demand for Korea-related information abroad. This, according to Danny Kim is because very few tips are available on Korea's advanced technology. Another similar blog containing unique information and news about the Korean IT environment is Koreacrunch (http://koreacrunch.com/) run by Yun Seok-chan (Channy), head of the R&D Center at Daum Communications Co., the second largest portal in Korea. His blog focuses on social media in Korea. There's also Openmaru (http://www.openmaru.com/en/) a Korean and English site of a similar concept by NC Soft Co., software development team ※Openmaru.§
My Korean Kitchen (http://mykoreankitchen.com/), meanwhile, is a personal food blog belonging to a 26-year old Korean female who moved to Australia early this year but is willing to keep up with her cooking lessons. She first meant to provide some practical tips on cooking Korean dishes -- both traditional and fusion -- to expatriates in Korea. What she didn't expect was to find more comments coming from overseas. This master chef of this blog doesn't limit herself to traditional Korean fare; contents spread beyond typical meat, vegetables and drink recipes to introduce things like how to cook good Korean-style steamed rice, Koreanized Chinese and Japanese food, going to Asian groceries and others. It has just begun a picture of the week corner to provide some mouth-watering shots of dishes like Sinseollo which she called a Korean-style casserole. And don't miss her various links to other Korean food blogs. Other blogs are not quite as talkative. Han's Daily Photo (http://seouldailyphoto.com/) has a couple hundred street scenes categorized as sights, streets, things, people, animals, buildings and neighborhoods. Each photo contains succinct remarks from photographer Han to make up for the somewhat solitary mood of the photo. One of his latest photos is ※sea of banana§ laid at the marketplace ready for sale. His blog is also rich in links to various tourist information and other neighboring blogs on Seoul.
Kais Seoul Daily Photo (seouldailyphoto.blogspot.com/) is another photo-blog of similar contents capturing the daily scenes ranging from flags on Independence Day to leftover of chocolate coffee. Blog for Korean Unification Studies.For a bit heavier stuff, there's a blog on Korean unification studies (http://www.koreanunification.net/) that provides interesting news and personal comments, but with extra focus on the North. The blog, according to its administrators, aims to share, inform and debate issues regarding unification of the Koreas, looking into unification policies of both the South and the North, summits, official dialogue, South Korea's public opinions and the views of other countries. With rich references to North Korean news, opinion polls and links to related websites and other blogs on Korea, this is one of the must-see sites for those interested in deep study of the peninsula. There are occasional unification jokes, too. For further English blogs on Korea, simply check out the links of the above blogs. While they provide glimpses of actual Korean life for those outside the culture, Koreans too can get unique insight into how foreigners react to particular scenes via the comments left behind by viewers.
Korea's high-speed Internet penetration rate (the number of broadband subscriptions per 100 citizens) exceeded 30% for the first time in late September. According to the data released by Korea's Ministry of Information and Communication and the local telecommunication industry Thursday (Nov. 8), the penetration rate reached 29.97% in August and 30.11% in September. In January this year, 28.95% of the population had high-speed Internet access, and the percentage has risen consecutively for the past eight months. By region, Seoulites topped the list with 35.6% penetration, while 31.8% of Incheon and 31% of Gyeonggi-do residents on average had access to the service. Daejeon and Ulsan tied for fourth with 29.9%, followed by Gwangju (29.1%), Daegu (29%), and Busan (28.6%).Meanwhile, the average penetration rate by household increased to 90.1% in September from 89.7% a month earlier. The household penetration of Seoul reached 107.8% and Gyeonggi-do and Incheon followed with 102.6% and 101.1%, respectively, with several families choosing to subscribe to more than one line.
Around 30 percent of all Koreans have Internet subscriptions, and 90 percent of households have high-speed connections, according to the Ministry of Information and Communication and Internet service providers on Thursday. Some 30.11 percent of the population had Internet subscriptions as of September, up by 0.14 percentage points from August. Seoul is the most wired part of the country with 35.6 percent penetration, followed by 31.8 percent in Incheon, 31.0 percent in Gyeonggi Province, 29.9 percent in Daejeon and Ulsan, 29.1 percent in Gwangju, 29.0 percent in Daegu, and 28.6 percent in Busan. High-speed Internet reached 90.1 percent of households. In the capital region, the proportion of households with high-speed access topped 100 percent, with 107.8 percent for Seoul, 102.6 percent for Gyeonggi Province and 101.1 percent for Incheon. Internet service providers predict that the nationwide high-speed connection level to households will climb over 100 percent once real-time Internet TV and VoIP(voice-over-Internet Protocol) services kick in.
Despite her busy work schedule, office worker Kim Ji-yeon never misses her favorite soap operas and comedy shows. Comfortably ensconced on her couch at the weekend, the 27-year-old devours the programs through a video-on-demand service provided by broadband television. "I can watch what I want when I want," she said. Kim is one of nearly 900,000 users of the preliminary internet protocol television or IPTV service, which delivers television programming to households via a broadband internet connection. Full IPTV, including real-time broadcasting, is unlicensed under Korean law, but after a three-year debate in the National Assembly, it is set to gain parliamentary approval. Currently, only a limited number of services, such as VOD, are permitted. The IPTV business will serve as an opportunity for the country's fixed-line operators to revive stalled growth in the almost saturated telecommunications market, analysts said. "IPTV will drive the growth of fixed telecommunications companies such as KT and Hanarotelecom," said Yang Jong-in, an analyst at Korea Investment and Securities. He expects the revenues of the fixed-line carriers to be boosted by combined-service products which bundle IPTV with broadband and telephone subscriptions at discount prices. This would also reduce marketing costs by increasing customer retention, he added.
Hanarotelecom has had the biggest surge in subscriber numbers in the last two years, largely due to its bundled products, which give customers a 20 percent discount. Since its inception in 2006, Hana TV has attracted 660,000 subscribers, well ahead of dominant fixed-line carrier KT's 230,000 subscribers to its Mega TV service. Hanarotelecom's IPTV business will gain further momentum if it can leverage the robust sales network of SK Telecom, the nation's largest wireless operator, which is taking steps to acquire Hanarotelecom. SK Telecom was picked as the preferred bidder to buy a majority stake in Hanarotelecom held by an AIG-Newbridge Capital consortium.
The commercialization of IPTV has been stalled for years due to the lack of a legal framework and resistance from cable TV operators, who fear competition from IPTV service providers. However, the prospects for IPTV legislation looked bright Thursday as a parliamentary subcommittee settled on key issues surrounding the service. If the law passes the National Assembly, Koreans will be able to watch network TV programs in real-time through IPTV without having to subscribe to cable networks, beginning in the first half of 2008. The draft bill still has to be cleared by the Special Committee on Broadcasting and Communication and then the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, before heading for a final vote on Nov. 23. Under the proposed bill, KT, the country's largest fixed-line operator, will not be required to spin off its IPTV business. The country's broadcasting sector had demanded that KT spin off its IPTV unit on concerns that the firm's dominance would hinder fair competition. It would allow telecommunications companies to provide IPTV services across the nation as long as a single firm's market share does not exceed one-third of the total. (by Jin Hyun-joo)
MOKCHEON, South Korea: The compound - part boot camp, part rehab center - resembles programs around the world for troubled youths. Drill instructors drive young men through military-style obstacle courses, counselors lead group sessions, and there are even therapeutic workshops on pottery and drumming. But these young people are not battling alcohol or drugs. Rather, they have severe cases of what many in this country believe is a new and potentially deadly addiction: cyberspace. They come here, to the Jump Up Internet Rescue School, the first camp of its kind in South Korea and possibly the world, to be cured. South Korea boasts of being the most wired nation on earth. In fact, perhaps no other country has so fully embraced the Internet. Ninety percent of homes connect to cheap, high-speed broadband, online gaming is a professional sport, and social life for the young revolves around the "PC bang," dim Internet parlors that sit on virtually every street corner. ut such ready access to the Web has come at a price, as legions of obsessed users find that they cannot tear themselves away from their computers.
Compulsive Internet use has been identified as a mental health issue in other countries. But it may be a particularly acute problem in South Korea because of the country's nearly universal Internet access. It has become a national issue here in recent years as users started dropping dead from exhaustion after playing online games for days on end. A growing number of students have skipped school to stay online, shockingly self-destructive behavior in this intensely competitive society. Up to 30 percent of South Koreans under 18, or about 2.4 million people, are at risk of Internet addiction, said Ahn Dong Hyun, a child psychiatrist at Hanyang University who just completed a three-year government-financed survey of the problem. They spend at least two hours a day online, usually playing games or chatting. Of those, up to a quarter million probably show signs of actual addiction, like an inability to stop themselves from using computers, rising levels of tolerance that drive them to seek ever longer sessions online, and withdrawal symptoms like anger and craving when prevented from logging on.
To address the problem, the government has built a network of 140 Internet-addiction counseling centers, in addition to treatment programs at almost 100 hospitals and, most recently, the Internet Rescue camp, which started this summer. Researchers have developed a checklist for diagnosing the addiction and determining its severity, the K-Scale. (The K is for Korea.) In September, South Korea held the first international symposium on Internet addiction. "Korea has been most aggressive in embracing the Internet," said Koh Young Sam, who heads the Internet Addiction Counseling Center, which is run by the government. "Now we have to lead in dealing with its consequences." Though some health experts here and abroad question whether overuse of the Internet or computers in general is an addiction in the strict medical sense, many agree that obsessive computer use has become a growing problem in many countries.
Doctors in China and Taiwan have begun reporting similar disorders in their youth. In the United States, Dr. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health and Science University, estimates that up to nine million Americans may be at risk for the disorder, which he calls pathological computer use. Only a handful of clinics in the United States specialize in treating it, he said. "Korea is on the leading edge," Block said. "They are ahead in defining and researching the problem, and recognize as a society that they have a major issue."
The rescue camp, in a forested area about an hour south of Seoul, was created to treat the most severe cases. This year, the camp held its first two 12-day sessions, with 16 to 18 male participants each time. (South Korean researchers say an overwhelming majority of compulsive computer users are male.) The camp is entirely paid for by the government, making it tuition-free. While it is too early to know whether the camp can wean youths from the Internet, it has been receiving four to five applications for each spot. To meet demand, camp administrators say they will double the number of sessions next year.
During a session, participants live at the camp, where they are denied computer use and allowed only one hour of cellphone calls a day, to prevent them from playing online games via the phone. They also follow a rigorous regimen of physical exercise and group activities, like horseback riding, aimed at building emotional connections to the real world and weakening those with the virtual one. "It is most important to provide them experience of a lifestyle without the Internet," said Lee Yun Hee, a counselor. "Young Koreans don't know what this is like." Initially, the camp had problems with participants sneaking away to go online, even during a 10-minute break before lunch, Lee said. Now, the campers are under constant surveillance, including while asleep, and are kept busy with chores, like washing their clothes and cleaning their rooms.
One participant, Lee Chang Hoon, 15, began using the computer to pass the time while his parents were working and he was home alone. He said he quickly came to prefer the virtual world, where he seemed to enjoy more success and popularity than in the real one. He spent 17 hours a day online, mostly looking at Japanese comics and playing a combat role-playing game called Sudden Attack. He played all night, then skipped school two or three times a week to catch up on sleep. When his parents told him he had to go to school, he reacted violently. Desperate, his mother, Kim Soon Yeol, sent him to the camp. "He didn't seem to be able to control himself," said Kim, a hairdresser. "He used to be so passionate about his favorite subjects" at school. "Now, he gives up easily and gets even more absorbed in his games." Her son was reluctant at first to give up his pastime. "I don't have a problem," Chang Hoon said in an interview three days after starting the camp. "Seventeen hours a day online is fine." But later that day, he seemed to start changing his mind, if only slightly.
As a drill instructor barked orders, Chang Hoon and 17 other boys marched through a cold autumn rain to the obstacle course. Wet and shivering, he began climbing the first obstacle, a telephone pole with small metal rungs. At the top, he slowly stood up, legs quaking, arms outstretched for balance. Below, the other boys held a safety rope attached to a harness on his chest. "Do you have anything to tell your mother?" the drill instructor shouted from below. "No!" he yelled back. "Tell your mother you love her!" the instructor ordered. "I love you, my parents!" he replied. "Then jump!" the instructor ordered. Chang Hoon squatted and leapt to a nearby trapeze, catching it in his hands. "Fighting!" yelled the other boys, using the English word that in South Korea means the rough equivalent of "Don't give up!" After Chang Hoon descended, he said, "That was better than games!" Was it thrilling enough to wean him from the Internet? "I'm not thinking about games now, so maybe this will help," he replied. "From now on, maybe I'll just spend five hours a day online."
※A lot of pay phones out there do not make one single phone call throughout a whole month." Making a phone call to a friend while walking down the street to reschedule a dinner is a simple task, unless you left the cell phone at home. But for Kim Joo-hee, a flight attendant in Seoul, looking for a pay phone in a case like this would still be an unlikely choice. ※It can take forever to find a pay phone, and even if you find one, it often stinks with the smell of urine, cigarette ashes and vomit, not to mention mysterious stuff that makes the phone all sticky,§ said Kim, walking down a busy street in front of Seoul Station in downtown Seoul. Indeed, there is a line of seven public phone booths there, some with broken glass and rusty frames, that were largely abandoned with no one seen using them for more than 15 minutes at one of the busiest places in the city. ※I would rather grab a stranger on the street and beg to use his cell phone,§ Kim said. She is not alone. It is no secret that pay phone booths, which once attracted long queues of people on busy streets every day, especially during the heyday of beepers in the early-to-mid-1990s, have been elbowed out by mobile phones. The number of street -corner phone booths has been cut in half over the past six years while the suddenly antiquated call boxes were abandoned to garbage bags, street flyers and other trash, if they were not cordoned off for ※repairs.§
Now KT, which operates the nation＊s public phone booths, is scrambling to keep pay phones afloat with new types of phones that accept the newly introduced 10-won coins and allow users to send text messages to mobile phones. But the fate of the booths remains murky as KT struggles with chronic deficits in its pay phone business. According to KT, the number of public phones in Korea has steadily declined from 515,787 units in 2001 to 217,748 as of last year, including some 110,000 at stand-alone booths and the rest inside convenience stores or other outlets. Total calling minutes diminished from 3.6 billion minutes in 2001 to 570 million minutes last year. Not surprisingly, the business has been in the red for the past six years with an operating loss of 50.7 billion won ($55 million) last year, which is expected to be 40 billion won this year. ※I admit that there are few reasons for people to use public phones when they have cell phones,§ said one senior phone maintenance officer at KT Linkers, the KT subsidiary in charge of public phone services, who refused to be named. ※But when asked if we should continue the public phone operations, most people say yes, whether they actually use them or not.§According to a survey of 3,000 Koreans, conducted by Embrain, a local marketing research firm, in March this year, more than 60 percent of the respondents said they still need public phones, in case they forget their cell phone or for emergency purposes for students and soldiers who do not have cell phones.
But the survey aside, pay phones are becoming something of an eyesore and it is difficult for a shrinking maintenance staff to maintain a welcoming look for the booths. Currently about 950 full-time and part-time workers monitor the phones nationwide, ※The booths started becoming so nasty after the government started the new garbage collection system in 1995,§ said a chief phone maintenance officer for KT Linkers, who requested anonymity. At that time the Korean government began requiring all households to buy special plastic bags to separate trash into several categories including general, flammable, plastic, glass and aluminum. The government at the same time removed most of the garbage cans where all types of trash could be thrown away without bothering with categories and recycling. ※Since then, the number of people who throw away their trash inside telephone booths has increased, and things have gotten far worse because few people visit the booths anymore,§ said the maintenance officer. ※Now our main job is to remove broken glass and discarded advertising fliers in the booths.§ KT Linkers, in a desperate effort to revive the business, announced late last year that it would create a new type of public phone that allows users to send text messages to mobile phones. The new phones also allow users to pay the phone charges with ※T Money,§ the prepaid transportation-fare card used by many commuters. But the company, which announced a grand plan to establish more than 10,000 such phone booths each year, has installed only 150 of the phones across the country. Worse yet, the company has yet to confirm how many such phone booths will be installed next year. KT Linkers is also mulling a plan to raise the basic phone usage fee from the current 70 won per three minutes to 100 won per three minutes. But it seems unlikely that such a plan will work given that people are in no shortage of reasons not to use public phones. ※A lot of pay phones out there do not make one single phone call throughout a whole month,§ said one KT Linkers official. ※But we can't just give the business up, since it is a basic public service like transportation and electricity. But there are not a whole lot of people who need it now.§ (by Jung Ha-won, Sung So-young)
The Cultural Heritage center has created a web-page "www.monheritage.mn§ to connect 35 organizations to on-line system. Since 1995, the center has compiled database on cultural heritage of Mongolia. To improve this action, in 2005 the Government of Mongolia passed a resolution to approve the 2006-2008 program on digitalizing information on national cultural heritage. The aforementioned web-page is created under the program. By the year 2015, comprehensive information will be incorporated in the web-site on historical and cultural heritage of Mongolia, according to G.Enkhbat, director of the Cultural Heritage center. Since its foundation, it has restored over 4000 exhibits. Over 40 per cent of them account for tanka and 30 per cent--ethnographical appliances.
The education department of Ulaanbaatar city in cooperation with the "Saruul tsetseg" company has began to provide secondary schools and pupils with electronic class registers and electronic cards respectively under an "E-school" program. The program has two parts: e-school and e-family hospital. With help of e-card, a pupil can obtain all information on his/her marks and scores, information which is included in his/her personal file. Thereby, a united database of secondary schools will be created. At present, about ten secondary schools have been provided with over 200 computers with domestic network installed free of charge. Computers are provided free of charge, but pupils, however, should buy e-cards for ten thousand togrogs tp use it until their graduation.
Bandar Seri Begawan - Vice ministers, permanent secretaries and high officials of the education ministries of member countries of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO) will convene at the 301 SEAMEO High Officials Meeting (HOM) from Nov 20 to Nov 22. Prof Dr Wichit Srisa-an, Minister of Education of Thailand, will open the 30th SEAMEO HOM with a keynote speech on November 21. The meeting will be held at the Sofitel Centara Grand Bangkok, a press release stated. The senior education officials will share programmes and innovations and explore possible collaborative work on education initiatives. They will also discuss education issues; foremost among them is the use of Information and Communication Technology in improving the quality of education. Organised annually by the SEAMEO Secretariat, the SEAMEO HOM is attended by the key education officials of the 11 SEAMEO member countries namely, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, TimorLeste and Vietnam, and the directors of SEAMEO's 15 regional centres. Representatives of the eight SEAMEO associate member states - Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Spain, and the International Council for Open and Distance Learning, the affiliate member - will also attend the meeting, along with some of SEAMEO's partner organisations such as Asean, UNESCO, UNICEF, ADB and the World Bank.
The SEAMEO HOM is a preparatory meeting that tasks the senior education officials to review and plan the programmes and operations of the organisation. Decisions and recommendations from this meeting will set the agenda and issues for discussion in the SEAMEO Council Conference, which is the meeting of the SEAMED Council, the organisation's governing body consisting of all the education ministers of the member states. To be conducted back-to-back for the second time with the meeting is the 2nd Asean Senior Officials Meeting on Education (2nd SOM-ED), a joint undertaking of the Secretariats of the SEAMEO and Asean. SEAMEO, established in 1965, is the oldest intergovernmental organisation and the longest-serving forum for regional cooperation in education, science and culture in the Southeast Asian region.
A new web portal will enable residents to access and monitor the status of rural development projects within their area. In Malaysia, the web portal ※I Cerve U§ for villages was launched concurrently by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi with the e-merah system, which is the district profiling database. The portal was designed for rural folks to keep tabs on the status of development within their own community, says Tan Sri Khalid Ramli, director-general of Implementation Coordination Unit. It contains a list of public infrastructure in areas such as clinics, roads and housing. Also, the portal had a directory of links to services that would be useful to the residents such as employment and study opportunities. In 2005, an information-sharing web portal Pakistan Relief and Information Systems for Earthquakes (RISE) was launched to provide information about the 4,000 earthquake-affected in Pakistan.
In this picturesque town overlooking world-famous Taal Lake will rise a community e-center (CEC) that aims to bridge the digital gap in the country by providing affordable Internet access to the community. Popularly known as "Internet ng Bayan [of the People]," CEC is a program of the Commission on Information and Communication Technology (CICT) under the Office of the President. The P106.5-million program aims to offer the public affordable access to information and communication services such as the Internet, e-mail, fax, Voice over Internet Protocol, distance learning and other online community-based services. Cuenca, a fourth-class municipality and home to scenic Mt. Maculot, has been chosen as one of the recipients of the CEC project, which targets communities in Regions 1-12, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Caraga region. The town's e-center, which houses four computer units, an Internet server, webcam, printer and other computer accessories, started operations in July and is currently being used by municipal government employees to interact with national government offices. Cuenca administrative officer Iren Cuevas told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net, recently that the Civil Service Commission is now using online transactions to forward memorandum circulars and other notices to local government units so the e-center is a welcome opportunity for them.
She said the municipal government only acquired its own Internet access when the CEC was set up. Cuevas, however, stressed that the e-center has yet to be maximized and local communities have yet to realize its benefits such as the lower Internet access rates it provides. Since the computer units operate under Linux software Ubuntu, she said the target beneficiaries would have to be oriented and trained in it instead of the traditional Microsoft Windows. For easier access to the e-center, Cuenca Mayor Celerino Endaya said he will later transfer the CEC from its existing location at the municipal hall's second floor to a separate building to be constructed within the town hall compound. Once the e-center equipment is complete, Endaya said he will ask the municipal council to pass an ordinance governing the maintenance of the project. The mayor will also create a ten-man local information and communication technology council which will supervise operations of the e-center. Cuevas said the national government will shoulder all the expenses of the e-center for one year before its complete turnover to the municipal government. Next month, she said they are aiming to train barangay chairmen, treasurer and secretaries of the town in using the e-center for their transactions with the municipal government. The municipal government expects to fully operate the e-center by January next year, particularly catering to the local communities.
PHILIPPINES--Commuters on Manila's Metro Rail Transit System, also known as the MRT3 or Metrostar, will soon be able to use their cellular phones to pay for their tickets. In a statement last week, Gavitec AG-mobile digit, a Germany-based technology company, said it has implemented a mobile ticketing system for the metro rail line traversing EDSA, one of the busiest thoroughfares in the Metro Manila area. Gavitec signed a three-year contract worth more than US$1.3 million. Three of Philippines' largest cellular phone companies--Smart Communications, Globe Telecoms and Sun Cellular--have given their support, said Gavitec. The system enables passengers to use their cellular phones to purchase MRT3 "passes". Passengers receive their passes via text messaging, in the form of a two-dimensional barcode. Each code is read and validated by scanners from the passenger's mobile phone, allowing a cashless mobile transaction. The data is secure, Gavitec said, adding that scanners automatically validate the information against a database via GPRS. The government-owned MRT3 serves nearly 200 million passengers a year, according to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) which operates the MRT. The new system is expected to ease the long queues during peak hours which see the MRT3 carrying as many as 30,000 passengers. Gavitec and its partner Omniprime Marketing, a Philippine-based mobile marketing company, said they have tested the system extensively, taking into consideration the sheer volume of information that the system will have to handle. The system can also be utilized for mobile sales and advertising services, the companies said.
The Commission on Information and Communications Technology expects to computerize 320 public high schools within the year through a project that donates computers loaded with open source software. Called iSchools (or eEskwela), the CICT is implementing the project with the help of the Department of Education and state-run universities and colleges (SUCs). Each school will receive an iSchools package consisting of 20 desktop PCs, a server, wireless networking equipment, LCD projector, a multifunction printer and two airconditioning units. The PCs are loaded with several open-source tools including EdUbuntu (a version of Ubuntu designed for schools), OpenOffice, Apache, MySQL and Mozilla Firefox, among others. Each school is required to send a minimum of 18 faculty personnel to several training programs, including onsite courses for basic computer and Internet literacy. Some 25 SUCs will also be holding computer courses for high school teachers.
Each school's designated computer lab manager will likewise undergo technical training. Moreover, each school will be required to send an English teacher along with a student (preferably the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper) to a week-long Web development course. Each school is then expected to create its own website. The iSchools project is supported by the P1-billion eGovernment fund, a special annual allocation from the government for IT-related projects. The CICT reviews project proposals submitted by government agencies and once approved, recommends the same to the Budget department for funding. Tim Diaz de Rivera, CICT commissioner for eGovernment, said in an interview at least 20 percent of the eGovernment fund (or about P200 million) automatically goes to education-related initiatives like iSchools. About 75 percent of the P200 million is spent of hardware, which covers PCs and other equipment, he said.
PHILIPPINES--Asus has unveiled the eePC, its latest line of low-cost portable personal computers, and highlights the country as one of its main "target" markets in the region. In a press briefing held here last week, the Taiwanese hardware maker said basic specifications of the eePC include an Intel processor, Linux operating system, 512MB RAM and storage capacity from 4GB to 16GB. Leon Yu, Asus country manager, said the 4GB model has been released in the Philippines ahead of the other configurations, which will debut in the local market early next year. "The Philippines, as well as Hong Kong and Australia, will be the top targets for the eePC," Yu added. The price of the 4GB variant is pegged at 19,800 pesos (US$457.4), while pricing for the other configurations are still unavailable. Despite its minute size, with a 7-inch screen and weighing a little less than 1 kilogram, the eePC is a "full multimedia, full Internet, and full communications" portable device, Yu said. The significant weight reduction was made possible by putting in an SSD (solid state disks) storage device, instead of a harddisk, he said. According to Yu, Asus is seeing brisk sales in terms of advance orders. The company is eyeing to ship about 3,000 eePCs in the Philippine market before year-end.
Writing stories has become more exciting for a group of students. They are using a new software designed by a start-up from the National University of Singapore called Personal E-Motion (PEM). With the new "Koobits Author" software, producing an interactive e-book is almost child's play. You can type out a story about a mystical world or even create your own dream vehicle. "My favourite feature is the animation because I can move it anywhere I want," said a Jurong Primary School student. "This software is interesting and I can use my imagination and write the composition in a different way," said another. PEM started working on the software in 2004 and by late 2005, it was ready to let students at Jurong Primary School try it out. KooBits is aimed at primary and lower secondary students. Melvin Yeoh, Ahmad Ibrahim Primary School's head of department for info tech-media resource, said: "Some of these pupils initially are very apprehensive about writing, but with this software, I've noticed - and many of the teachers have also observed - that their quieter pupils are beginning to write more."
That's also because with its user-friendly interface, the software allows a student to create a four-page e-book in just an hour. Stanley Han, Personal E-Motion's general manager, said: "We are able to blend a wide range of multimedia content you find in the market. This reduces the learning curve of creating a multimedia content. So, even a primary school student, without much IT background, can create fantastic multimedia content within a short period of time." Koobits Author retails at $49.95 for home use. For schools, it costs about $8,000 for 90 PCs. Personal E-Motion has already sold Koobits to 16 schools and is in talks with 12 other schools. The company has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with P.T. I-Tutor, which will be the exclusive distributor of KooBits in Indonesia.
The Uttar Pradesh Government (India) has implemented an e-Scholarship programme to ensure timely payment of scholarship to more than 2 crore students. Under this project, the scholarship will be directly transferred to bank accounts of the students electronically. The recipients, who belong to Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), Other Backward Caste (OBC), minority communities and Below Poverty Line (BPL) families had complained of not receiving their scholarships and sometimes even receiving lapsed cheques. The project will improve transparency in the process and effectively deal with the large-scale complaints. The state government will also start interactive website on which the students can get answers to their queries. Students can send their application, complaints and check the status of those complaints and also assess related details. The Uttar Pradesh State Wide Area Network (UPSWAN) will connect 900 nodes covering all blocks, tehsils and districts within a year. The e-governance facility will be available in 17,909 Common Service Centres to be established in the villages in the next three years and provide employment opportunities to 50,000 youths.
Soon, filing of returns will become much more easier for the value added tax (VAT) for citizens of Pune (India). The Sales Tax division of Pune will soon introduce the facility for online filing of VAT returns in two months, so that e-filing facility will become easier for citizens. The department has hired services of Hyderabad-based Electronics Corporation of India (ECI) Limited for developing the software required for facilitating e-filing of returns. The service will benefit more than 60,000 VAT dealers in the city. Next to Mumbai, Pune is the largest contributor of VAT to the state coffers. While Mumbai's annual contribution is in the range of INR 11,000 to INR 12,000 crore, Pune contributes over INR 3,500 crore.
The Madhya Pradesh (India) Government has introduced dealer point registration and online tax payment facility for state transporters and vehicle owners. Now the 500,000-odd vehicle owners no longer need to do rounds of road transport office (RTO) and banks for payment of taxes. MP has become the first state in the country to launch online tax facility for transporters. The department has developed an Internet-based system for registration of the vehicles under which the dealers of vehicles have been given the powers for registration of vehicles. The state government has decentralised the powers to issue driving licenses and the principals of higher secondary school and colleges have been authorised to issue learning licenses to students and to people in their respective areas.
The Coimbatore Corporation of India (CCI) in Tamil Nadu is planning to introduce an online payment option for tax collection. The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has partnered with couple of banks for electronic clearance service for collection of bill amounts. The Kovai Medical Centre and Hospital has introduced a system called e-cash to help customers go for multiple consultations and treatment without carrying cash with them. State Bank of India's special campaign for its debit card is going on. The Coimbatore Corporation is already accepting payments through cheques and credit cards. The corporation has also improved improved connectivity by installing an additional server and has tied up with 20 banks for collection of taxes in designated branches. The officials stated that the e-remittance gateway will give a boost to payment of taxes online.
Uttar Pradesh is still far behind in the implementation of the centrally sponsored INR 18.91 crore e-district project drawn up for six districts in the first phase. The project was launched on September 1, 2007 but still it is in non-starter stage in the districts of Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddh Nagar (NOIDA), Sitapur, Rae Bareli, Sultanpur and Gorakhpur. The project's implementation period is one year which ends on August 31, 2008. Based on this, the project would be extended to the entire state. The US based agency Water House Coopers for Ghaziabad and NOIDA, Wipro for Sitapur and Rae Bareli and 3i-Infotech for Sultanpur and Gorakhpur districts. The project, which is part of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), is meant to link villages with Internet and make them self-sustainable in catering to the needs of villagers. Initially, ten selected services have been included on the schedule of e-District project. These services include FIR status, character verification, certificates of birth, death, castes, income, residence, handicap, electoral services, case listing, cause list generation, progress tracking in the court cases, final issuance of court orders, employment services, national rural employment guarantee programme and registration in employment exchange, besides RTI application for all departments, house tax, property tax, dues and recovery and grievances.
The Indian Railways is planning to expand their telemedicine network to 23 more places across India. Currently, the Indian Railways is providing telemedicine facilities in nine places including Ratnagarir, Reasi, Valsad. Now, the facility is going to be available in 23 more places in Maharashtra, Goa, Jharkhand, UP, Bihar, Orissa and Jammu and Kashmir. Telemedicine uses electronic communication and information technologies to provide health care when distance separates medical specialists from the patient. Railways is trying to establish telemedicine facilities, where medical facilities are not upto the optimal level.
The Indian Ministry for Information & Broadcasting has approved the applications of seven NGOs to set up community radio systems across the country. The 7 NGOs who received the approval are The Energy Research Institute of India (TERI), Chennai-based Alternative for India Development, Delhi-based Society for Development Alternatives, Deccan Development Society in Hyderabad, Mannvikas Samajik Sansthan based in Satara in Maharashtra, Indian Society of Agri-Business Professionals and the Mysore Resettlement and Development Agency in Bangalore. This movement will allow NGOs to set up community radio stations in India. Now, there are some 27 community radio stations in the country. The Ministry plans to push up the figure and is organising workshops in different parts of the country to explain how the system is set up.
New Delhi (PTI): In a significant step to dispose the backlog of 2.75 crore cases in country's district and subordinate courts, 700 new courts are set to be computerised with web-connectivity by next month as part of a Union Law and Justice ministry-supported project. "The allocation of laptops to 700 new judicial officers for digital connectivity will be completed within a month," said Justice Gopi Chand Bharuka, chairman of the e-committee overseeing the five-year plan to computerise all courts for speedy disposal of cases. He said the provision for e-connectivity in 700 courts would be in addition to the facility in 12,155 courts which have already started working on-line. "One of our objective is to enable judicial officers access judgements of the Supreme Court, high courts and even international courts at a click of a button and speed up their research work for a judgement, thus, improving the rate of case disposal," he said. For the common litigant, the e-courts project is likely to lend greater transparency to judiciary, along with speedy disposal of cases. "With web-connectivity, the moment a judicial officer passes a judgement it will automatically get uploaded on the national judicial website `www.indianjudiciary.in.' A litigant need not wait outside courts for their copy of a judgement," said Bharuka.
The e-committee chairman said the decision to distribute 12,855 laptops, instead of installing conventional desktop computers, as part of the e-courts project was also linked to enhancing the judiciary's efficiency. "The laptops would help a judicial officer write judgements and access research material or other government records in his court room, in his chamber office and at his residence. His dependence on the stenos and other support staff should not come in the way of writing judgements," said Justice Bharuka. Besides being the latest in technology, the laptops also have other advantages. Since the laptops have a four-hour battery back-up, judges can continue work in courts even during power cuts, thus, reducing hurdles in the process of case disposal, the e-committee chairman said. For smooth introduction of computerisation in courts, special training camps are being conducted to familiarise judicial officers with the new technology. "A group of 2,800 trainers is on the job of imparting one-hour training to judicial officers (as part of a three-month course) in 498 districts. That covers almost 85 per cent of the districts in the country." The plan to computerise all the courts in the country is based on "Report on Strategic Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Indian Judiciary" submitted by Justice Bharuka to former Chief Justice of India R C Lahoti in May 2005.
The e-courts project, a pet project of law minister H R Bhardwaj, will not only speed up disposal of cases in courts but will also bring about greater transparency in their functioning. The five-year computerisation plan on its maturity would help track each development in a court case right from the stage of inception to the last possible stage of a verdict in the apex court. Earlier, it was Bhardwaj's personal initiative for reducing case backlog that saw the project getting the Union cabinet's nod in February this year. "We have been sanctioned Rs 441.8 crore for the project's implementation in the first phase spread over two years," said Justice Bharuka. Bharadwaj had earlier announced that all the 15,547 district and subordinate courts in the country would be computerised on the basis of 100 per cent central funding without any matching share by the state governments. Justice Bharuka said the cabinet secretary has also acknowledged e-courts as the fastest moving mission mode project under the National e-governance plan.
The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has developed e-Toll system to ease movement of vehicles and full proof accounting of vehicles in Pakistan. The system basically consists of a re-usable electronic-tag which is attached to the windscreen of vehicles with a prepaid toll amount issued through e-Tag issuance booths placed just before entry to the motorway. Later on such booths would be established at different convenient locations and pre-pay facility for e-Tags will subsequently be through cheques, credit cards and kiosks. When vehicles with e-Tags will enter into the toll-lane, a reader will capture details of the vehicle from e-Tag. At the time of exit from the motorway the vehicle will again drive through the designated toll lane and during this process, a reader will read the vehicle's identity and the system will automatically deduct the applicable toll from the pre-paid amount. An LCD sign would inform the driver about the amount of tax deducted from his account. In collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and the National Highways Authority (NHA), NADRA is offering the system at Peshawar, Islamabad and Lahore toll plazas. A post-paid system will also be introduced for frequent users and fleet owners. Monthly billing for these will include registration number of vehicle, date/time of entry/exit record and toll charged.
H. E. Ahmad Zia Masood the First Vice President and H. E. Eng. A. Sangin inaugurated the Microwave ring connecting the Nation along the National Highway. In a ceremony organized for this purpose On October 30, 2007 in Kabul Serena Hotel, H. E. Ahmad Zia Masood First Vice President, H. E. Eng. A. Sangin Minister of Communications and IT, Eng. Ehsanullah Bayat Chairman of AWCC and Bayat Foundation, Members of Parliament, top officials of government and Ministry of Communications and IT were present. The session was started by a few verses of holy Quran and later on, Eng. Ehsanullah Bayat welcomed the guests and participants and highlighted the uses of Microwave ring along the national highway. H. E. Ahmad Zia Masood the First Vice President in his inaugural address told that after the fall of the Taliban and establishing the new government in Afghanistan, Telecom Sector is the only private sector which has had remarkable progress and its achievements are praise worthy.
H. E. First Vice President added that Ministry of Communications and IT by starting the National optical fiber across the National Highway has done a great job by connecting the Nation with whole world and it will be a strong infrastructure for better facilitation for future of Telecom sector in Afghanistan which will be an asset for the society. Secondly, H. E. Eng. A., Sangin Minister of Communications and IT also addressed the gathering and congratulated the Management of Afghan Wireless Communications Company (AWCC) and the Telecom Society as a whole for their contribution in development of the sector. H. E. Minister of Communications and IT further added that Ministry of Communications and IT has been doing tireless efforts to establish the telecom infrastructure as per with other nations in the world; and today＊s milestone is another big achievement in the field. This completion of the ring will provide telecom operators with better facility of connectivity at a lower cost; I think the telecom operators can lower the price of calls too; as still the subscribers pay higher for tariff for their calls through satellite said H. E. Minister of Communications and IT. Mr. Azrakhsh Hafizi Chairman of International Chambers of Commerce also acknowleged the contribution made by Management of MCIT in the development of the sector.
On Monday October 01/2007 Ministry of Communication and IT facilitated 2000 digital phone lines in Nooristan province. In a ceremony organized for this purpose in the Communications and IT is department of Nooristan province, Deputy Minister Technical Eng. Barialai hessam of Communication and IT, few top officials of the Ministry of Communications and IT, Acting Governor of Nooristan province, Head of provincial Council and a few local elders were present. The session was started by a few verses of holy Guran, and later on, the Acting Governor of Nooristan province welcomed the delegation to Nooristan province and thanked the Deputy Minister Technical and particularly the Ministry of Communication and IT for their tireless efforts to facilitate these lines in this undeveloped province. Subsequently, the Deputy Minister Technical Eng.
Barialai Hassam addressd the gathering and passed best wishes and of the Minister of Communications and IT and added that: Ministry of Communications and IT for the parallel development of all provinces of the country, decided to promote 2000 new digital phone lines in this far and undeveloped province to connect the residents of this province with the rest of the country and with all world. Deputy Minister Technical further explained that these new digital pone lines can serve phone, fax and internet for the people of Nooristan province. According to the official of the Ministry of Communications and IT the total cost of this project is 350,000 USD which was given through developmental budget of the Ministry. It is worth mentioning that in near future all the remaining areas of the country will be connected through phone, Fax and internet.
Instructed by the Cabinet of Kyrgyzstan, the Foreign Ministry intends to introduce electronic entry visas soon. Foreigners intent on visiting Kyrgyzstan need only fill in simple electronic questionnaires and that will secure them visas when crossing the state border of Kyrgyzstan without the necessity of applying to Kyrgyz diplomatic missions abroad.ㄗby Irina Yermakovaㄘ
Pursuant to President Karimov's Resolution of 20 June 2006 "On organization of information-resource support of the population of the republic", measures are being taken in Ferghana region to improve the library system, UzA wrote. With this aim in mind, a new information-resource centre has been opened at Ferghana Regional Institute for Training and Improvement of Qualifications of Teachers. The centre has all the modern equipment and an extensive resource fund (books), and all the necessary conditions have been created for the readers. The students of the Institute have the opportunity to use the required literature, study resource, and electronic textbooks. The electronic catalogues of the available literature have been formed. Work on the organization of electronic library is being completed.
UNDP is implementing a number of various projects in which use of information and communication technologies and innovative approaches is considered to be an important prerequisite for country's development. "Improving Tax Administration in Uzbekistan" is one of such projects. It is focused on introduction of the modern information technologies into the work of tax departments. In order to increase considerably the effectiveness and output of tax information collection and processing, it is important to equip tax bodies with up-to-date ICT. Within the framework of the Project and in cooperation with Science & Information Centre for New Technologies under the State Tax Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan the software, which makes it possible to receive tax reports and financial statements from taxpayers in electronic format, has been developed. This software started being used since the second quarter of 2006.
Main advantages of submitting reports and statements electronically are primarily, reduced time for preparation and submitting the statements, improved efficiency of updating the forms of statements, minimized quantity of errors during preparation of statements, as well as decreased human factor when receiving and processing the statements. The mentioned software is gradually being introduced in Tashkent and Andijan oblasts of Uzbekistan, as well as in the city of Tashkent. Currently more than 8,000 legal entities are piloting this software in Tashkent. Mr. Rustam Mustafakulov, the Director of Science and Information Centre for New Technologies under STC said "＃the number of taxpayers using the software is impressive. Currently in the capital 7538 entrepreneur entities have their electronic digital signature and more than 20 641 reports are submitted in the Internet."
At the moment the possibility of creating the integral taxpayers database is being considered. This database is to collect information on financial and commercial activity, which is to be received both from the economic entities and from other sources. The data base is to integrate tax, customs and statistical monitoring as well as and similarly banking information related to meeting tax requirements by taxpayers. The new database will make it possible to introduce modern risk-analysis systems, to reduce the expenses and to improve the quality of tax control and administration. Further wide use of information technologies in the work of tax administration bodies will result in decrease of business and public expenses, as well as in making the tax administration more transparent.
A NETWORK of electronic sensors could one day allow farmers to monitor every animal and every hectare of pasture land, all through a laptop computer on the farmhouse veranda. The various sensors, being developed by the CSIRO, promise to boost the profitability of farming by providing reliable information for the smarter use of land and stock. "It's about being able to feed the world on smaller areas of land in a more environmentally and socially acceptable way," said David Henry, a pasture agronomist with the CSIRO. A solar-powered unit would be attached via a collar and show not only the location of cattle or sheep through GPS navigation, but also what the animals were doing. For example, motion detectors could indicate whether a cow was walking, running, resting, grazing or ruminating. Other detectors could monitor the animal's health or its weight, which determines when it is ready for market.
Similarly, soil sensors would collect and transmit data on temperature, sunlight, plant characteristics and soil moisture 〞 all of which inform farmers about when and where to move herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. This, coupled with other CSIRO work to design virtual fences by teaching animals to obey electronic cues, would mean farmers could guide animals remotely into the most suitable paddocks, said Dr Henry, who is one of several scientists set to appear on the ABC's The New Inventors program on Wednesday to discuss what changes await Australia in 2020. The CSIRO work won't arrive in time to help farmers anguishing over whether to accept federal grants to leave the land, as some of it is between two and six years off 〞 but it will help make farming more economical eventually for those who remain.
WESTERN Australia's resources boom has triggered a blow-out in contract labour costs as the state struggles to find enough workers to support hundreds of millions of dollars worth of mining software and outsourcing projects. IT recruiter Candle has reported that hourly contractor rates shot up a hefty 23 per cent in WA over the past year as it faced demand for contract staff that was only matched in the extremely tight Canberra labour market. Canberra also rated as the most expensive Australian city to employ IT contractors with major government projects such as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship＊s $495 million Systems for People initiative in the works. Candle chief operating officer Jane Bianchini said that the rising rates meant that more technology workers were joining the contract ranks in a bid to boost their earnings. "The contest (among IT users) is not so much about who has the best technology solutions but who has the most effective people to ensure the technology realises its full business potential," Ms Bianchini said. "In today's competitive market, those people are increasingly shifting to the contractor ranks to secure better financial benefits and flexibility." Full-time technology workers are also chasing greater mobility and Candle reported that half of all permanent IT staff expect to leave their current employer in less than five years. Candle estimated that demand for full-time IT staff increased 19 per cent over the past year.
THE Australian technology sector was failing to translate IT career opportunities to school students and graduates, an industry debate has heard. The Australian Computer Society (ACS) Foundation initiative was told students were uncertain of how to achieve a technology career. "I talk to a lot of kids that say 'that (IT career) sounds great, but I don't know how to get from here to there','' ACS national president Philip Argy said. "I think that we need to put a lot of focus on that and explain how you do that.'' Today's debate, held in Sydney, heard from about 25 CEOs, CIOs and senior representatives from the IT industry and education sector, as well as employees and IT graduates. The latest Department of Education, Science and Training figures show the number of school leavers enrolling in IT courses last year dropped by 13 per cent. Queensland government CIO Peter Grant said a framework that described what careers in ICT looked like was needed. "If you try and map the marketing material from university courses, then you try and map the marketing material from recruitment agencies, and then you try and look at government and what we call jobs - there is no map of a common name through the whole thing at all,'' Mr Grant said. IBM global technology services development executive Charles Noble said the opportunities in the ICT industry were not well communicated to graduates or academia. ACS Foundation chairman John Debrincat said another critical problem was the lack of female IT workers. "Young women make a decision on careers much earlier in their life cycle than young men do and we need to get to those people much sooner and tell them about the opportunities women might have in our industry, and we need to financially support that.'' The ACS Foundation also announced $250,000 in scholarships would be rolled out over the next year, with plans to grow the program to $500,000. The scholarships will be used to encourage enrolments in ICT courses.
NEWS Digital Media's online news, information and entertainment service, NEWS.com.au, will be available to mobile phone users through a service launched yesterday, m.NEWS.com.au. The service will give Australian mobile users with a colour screen and web-enabled phone a simple way to stay up-to-date with all the latest news and information while away from their desks or homes. Designed in co-operation with Hyro Limited, m.News is the second off-deck mobile site launched by News Digital media in the past few months, following the carsguide .mobi site in June. "Extending the NEWS.com.au service to people who are out and about and may not have access to a newspaper or computer to keep up to date with breaking news is a real achievement for our business," group publisher Sigrid Kirk said.
ONE in two Australians want to access the internet over their mobile phone, while more than a third want to view live television, according to a study. Internet access was the most popular form of content, desired by 52 per cent of respondents, followed by live TV (37 per cent) and TV clips (31 per cent). While half those surveyed wanted to use their phone to watch the news and check the weather, the most popular content was entertainment news, nominated by 58 per cent. According to the global study Anytime, Anyplace by media agency Universal McCann, Australians have been slow to use the full suite of mobile phone applications. The study found that only 33 per cent of Australians had used their phone to surf the mobile internet, send messages and emails or take photographs. That ranked far behind the leading nation, Japan (47 per cent) and a number of other European and Asian markets, including China (43 per cent), India (34 per cent) and well behind the global average of 37 per cent. But the study, which was conducted among 10,000 people who had a mobile phone and broadband access in 21 markets, found the US was last, with just one in five Americans engaging in complex mobile phone use. The mobile is the world's biggest portable media and computing platform. By 2011, 3.3 billion people are expected to be connected, according to data from the Market Intelligence Centre, with the use driven by growth in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
"These people are really content-hungry," Universal McCann Insight director Natalie Pidgeon said. "They like to have their scanner on 24/7. "But the content they're looking at on their mobile is quite perishable. They don't want to keep it. Laptops are more about content they can keep: TV series, films and music. It's the collectable content." 3G-enabled mobile phones are the most in-demand device globally, with more than 40 per cent of respondents saying they planned to purchase one, followed by a video-capable iPod (39 per cent) and a wireless laptop. In Australia, penetration is higher than the global average of about 20 per cent. But the study found people expected content to be device-neutral, or able to be viewed on a number of platforms. "About the only thing they don't want to transfer content to is a gaming console," Ms Pidgeon said. "That seems to be for games only." The study also found phone users welcomed advertising as long as they had opted to receive it and they received something of value in return. Two-thirds of respondents globally found branded content was an acceptable form of advertising.
Ads that appear in the middle of video clips were the least acceptable format. Recently the chief executive of advertising and marketing services group WPP Sir Martin Sorrell launched the Mobile Alliance in Australia - bringing together up to 10 group companies to collaborate on mobile initiatives - and talked up the development of the medium as "the cheap form of access to the internet". And Hutchison's 3 Mobile launched the 20-minute-long cricket show The Pitch, which it is billing as the first in-house telco-made-for-mobile program. Mira Bashi, 3's general manager of content and services, said the show, which is available as part of 3's paid cricket packages, would help develop new media habits. "I think consumers will sit down and watch it and look forward to it at the end of the day," she said. Last week, Jeffrey Cole, director of the Centre for the Digital Future in California, told an audience of digital advertising executives in Sydney that people would begin downloading content with a specific device in mind on which to view it, including TV, mobile TV, laptops or computers, and iPods.
Parliament TV, which produces the full unedited proceedings of Parliament, is to be screened live on Freeview from 9 October 2007. This follows the successful launch of the service on this website on 17 July. Today＊s announcement is a further step in the ongoing rollout of Parliament TV across a range of communications channels and networks. At the end of July, 100,000 viewers in 41,000 homes around the country had access to Freeview. Take-up is expected to increase significantly over the coming years as digital television becomes commonplace in New Zealand homes. Parliament is also negotiating to provide the service to TelstraClear＊s 43,000 subscribers in Wellington, Kapiti and Christchurch with access expected by late this year or early in 2008. Talks are underway with SKY TV to broadcast the full service.
The Timberlea community in Upper Hutt is to have a permanent Information and Communications Technology (ICT) centre of their own, says Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Luamanuvao Winnie Laban. Speaking at the launch today, Laban said the new Timberlea Computer Hub will not only enable people to access the Internet, but the facility will also provide a venue for after school programmes, computer education and the development of a community website. Located in the Timberlea Community House, the new Hub will help overcome some local barriers to using ICT, such as lack of telephone lines in homes. The Computer Hub was made possible through a partnership between the Upper Hutt City Council, Timberlea Residents＊ Association and the Wellington Regional 2020 Communications Trust. The project received a $58,275 grant from the Labour-led government＊s Community Partnership Fund. ※This project is a great example of central and local government joining with business and communities to find local solutions to local problems,§ said Laban. ※I am moved by the way so many local people have worked hard to build a place where this proud community can come together and connect with the world. The $17 million Community Partnership Fund is a part of the Labour-led government＊s Digital Strategy. The Fund focuses on connecting communities and building local confidence in the use of ICT.
Moore＊s Law, the evolution of Web 2.0 applications and virtualization are among the trends influencing the network security industry, according to unified threat management vendor Fortinet Inc. Fortinet＊s chief marketing officer, former Gartner analyst Richard Stiennon, spoke to Network World Canada about the seven major trends affecting the direction of the industry.
1. Moore＊s Law
What's in a trend? Listen to former Gartner analyst Richard Stiennon on our IT Business Out Loud podcast ※On the network throughput side, the status quo right now is to do most networking firewalling and encryption for SSL and VPN with the CPU on your desktop and laptop. But on the network gear side of things, MIPPS chips or standardized CPUs are not able to keep up with network throughputs.§ Specialized content-processing network devices will need more specialized silicone to deal with throughput, he says, whether homegrown ASICS or off-the-shelf products from manufacturers like Mistletoe Technologies.
2. New apps, new vulnerabilities
4. Research trends
5. Modularity and standards
6. Hardware acceleration
France is hoping to shut down spammers more quickly through a system that makes it easier for users to notify ISPs (Internet service providers) when unsolicited e-mails are coming from their network. The French government funded the development of an open-source toolbar for Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook and Mozilla Corp.'s Thunderbird e-mail programs that people can use to report suspected spam, said John Graham-Cumming, an Englishman who built the software for the project, called Signal Spam. "From the French perspective, spam is like any other criminal activity that is affecting the French people," Graham-Cumming said. Most users today simply delete spam email from their inboxes, in part because they don't have a simple tool for reporting spam to their ISP. The Signal Spam project aims to provide them with such a tool. When users receive spam messages, the toolbar provides an easy way for them to forward the message to a central database. The messages are then sent to the ISP whose network they originated from, and the ISP decides whether to shut down the account of the sender, Graham-Cumming said. France is ranked as the 10th worst country for generating spam, according to The Spamhaus Project Ltd., which publishes a list that can be used in e-mail servers to block known spamming IP (Internet protocol) addresses. The U.S. is the worst, followed by China, Russia and the U.K.
If a spam message originates outside of France, SignalSpam takes no action. If a message comes from a legitimate marketer, the system can send an automated response to the person who reported it telling them how to unsubscribe to the mailing list, Graham-Cumming said. Marketers are encouraged to register with Signal Spam. The system's success will depend on people's willingness to install the tool bar. Since the project launched in May, about 3.5 million spam e-mails have been collected in the database, which can be used to generate statistics on spam trends. By the end of the year, Signal Spam plans to release a toolbar for Outlook Express, another Microsoft e-mail client, Graham-Cumming said. Signal Spam is also in talks with Web-based e-mail providers, such as Microsoft and Google Inc., on developing a reporting mechanism. Some ISPs have been accused of profiting by allowing spammers to use their network, while other ISPs don't take action against spammers due to the expense of shutting them down. However, Signal Spam has received broad support from French ISPs, according to Graham-Cumming. In the next couple months he expects the database to start to reveal spam trends that could shed greater light on how to stop the problem. Eventually, Signal Spam may also turn its attention to closing phishing sites more quickly. Spam e-mails often try to entice people to a fraudulent Web site in order to trick them into divulging their personal information. (By Jeremy Kirk)
When a computer scientist gets an MBA, and then becomes almost infatuated with economics, the result can be a unique, market-based analysis of IT security. From MBA security specialist Ionut Ionescu's perspective, IT security has become a mainstream professional marketplace, with specializations like forensics or incident management. But hacking has become commercial as well, he says. Ionescu, Nortel's director of security services for Europe, Middle East and Asia, sees the hacker market maturing. That means there is an increasing sophistication in the tools themselves, in the research and development behind them, the distribution channels and the organizations that support them. It also means there are more players in the market, so the quest for customers and profits will create better products at lower prices for an increasing number of market niches, says Ionescu.
Does government see the IT security market differently from their private sector colleagues? "They probably do because public sector managers would see security more from the point of view, I would say, of policies, procedures and regulations. Whereas in most cases, unless you're in a regulated industry like banking or utilities, a private sector security manager sees it as very much more goal-orientated." Governments tend to have a lot of requirements, he says. "The bids are big, the documentation is big and you have to tick all the boxes. And sometimes not the best [products] get chosen, but they're the [products] that satisfy all the ticks." Unless security is mandated in the same way as car insurance, it's usually difficult to convince people to spend significant amounts of money unless they see a smoking gun, says Ionescu. "This is where we security professionals come into play.
"We should be doing more to educate managers and we should be educating users more. Otherwise people say, 'Oh, we have anti-virus and somebody maintains it,' but they are oblivious to the fact that they're bringing in a USB stick or their wireless network is not secured at home and they have cross-pollination of data between their home Internet link and their office." Before joining Nortel, Ionescu helped insurance companies explore the uncharted territory of risk in IT operations. In the early days of information technology, insurance companies would write policies on the physical assets associated with computing. Insuring computers and servers was a lot like insuring automobiles or aircraft. At that point, they weren't thinking about data loss. As Ionesco puts it, "If the computer wasn't on fire, there simply wasn't a claim." Then, as the economics shifted and the information on the computers became more important, insurance companies began writing policies that reflected the hours of work necessary to re-input the data. That was standard operating procedure until about 2000, he says. "Then people saw that the loss went well beyond the hours needed to rebuild data from paper and went on to things like loss of business."
Insurance companies live or die by their ability to assess risk. When it became clear there was a market opportunity in quantifying the intangible of data loss, it also became clear that most hackers were not rocket scientists, Ionescu says. Much of the IT security challenge could be met by good system and network administration. "After that, the minimum protection you need is up-to-date anti-virus, a strong regime for password changes, and effective backup." Over about a year-and-a-half, insurance companies began to write policies on data based on those principles. "Before, their knee-jerk reaction was to withdraw coverage." Now, meeting those three steps qualifies policy holders for a certain level of protection. Agreeing to an insurance company audit increases the coverage.
Employees are constantly making economic decisions about IT security, Ionescu says, as they choose to follow or flout the rules. He believes organizations should not only persuade people that compliance is the correct decision, but also that procedures should be made simple and easy to follow. At the organizational level, reporting is still a challenge. Economic incentives for a department or a corporation to go public with an incident often don't exist. The potential loss of time and the risk of public exposure far outweigh the perceived benefits of "helping the community." "People unconsciously do this kind of cost-benefit analysis all the time," Ionesco says. "Again, that comes back to a culture change. People don't mature as quickly as technology." (By Richard Bray, CIO Government Review)
The term cyber crime continues to present challenges in effectively countering illicit activity involving computers and networks. For the segment of society not turned off by the word cyber, the thought of crime seems to render the wider concept a problem of just law enforcement or government. Effectively combating cyber crime, however, must include efforts and initiatives involving individuals and organizations outside of the public sector. A shift in government focus that expands to include funding initiatives beyond just those of law enforcement and academia is imperative in a serious bid to curtail widespread cyber crime. Government focus as well as funding must include widespread education campaigns geared at raising awareness of the threat of cyber crime among the general public. Increased vigilance on the part of every individual around online activity, electronic banking transactions and disclosure of personal information will have a far greater impact in countering cyber crime than any police-based initiative ever could. Raising the awareness of average computer users, however, will not occur through the commissioning of expensive studies on cyber crime in Canada. Unfortunately, most Canadians will never take the time to read such analysis. More effective spending on education campaigns would target audiences of mass media, through catchy television commercials or advertisements in public transportation.
Educating young computer users is just as imperative as educating police. Instructing young children and youth on the ethics of computer use, the risks of poor online practice and dispelling myths around on-line anonymity and other cyber legends will change the direction of an entire generation of plugged-in citizens. Encouraging industry to reasonably promote security will help engage individuals in being vigilant. Marketing products as "simply secure" - meaning all the user needs to do is plug this box or install that software to ensure absolute security - should be discouraged. Humans by nature seek easy solutions. Misleading the average user into a false sense of security is just as bad as publicly assuring the masses that the government through funding schemes and increased policing has cyber crime under control. Cyber crime is not limited to child exploitation alone. Although politically interjecting the specific crime of child exploitation and trafficking helps to gain support, increased attention must be given to the growing rates of fraud, money laundering and other crimes also facilitated by information communication technologies. Focusing on only one aspect of the problem at the expense of others will do little in the overall countering of cyber crime.
While law enforcement does face unique challenges in countering cyber crime, increased funding and education alone will not address many of those difficulties. As with similar issues experienced in government, the bureaucratic nature of many law enforcement agencies coupled with stifling hiring practices prevent the openness and innovation necessary to address the threat of cyber crime. In an age when the focus of security has increasingly turned towards countering terrorism and the role of technology, past notions of policing need to be assessed. Indeed, it is quite likely that our traditional reactionary approaches are ill-equipped to handle threats such as cyber crime. As a result, new thinking around how such threats are approached, outside of the traditional law enforcement and defence arenas, should be considered. Such approaches must take into consideration, as well as engage, the many people who currently look towards the government for solutions. (By Alicia Wanless, International Perspectives)
Americans are facing a brave new world of post-Sept. 11 technology marvels that could soon find their way into billions of dollars of projected homeland security spending. Gee-whiz know-how -- from swarms of tiny airborne sensors to ever-sharper satellite imagery -- is being developed by companies chasing potentially lucrative federal, state and local contracts to address 21st century security threats. Already in use are such things as infrared cameras with built-in brains that capture license plate images and match them in milliseconds to police records of vehicles of interest to the authorities. Such license plate recognition systems, fixed and mobile, are already stopping criminals in cars in New York and Washington and in 23 states, according to Mark Windover, president of Remington ELSAG Law Enforcement Systems, which is marketing its product to 250 U.S. police agencies."Seventy percent of all criminal activity can be tied to a vehicle," he said. "Had to get there, had to go home." Remington ELSAG said its algorithms -- which turn images into data in the blink of an eye -- could guard airports, military bases and other federal facilities as well as crack down on the drug trade, robberies and other crime hinging on stolen cars.
In other surveillance developments, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is defending a plan to make broader use of eyes in the sky that, until now, have mostly fed military and scientific needs. "The use of geospatial information from military intelligence satellites may turn out to be a valuable tool in protecting the homeland," Democrats on the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee wrote to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff this month.But they voiced privacy and civil liberties concerns about the scheduled Oct. 1 launch of the National Applications Office, a clearinghouse for expanded output of imagery to police, border security and other law enforcement outfits. "We are so concerned that, as the department's authorizing committee, we are calling for a moratorium on the program until the many constitutional, legal and organizational questions it raises are answered," Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and colleagues wrote on Sept. 6.
Satellites, tiny aerial vehicles DigitalGlobe Inc., a potential beneficiary of stepped-up demand for such products, launched a satellite this week that can daily collect up to 750,000 square kilometers of imagery able to pick out suitcase-size objects. The WorldView-1 satellite is part of a U.S. program, dubbed NextView, designed to give government customers priority access. Many of the gizmos under development will be pitched first and foremost to the Pentagon, which is increasingly trying to keep tabs on foes in urban and other hard-to-monitor settings. Lockheed Martin Corp., the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier by contract value, is working on a keychain-size, remote-controlled aerial vehicle designed to collect and transmit data with military and homeland security uses. Resembling the seed of a silver maple tree, the single-winged device would pack a tiny two-stage rocket thruster along with telemetry, communications, navigation, imaging sensors and a power source.
The nano air vehicle, or NAV, is designed to carry interchangeable payload modules -- the size of an aspirin tablet. It could be used for chemical and biological detection or finding a "needle in a haystack," according to Ned Allen, chief scientist at Lockheed's fabled Skunk Works research arm. Released in organized swarms to fly low over a disaster area, the NAV sensors could detect human body heat and signs of breathing, Allen said. "The NAV swarm can pinpoint the location of survivors, send the data back to the first responders and help concentrate rescue operations where they are most likely to be successful," he said in an e-mail interview.
Meanwhile, The Boeing Co. is leading the technology segment of a multiyear plan to secure U.S. borders that includes database and intelligence analysis systems. Projected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to cost as much as $8.8 billion over the next six years, the system also features ground-based and tower-mounted sensors, cameras and radar plus high-speed communications, command and control equipment and devices that detect tunnels. Airport screening is another area that could be transformed within 10 years, using scanning wizardry to pinpoint a suspected security threat through biometrics -- based on one or more physical or behavioral traits. "We can read fingerprints from about five meters .... all 10 prints," said Bruce Walker, vice president of homeland security at Northrop Grumman Corp. "We can also do an iris scan at the same distance." (By Jim Wolf)
Lawmakers from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have asked the Federal Trade Commission to respond to a series of questions about the security threat that computer-to-computer file-sharing programs present to consumers. A bipartisan group of 19 members of the panel, led by Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and ranking Republican Tom Davis (R-Va.), has sent a letter asking the agency to define the security risks that peer-to-peer networks pose and how they compare to those posed by other online activities. The inquiry follows up on a July hearing held by the committee which followed a committee investigation on the topic. The hearing and the investigation suggested that the threat from P2P networks was greater than originally thought, the letter stated. ※In a series of searches using common search terms through a popular P2P program, Committee staff obtained numerous documents that by any reasonable measure would be considered highly sensitive or confidential,§ it stated. ※Included in these documents were personal bank records and tax forms, attorney-client memos, corporate strategy documents, corporate accounting documents, government emergency response plans, and even military operation orders.§ The request also mentioned specifically the FTC＊s May 2005 findings, which noted that P2P ※file-sharing program distributors appear to have made substantial progress in conveying risk information to consumers" and that the FTC would "hold distributors to their promises to provide consumers with risk information." The committee＊s investigation and hearing were prompted by a report from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that said several distributors of popular P2P networks had "repeatedly deployed features" that trick users into sharing some of their files. Besides assessing how risk from P2P compares to other online activities, the group of lawmakers asked the agency by Nov. 1 to notify them of any additional ongoing studies of P2Ps, information regarding the code of conduct the file-sharing companies have agreed to and how they relate to identity theft worries. ※We are aware of the Commission's past work on P2P file-sharing and commend the agency for its efforts to educate the public about the risks posed by file-sharing,§ the letter stated. ※In light of the Committee's recent investigation and hearing, however, we believe the FTC should expand its efforts to protect consumers from inadvertent P2P file sharing.§ (by Ben Bain )
The House Homeland Security Committee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies unveiled today a new cybersecurity commission that will provide recommendations on how to improve the state of public- and private-sector networks to the next president. Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Mike McCaul (R-Texas), chairman and ranking member of the committee＊s Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology Subcommittee, respectively, will be co-chairmen of the commission. Scott Charney, vice president of Microsoft＊s Trustworthy Computing Group, and retired Navy Adm. Bobby Inman, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who holds the Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Chair in national policy, will be co-chairmen representing industry. CSIS is the commission's sponsor and asked Langevin and McCaul to be co-chairmen. ※We recognized from several hearings and investigative work the staff has done and other meetings that we have had that there are some real cybersecurity concerns in the government and in the private sector,§ he said. ※We need to be far better protected and prepared and understand the scope of the problem to establish a blueprint for how to better protect ourselves in the future. We thought no better time than now.§
The commission will hold five meetings in the next year to identify recommendations for the next administration, Langevin said. It will have about 35 members, including former federal officials, private-sector experts, and representatives from industry and government, such as Mike Assante, infrastructure protection manager at the Idaho National Laboratory. ※I expect the recommendations to be very specific things as well as big-picture issues to provide a blueprint to secure our networks,§ Langevin said. ※We will make recommendations about when things can be left to the private sector and what incentives may be needed. We also will make recommendations to when the government should step in through legislation or regulation and require the private sector to make needed cybersecurity upgrades.§ He added that it may be similar to the way the Nuclear Regulatory Commission steps in to regulate the nuclear power industry. During its upcoming meetings, the commission will set an agenda, study existing cybersecurity policies, examine federal organizations, look at the government's authorities, and identify necessary incentives, legislation or policy initiatives. At the final session, the group will make recommendations. ※One thing that will come out of these recommendations will be for the public and private sectors to do the basics, such as putting firewalls in place or intrusion-detection mechanisms,§ Langevin said. The Office of Management and Budget or the Senate likely will not have a role in the commission, he said. The commission will consider briefing the eventual presidential candidates from each party when the time is appropriate, he added. ※I＊m proud to help lead the commission as co-chairman,§ Langevin said. ※I expect the recommendations will be a solid document that we can rely on to better secure our networks.§ (by Jason Miller )
Chinese officials on Wednesday pledged to crack down on the sale of illegal performance-enhancing drugs on the Internet. "Trading non-prescription medicine on the Internet is illegal in China and all the prohibited substances listed in the WADA code belong to non-prescription medicine," Spokeswoman for the China's State Food and Drug Administration Yan Jianying told a press conference. "If any website is found to trade such prohibited drugs, they will be shut down immediately and severely punished." World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound labelled China an "exporter" of performance enhancing drugs during a visit last year and urged the hosts of the 2008 Olympic Games to crack down on illegal online sales. Yan also said the authorities would launch a campaign to clean local medicine markets in Beijing and other Olympic co-host cities of banned substances.
Jiang Zhixue, head of the Chinese Olympic Commission Anti-Doping Commission, said at the same press conference that an independent body would be launched next month to oversee nationwide anti-doping work. "It will further strengthen China's anti-doping efforts," he said. China was tainted with a string of doping scandals in sport in the 1990s, but since then stepped up efforts to fight against drugs. The number of dope tests totalled 9,424 last year and is expected to be more than 10,000 this year, according to Jiang. "The positive ratio has been declining," Jiang said. "The positive samples cover only 0.4 percent now, compared with 1.82 percent in 1990." Chinese sports officials have been repeatedly saying that they would rather win no gold medals than have one positive test at next year's Olympics.
A city in central China has banned any unauthorized attempt to trace the true identities of Internet users to prevent possible revenge for comments they post on the Web, and the city government vowed to pay more attention to the opinions of the public via the Internet. "Irrelative agencies are not allowed to trace and investigate the real identities of Internet users to ensure that people enjoy their constitutional rights to free speech," the city government of Luoyang, Henan Province, said in an official notice, Dahe.com reported today. Telecommunication carriers and supervision bodies at all Web chat rooms in the city should protect users' privacy according to China's laws and are not allowed to offer background information on Web users to unauthorized people, the report said. Police authorities may probe reports that claim the prosecution and discipline supervision watchdogs seek revenge on online whistleblowers after they find their true ID, the report added. The Luoyang government last month pledged that it would welcome the public playing a stronger role in the city affairs through the Internet, a step it hopes will lead to a more transparent government. To encourage more ideas from Web users, the government said it will release investigation reports related with any major accidents in the city on the Internet to encourage public supervision, the report said. But the government also warned that it would punish those who release false information on the Internet, especially those who have caused a negative impact on society.
The government has ordered Chinese search engines to remove illegal and unhealthy information from their search results, the Ministry of Information Industry said yesterday. The Websites, including Google China, China Yahoo and Baidu.com, will have to clean up their results within a week, Xinhua news agency reported. They should map out a procedure on how to dispose of illegal information, how to manage content and how to deal with users' complaints, the ministry said. No definition was given to specify what is considered illegal or unhealthy content. A ministry official who only gave his surname as Wang said pornography was one kind but refused to clarify more. "The search engines know what they should do," Wang said. China's press and publication regulator kicked off a campaign to close pornographic Websites earlier this month. The regulator also ordered all Websites to delete 40 pornographic novels that it had blacklisted or the operators would be punished.
China blocked access to 18,401 illegal Websites during a nationwide campaign against online pornography that started in April, an industry newspaper reported today. A total of 9,593 unregistered Websites were shut down while 8,808 Websites were closed for disseminating pornographic, illicit or fraudulent pictures and information on the Internet, said Miao Wei, deputy general manager of China Telecom, the country's biggest telecommunication carrier, which was involved in the campaign. The campaign was launched by the Ministry of Public Security and nine other departments on April 12, the Communication and Information News said. The campaign also required major Chinese portals, including sina.com, sohu.com, 163.com and qq.com, to conduct self-examinations and shut down problematic channels. China now has almost 162 million Internet users, and the figure is growing by eight percent a year, according to the report. It also added that the number of Chinese-language pornographic Websites was estimated at 500,000 around the world, while there are around 2 million English porn sites, the report said. Online fraud is also becoming rampant, the report noted. Shangdong police last month cracked China's biggest online pyramid sales scam, which involved 170,000 people and 1.36 billion yuan (US$180 million). On August 30, the Ministry of Information Industry also ordered main search engines, including Baidu, Google, Yahoo, Zhongsou, Sina and Sogou, to remove "illegal and unhealthy information" from their search results.
Chinese police claim to have broken Beijing's largest ever illegal Internet train ticket scalping racket after complaints from would-be travelers of ticket shortages before the week-long National Day Holiday. Police seized 225 tickets with a value of 53,000 yuan (US$7,057) when they arrested Wang Junbao, 29, as he was dealing with a client he had contacted through the Internet. "I booked these tickets days before and charged 50 to 150 yuan more than the face value for each ticket," said Wang. Police said they found tickets for services on 45 railway lines, covering one third of China's railway system. "He was amazingly audacious," said policeman Fan Lipeng, who was involved in the arrest. Under Chinese law, train ticket scalpers dealing in tickets worth 5,000 yuan can face jail sentences of up to three years and fines ranging from 5,000 yuan up to five times the face value of the tickets. Scalpers used to sell tickets direct to buyers, sometimes inside train stations, but now they use text messages or the Internet. Ticket advertisements posted by the scalpers are ubiquitous on the Internet in the run-up to and after holiday travel peaks.
"Queue for a whole hour only to find the train tickets have been sold out or have them delivered with a click of the mouse -- it's up to you," says one scalper's advertisement on the Internet. "It's a win-win deal because we earn money and those who need a ticket can get what they want by only paying a little more," said one ticket scalper surnamed Huang, squatting on the ground at Beijing Railway Station. "It's better to buy an expensive ticket than to have no ticket because without scalpers there would still not be enough tickets," he said. However, a Ministry of Railways official surnamed Lu said, "No matter how plausible their excuses sound, they're breaking the law." Authorized ticket agents, who charge a five-yuan fee for each ticket, often sell out tickets on popular services. "The scalpers always have access to tickets so I suspect there's some relationship with the railway station and have to turn to them for expensive tickets," said Li, a Beijing commuter who travels to Shandong Province every May Day holiday, National Day holiday and Spring Festival Holiday, three major week-long travel peaks.
Police have pledged to resort to the high-tech means and uproot the scalpers to ensure the ticket sales. "We have built an information base of some 80 veteran scalpers in Beijing and will monitor them with surveillance cameras in train stations and strengthen Internet monitoring and tracking," said Zhang Xudong, a senior police officer at Beijing West Railway Station. "We will keep a close eye on those who post ads to sell more than three train tickets through the Internet at one time," he added. Police at Beijing West Railway Station had handled ten cases since the launch of an "Operation Blue Shield" against Internet scalpers on Sep. 11. It is estimated that during this year's ten-day May Day Holiday travel peak, more than 448 million passengers traveled by train, a six-percent rise from the previous year. Chinese airlines slash fares only during off seasons. Air fares are on average five times more expensive than the corresponding train fare during travel peaks.
China has launched a campaign to crack down on illegal lottery selling on the Internet to fight lottery-related fraud. Unauthorized lottery websites should stop selling lottery draws within 30 days or they will be closed down and their owners fined or prosecuted, said a bulletin posted on the website of Ministry of Finance. Four government ministries -- Finance, Public Security, Civil Affairs, Information Industry -- and the General Administration of Sport will take part in the campaign. "Internet-based illegal lottery selling is on the rise in recent years, posing a threat to the operation of the lottery market," the bulletin said. The bulletin listed some of the illegal activities, such as selling private lotteries under the name of state-run lotteries, providing illegal channels for sports gambling and underground Mark Six and lottery-related fraud. "Except for lottery selling agencies authorized by the government, no one is allowed to sell lottery tickets through the Internet," said the bulletin. The China Welfare Lottery Administrative Center and sports lottery administrative center of China General Administration of Sport are the only two legitimate lottery sellers in China and they are both state-run.
TOKYO 〞 Bandai Co and Buffalo Inc said Monday they will launch on Sept 14 a personal computer accessory designed to block access to harmful Internet sites by children. The product, "PASOKON Kids Key," comes in a shape of a 9-centimeter-long key that can be inserted in a PC through the universal serial bus slot. When inserted, the UBS key automatically changes the PC screen to child mode, allowing users to connect to the Internet only through a portal site designed especially for children, with access restricted to sites suitable for viewing by children. The device will sell for 3,480 yen.
The National Police Agency (NPA) has decided to enlist private companies to help monitor Web sites and online bulletin boards for illegal or harmful content in a crackdown on cyber crime, agency officials said. The private companies will not be able to clamp down on illegal content itself, but they will provide information they obtain through cyber patrols to police, and this will be used in investigations. NPA officials aim to have the system in operation sometime after April next year. NPA officials said that the number of cyber crimes has been increasing each year since 2000, when they started collecting figures. In 2006, the reported number of incidents rose 40 percent from the year before to reach 4,425. This year, the reported number of incidents in the first half of the year hit 1,808, slightly higher than the figure for the corresponding period last year. Police said that there were large numbers of fraud cases in which people swindled net auction users out of products, and child prostitution cases in which children were lured through matchmaking sites. Law enforcers already perform cyber patrols, but there had been calls for more workers as some police headquarters did not have the resources to provide specialist monitors. It was subsequently decided to enlist private companies that were well equipped to collect information from the Internet. Police have included 27 million yen for the project in the budget demand for next fiscal year. "We want to use specialist knowledge from the private sector to enrich our patrols," a police representative said. About 10 people from the private sector will be enlisted. If they need to access pay sites during their monitoring activities, they will pay the fee, and look for any illegal or harmful material on those sites. Police cyber patrols will continue as normal.
The Washington Post last month ran an article on "Japan's Warp-Speed Ride to Internet Future," in which it paints an impressive picture of the current and future state of residential Internet service in Japan, while not saying much good about what has been happening in the United States. I expect that the pictures the article paints of high-speed Internet service for both Japan and the United States are a bit too rosy when it comes to what is actually going on for homes and significantly so when it comes to business Internet options. The core observation of the article is that competition enabled by government regulation has produced an environment in Japan where many people can get Internet services at far higher speeds than are available in the United States at a far lower cost. Nonfiber based broadband services tend to be five to 10 times faster than what the U.S. homeowner can expect, and fiber-based services are three or more times faster. The article attributes the availability of these services to the fact that government regulators forced the local telephone company to unbundle copper phone lines and offer anyone the opportunity to rent the copper wires into a home for about US$2 a month. Congress wanted to force the same type of unbundling in the United States but the FCC and courts removed most of the regulations. The distance between homes and telephone central offices in Japan is generally less than in the United States, and the speed of DSL services depends, to some degree, on distance. The $2-per-month fee for the connectivity enabled competitors to offer cheap ($22 per month) Internet service at a significantly higher data rate than in the United States.
Verizon is offering FIOS fiber-based service in some parts of its territory, but the highest-speed service it offers is less than one-third the 100Mbps service that NTT now offers in Japan. The Post article did not talk about the specific features of the Internet services being offered in Japan, but my guess is that they are the same as the telephone company and cable company residential services in the United States -- they only offer half the Internet. You can download and upload at your whim but cannot participate in offering Internet content. For example, Verizon's terms of service for subscribers of its broadband Internet offering (which include both DSL and FIOS) cannot be used to "host any type of server whether personal or commercial in nature." So a subscriber cannot run a Web server, e-mail server or any other service that would make the subscriber a full member of the Internet community. The lack of an ability to host servers is not all that big a deal for most current Internet users but can be critical for business users. For a lot more money, subscribers to Verizon's "Business DSL" service are permitted to host at least some types of servers. Verizon's terms of service for Business FIOS do not clearly say that servers can be hosted, but I would hope that they could be. Verizon has some very silly rules about mixing "business" and "nonbusiness" services, so it might be hard to get what you want for a home-based business. But the biggest problem is that FIOS is unavailable in almost all of the country and the actual speed of DSL in most places is very slow, especially if you host servers. Maybe someday we in the United States will get reasonable-cost, high-speed Internet options, but it may be a while.
TOKYO 〞 Marubeni Infotec Corp said Friday information on up to 14,000 customers of its "@Sola Shop" online shopping site has been leaked as a result of illegal access to a server. The leak was discovered because the stolen information included users' credit card details such as names, addresses and identification numbers, which were used illegally, drawing the attention of credit card companies, according to the subsidiary of trading house Marubeni Corp.
TOKYO 〞 Around 10,000 entries, including information technology terms and trendy words, will be added to the next version of the prestigious "Kojien" Japanese dictionary, Iwanami Shoten Publishers said Tuesday. The terms to be added include Japanese words for whistle-blowing, the Iraq war and NEET (not in education, employment or training), as well as youth slang such as "love-love" (mutually in love), "uzai" (annoying) and "gyakugire" (becoming offensive instead of reflecting). With the additions, the total number of entries in the sixth edition of the Kojien, or Comprehensive Dictionary of the Japanese Language, will come to around 240,000. The edition will be published Jan 11. The publishing house examined about 100,000 words collected from the Internet and media reports since the fifth edition was published in 1998 and selected around 10,000 words after judging they had become popular. The new entries also include words about the environment, finance and the economy. "The changes in the roughly 10 years since the revisions to the fifth edition correspond to 100 years in the past. The progress in scientific technology and informatization are reflected in the language," Iwanami President Akio Yamaguchi said. The publisher chose not to include trendy words such as "Ina Bauer," "cool biz" and "moe" (cute) after concluding that their use will be short-lived or not very popular. Referred to as "the standard of the Japanese language," the Kojien was first published in 1955, according to the Iwanami website.
For many Japanese children, a cell phone is a social lifeline they can't imagine being without. For high school student Makoto, it became an instrument of mental torture that nearly drove him to suicide. "Even when I stopped going to school and stayed at home, my cell phone kept ringing with harassing e-mails," said Makoto, who became anorexic and rarely emerged from his room for nearly half a year after becoming the target of "cyberbullying." Makoto, now 19 and working as a hair stylist after graduating from high school, said classmates posted photos of him along with insults on a Web site and e-mailed him at all hours telling him to die. He attempted suicide twice. "When people tell you your life is not worth living, you start to think that way," said Makoto, who requested that his last name not be used. "I couldn't believe in human beings anymore," he said. Schoolyard bullying has long bedeviled Japan and, as in other countries, has taken a high-tech twist in recent years. Ten percent of high school students said they have been harassed through e-mails, Web sites or blogs, a recent survey by the Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education showed. Cyberbullying is a global trend, but the anonymity it provides for perpetrators may have extra significance in Japan, where wariness of direct confrontation is a cultural norm, said Shaheen Shariff, principal investigator at the International Project on Cyber Bullying at McGill University in Montreal. "Something is falling through the cracks, so they need to address what the problem is," she said in a phone interview. "Are they [children] too controlled, are they under too much pressure to be academically successful, do they have an avenue to express their feelings ... are those taboos?" Shariff said.
Bullying in cyberdarkness
MIC aims at bringing about socio-economic revitalization in local communities by developing a ubiquitous network society. To that end, MIC will develop a system to support local communities that proactively make efforts to revitalize themselves with ICT, to provide successful models. MIC will also disseminate the knowledge and expertise nationwide. MIC has been supporting local communities that have a keen interest in revitalizing themselves with ICT. In supporting their efforts to solve local issues under the initiative of the community, MIC promotes the development of network infrastructure and the use of ICT. In consideration of the recent and immediate issue of bridging regional gaps, MIC will bolster its support for local initiatives using ICT to solve local issues in terms of knowledge and expertise. Through the support, MIC aims to develop successful models of ICT use for the independence and revitalization of local communities, such as promotion of primary industry and local industry or development of a safe and secure society. MIC will also disseminate the knowledge and expertise obtained through such efforts nationwide with a goal to raise the level of local economy and society by taking advantage of the ICT potential to change the social structure.
Citing figures submitted by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (※MOGAHA§), Grand National Party Congressman Lee Sang-bae of the Government Administration and Home Affairs Committee confirmed yesterday that the hacking attacks on government websites have been on the steady rise. In 2004, for example, 3,907 attempts were made, which rose to 4,549 in 2005, and to 4,286 in 2006. As of September this year, hackers tried to breach security 5,881 times.Hackers have caused several types of damage. Worm viruses harmed security in 4,929 cases and fake proxy servers in 582. Also, hackers＊ attacks distorted homepages in 187 cases, and resulted in the leakage of protected data and information in 134. 80 percent of the attacks targeted e-government customer service centers of the central and local governments, and individual agency homepages. In the face of the burgeoning number of attacks, all the Roh administration did was to increase the security budget. In 2006, the budget amounted to $92 million and rose to $101 million this year. Despite the skyrocketing number of attacks and budget amounts, the Roh administration has failed to fully secure our government websites with filtering protection, which can prevent unauthorized access to the personal information stored in government databases. As of April this year, 8 out of the 29 central government sites and 353 out of 480 local government sites are not equipped with the filtering protection. The August 2007 MOGAHA report on privacy protection pointed out several vulnerable areas. For example, in South Korea, an online user has to verify his or her social security number to subscribe to e-government services. But private firms conduct the verification, leaving wide open the possibility of abuse by the firms. Also, government agencies provide personal information of citizens via unsecured e-mail. Furthermore, the personal information of users is stored in government databases without any password protection. The MOGAHA explains, ※We are working on ways to protect damaged government sites against future attacks. The National Intelligence Service primarily conducts probes upon occurrence of attacks. To reduce hacking vulnerability, we plan to separately operate the intranets of 30 government agencies by 2010 so that access to the sites from the Internet is impossible. The agencies are the ones that handle classified information most frequently.§
Government workers selling protected information It transpired that quite a number of government workers have sold protected and personal information to private firms using their e-government authorization. In October 2003, for example, using vehicle registration information retained by the tax authorities, a government worker provided 60 types of personal information to his relatives on the owner of a vehicle. A private investigation firm, after buying the information, secretly videotaped the owner and his mistress having an extramarital affair. Then, the firm extorted money from them. In November 2004, another government employee accessed a recruitment site and retrieved the personal information of 100 job seekers. The government official used the information for his paper without their consent. In other cases, a worker leaked the personal information of students to his buddy to help promote his buddy＊s teaching institute. In addition, a low-level worker abused his access to a government site to obtain the personal information of a girl he got to know online. Rep. Lee called for prompt actions from the government yesterday, saying, ※The situation is really dire and deplorable. Nonetheless, the authorities, including the MOGAHA and the Audit Board, have never looked into this matter. The Roh administration promoted the e-government system as a tool for better serving the public. But what we really need now is a more secure system that can better protect citizens＊ privacy.§
When protests in Myanmar took a violent turn in the last week of September, the online world went into hyperdrive with massive online postings and active emailing to gather support against the ruling junta. Taking advantage of the situation now are hackers who have started to send out emails which claim to be a message of support for monks and other protesters in Myanmar from the Dalai Lama. IT security and control firm, Sophos, is however cautioning that the email in fact carries a malicious attack designed to infect the recipient's PC. The malicious email that's making its rounds also takes advantage of reports that the Burmese regime is trying to stop news coming out of the country by shutting down internet cafes and controlling computer users' access to the net. "People around the world are hungry to hear about the latest situation in the country and support the pro-democracy movement, and may be tempted to read this so-called letter from the Dalai Lama,§ said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. ※Using topical news stories to trick unwary computer users into opening and downloading malicious code is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it's obviously still working or the hackers wouldn't waste their time on it. We should all use our common sense and question the legitimacy of emails sent out of the blue§ warns Cluley.
The email which is signed off by "Tenzin Taklha" asks that the message be distributed to as many people as possible. It reads: "Dear Friends & Colleagues, Please find enclosed a massage(sic) from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in support of the recent pro democracy demonstrations taking place in Burma." The so-called message from the Dalai Lama which is attached to the email, and carries the filename: hhdl burma_001.doc, in fact contains malware. Sophos warns that once a user opens the document a Word vulnerability will be exploited and attempts will be made to download the Trojan, Agent-CGU, onto the victim's PC. Sophos security experts warn that the email carries a link to the official website of the Dalai Lama and this is an attempt to add even more credibility to the message and to encourage a greater number of victims to open the malware attached.
Another Internet-monitoring agency has been set up to fight cybersecurity threats and to tackle such incidents proactively. It goes into operation in December. The Network Security Centre (NSC), set up by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, will connect to systems run by the country＊s 14 Internet service providers (ISPs) to monitor all incoming data traffic on the Web, and will scan for malicious or suspicious information packets. NSC is aimed at addressing the need for a single, effective information-sharing and collaborative system. Shamsul Jafni Shafie, MCMC＊s security, trust and governance department, content, consumer and network security division director, said ISPs were now fighting cyberthreats on their own. ※A threat encountered by one ISP may not be flagged to the others, which could make it difficult to contain a virus or another type of malicious software,§ he said. MCMC has set aside RM4mil for the centre, which is taken from the commission＊s annual operating budget. Part of the funding also comes from licensing fees that MCMC collects from the ISPs.
MANILA, Philippines -- Despite criticisms from solons and some groups, the Department of Education (DepEd) asserts its Cyber Education Project has the support of at least 10 national organizations of teachers, educators and school administrators. Among the groups the DepEd has enlisted to support the program are the Philippine Elementary School Principals Association, Philippine School District Supervisors＊ Association, Philippine Association of School Superintendents, Philippine Association of Secondary School Administrators, Philippine Association of Vocational Educators and Administrators, Philippine Association of Vocational Educators, Teacher Education Council, Administrative Officers Association of the Department of Education, Association of DepEd Directors and the National Association of Public Secondary School Heads Inc. Other groups that support the Cyber Ed project are DepEd regional offices in Region IV-B (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) and Caraga (Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Siargao, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur). DepEd also claims the support of the Supreme Student Government Officers, an organization of high school student council leaders nationwide. Secretary Jesli Lapus has been lobbying for support for the Cyber Education Project, which has been criticized by politicians, some government agencies, and several sectors.Its main goal is to deliver updated educational materials to far-flung areas through satellite technology. A total of 37,794 public schools are estimated to become recipients of the project, which is expected to start next year. However, the main argument against the Cyber Education Project is its cost, estimated to reach P27 billion. Lapus himself promised the government would save up to P60 billion if the project is implemented because it is supposed save on cost of books, delivery and training costs.
Adviser for the ministry of LGRD Mohammed Anwarul Iqbal said the cost of cyber crime was a burden on the developing countries and a law was necessary to combat the crime. Quoting International Law News the adviser said cyber crime had grown to be larger than illicit drug sales worldwide and the analysis estimate that online fraud fetches 105 billion US dollars in 2007 alone. He was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the first Regional Cyber Crime Seminar 2007 at the Dhaka Sheraton Hotel yesterday. The three-daylong seminar will be participated by experts from Australia, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Nepal and host Bangladesh under the Police Reform Programme of the UN and support of the Australian Federal Police. The adviser said cyber crime, as a transnational crime, is a global issue with a global impact and seminar of this kind would help the experts to combat the crime. In recent years cyber crime is a phenomenon that is well known in the technologically developed countries where computer hackers break passwords and leak important information of person, organisation and even state. Hackers also attack banks and take away money by breaking passwords. In Bangladesh the range of cyber crime is still not alarming but the number of Internet users are growing rapidly, so it poses a great threat to the country as already reports of pornographic sites were found. Abdul Karim, secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Douglas Foskett, Australian High Commissioner to Dhaka, Larry Maramis, Deputy Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh, Naba Bikram K Tripura, Additional Inspector General and National Project Director of the Police Reform programme and Hubert Staberhofer, Programme Manager, PRP were present at the ceremony.
The Indian parliament panel has criticised the government for not preparing a new set of laws on cyber crime and instead taking a "short cut route" of making changes in the existing norms. According to the Standing Committee on Information Technology, the law pertaining to IT should be self-containing and easily comprehensible to the global village community. The Committee observed that the term 'cyber terrorism' has not been defined anywhere in the IT Act, 2000 or in the proposed amendments. Similarly, 'child pornography' has also not been mentioned anywhere in the section on pornography.
During the inaugural of the three-day Seventh International Conference on Cyber Crime, which was organised by the Interpol and hosted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) recently, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil has called for creating a culture of "cyber security awareness" and taking effective preventive measures. The Minister has argued in favour of giving "priority attention" by lawmakers and law enforcement agencies to the issue as the potential damage due to hacking, spoofing and botnet to the national security was immense. Instances of money laundering through e-channels for terrorist funding have assumed menacing proportions. Internet is being used as a secure means for internal communication among terrorists and also for hate campaigns through social networking sites. Cyber crime currently represents a wide array of offences. Hacking, spoofing and botnet attacks are capable of causing serious security breaches in the information system of vital installations. Though India had developed a full-fledged indigenous cyber forensic software package, it has a long way to go. Online child pornography, trafficking in contraband items and e-commerce frauds are on the rise. Acts of vandalism and cheating are increasingly frustrating e-governance efforts. It was the duty of all concerned to ensure that information technology gains were not nullified by a handful of criminals.
According to the Symantec Internet Security Threat report, ITeS firms lose about US$ 500 million of potential and actual revenue due to data loss and data security fears. Individual users too are no less vulnerable to spams and malicious codes. About 74% of all monitored e-mail traffic in India was spam, against the global percentage of 61%. The report found 38,465 distinct bot-infected computers in India. Bots are software applications used in coordination and operation of automated attacks on networked computers. Among cities, Mumbai was the most vulnerable, having 33% of bots in India, to be followed by Delhi (25.0%), Chennai (17.0%) and Bangalore (13.0%). Among sectors, financial services, telecom, IT- ITeS are particularly vulnerable in India. Over 50% of enterprises saying their PCs had been infected by spyware. About 20% of employees said that they had accidentally visited sites containing spyware while over 70% of IT managers across India said their employees had received phishing attacks via e-mail or instant messaging on their office PC. Worms as a percentage of malicious codes were at 57% in India, which was higher than the global average of 31%. Virus at 21% of all malicious codes in India was significantly higher than the global average of 4%. Among the top 10 malicious code propagation vectors, file sharing/ executables was the highest vector at 53% in India, much higher than the global figure of 22%. The report attributed this to lack of security awareness among Indian enterprises. It cited file transfer/ attachment (37%) as a vector as another concern as it could increase with growth of Internet penetration.
Yesterday a few concerned Pakistanis gathered together at The Second Floor to discuss the Cyber Crime Bill (Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2007). The event was hosted at T2F and sponsored by Alchemy Technologies allowing Barrister Zahid Jamil an opportunity to explain / interpret in simpler terms the impact of this bill on our daily lives once this bill has been promulgated into effect by the National Assembly. To be honest when I was informed of the seminar I was interested to find out what the fuss was all about, the reading material provided was interesting but made little sense until Zahid explained the legal implications of such a bill if promulgated as is. After the two hours of understanding the problem I am worried enough to feel the need to push the government to revamp the bill and poses to be a very dangerous law for us all, forget the criminals with, it can easily affect innocent Pakistanis who use computers on a daily basis, very simple issues like the act of formatting your hard disk [Destruction of Data] can lead you to a seven years in jail &/or Rs. 1 Million in fines. The consequences appear to have far more serious implications then what Faisal Chohan faced in 2006. There are seemingly 21 ＆cyber＊ issues ranging from Malicious code, Cyber Terrorism to spamming and spoofing, overtly it may seem to cover all aspects of the new digital era but a closer and detailed look shows quite the contrary, allow me to explain, as novice trying to decipher Zahid＊s excellent explanation (For those bored by the technicality head down to the Call for Action section at the bottom).
Practically in all issues the government has gone the extra mile to reinvent a new definition, significantly deviating from the internationally accepted norms leaving more grey areas for confusion / exploitation within the law. There seems to be an elaborate play of words within the document, which does nothing, but allow room for the regulating body (FIA) to confuse and entrap the innocent people, a ＆book ＆em up＊ charge sheet on all counts. The FIA, has been given complete and unrestricted control to arrest and confiscate material as they feel necessary, without forcing them to present a credible case before an arrest warrant is issued, if the FIA follows the law by the book they can pick up any person or property, hold them in custody for up to one year (extensions allowed) before even presenting the case in court. A very dangerous supposition as it opens the door for the rouge FIA agency to do as they please without any safeguards and protection for the innocent. I share with you one example of the hideous nature of the bill. The Government has literally attempted to insert a new word in the English language, when the bill discusses the law of Cyber Terrorism.
Statistics indicate that about 89 percent of Iranian Internet surfers use Yahoo email address which is detrimental to security, deputy minister of information and communication technology (ICT) said. Speaking at a conference on the security infrastructure of Internet network, Abdolmajid Riazi further said that both security and expansion of information technology should be developed in parallel, adding both should promote each other, ISNA reported. He explained that there is a general guideline on IT development which includes surfers, functions and infrastructures. The official added that security is important in all three cases. Riazi proposed that planning should be made to ensure the security of information exchanges. He also called for international collaboration since Internet network is not a local and restricted area, he said.
The deputy minister pointed out that school goers, university students, professors, teachers and employees constitute the majority of domestic surfers. Turning to the national Internet network, he said this unified network which attaches great importance to security, should be launched by the end of Fourth Five-Year Development Plan (2005-2010). Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Soleimani said last May that the cabinet had approved a plan to set up a national Internet network. He noted that the cabinet authorized Iranian Telecommunications Company (ITC) to spend 5,660 billion rials on launching the network within three years, IRNA reported. ※Efforts aimed at designing the national Internet network have proven to be useful and components of the plan are in place,※ he said.
Commonwealth Bank Australia is offering 25,000 Netbank customers free access to Computer Associates (CA) security software as it aims to improve security for its online services. The first 25,000 NetBank customers who register will receive CA Internet Security Suite Plus 2008, valued at $69.95 which they can download from the internet or load via CD. For those that miss out, they can purchase the software for $34.95. "The Commonwealth Bank is committed to ensuring our customers have access to the best online security systems and precautions possible, and that their personal details and finances are safe when transacting online," said Ross McEwan, group executive, Retail Banking Services. CA Internet Security Suite Plus 2008 includes anti-virus, anti-spyware, personal firewall, anti-spam, anti-phishing parental controls, data backup and transfer capabilities. In addition to the software, the Commonwealth Bank has deployed two factor authentication and improved detection and risk mitigation programs. "In the past twelve months, NetCode SMS and Tokens, delayed third party payments, BPAY and third party limit changes and an improved Hawk-I fraud detection system have delivered improved levels of security for our customers＊ private information and finances," McEwan said. According to Dean Saunders, acting director of home and small office for CA Pacific: "CA is delighted to be partnering with the Commonwealth Bank to ensure their NetBank customers have quality PC protection, in particular when consumers are banking online." Commonwealth Bank customers will have access to CA Software＊s free Australia based phone and 24 X 7 online technical support for the life of their subscription," Saunders said. NetBank customers will be able to register for the free software online through NetBank by completing a quiz.
THE Coalition has dodged key privacy concerns and failed to rule out resurrecting its controversial Access Card, labelled by some observers a de-facto national identity card. The Australian Privacy Foundation asked the major parties to declare their positions on eight issues, including use of biometrics, RFID tagging of humans, data breaches, telemarketing, and anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism provisions. Foundation chair Roger Clarke said the Coalition "simply ignored the issues", and Labor fared only marginally better. "It is extremely disappointing that Labor has not opposed the Government's privacy-intrusive laws," he said. "The public has to wonder whether a Labor government will continue to override basic rights and freedom of speech once in office." Dr Clarke said the foundation was, however, heartened by Labor's opposition to the Access Card and RFID tagging of prisoners in the ACT, for example. Voters needed to look no further than the new counter-terrorism laws for evidence of the Coalition's total disregard of privacy concerns, he said. "Thousands of small businesses are required to collect much more information from customers and dob them in for anything suspicious. This isn't just red tape, it destroys the trust in our society," he said. The foundation gave the Coalition a score of 1.5 out of 10, with Labor rating 4.5. The Democrats scored 9 on 10, while the Greens also rated highly, at 8. Dr Clarke said people needed "to be aware of the Coalition's appalling record and Labor's inadequate position on privacy matters".
Trend Micro™Mobile Security 5.0 protects enterprise data on mobile devices from loss or theft. Newly-added data encryption and authentication, along with firewall, intrusion detection and malware protection are all managed by a single console. Auckland, New Zealand 每 November 6, 2007 每 Trend Micro Incorporated, a leader in network antivirus and content security software and services, today announced the latest version of its mobile device security solution, at the Gartner ITxpo in Cannes, France, available to the market in December 2007. The release of Trend Micro Mobile Security (TMMS) 5.0, girded with data encryption and authentication, mitigates mobile security challenges such as security breaches and data leakage while allowing enterprise administrators to manage security for handheld devices from a single console. Mobile devices have become small, powerful computers with large data storage capacities and growing network bandwidth.
A remote and mobile workforce utilising mobile applications on their handhelds are at risk for losing confidential and sensitive information critical to their companies. Mobile applications such as push email, customer relationship management, and field service automation boost convenience and productivity, but make data vulnerable. Enterprises need to ensure that both data and mobile devices are secure and protected. TMMS 5.0 features new data encryption and authentication capabilities: If a mobile device is lost or stolen, the business-critical data contained in it is encrypted unless it is unlocked with a password. Data on devices that do not comply with policies can be wiped out by administrators. The anti-malware features block viruses, worms, Trojans and SMS text message spam. Built-in firewall and Intrusion Detection System (IDS) protects against hackers, intrusions and denial-of-service attacks 每 all potential threats to mobile devices.
ABUDHABI 〞 High level delegations of influential Information Communiction Technology (ICT) figures from the Arab world are currently preparing for participation in the Governmental Technology 〞 GT- Summit and Exhibition 〞 which will be held from November19-21.Confirmed delegations at GT Summit represent Arab government officials from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Yemen, Muritania in addition to the UAE. Amongst a line-up of speakers, Dr. Yasar Jarrar, the Executive Dean of Dubai School of Governmental and Strategy Advisor at the Executive Office of Dubai, commented that there have been several successful experiences in e-government development in the Arab region § Dubai is the most obvious example§ despite of the low level of success in e-government projects globally. He pointed out that the UNDESA estimated that 60 per cent of global e-government projects have failed completely or partially in 2003 and the World Bank estimated 85 per cent failure in 2004. Jarrar said that market research companies estimates that the government IT spending in the Arab countries is between $1 and 2 billion; but some Arab governments suffer from a productivity paradox, where more spending on IT does not necessarily lead to higher productivity, efficiency or eventually citizens satisfaction.
Dates: 18 May 2008 to 20 May 2008
The E-Commerce Middle East Summit 2008 will see the return of E-Commerce in full force. Online sales are double digit growths again, as e-commerce gains momentum among retailers globally. As consumers become more and more technology savvy and online sales continue to boom, both online and offline retailers need to understand how to tap into this potentially new and huge pool of consumers and reap the benefits of the remarkable growth. The E-Commerce Middle East Summit 2008 will address all the key issues and challenges facing the retailers on conversion, fulfilment, retention in helping them build a profitable e-commerce business. The E-Commerce Middle East Summit 2008 is the ultimate forum where global E-Commerce and E-Business MNCs / retailers learn how the Internet age is fueling the rapidly increasing growth of E-Commerce businesses. Off-line retailers will learn how to incorporate E-Commerce as an integral part of their businesses, from leading global experts. Delegates will leave with a new vision for their business, with insight as to the strategies and tools they need, and the contacts to make it happen.
Dates: 16 March 2008 to 19 March 2008
Location: Hyderabad, India
Location: Macao SAR, China, China
The International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV2007) will take place in Macao during 10- 13 December 2007. The conference will bring together practitioners, developers and researchers from government, academia, industry and non-governmental organisations to share the latest findings in the theory and practice of Electronic Governance. In a diverse international setting for networking and community-building, ICEGOV2007 will foster a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach to addressing the challenges of Electronic Governance. The conference and the future annual series will establish the state-of-the-art in practice, technology and research on various aspects of Electronic Governance.
Dates: Government Technology World 2008: Building a more responsive and connected government will take place in 21 October 2008 to 23 October 2008
ID Management Asia Summit 2008, April 9-11, Singapore, aims to address all the key issues and challenges facing government and enterprises in deploying a successful ID Management strategy. ID Management Asia Summit 2008 is the ultimate forum where government, healthcare provider, financial institution and enterprises get to learn how the Asia and worldwide current affairs is fueling the rapidly increasing need of the ID and access management and the best practices of ID management deployment from leading experts in government sector, FIS, Healthcare and other MNCs.
Information Security Exhibition and Conference iSec2007 was inaugurated in Chennai recently by Tamil Nadu Minister for Social Welfare Poongothai Aladi Aruna. This exhibition-cum-conference showcased the latest trends, threats and technology in data and network security from leading players in this field.iSec2007 was a great boon for all IT and ITeS companies as India ＊s IT industry is estimated to grow at a compounded rate of 21 per cent over the next five years and touch $ 65 billion in revenue, its spokesperson said. iSec2007 is aimed at creating awareness on protecting sensitive information from unauthorised disclosure or intelligible interception. Poongothai Aladi Aruna released a handbook on information security and said, ※India is the second fastest growing IT security market in the Asia-Pacific region. As private confidential information has become available to the public, security has become a major concern. Hence, it is imperative, rather mandatory, that we use information security tool positively not only for the present but also for a better tomorrow.§ She added, ※Despite the setting up of cyber crime cells in all major cities, there has been an increase in the cyber crime rate due to lack of awareness.§
Rohit Kumar, country head, Microsoft, in his keynote address, said, ※Privacy and security go hand-in-hand. If privacy is not there, there is no security. Security is of high importance when it comes to business practices. For instance, ICICI Bank have their own website and there is also a site which looks exactly the same, captures your information and then takes your money. This problem is serious and is growing. Technology helps us to identify such problems.§ iSec2007 gave a broad focus on market trends, issues and challenges of the security market. It helps in formulating stringent legal frameworks, to deal with data protection and intellectual property rights. It also emphasises the five areas critical to information security - consumer awareness, early warning systems, corporate governance, technical standards, and security across software development. The conference also included exchange of ideas and solutions on technical standards and security across software development. Daniel Zohar Zonshine, consul general, Government of Israel, in his special address said, ※Necessity is the mother of invention. Certain necessity and constraints pushed Israel to the development of advance technologies and to protect them. Realising this, Israel is today one of the leaders in the field of information security.§
※Inputs are being sought from industry bodies for the finalisation of a comprehensive IT security policy to protect its e-governance project and to stay ahead of others in the race,§ said C Chandramouli, IT Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu. ※Tamil Nadu State Wide Area Network (TNSWAN) is in place and we are using the network to implement e-governance in various departments which will be used for intra-governmental activities and as a secured gateway for which it needs a rigid information security policy. The guidelines will be drawn on the lines of the Society for Electronic Transactions and Security prepared by the Centre which would enable us to know whether the database has been misused or not and the finalisation of this information policy is in the progress,§ he added. Ar Rm Arun, executive committee member, SICCI, said currently Indian firms spend 5-15 per cent of their IT budget on information security. He also said nearly $ 120 million worth of mobiles are stolen or lost in the country every year. Users have to protect the information and telephone numbers so that they are not misused. He also stated, ※Nearly 69 per cent of information theft is carried out by current and ex-employees and 31 per cent by hackers.§ N R Patnaik, chairman, iSec2007, proposed a vote of thanks.
This conference is organised by LIRNEasia, TeNeT Group, RTBI, and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, with support from the International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC), and will take place on December 15, 2007, in Chennai, India.
Introduction Communication Policy Research: South (CPRsouth) intends to build human capacity in the south by reinforcing and developing the values and commitment of scholars in the region or with interest in the region. The overall objective is to create policy intellectuals capable of informed and effective intervention in information and communicatin technology (ICT) policy and regulatory processes in specific country contexts. The conference aims to provide a forum for senior, junior and mid-career scholars to meet face-to-face and exchange ideas, establish networking opportunities and improve the quality of their scholarly work, in order to facilitate the long-term objective of fostering the next generation of active scholars and in-situ experts capable of contributing to ICT policy and regulatory reform in the region. The inaugural conference was held in January 2007 in Manila, Philippines.
About the Conference The CPRsouth2 conference will offer researchers the opportunity to discuss their research on ICT regulation and policy in the South with a largely academic, international audience and obtain useful feedback. The conference will also include tutorial sessions for Young Scholars which will focus on the fundamentals of technology, markets, regulation and policy with insights on how to develop practical solutions to problems of empowering rural and marginalised populations.
Shenyang has recently begun to build the biggest software development training center in Neusoft Park. The project is expected to complete construction in one year. With a 180-million-yuan investment from the Neusoft Group, a leading software firm, as well as the Shenyang city government and the Hunnan New District Administration, the software training base is planned to cover a total of 87,000 sq m of land, including a 22,000 sq m area for a teaching building. Once operational, the base has been designed to offer software-related training services to 10,000 students and trainees annually. The center will play a significant role in spurring growth of the city's software industry and help ease the imbalance created by the rapid development of the sector and the shortage of software human resources, local authorities said. Recent years have witnessed robust growth in the city's software sector, which realized 10 billion yuan in sales revenues and $150 million in exports in 2006. At present, the city has more than 400 companies involved in software development. Among them, Neusoft Group has grown into a top national industrial player. With fast development of the software industry, the demand for software developers is growing dramatically. The sales revenue of the city's software sector is projected to reach 50 billion yuan in 2010, which means it will require 150,000 to 180,000 professionals involved in the field.
Yet, the current number of professionals in the city is fewer than 20,000, indicating a huge need for human resource reserves. Against the backdrop of the worldwide trend of software outsourcing, the training base under construction will provide a rich human resource reservoir for the development of the local software industry, said Lu Xin, vice-governor of the province. Meanwhile, the running of training institutes in collaboration with a company, which is in a better position to get immediate feedback from the market regarding technological solution requirements, will also promote educational reform of institutes of higher learning, Lu noted. Shenyang's Executive Vice-Mayor Zhao Changyi said that building the software training base is a key move to boost the growth of the city's emerging industries including the modern service sector, and will help the city move closer toward its goal of building itself into a leading software center in the country.
Hong Kong Electronics Fair, whose annual autumn edition opened Saturday, could expand to become the biggest show of its kind in the world by 2009, when an expansion on the city's major exhibition center comes on stream. Hong Kong Trade Development Jack So said at the fair's opening ceremony Saturday the show would be then "on target to become the biggest of its kind in the world." The exhibition space of Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center (HKCEC) would increase by 40 percent to 66,000 square meters if the project was completed on time. With over 3,600 booths and close to 2,500 exhibitors from 29 countries and regions this autumn, the show was already the largest of its kind in Asia, according to Trade Development Council (TDC), the government-affiliated event organizer. The autumn edition of the fair last year saw 2,481 exhibitors and 58,000 buyers from 151 countries and regions, while its spring edition this year saw 2,400 exhibitors. Currently running alongside the fair was the eleventh edition of electronicAsia, a sourcing event featuring 700 booths and 556 exhibitors from 17 countries and regions.
So said, however, that there as no shortage of competition in the region but he remained confident about Hong Kong's advantage. "I look forward to working with the government and the local community to help Hong Kong maintain its hard-won position as Asia 's leading international exhibition center," he said. Donald Tsang, Hong Kong's chief executive, recently outlined a plan to further expand the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in a policy address. The famed exhibition center on the Victoria Harbor first opened in 1988 at the cost of 1.6 billion HK dollars (205 million US dollars) and underwent a major expansion in the 1990s, costing another 4.8 billion HK dollars (615 million US dollars). The ongoing expansion project costing 1.4 billion HK dollars ( 179 million US dollars), when completed, could enable at least four leading fairs aside from the electronics -- the gifts, toys, jewelry and lighting shows -- to possibly become the biggest of their kind in the world, said Peter Woo, who recently retired as chairman of the TDC.
China will hold the fifth China International Exposition on Internet Culture from October 25 to October 28 at the Beijing Exhibition Center, the Chinese Ministry of Culture in Beijing said on Sunday. The exposition, themed with "new technology, new culture, new life", will showcase new life style of people living in the Internet age. According to the ministry, the exhibition areas are composed of three parts: the internet applications area will mainly focus on various 3G products; the online cultural life area will exhibit portal Website, search engine, and communication software; the new digital lifestyle area will display games, online music and video. Liu Yuzhu, director of the Cultural Market Department under the Ministry of Culture, said, "We hope to offer a national service platform for the internet industry and at the same time guide the development of the internet industry through the exposition." Other activities, including forums, Internet music competitions, COSPLAY DV competitions will be staged, according to the Ministry. The floor space for this year's exhibition reached 30,000 square meters, 33 percent more than that of last year. Companies from more than 20 countries and regions will attend the exposition. The Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Information Industry, and other five ministries jointly will host the exposition.
How information technology is a conduit for an innovative economy will be the theme of an upcoming IT forum to take place in Shandong Province starting on Saturday. Officials with the Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL) said on Tuesday that more than 200 of the world's best young computer talents, the majority from China, would be in attendance for the Chinese Information Technology Youth Elite Forum 2007 in Jinan, capital city of Shandong Province. Under the theme of "IT leads an innovative economy," the three-day forum will release the latest developments and achievements in the industry, according to the CCYL. In addition to round table discussions on the hottest IT topics, the technology elites will visit universities and companies for face-to-face dialogue with students and IT professionals. During the forum, the CCYL and the All-China Youth Federation (ACYF) will also announce the establishment of the IT Youth Association under the ACYF. Previously held in 2004 and 2006, the forum is co-organized by the CCYL, the Ministry of Information Industry, the Shandong Provincial Government, the ACYF and the Jinan Municipal Government.
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPRD), a leading China-based baseband chipset provider, will host its 2007 Spreadtrum Technology Forum on August 29 (Beijing Time) at the Riverfront Business Hotel in Shanghai, China. The Forum will be Spreadtrum's first organized event for the wireless IC and communications industry following the completion of its recent initial public offering on NASDAQ. Expected industry participants include mobile service providers, mobile handset vendors, testing technology and solution providers, design houses, specialists and research organizations. Other distinguished guests include scientists from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, officials from the Ministry of Information Industry and representatives from the Shanghai Municipal Government. Dr. Arno Allan Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics and former Vice President and Chief Scientist of Bell Laboratories, will be a featured keynote speaker along with Youshou Wu, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. The theme of the 2007 Spreadtrum Technology Forum is "Innovation Changes the Future." The Forum will cover topics such as technology trends, recent R&D achievements, market trends and analysis, plus roadmaps and strategies for building a stronger wireless IC and telecommunications infrastructure within China.
In addition, the Forum will include introductions to Spreadtrum's innovative platform strategies and new products. Scheduled presentations by Spreadtrum and various industry analysts will look at the future development of the wireless communications market and critical trends needed for that growth. To help foster that vision, Spreadtrum will discuss the implementation of a win-win strategy in conjunction with its customers and strategic partners, including explanations of the support it receives from its main customers and strategic partners. Spreadtrum will also showcase the latest technologies it has developed, new products created by its customers and applications developed by its partners, including various technology classroom sessions held by Spreadtrum's strategic partners. The Forum will consist of both leading edge technology from China's wireless IC industry and global convergence trends, making it valuable to any member of the worldwide communications market. It will also provide opportunities for attendees to network and examine new opportunities with other industry leaders, with the aim of fostering continued industry growth and development.
The China Internet Conference, an annual event featuring China's Internet industry opened in Beijing Monday, looking back at past achievements and exploring the industry's future prospects. In the past year, China has seen a rapid development in the Internet industry. The population of Chinese netizens hit 162 million as of June this year, a year-on-year increase of 31.7 percent. This means 12.3 percent of the total Chinese population are online, 3 percent higher than in 2006. Organized by the Internet Society of China, the fifth annual conference began on Sept. 24 and runs for three days. Deputy Minster of Information Industry Xi Guohua addressed the opening ceremony, urging information technology enterprises to continue innovation and provide better online services. A number of stakeholders participated in the first day of the conference. They included representatives from government departments for information industry and relevant ministries, network operators, software and hardware facility manufacturers, and scholars and experts.
Li Kaifu, president of Google China, Sina CEO Cao Guowei and many other executives from top Internet companies attended the meeting. Due to China's constant improvements in technologies, Chinese IT products and services have blossomed in recent years, including instant messengers, weblogs, podcasting and business-to-business, consumer-to-consumer and other forms of online businesses. A number of IT companies and websites are recognized for their "self-discipline" in following government regulations and actively participating in social charity campaigns. On Monday, a summit was held for CEOs and presidents of web companies. In the next two days attendees will focus on topics of web techniques, online business, Internet advertising and other specific fields.
Top managers from the IT industry and government officials will attend the Global Wi-Fi Summit that will last from September 26 to 27 in the Presidential Plaza Hotel of Beijing. This will be the first time that such an event has been held in China. The event will also feature a series of exhibitions. The Wi-Fi Alliance will team up with BII Group Holdings to hold the summit. The alliance is a global, non-profit industry association which has over 300 member companies devoted to developing Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs). It introduced Wi-Fi Alliance's certification program in March 2000 and has greatly promoted adoption of Wi-Fi products and services since then.
Next year, Korea will host Asia's largest electronics industry exhibition that aims to attract more than 1,000 domestic and overseas companies, the government said Monday (Aug. 27). The envisioned fair, tentatively named the Korea Electronics Industry Exhibition, is to be held in October and will be a merging of three existing fairs that are held separately, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said. Currently, Korea holds the Korea Electronics Show (KES), the International Semiconductor and Display Exhibition (iSEDEX) and the International Meeting On Information Display (IMID), which are relatively small compared to foreign events. "KES is the largest electronics exhibition in Korea although it is only a fifth the size of the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show," said Kim Ho-won, head of the ministry's future industry bureau. "By holding a single exhibition, companies can save on expenses, while being able to attract more buyers from both home and abroad," the official said. He expected that the joint fair could result in export negotiations worth $2.5 billion in the first year. Korea is a global leader in semiconductors and display panel manufacturing with the export of all electronics goods reaching $100 billion in 2005.
Korea's top electronics fair was to kick off later Tuesday (Oct. 9) with 650 companies from around the world showing off their latest developments in digital products, organizers for the annual event said. The 2007 Korea Electronics Show (KES) that will run for five days at the Korea International Exhibition Center northwest of Seoul, will display over 250,000 products and allow businesses to examine the latest developments and gauge future trends. The Korea Electronics Association (KEA), which is hosting the event with the support of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, said products such as the 1080 full high-definition TV, the full high-definition home theater system and the dual format DVD player will be displayed. Ultra mobile personal computers, the latest developments in NAND flash memories and mobile CPUs will also be displayed. "With 220 foreign companies setting up booths at the event, organizers are forecasting export talks worth $2.5 billion," a KEA spokesman said. He said roughly 6,000 foreign buyers will be on hand along with 100,000 visitors looking over high-tech products. The KES, in addition, will host an international conference with Sun Microsystems head Scott McNealy and LG Electronics President Lee Hee-gook giving special keynote speeches on digital convergence and opportunities that can be derived from such developments. The KES is timed to take place with similar events in East Asia. The Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies fair was held in Japan last week, while the Taipei International Electronics Autumn Show runs at the same time as the South Korean fair. The Hong Kong Electronics Fair will be held Oct 13-16. This year's event is the 38th of its kind, with more companies taking part in the exhibition each year.
MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines was ranked eleventh among Asia Pacific countries in a recent study that measures IT industry competitiveness. The study, which covered 64 countries, was conducted by Economist Intelligence Unit (the research arm of The Economist magazine) and sponsored by the Business Software Alliance (BSA). The study measures industry competitiveness using six broad categories -- overall business environment, IT infrastructure, human capital, research and development, legal environment and government support for the IT industry. According to BSA, this is the first benchmark study purely for IT, which covers hardware software and services. Discussing the study during a briefing, Seow Hiong Goh, BSA director for software policy for Asia, said previous competitiveness studies that combine IT and telecom tend to miss the "finer points" of IT as an industry in each country. Among Asia Pacific countries, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan and Singapore were ranked the highest. Globally, United States was ranked first followed by Japan and South Korea.
Among Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia and Thailand were ranked ahead of the Philippines. Goh said the study can be used to assess and compare industries between countries. Based on the study, the Philippines did well in providing favorable business environments but was ranked very low -- at par with Vietnam and below other Southeast Asian counterparts -- in terms of R&D spending. The Philippines was ranked 32nd according to labor productivity, which measures total output per IT employee. Due to its robust high-tech sector, Taiwan was ranked the highest in this category. China and India were also ranked high according to labor productivity, although ranked lower overall. "Labor productivity is not indicative of how well the country's overall IT environment is. China and India rank high because it takes into account each country's cost advantages," Goh said. He added China and India cannot continue counting on lower labor costs and must work on other areas since other emerging economies like the Malaysia and the Philippines are catching up. "China is currently investing heavily on infrastructure which would make it difficult for other countries to catch up," he said.
MANILA, Philippines -- At least 60 delegates from member cities are expected to attend a meeting of Asian executives to address technological development, environmental countermeasures and industrial development, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said this week. The MMDA said the Philippines, specifically Manila, will play host for this year's plenary meeting of the Asian Network of Major Cities 21 (ANMC21). The meeting is scheduled November 25 to 28. The ANMC21 is a network of Asian capital and major cities whose objective is to undertake joint projects that address regional issues. Joint projects that involve technological development include the Asia Distance Learning Project and the Promotion of Asian Business and Investment Project. The current member cities are Bangkok, Delhi, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Metro Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo and Yangon. ANMC21 holds an annual plenary meeting attended by mayors or governors of member cities.
The meeting allows member cities to agree on important administrative issues, hear progress or outcome reports on joint projects, and discuss policies and reports on special concerns. The meeting concludes with the drafting of a joint declaration. This year's plenary meeting will also discuss regional travel and tourism promotion, crisis management and regional health issues. "This is an exciting opportunity for the country in general, and Metro Manila in particular, to showcase to the international community the progress that we've made toward becoming a world-class city," said MMDA chair Bayani Fernando in a statement. The plenary meeting will be held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, while a public exhibition will be set up at the SM Mall of Asia. Last year's meeting was hosted by Taipei.
SINGAPORE--Resiliency is the government's top priority as the country moves toward full integration of its online public services, according to a senior official. Speaking at a CIO panel discussion at the e-Government Summit 2007 held today, Pauline Tan, senior director of the Infocomm Development Authority's (IDA) government chief information office, said system uptime is the government's "number one concern". The summit is a component of the Global Entrepolis @ Singapore 20007 conference. "We're moving beyond the computerization of our systems, [and] to have those systems built over the last 25 years to be more integrated," said Tan. "As such, resiliency becomes critical because of how interdependent all the e-services [will be]." Speaking to ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of the conference, the IDA official explained that this meant security would eventually become the domain of a central body. Tan said: "As people get more reliant on [IT] systems, the need for failover and duplicated systems becomes even more real. "A single agency can no longer take care of the security of just its own services, because it may not be aware that other services from other agencies are dependent on its uptime," she said.
Ensuring resiliency will eventually be the role of a centralized authority, so a concerted effort may be exerted to that end, Tan added, but did not give further details on this. Eugene Chang, director of the chief information office at Singapore's Ministry of Defence (Mindef), said "IT systems are organized in a stovepipe manner". Chang, who was a participant of the panel discussion, added that an enterprise's legacy silos are its typical barrier to integration. "Ideally, we should try and harmonize systems before we even build them," he said. Establishing templates and duplicates, for example, can yield benefits when building IT systems system. Chang explained that the Singapore government was able to build systems "with minimal customization" for the Army and Air Force, by duplicating deployment work it had previously done for the Navy. Tan agreed, saying that avoiding the duplication of efforts helps stretch the IDA's budget. Establishing template models will help streamline processes, she added. "For example, [the IDA] has data reference models so that [it can] ensure better consistency of the data quality, and reduce the need to repeatedly gather information from the citizens," Tan said.
The doors have only just closed on the annual ICT Expo but already planning for next year's event is well underway thanks to it being absorbed into the much larger and regional ITU Telecom Asia event, which will be held in Thailand for the first time next September. And the Bangkok event could be set for a significant boost with the addition of a high-level government-industry summit also being considered. Speaking to Bangkok Post last week, ITU Telecom executive manager Fernando Lagrana said the organizers were looking at adding a "Connect Asia" summit similar to the Connect Africa meeting that was held at the end of last month in Kigali, Rwanda. That event saw US$55 billion committed by government and businesses over five years to improve the broadband infrastructure across Africa. Lagrana said similar expectations could be held for a Connect Asia summit. A decision on whether to add the event back-to-back with ITU Telecom Asia will be made before the end of the year, he said.
The fifth Viet Nam E-government Symposium in December will discuss the increasing importance of having an active online presence for state and local governments. The conference will be held in HCM City on December 4-6 by the Ministry of Information and Communication, HCM City＊s Posts and Telematics Department and International Data Group (IDG). "The event will focus on nearly 30 keynote speeches and sessions, along with highlighting real-world examples of E-government. Examples of end-user case studies will also be presented," Le Manh Ha, director of HCM City＊s Posts and Telematics Department, said. Local and foreign experts will speak about how to efficiently set up an E-government to provide the best public services for businesspeople and communities and to improve State management. International E-government solution providers will talk about their experiences in setting up E-government in different countries. Nearly 1,000 guests will take part in the seminar and nearly 3,000 visitors are expected to visit the exhibits. "The symposium will attract policy-makers, representatives from international organisations like World Bank and solution providers.
We hope to provide useful information on the advantages and disadvantages in implementing E-government in Viet Nam," Le Thanh Tam, general director of IDG Viet Nam, said. "Suggestions will contribute to the development of E-government in the near future," Tam added. In 2007, the Viet Nam E-government index was ranked 90th in the world, compared with 126th last year, by Brown University in the US, which accessed 1,687 websites in 198 nations in June and July. Nearly 100 per cent of organisations in Viet Nam had a website that provided databases. Twenty-two per cent deliver online services to citizens, 56 per cent encourage citizens to give feedback, and 11 per cent allow visitors to update information. The major weaknesses of Vietnamese government websites revolve around security and data protection concerns.
The first ever open source camp in Chittagong called for the development of free and open source software (FOSS) in Bangladesh so that the people can benefit from it.The call was made at a workshop at the International Islamic University Chittagong (IIUC) beginning on August 31.Department of CSE of IIUC organized the camp in cooperation with Bangladesh Open Source Network (BdOSN). 55 participants from seven faculties of IIUC participated in the two-day camp.The camp covered Ubuntu installation, configuration and troubleshooting Wikipedia, localization, distribution of SOS WIKI (a children wikipedia) and other issues related to FOSS.On the second day, the camp focused on GCC, Eclipse and othercompiler; EDGE and GPRS connectivity, SLAX Linux. Hijbul Alam, lecturer of CSE, IIUC coordinated the camp while Mahay Alam Khan, Belayet Hossain, Salauddin Pasha, Omar Shehab and Didarul Alam of BdOSN and Ankur had been the instructors.Prof. Dr. Abu Bakr Rafique, Pro Vice chancellor of IIUC formally gave certificates among the participants. It was decided that IIUC will organize a similar camp at its Dhaka campus shortly.Radio Today was the radio partner while Nescafe official drink partner of the Camp.
Freescale Semiconductor is hosting its third annual technology conference in India at Hotel Grand Ashok, Bangalore on Nov 19 and 20, 2007. Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) is considered the developer event of the year for the embedded semiconductor industry. Designed with the engineer in mind, FTF events around the globe feature visionary keynote speakers, in-depth technical sessions, hands-on demonstrations in an interactive Technology Lab and endless networking opportunities for attendees. The emiconductors and embedded electronics are at the heart of all electronics devices today, said Ganesh Guruswamy, country manager and director, Freescale Semiconductor India Pvt. Ltd. Indian developers move up the design chain, Freescale Technology Forum provides the ideal platform to network with the best minds in the industry and to explore the latest technologies with the potential to transform our lives. Since the inception of FTF in 2005, more than 12,000 engineers, partners, executives, journalists and industry opinion leaders have gathered at Freescale Technology Forum events around the world to network, share ideas and experience the entire portfolio of Freescale technologies. That number is expected to reach 15,000 by the end of 2007.
Confederation of Indian Industry jointly with World Intellectual Property organization (WIPO) Geneva, & Department of Industry Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Government of India is organizing an IPO Inter-Regional forum on Leveraging Intellectual Property for Knowledge-based development and national wealth creation on 14-16 of November 2007 at Hotel Uppal Orchid, NH-8, Near Indira Gandhi International Airport New Delhi. This is being spearheaded by CII National Committee of IP Owners under the chairmanship of Mr. Shanker Annaswamy, Managing Director, IBM India ltd. Wealth Creation tool through IP is essential for growing Knowledge economy like India. The Forum will provide an (1) Insight on the new strategic needs of developing countries for leveraging, developing, protecting and managing Intellectual property in the knowledge based economy;(2) Opportunity to explore practical solutions to strategic questions about how IP Functions as a policy tool for wealth creation in developing countries. It will also focus on pro-active policies and strategies to be considered by developing countries in empowering a wider range of constituencies to use IP effectively. The Forum would be curtain raiser for all efforts CII ?WIPO IPP initiatives on Capacity building Initiatives on IPR in the Country as well as exposing the local industry to the world best practices on IPR. The Public Private Partnership can foster a conducive environment for an enterprise to leverage on IP for competitiveness, derive return on investment and create its own Intellectual Assets.
Some of the important issues that will be discussed in the forum are :1)National wealth creation & economic prosperity by nurturing invention, innovation and creativity 2) Global perspective & case studies-nurturing the Intellectual Capital of nations 3) Global IPR protection & enforcement outlook the needs of a developing Economy & 4) How to leverage innovations for competitive advantage-successful economic and social use of inventions and innovations. The Inter-regional forum would have participation and key Speakers from US, Europe, Japan, Latin America and India. Some of the eminent international & national speakers present in the Conference would be: Mr. Narendra K Sabharwal, Deputy Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Mr. Ajay Shankar Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Government of India , Mr. N.N.Prasad, Joint Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), New Delhi, India, Mr. Rakesh Bakshi, Director ?Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Corporation (I) Pvt. Ltd,Mr. Rajdeep Sahrawat, Vice President , National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), New Delhi, India, Mr. Mohammad Adri, Head, Program Planning and Reporting Division, Ministry of Law & Human Rights, Banten, Indonesia, Mr. Deepak Acharya, General Counsel Procter & Gamble Hygiene & Health Care Ltd. Mr. Ron Marchant, Chief Executive and Comptroller General, CB FRSA, Ty Heol, The Landing, Pentwyn, Pontypool, Torfaen, United Kingdom.
The event will take place on November 29, 30 2007 in New Delhi, India. The conference provides a platform for sharing of experiences and networking opportunities with key decision makers in the government, development agencies and industry players. As an alternative you can join the conference via live webcast and online discussion or in one of other participating cities (via videoconference).
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran could set a model for its neighbors and the world in view of its achievements in the telecommunications sector. Inaugurating 4,539 telecommunication projects in 30 provinces late Wednesday on the occasion of ＊Government Week＊ (Aug. 24-30), the president commended the progress made in telecommunications and said other developing countries can follow Iran＊s example, PressTV reported. The president reiterated the need for expanding telecommunication networks across the country. The chief executive also urged the officials to do all within their power to build a prosperous Iran. Provincial officials took part in the ceremony, which was attended by Minister of Communication and Information Technology Mohammad Soleimani, via video link. According to IRNA, over 3,200 billion rials ($343.6 million) have been spent on the projects which include installation of fixed and cellphone switching systems, optic fiber network as well as establishing rural telecom offices. The inauguration ceremony also included installation of Business Telecom System (BTS) antenna which employs state-of-the-art system to provide long-distance call services.
The first international conference on electronic municipality is slated to be held in Iran in a bid to improve urban management. The conference will study the role of information technology, urban services and communication in urban management. The event will also focus on telecommunication standards and infrastructure and the role of the private sector and government in the promotion of e-municipality, e-banking and e-management. Some 450 Iranian and foreign participants will attend the event which will be held on October 16-17. Iran's Municipalities and Rural management Organization has equipped 70 percent of the country's municipalities with Local Area Network (LAN).
The Federal Ministry of Economy and Technology of Germany has been supporting the process of training of young managers for the organization of economic activity in certain countries of the CIS since early 1990s. Along with the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus, an agreement on the training of managers has recently been reached in Uzbekistan. This agreement was signed on 12 September this year in Tashkent. The press release of the German Embassy in Tashkent says the initiative to improve the qualifications of managers was a part of the German government programme on assisting transition economies. The aim of this initiative is to train qualified and motivated specialists and teach them modern management methods. In 2006, as a part of the training in Germany, a pilot group consisting of 20 managers of Uzbek enterprises visited German medium-sized businesses. Thanks to this training, some successful business contacts have already been established between German and Uzbek firms. The programme is envisaged to 2009. The partner on the German side is the InWEnt GmbH organization, which has been commissioned to implement the programme by the Ministry of Economy and Technology of Germany. Its partner in Uzbekistan is the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
In preparation for the storm season, the SES in Sydney＊s bushy Northern Suburbs has completed a three-year software deal with PolicyPoint to ensure volunteers＊ emergency training skills remain up to date. The software will provision emails to each Willoughby/Lane Cove SES volunteer, reminding them of revision requirements with a link to the specified training module, claimed PolicyPoint. Furthermore, training participants will be forced to answer questions to evidence their understanding. According to Brad Nathan, local controller of the Willoughby/Lane Cove unit, the team will be using PolicyPoint to keep their theoretical knowledge alive. Specifically, PolicyPoint will be used following face-to-face training, to assist with each member＊s ongoing training revision. ※It＊s one thing to gain a qualification, but revising and refreshing that theoretical knowledge is important, as it keeps the knowledge alive. Also, during the refresher, team members often remember additional information, which helps deepen their skills,§ Nathan said. SES volunteers across Australia provides emergency assistance during storms and helps deal with the damage caused by fallen trees, dislodged roofs or localised flooding. ※Without training you don＊t get competence,§ Nathan said. ※With PolicyPoint, we are going to make sure people maintain their competency 每 which means we＊re simply going to be a better team.§ The unit is intending the PolicyPoint service will be live early in 2008. PolicyPoint has also recently signed a a three-year contract with Western Sydney＊s Fairfield City Council.
The Wireless and Broadband Forum are encouraged by the results of the latest OECD survey of Broadband Connectivity. While New Zealand had been languishing in the bottom quarter in recent years, the current position at 20 out of 30 is a vast improvement considering the massive initiatives being implemented in other countries. "We are celebrating the enhanced rating because it means that we are moving in the right direction as a country" said Steve Simms, the newly elected President of the Wireless and Broadband Forum, "I think its unfair for other commentators around the country to bash the efforts so far" "New Zealand is still climbing a hill but we've got more traction with the recent Telecom commitment to Broadband and with other initiatives in the WiMax broadband area. Like all things, New Zealand needs a big goal for broadband because the economic benefit to the country is vital. Internationally we are competing with massive populations who have very large Government led capital infrastructure projects " The Wireless and Broadband Forum are disappointed that broadband commentary seemed to be mostly negative when in fact we are starting to punch above our weight as a country. "Earlier this year Rod Drury and more recently the New Zealand Institute outlined headlines to help thought leaders, industry and Government to move positively forward" said Simms, "now its up to industry to continue to work with these headlines and contribute to the New Zealand economy by providing competitive reliable broadband services"
|Powered by Hotsales.net|