Tuesday, June 30, 2009

WiMAX: most operators are focused on the less capital-intensive fixed and nomadic WiMAX broadband services now to address underserved markets

[infonetics] Market research firm Infonetics Research released results from its latest service provider survey, Global WiMAX Service Strategy 2009–2011, published last week as part of its WiMAX Continuous Research Service (CRS). Highlights follow.


"Although WiMAX service strategies differ from operator to operator and from market to market, most operators are focused on the less capital-intensive fixed and nomadic WiMAX broadband services now to address underserved markets seeking ‘wireless DSL,’ and many have formalized plans to migrate to full mobility WiMAX over the next couple of years. VoIP, CPE and device subsidization, and an emphasis on pre-paid and ad-hoc pricing are also integral service components for many operators we interviewed,” said Richard Webb, Infonetics Research’s Directing Analyst for WiMAX, Microwave, and Mobile Devices.


59% of respondents plan to offer VoIP over WiMAX services by 2011, indicating the strong potential of voice over WiMAX as an additional high-value revenue stream for operators
An increasing number of GSM operators are entering the WiMAX market, seeking to leverage their trusted consumer brand by offering basic broadband services, and WiMAX offers the more cost-effective delivery option
To move to full mobility WiMAX services, operators must continue to deploy network infrastructure to ensure coverage to support mobility and roaming, and wait for the mobile device ecosystem to become more diverse and affordable for consumers


Infonetics’ Global WiMAX Service Strategy 2009–2011: Service Provider Survey captures a strategic overview from WiMAX network operators (WiMAX-only, competitive, mobile, and incumbent operators) to better understand how and why WiMAX networks are being deployed, the rationale behind the services offered, the business model, the target markets, and the subscriber and revenue numbers operators are projecting between now and 2011.

Of the operators surveyed, 41% are from Asia Pacific, 36% from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), 18% from North America, and 5% from Central and Latin America (CALA).

Operator survey shows market reality of WiMAX services;
VoIP a key component

Mobile: The EC has welcomed the move to reduce Mobile Termination Rates in French non-European departements

[ec] Telecoms: Commission welcomes French regulator's efforts to decrease overseas mobile termination rates but reminds it of EU target date for cost-oriented symmetric tariffs

French overseas departements

UK: Vodafone moves its HQ from Newbury to Paddington in West London

[FT] Vodafone is moving its global headquarters to London, almost 20 years after the group started life in the provincial market town of Newbury in Berkshire.

Vittorio Colao, chief executive of the world’s largest mobile phone operator by revenue, will move in October from the company’s Newbury campus to an office in Paddington.

Other members of Vodafone’s senior management team are also moving.

Vodafone moves HQ to capital

UK: Parliament is to investigate broadband speeds from ISPs

[bbc] MPs sitting on the Commons Business and Enterprise Committee are to open an inquiry into broadband speeds in the UK.

It follows the publication of the Digital Britain report, which lays out government strategy for the internet.

The committee will look at whether the promise to hook all homes up to a minimum 2Mbps (megabits per second) speed is "ambitious enough".

It will also discuss whether the proposed broadband tax is fair.

The so-called broadband tax will mean anyone in the UK with a fixed line telephone will have to pay an extra 50p a month on their telephone bill.

The money raised will fund next-generation broadband rollout to areas that traditionally have been bypassed by broadband providers.

MPs to investigate UK net speeds
see also Commons Business and Enterprise Committee

Persian Gulf: A call for unified licensing in GCC countries

[zawya] Middle East regulators should work towards providing a unified telecom licence for operators in the region so that infrastructure can be shared and prices for consumers reduced.

This was the view expressed by a number of telecoms company CEOs on Tuesday at the WiMAX Forum Mena in Dubai. They said regulators should speed up the process of issuing such a licence.

An open licence would enable operators to offer converged services such as data, voice and video to consumers. WiMAX is a type of wireless broadband technology.

"Regulators have to get serious and issue the licence as it will help the Middle East market to grow," Dr Ahmed A Sindi, CEO of Saudi Arabia-based Go Etihad Atheeb Telecom, told Emirates Business. "As mobility gains popularity, value-added services are becoming key to operators in the region, and consumers in the future will want a modem, dongle and voice together."

A unified licence would mean new operators would not have to build new infrastructure but could share existing networks.

Walid Thabet, Director of Data Services and Solutions at Mobily of Saudi Arabia, said: "The consumer will be the one benefiting from this at the end of the day. VOIP on WiMAX will change the market."

Some industry leaders said regulators should liberalise markets in the Middle East. Dr Laith Sadiq, CEO of Bahrain operator Mena Telecom, said: "Unified licensing would not make sense if there were only two operators in a market, therefore there should be more competition.

"This kind of licensing would enable operators to bundle different services but this does not mean subsidising prices, which is not good as it drives competition out of the market. Broadband prices are high in the region and this would have a downward effect on this front."

Operators said there should be increased focus on WiMAX as this would help to drive prices down in the Middle East.

Sindi said: "The WiMAX Forum must track the performance of regulators in the region and compare it with other parts of the world. Certain regulators in the region are doing a real good job while some are still learning and only doing half the job."

Call for unified telecom licence for operators

North Korea: Orascom claims to have made a profit on its GSM networks, with 40,000 customers

[AFP] The Egyptian company which launched a mobile phone service in secretive North Korea says the joint venture turned a profit in the first quarter on growing demand.

Koryolink reported 4.4 million dollars in revenue in the first quarter to March with operating profit of 312,000 dollars, Orascom Telecom said in an earnings statement seen Thursday on its website.

The service was launched last December in the hardline communist state. Market reaction has been positive with 5,300 subscribers in the first month, the company said.

At the end of the first quarter the number had grown to 19,200.

Orascom Telecom chief executive Naguib Sawiris said here last week that the number of subscribers to the 3G service surpassed 40,000 in April and was expected to break the 100,000 mark by the end of this year.

Despite the communist state's "conservative nature" and almost non-existent marketing and advertising industries, the Egyptian firm said Koryolink's launch was publicised in major newspapers and on radio.

The company said it also erected the first advertising billboard of its kind in Pyongyang.

The North attempts strictly to control access to outside information and fixes the tuning controls of radios and televisions to official stations.

It began a mobile phone service in November 2002 but shut it down without explanation 18 months later and began recalling handsets.

It was unclear how many local people were being given access to the network but the phones would be outside the price range of many, at 110 euros (153 dollars) for a basic handset.

Mobile service in NKorea turns a profit: Egyptian company

Canada: Location for 911 emergency service calls have significant deficiencies

[The Star] Ottawa's recent efforts to compel wireless providers to upgrade 911 systems so distressed callers can be located on a map suffer from potentially troubling omissions and deficiencies, a new report has found.

Canada's wireless companies will be required by February 2010 to have the capability to locate the position of 911 calls from cellphones, using GPS and network triangulation technologies.

The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission outlined the new requirements five months ago amid criticism that Canada had fallen behind countries such as the United States, which have had similar capabilities for years. Such information "can make the difference between life and death," the agency said.

But a report released yesterday by research firm IDC Canada notes that, unlike the U.S., the new rules don't require carriers to immediately provide location information for roaming customers, or for people using pre-paid phones.

As well, the report notes there are no requirements to provide "mid-call" location updates, which can help track callers who are walking or in moving vehicles. "The stuff that's being deferred isn't obscure, Mickey Mouse sorts of things," said report author Lawrence Surtees. "Roamers and pre-paid users? That's a whole lot of people."

Canadian rules now require wireless firms to give the location of the nearest cell tower, which can be of little help outside of urban areas where towers are far apart. Emergency calls from traditional phones can be traced directly to the street address of a home or business.

The concern is that more than half of all 911 calls are now made using cellphones, and that number is likely to increase as cell prices fall.

Industry officials say technical issues need to be resolved before reliable location details can be provided for all cellphone customers.

"The U.S. does have standards that we don't have," said Bernard Lord, president of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. "But when you dig deeper, you realize they're having a hard time meeting those standards."

Lord said wireless providers are spending "millions" this year on upgrades, but stressed they are only one part of the country's 911 infrastructure, with municipalities and some provinces also playing a key role in maintaining emergency call centres and associated systems.

The CRTC has given the wireless industry until August to suggest technical solutions to the problems of roaming and pre-paid users, but noted that even the U.S. rules require carriers to provide those services only where technically possible.

Surtees suggested the delay likely has more to do with carriers being reluctant to spend on upgrades, despite the fact they collect $165 million a year in monthly 911 fees from subscribers.

Glitches mar 911 upgrade - Rules won't help pre-paid cellphone users, roamers who call in emergency: Report

Mobile handsets: Firefly designed to be used by four year-olds

[telegraph] More than 7,000 handsets have already been sold in Ireland and the phone is set to be launched in Britain before the end of the year.

The brightly coloured Firefly handset, which costs £85, has simplified controls and a restricted set of functions.
The five button handset has an “on” switch, an “off” switch and two buttons with a male and female figure on — one calls ‘mum’, the other calls ‘dad’ and another button accesses a phone book that contains up to 20 numbers.

Despite safeguards – the phone book is PIN protected and parents can control to block calls from unrecognised numbers – parental groups are concerned that mobile phones are being aimed at such small children.

Aine Lynch, the chief executive of the National Parents Council, told The Times: “Targeting a phone at a four-year-old causes us concern.

“It gives rise to questions as to where parental responsibility is going. Why would kids need to be contacted by mobile phone? Why are they not in the care of their parents, teachers or supervisors?"

Government guidelines already warn that children may be vulnerable to radiation from using a mobile phone.

Professor Lawrie Challis, an emeritus professor of physics who has led the Government’s mobile-phone safety research, says that parents should not give children phones before secondary school. After that, they should encourage them to text rather than to make calls, as texting exposes their brains to lower levels of electromagnetic radiation.

“We have no idea if they are different in reaction to this sort of radio frequency," Prof Challis told the newspaper. "But there are reasons why they may be — children react differently to ionising radiation, radioactivity and gamma rays. If you are exposed to too much sunlight as a child, you are far more likely to get skin cancer than if you are exposed as an adult.”

Kevin and Frances Crean, a Dublin-based couple marketing the phone, said it was pitched at parents rather than children.

Mrs Frean said: “They are not designed to encourage children to spend time chatting. Nor can you take photographs or send texts, though on one of our models children can receive them.”

Firefly mobile phone designed for four year-olds

Mobile video: YouTube is reporting increasing upload of video content from mobile phones

[IT Portal] In an interesting finding which marks the increasing use of smartphones in uploading content on video-sharing platforms, Google-owned YouTube is reporting that the count of videos uploaded using mobile phones rose incredibly by 1,700 percent over the last six months.

The company further asserted that the arrival of video-recording enabled devices into the market massively contributed to this impressive figure, with the Apple’s new iPhone 3GS made substantial contributions in a short period of just more than a week.

The most popular video sharing platform reported that since iPhone 3GS was launched on Friday 19th June, video content uploads using mobile phones have increased notably by 400 percent.

In addition to the launch of the gadgets sporting video-recording feature, YouTube’s revamped services that paved way for faster and simpler use has been accredited for such a phenomenal growth.

Touting the changes made in the YouTube’s features, its parent company Google said in a statement, “People can complete a simple, one-time connection on the upload page to allow all their friends and followers to get a real-time stream of their uploads to YouTube”.

The video portal recently added some buttons below the video windows on its platform that enables users to share their content with other users that have Twitter, Facebook, and Google Reader accounts.

Youtube Reports Surge In Video Upload By Mobile Phones

Brazil is set to auction new licenses for mobile data services

[rethink] Brazil is set to auction new licenses for mobile data services, even though its long planned 2.5GHz WiMAX spectrum sale is still being held up by regulatory disputes, mainly over whether mobile services should be allowed in the band.

While the government and cellco lobbyists continue to debate that one, delaying the auction further, regulator Anatel hopes to open up new mobile broadband frequencies more quickly in other, less contentious parts of the spectrum, claiming that the current wired and wireless broadband networks in the country cannot keep up with demand.

Brazil is likely hold its additional auction in 2010, probably in the 2.1GHz band, a response to growing consumer demand for these services, said Roberto Pinto Martins, telecoms secretary at the Communications Ministry. But he would not comment on whether this spectrum would be technology neutral, or targeted specifically at WiMAX, UMTS and/or LTE. The main focus will be greater urban capacity, said the Dow Jones report.

Mobile operators, including Vivo, TIM and America Movil subsidiary Claro, plan to spend more than Real10bn ($5.2bn) this year on 3G networks.

Brazil is expected to be one of the major markets for WiMAX, especially with some operators considering a plan to leapfrog 3G and go straight to 4G. However, the auction of licenses has been repeatedly delayed and earlier this month Neotec, the organization that represents Brazil's operators of MMDS services - the multichannel, multipoint offerings already present in 2.5GHz - says lobbying by Ericsson and Qualcomm has stirred up repeated battles between Neotec and Anatel, which are now involving the Brazilian Congress. Brazil's 3G operators reportedly fear 'unfair competition' from MMDS operators if these are allowed to offer mobile services (they paid large sums for their 3G licenses, though build-out has hardly begun, while some 2.5GHz franchises were sold very cheaply and new auctions are also expected to be affordable.

Brazil plans new mobile broadband auction as demand outruns capacity

3G: TD-SCDMA users to Increase 50 million in 3 Years

[tmc] TD-SCDMA users amounted to over 1.03 million and will increase to 50 million within three years, Su Jinsheng, chief engineer at China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), said at the International Conference on Beyond 3G Mobile Communications-2009 (ICB3G-2009) held in Beijing from June 25 to 26.

The International Telecommunication Union has kicked off IMT-advanced standardization and related standard organizations are all preparing for proposals for 4G standards. China also actively participates in the project.

The TD-SCDMA network coverage in China will be expanded to 238 cities by the end of 2009, according to the plan of China Mobile, the country's TD-SCDMA carrier. Moreover, TD-LTE research, development, and testing have also been initiated.

By May 31, 2009, China had had more than 1 billion phone users, including 687 million mobile phone subscribers, according to a data by the MIIT. TD-SCDMA users had touched 746,000 by the end of May.

TD-SCDMA Users to Increase 50mn in 3 Years

Nortel: Sale of LTE units to NSN has been contested in court by creditors

[informationweek] Nokia Siemens Networks' proposed purchase of Nortel Networks (NYSE: NT)' CDMA and LTE assets has run into an unexpected hurdle in the form of a group of its creditors and suppliers objecting to the deal.

Meanwhile in a Delaware courtroom Monday, Nortel chief strategy officer George Riedel sought to convince a judge to approve the proposed sale for $650 million. Arguing that Nortel's technology is superior, but its financial problems drove the company into bankruptcy, Riedel said, "Unfortunately for us, we will win the technology prize, but not the commercial business."

According to media reports, Riedel said representatives from companies including Verizon Communications said they "love" the technology, but are concerned about Nortel's balance sheet. A pickup of Nortel's CDMA and LTE assets for $650 million would be regarded as a virtual steal, depending on the actual assets to be included in the sale.

In an analysis of the proposed deal, Light Reading said that Nortel appears to be holding on to some important LTE-related patents including some for orthogonal frequency-division multiple access and multiple input, multiple output.

"Nortel has always thought of its OFDMA/MIMO IPR as among its crown jewels," said Heavy Reading senior analyst Patrick Donegan. "As I understand it, it isn't included in the current terms of the proposed sale to (Nokia Siemens Networks.) I can only assume that Nortel still owns it."

Creditors opposing the proposed sale to Nortel Siemens include Nortel bondholder MatlinPatterson and supplier Flextronics.

The business coveted by Nokia Siemens Networks is regarded as Nortel's crown jewel, but Nortel hasn't publically revealed the full details of exactly what it would include in the proposed sale to Nokia Siemens Networks.

The acquisition is scheduled to be consummated later this summer.

Nokia Siemens' Acquisition Of Nortel's LTE Unit Contested

USA: Broadband stimulus is begining, but likely to disappoint with projects beginning in spring 2010

[law.com] The ball might finally get rolling tomorrow for the $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus funds, not a moment too soon where operators and Internet-starved rural communities are concerned.

Worse, though, than the fact that many projects won't actually get started until the spring of 2010, is the number of groups and communities that are going to come away from the process empty handed and potentially discouraged.

"There's going to be some folks spurned at the wireless stimulus altar," broadband business strategist Craig Settles told me.

As an example of the odds of getting one of these grants, Settles said there are 40 different groups representing several hundred communities in Illinois, each of whom will get 3 minutes to present their broadband plans to a state committee that will recommend projects to the federal agencies charged with doling out the dough. Bearing in mind that according to the funding bill, every state is entitled to a portion of the money, that could leave as little as $150 million per state, meaning a lot of these plans are simply not going to get funded. That's why "you have to plan not to win."

Groups that raise unrealistic expectations among constituents and then fail to get federal funding could end up with worthwhile projects stopped dead in their tracks. "It's hard to be the voice of reason," Settles chuckled of his role as Debbie Downer.

One group that hasn't put all its eggs in the broadband stimulus package is Open Cape, which is working to bring broadband to under-served areas on Cape Cod. It plans to apply for stimulus money, but has other ways of raising funds in case that falls through. "The stimulus is an alternative, not the be-all and end-all" for this group, Settles said.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are expected to publish their "Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA)," tomorrow, which includes the rules for applying for the grants and conditions (like non-discrimination) with which a grantee much comply.

Settles, who told me he heard that the FCC has extended the public comment period on national broadband strategy by two weeks, said he wouldn't be surprised if the FCC also delayed publication of the NOFA -- given that its new chairman, Julius Genachowski, was just confirmed last week and he "might want to read them before they go out."

In any case, funds won't be disbursed until December, and given that the ground is too hard for digging in the winter, many projects will have to wait for the spring thaw to get going.

Here's hoping that the inevitable bruised feelings will have also had time to thaw, and that worthwhile broadband projects will go forward under their own steam.

Broadband Stimulus May Disappoint Thousands

USA: A case against Citi concerning WorldCom has been revived

[law.com] Reach deep into the cobwebby memories of the Enron era and you may recall the name Jack Grubman. He was Salomon Smith Barney's star telecom analyst, a supposed savant who made $20 million a year, moved markets with his words, and finagled to get his kids into the New York City nursery school of his choice. Then the telecom market collapsed and Grubman resigned in disgrace as regulators began to look closely at his relationship with executives at fraud-ridden WorldCom. Grubman's enthusiastic touting of WorldCom stock, even as the company lost billions in market capitalization, was a big reason Salomon's parent, Citigroup, paid a whopping $2.65 billion to settle claims from WorldCom shareholders and bondholders back in 2004.

But it turns out that Citi hasn't heard the last of Jack Grubman and his ties to WorldCom. On Wednesday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit revived a case filed by an investor group that opted out of Citi's 2004 deal with investors. In an 18-page opinion written by Judge Jose Cabranes, the appellate court ruled that Manhattan federal district court judge Denise Cote erred when she dismissed three Georgia state law-based claims by William Holmes and related investors. (The 2nd Circuit affirmed her dismissal of other claims and her refusal to permit plaintiffs to file a third amended complaint.)

2nd Circuit Revives $200 Million WorldCom Investor Case Against Citi
see also opinion

USA: Remote digital video recorders do no violate copyright laws, which could sput their widespread adoption

[law.com] Hollywood studios and television networks lost their bid Monday for the Supreme Court to block the use of a new digital video recorder system that could make it cheaper and easier for viewers to record shows and watch them when they want, without commercials.

The justices declined to hear arguments on whether Cablevision Systems Corp.'s remote-storage DVR violates copyright laws.

For consumers, the action means that Cablevision and perhaps other cable system operators soon will be able to offer DVR service without need for a box in their homes. The remote storage unit exists on computer servers maintained by a cable provider.

Industry experts say the new technology could put digital recording service in nearly half of all American homes, about twice the current number. That's what has movie studios, TV networks and cable channels worried. DVRs allow viewers easily to skip past commercials.

The studios and networks contend that the service is more akin to video-on-demand, for which they negotiate licensing fees with cable providers.

The Obama administration, which urged the court not to hear the case, said the ruling by the federal appeals court in New York in favor of Cablevision was correct.

Justices Won't Block Remote Storage DVR Systems

USA: "spam king" pleads guilty and will go to jail

[law.com] America's so-called spam king and his cohorts are going to prison.

Alan Ralsky, whom federal prosecutors called one of the world's most notorious spammers, and four co-defendants pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court in Detroit for their roles in an international spamming scheme that sent billions of illegal e-mail advertisements to pump up Chinese "penny" stocks. The defendants then reaped profits by causing trades in these same stocks while others bought at the inflated prices, prosecutors alleged.

All five defendants will be sentenced on Oct. 29.

Ralsky, 64, of West Bloomfield, Mich., who served as the chief executive officer and primary deal maker for the spam operation, pleaded guilty to a variety of charges, including wire fraud, money laundering and violating the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM Act), which prohibits the falsification of certain information used in the transmission of e-mail. He faces up to 87 months in prison and a $1 million fine.

"He, like anyone else, is always relieved to put something like this behind him, although of course he still faces sentencing," said Ralsky's lawyer, Steven Fishman, a criminal defense solo practitioner in Detroit.

Fishman said that Ralsky's sentencing guidelines are 75 to 87 months. "But -- and this is a big but -- he has cooperated fully with the government, and as such, the government will recommend a guideline of 35 to 43 months. That's all in the plea agreement," Fishman said.

Fishman, meanwhile, remains skeptical about the harm his client actually caused and questioned the purpose of the law he was prosecuted under -- namely the CAN-SPAM Act.

"If you're asking me, 'Was it a wise piece of legislation?,' I would rank it right next to prohibition," Fishman said. "The law is the law. But I doubt that there are too many people who leave their homes petrified that their e-mail will be flooded with spam."

'Spam King' and Cohorts Plead Guilty to Fraud and Other Charges

USA: The new FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, took his oath of office and appointed key personal staff

[Washington Post] Julius Genachowski was sworn in today as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, beginning a tenure that is expected to bring more attention to new mobile and Internet technologies.

Genachowski also announced his key staff, stressing the private and public sector experience they will bring to the agency. Genachowski has been widely lauded for his experience in Washington as an entrepreneur and later as an investor. He served two clerkships and as general counsel for former FCC chairman Reed Hundt. Later he became an executive for IAC/InterActive, which bought several Internet firms, and founder of LaunchBox Digital and venture capital firm Rock Creek Ventures.

"The FCC should be a model of excellence in government," Genachowski said. "The agency will benefit enormously from their leadership, from their private and public sector experience . . ."

He chose as his chief of staff, Edward Lazarus, a relative unknown in the telecommunications industry. Lazarus comes from the law firm Akin Gump, where he supervised the Los Angeles office of 800 employees and was the co-head of the firm's global litigation practice.

Genachowski also appointed two senior advisors.

Colin Crowell, a veteran telecommunications aide for Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass), will be a strategic advisor to the chairman, who will oversee communications, legislative and intergovernmental affairs. The role, which is a newly created focus for the chairman's office, indicates an emphasis on relations between the FCC and other agencies and the FCC's relationship with members on Capitol Hill. President Obama has stressed the importance of broadband Internet development as a tool for solving problems in education, healthcare and other areas and the FCC has been charged with coming up with a plan by next summer to bring high-speed Internet to all Americans. Crowell, who worked for Markey for more than 20 years, helped craft the clause in the stimulus plan that assigns the FCC its mandate for a national broadband Internet plan.

The other senior advisor, Bruce Gottleib, comes from Commissioner Michael J. Copps' office, where he specialized in wireless Internet and public safety issues. Gottleib will be Genachowski's senior legal advisor and will manage the agency's overall agenda and coordinate policy between the FCC's bureaus.

Genachowski has several issues lined up for his start. He will have to come up with a national broadband plan that not only connects all homes to high-speed Internet but also addresses issues of affordability and lack of training on how to use the Web. Public interest groups and small telecommunications firms, meanwhile, have pushed for reforms that would increase competition. Genachowski has promised Senate Commerce Committee leaders he will review a complaint by rural wireless carriers that exclusive deals between large carriers and handset makers are anticompetitive.

Genachowski Begins at FCC; Announces Senior Staff

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mobile: strong forecast for mobile financial services

[bbc] Mobile financial services in the developing world could be worth $5bn by 2012, say analysts.

CGAP - a consortium that works to expand financial services in developing countries - said the growth in mobile coverage was helping to fuel growth.

More than one billion people in the developing world have access to a mobile phone, but no bank account.

In February 2009, Bill Gates pledged $12.5m (£8.6m) to help the world's poor access banking services.

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) said it thought the number of people with access to a mobile phone, but no bank account, would to rise to 1.7 billion in 2012.

It also expected more than one in five to use their mobile to access banking services, creating a market worth up to $5bn (£3.05bn).

"There's a lot of excitement, but very little understanding what's going on," said Mark Pickens, microfinance analyst at CGAP.

He said that mobile operators were ideally placed to launch mobile banking services in the developing world as banks were unlikely to put in the huge investment required to set up branches across a country.

"Customers have already purchased point of sale - it's in their pocket," he said.

Africa pioneers mobile bank push

Data-stealing malware: To steal proprietary information such as online banking credentials, credit card numbers, social security numbers, passwords

[PRNewswire] While the term "data-stealing malware" is a relatively new one, its sole purpose for existence is a familiar story: To steal proprietary information such as online banking credentials, credit card numbers, social security numbers, passwords, and more from compromised networks and PCs in order to fuel an underground cyber crime economy driven by profit-seeking criminal networks that cross geopolitical boundaries.

Trojans: The Rising Star in Data-Stealing

Trojans are the fastest growing category of data-stealing malware, according to data from TrendLabs(SM), Trend Micro's global network of research, service, and support centers committed to constant threat surveillance and attack prevention. Trojan attacks pose a serious threat to computer security. True to their name, they typically arrive disguised as something benign such as a screen saver, game, or joke. Based on TrendLabs research:

In 2007, 52 percent of data-stealing malware were Trojans; in 2008, that number increased to 87 percent; as of Q1 2009, 93 percent of data-stealing malware were Trojans.

Trojans and Trojan spyware are the predominant type of data-stealing malware in all regions monitored by TrendLabs, including Australia, Asia, Africa, South America, North America and Europe.

"As a threat category, data-stealing malware is experiencing tremendous growth because it serves the needs of financially motivated criminals who leverage the Internet for what it does best - provides valuable information," said Jamz Yaneza, threat research manager for Trend Micro.

The Politics of Transnational Cyber Crime

Politics and cyber crime have finally intersected in news headlines; understandably so: In the U.S. alone, the number of known breaches of government computers with malware more than doubled between 2006 and 2008, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

And, says Trend Micro advanced threat researcher Paul Ferguson, it is even possible that cyber terrorists may have already planted malware within the U.S. electrical grid that would allow them to remotely disrupt service.

Cyber crime has gained significant international mobility. In 2007, Estonian computer networks were crippled when serious distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against government and civilian sites were reputedly linked back to Russian operatives. At the time, Russia and Estonia were involved in a dispute over the Estonians' removal of a Soviet war memorial. The French Embassy's web site in Beijing was inaccessible for several days after a full-scale cyber attack following President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Experts now widely believe instead that a Chinese hacking group staged the attack for nationalistic purposes.

"Virtually anyone with a computer and Internet access can wreak havoc. In the U.S., hacker attacks have been documented on county or state government sites," said Ferguson. "Smaller organizations have a limited IT budget and few IT staff so they hire a third party to build a web site. Over time, the site fails to be maintained or upgraded, exposing vulnerabilities that hacktivists then leverage to express political views."

Cyber espionage is also grabbing headlines. Every year, corporations suffer billions of dollars in intellectual property losses when trade secrets are illegally copied and sold to competitors on the black market for profit, or used for extortion. Business networks all over the world provide the perfect medium for cybercriminals capable of breaching their defenses.

"Cybercriminals are using malware for financial gain and for geopolitical purposes," said Ferguson. "We have even seen data-stealing malware attacks against U.S. defense contractors - believed to be Chinese - launched to steal confidential trade secrets. However, it's hard to connect the dots back to the people really pulling the strings because of the anonymous nature of the Internet."

Traditional Security is no Longer a Match for Cyber Criminals

For years, security protections have been focused on protecting the endpoints - where most people access data. In today's multi-threat environment, a new strategy is needed. The Trend Micro(TM) Smart Protection Network enables a multilayered threat prevention approach that is built upon the concept of proactively blocking data-stealing malware in the Internet cloud before they can infiltrate a network.

A correlated approach is used to address the tendency for cybercriminals today to launch multi-pronged, combined attacks composed of a number of different Web threats. Using correlation technology and behavioral analysis, the Smart Protection Network correlates combinations of threat activities to evaluate their potential for danger. It analyzes email, embedded links, file attachments, and hosted web files to identify new IPs, domains, URLs, and files that can be instantly added to reputation databases to quickly block new threats.

By examining the relationships between and across different components, the Smart Protection Network provides a realistic view of potential threats to deliver a holistic, comprehensive view of the threat landscape.

Data Protection Pack for "Insider" Threats

A company's greatest asset - their employees - can also be their greatest security liability, especially by those who have access to data within a corporate network. Trend Micro offers solutions not just for external threats, but internal threats as well. The Data Protection Pack bundles together Trend Micro(TM) LeakProof Standard, Trend Micro(TM) Email Encryption Gateway and Trend Micro(TM) Message Archiver. The Data Protection Pack secures email and prevents the loss of sensitive data in use, in motion and at rest; it is available for Trend Micro(TM) NeatSuite Advanced and Client Server Messaging customers.

Rise in Cyber Crime, Cyber Terrorism and Cyber Espionage Tied Heavily to Data-Stealing Malware
see also Data-Stealing Malware Focus Report

Internet: more than 4 in 5 people (80%) go online to socialize, which is twice as many as those who go online to shop or do business

[PRNewswire] According to the Ruder Finn Intent Index, more than 4 in 5 people (80%) go online to socialize, which is twice as many as those who go online to shop or do business. Online business isn't dead but marketers who can't connect with their consumers' intent do so at their own peril.

"Intent is the new demographic," said Kathy Bloomgarden, Ruder Finn co-CEO. "Delving deeper into the underlying motivations of online behavior is critical to developing proactive strategies. Just being online is not enough to leverage digital channels to drive business imperatives. Audiences must be targeted based upon their intent."

Ruder Finn, one of the world's largest public relations agencies, unveiled its Intent Index today, an online tool that provides a new view on why people go online and redefines how we look at demographics: www.ruderfinn.com/intent.

"The Intent Index shows a congruency and similarity among Internet users regardless of traditional demographics," said Marty McGough, Director of Ruder Finn Insights. "This marks a real paradigm shift in how we use online communications tools."

Based on a study among Internet users that asks respondents how frequently they go online for 295 reasons, the Intent Index shows that a person's intent may be a better indicator for how to develop a communications campaign than demographic formulas.

Michael Schubert, Chief Innovation Officer overseeing digital strategy at Ruder Finn said, "The way the Internet has allowed us to share knowledge laterally instead of up the chain of command requires a new way of thinking about our online communications. The Intent Index underscores the importance of knowing what people seek, and how we, as communicators, can intersect with what they're looking for."

The Intent Index shows how critical it is, when communicating on the web, to gain deep insight into user intent, and how the right message, at the right place, at the right time is more important than ever. Updated quarterly and with the capability of being narrowed down for specific industries, the Intent Index will help businesses improve the context and utility of their online marketing content.

Intent Index Survey Results


More than twice as many people go online to socialize (81%) than to do business (39%) or shop (31%).
72% of people go online just to become part of a community.
Seniors are going online today for the same reasons younger people are; to have fun (82%) and to socialize (80%).
More people go online to connect via a social networking site (41%) than to post comments or opinions (34%).

Learn/Have Fun

More people go online to be entertained (82%) than entertain others (48%).
People seek education and entertainment: most people go online both to learn (88%) and have fun (83%).
Almost half of people (47%) go online to learn to improve themselves and nearly one-third (31%) to find self-help experts or books.
The desire to learn drives people to the Internet; top areas are new subjects (68%), the world (65%), a disease or condition (61%), eating healthier (55%) and managing finances (37%).

Shop/Engage in Commerce

Three times as many people go online to compare prices (66%) rather than people via dating sites (21%).
E-commerce isn't dead -- one-third of people (34%) go online to purchase an item; tops are household items (49%), electronics (45%); music (35%), movies (29%), and school/work supplies (29%).
More men (42%) than women (36%) go online to do business.


Women comment, men read: 55% of women go online to find venues for personal expression compared to only 43% of men.
The age of blogs: 44% of people go online to create or update blogs and 42% of people go online to read other people's blogs.


The Internet offers young people the escape through anonymity they seek out: nearly half (48%) go online to be invisible on instant messaging, 29% to create an avatar and 28% to be somewhat different.


Women (48%) are much more likely than men (39%) to go online to advocate for an issue or position.

New Study of Online Behavior Focuses on User Intent: Underscores Need for New Approaches in Digital Communication

USA: FCC has released a report as a starting point towards a national broadband 'strategy

[high plains journal] Concluding that all rural Americans must have the opportunity to reap the full benefits of broadband services, Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael J. Copps released a report May 27 providing a starting point for the development of policies to deliver broadband to rural areas and restore economic growth and opportunity for Americans residing and working in those areas.

Recognizing that the need for broadband in rural America is becoming ever-more critical, Congress in the 2008 Farm bill required the FCC Chairman, in coordination with the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, to submit a report to Congress describing a rural broadband strategy. Entitled "Bringing Broadband to Rural America: Report on a Rural Broadband Strategy," the report by Acting Chairman Copps identifies common problems affecting rural broadband, including technological challenges, lack of data, and high network costs, and offers some recommendations to address those problems.

Broadband "is the interstate highway of the 21st century for small towns and rural communities, the vital connection to the broader nation and, increasingly, the global economy," Acting Chairman Copps said in the report. "Our nation as a whole will prosper and benefit from a concerted effort to bring broadband to rural America."

According to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, "Providing broadband access to rural communities will not only enhance farmers and ranchers' ability to market goods and enhance production, it will help residents in rural communities obtain needed medical care, gain access to higher education, and benefit from resulting economic activity and job growth."

Consistent with the statute's provisions to make recommendations concerning improving inter-agency coordination, the report includes a number of recommendations, including: enhancing coordination among and between federal, Tribal, state, and community agencies, governments and organizations; reviewing existing federal programs to identify barriers to rural broadband deployment; coordinating broadband program terminology consistent with current laws; coordinating data collection and mapping efforts at the federal, Tribal, and state levels to better inform the public and policymakers; supporting consumer education and training initiatives to stimulate and sustain broadband demand; and identifying important policies and proceedings that support further broadband deployment such as universal service and network openness. The report also recognizes that the new administration has already taken important steps to improve coordination efforts and to prioritize broadband initiatives.

In the report, Acting Chairman Copps notes that Congress has provided new direction and support for federal broadband policies and initiatives, in particular through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In addition to providing $7.2 billion for broadband grants, loans and loan guarantees administered by the Agriculture and Commerce departments, that law charges the FCC with developing a national broadband plan by next February.

"I view this report as a prelude to, and building block for, the national broadband plan, which will address in greater detail and on a vastly more complete record, the input of all stakeholders and the steps the nation must take to achieve its broadband goals," Acting Chairman Copps said in the report. Although the national plan will be broader in scope and will focus on bringing broadband to all Americans regardless of where they live, the Rural Broadband report released May 27 "provides another, critical step in the Commission's efforts to develop an effective, efficient and achievable national broadband plan."

FCC acting chairman Copps releases report on broadband strategy for rural America
See also report on the FCC website

USA: A waiver on 'Buy American' has been granted for the broadband stimulus programme

[tmc] Many types of broadband equipment now are covered by a waiver of ‘Buy American’ rules associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 "broadband stimulus" program operated by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Many equipment categories, including routers, switches, transport gear, access equipment, customer premises equipment and billing or operations support systems are exempted from the ‘Buy American’ rules.

But note that fiber optic cables, coaxial cables and cell towers are not granted an automatic waiver. Applicants wishing to use optical or coaxial cables or tower gear not made in the United States will have to apply for specific waivers to do so.

The blanket waiver will be reassuring for most applicants and obviously for most equipment and software suppliers.

Key Waivers Granted for Broadband Stimulus 'Buy American' Rules

Malta: Commission asks telecoms regulator to revisit proposed regulation of mobile termination rates


Commission asks Maltese telecoms regulator to revisit proposed regulation of mobile termination rates

Thailand: The auction for 3G licences has been delayed until January 2010

[Reuters] Thailand's telecommunications regulator said on Monday the auction of long-awaited third-generation (3G) mobile service licences might be held in January 2010, a little later than envisaged.

The exact timing would depend on the selection of new board members at the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC), Secretary-General Suranan Wongvithayakamjorn told reporters in an industry seminar.

"The process should start from the third quarter of this year and the auction may happen in January," he said, adding the NTC would select new board members in August.

Last week, NTC Chairman Choochart Promphrasid told Reuters the auction would be as early as October and that the change in the regulator's board members would not derail its plan to liberalise the highly regulated sector. [ID:nBKK548216]

Operators said delaying for a few months should not affect their plans for the commercial launch of 3G services, expected in late 2010.

"It should take around six to seven months to install equipment," said Athueck Asvanund, vice chairman of True Corp TRUE.BK, major shareholder of Thailand's third largest mobile operator, True Move.

The 3G licences, which would enable operators to tap new revenue through music, video, picture and data services, have been delayed for several years by political obstacles.

Thai telecoms operators want to receive 3G licences on the new 2.1 GHz spectrum, which analysts said should help reduce regulatory costs for operators.

The top two mobile operators are Advanced Info Service ADVA.BK (AIS) and Total Access Communication DTAC.BK (TACC.SI).

The 3G licensing is a key step in reforming the sector because operators will pay licence fees instead of handing over a portion of their revenue to two state-owned firms for the right to operate networks they have built and paid for themselves.

Thai 3G auction may be delayed to January 2010

Malta: 2008 a positive year for the telecommunications sector

[malta independent] The telecommunications industry registered very positive results in 2008, contributing over three per cent to GDP, a significant increase over the 2.5 per cent of GDP produced in 2007, according to the Malta Communications Authority’s annual report for 2008 published on Friday.

Overall, the total sector output reached just under €267 million, while employment in the sector also continued to grow and stood at 2,612 as at the end of 2008 – an increase of 117 when compared to 2007.

Speaking on Friday, MCA Executive Chairman Philip Micallef said that in 2008 all telecommunications sectors continued to show growth both in terms of subscriptions and usage.

In fixed telephony, traffic grew by 3.5 per cent. Mobile telephony subscriptions reached 94 per cent of the population, while broadband penetration reached 24.6 per cent to surpass the EU average. The pay TV market also grew to 89 per cent of the population compared to 84 per cent in 2007.

Infrastructure investment continued unabated with GO launching its second submarine cable and Melita making the final preparations for the launch of a third generation network operator.

In mid-2008, the MCA assumed responsibility for implementing the national policy on e-Inclusion and e-Business as reflected in the Smart Island Strategy. The MCA also strengthened its end-user affairs function, reflecting the increasing need to focus on quality of service, Ing. Micallef observed, adding that the Authority will also strive to engender improved cooperation between undertakings to create a stronger and more resilient sector without diminishing healthy competition.

Over the past year, the MCA placed additional focus on the reliability and security of networks, especially in emergency situations. Ing. Micallef noted that Regulations on International Connectivity were now in force.

Also speaking on Friday, Communications Minister Austin Gatt said that one of the 2010 targets of the Smart Island Strategy was for Malta to have at least four international submarine connections, and that the objective has now been met.

Subject to EU state-aid regulations, the Strategy also contemplated the provision of incentives to telecom providers that invest in international connectivity. Last year, the government started a state-aid notification procedure with the European Commission in this regard.

Dr Gatt noted that obtaining approval from the EC had been very challenging, since any government intervention in the telecoms sector is heavily scrutinised by the EC.

The award of the tax credits to investors will be subject to criteria, which will be made public towards the end of summer in a call for expressions of interest that will remain open up to 2011. The tax credits can be awarded to expenses incurred up to December 2011.

Dr Gatt also explained that in the coming years the government will be working to identify different ways to attract investment, particularly in new infrastructures that are able to meet the projected increase in demand for bandwidth.

2008 a positive year for the telecommunications sector

Mobile: European Commission has welcomed a commitment to introducing common chargers using Micro-USB connectors

[ec] Producers of mobile phones have agreed to harmonise chargers for their products in the EU. In a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”), submitted to the Commission today, the industry commits to provide chargers compatibility on the basis of the Micro-USB connector. This will put an end to waste and to a major inconvenience for users. The first generation of new inter-chargeable mobile phones should reach the EU market from 2010 onwards.

Commission welcomes industry's commitment to provide common chargers for mobile phones

ASEAN: Thailand seeks service-sector liberalisation in ten areas, including telecoms

[The Nation] Thailand will propose the liberalisation of 10 service industries protected under the Foreign Business Act of 1999 to Asean countries at the regional bloc's ministerial summit in August, a Trade Negotiations Department official said. The proposal would be in line with the bloc's commitment to liberalise services under the Asean Free Trade Agreement (Afta).

Foreign shareholdings in businesses in the industries would still be limited to 50 per cent, however.

The 10 industries are: communications, construction, distribution, education, environment, healthcare, tourism, entertainment, culture and sports, and transportation.

Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, director-general of the department, said the proposal would be submitted to the Asean Economic Ministers meeting in Bangkok in August. Service-sector liberalisation has already been ratified in principle by Parliament under Article 190 of the Constitution Act.

"Thailand will propose to liberalise 10 service businesses among Asean countries. However, foreign shareholdings would still be restricted under the FBA," she said.

Liberalising the 10 services would boost investment from other Asean countries, while giving Thai investors greater opportunity to invest in other Asean countries, Nuntawan said. It would also improve the investment environment in Thailand and further the government's policy of promoting investment in particular businesses, she said.

Provisions would remain in place to ensure that Thai enterprises remain competitive, including conditions on the number of foreigners working for the firms, as well as a minimum investment capital requirement for investment in the country, she said.

Thailand seeks asean service-sector liberalisation

Thailand: NTC has reduced licence from 2.5% to 2% of annual revenues

[The Nation] The National Telecommunications Commission's board yesterday approved a reduction in the type-3 licence fee from 2.5 per cent of a licensee's annual revenue to 2 per cent.

The reduction, which will take effect next January, will help licensees deal with the worsening economy. Type-3 licences are for licensees with their own large telecom networks.

The board also asked the administrative office to study a possible reduction in related regulatory costs that licensees pay to the NTC. - The Nation

No patent for Thai |jasmine rice's aroma

Thailand cannot grant a patent for the aroma of Thai jasmine rice, because it is natural and did not result from innovation, the Intellectual Property Department said yesterday.

Director-general Puangrat Asavapisit said it would be difficult for Thailand to register a patent for jasmine rice's distinctive fragrance because the law covered only natural genes and micro-organisms. Only items resulting directly from innovation can be protected.

He said the department would meet with the National Science and Technology Development Agency to try to find an appropriate way to register such a patent in the Kingdom. - The Nation

NTC board approves licence-fee reduction

BT: Has outsourced its global voice network and traffic to Tata Communications for US$ 1 billion

[economic times] British Telecom group has signed a five-year, $1 billion voice outsouring deal with Tata Communications. BT will outsource its entire international voice traffic to TCOM.

TCOM will offer voice carriage and termination services to BT for various destinations. "TCOM will become BT’s primary supplier of International Direct Dial and other voice termination services outside BT’s own footprint countries and BT will become TCOM’s main distribution channel for its traffic into the UK, expanding into other markets across Europe as the relationship matures," TCOM said in a statement in Mumbai.

Back of the envelope calculations show TCOM could earn around $1 billion from the deal. The company reported 24 billion minutes of traffic last year, which brought in around $1.2 billion. The current agreement could likely bring in approximately 6 billion minutes for TCOM, a company official told ET.

Over a five-year period, and factoring in fluctuations in traffic and rates, a total of 24 billion minutes can be estimated for the current deal, which could bring in around $1 billion for TCOM.

"We are proud to become BT’s primary supplier of international voice termination services. The agreement will increase both partners’ competitiveness and will enhance our respective service offerings," TCOM president of global voice solutions Michel Guyot said.

The relationship will allow BT and TCOM to benefit from their respective extensive global networks and advantageous cost structures. BT will also have access to Tata Communications' world-class routing capabilities and on-line management systems providing greater economies of scale that will improve BT’s competitiveness in the international calls market, the statement said.

"TCOM is a leader in the international wholesale voice business, making them a perfect partner to help us achieve additional economies of scale to those of our own," BT wholesale markets MD Brian Fitzpatrick said.

Tata Communications, British Telecom sign $1 bn deal

Myanmar: Another 22 GSM base station will expand coverage, though the network supports only 400,000 users

[bernama] The Myanmar telecommunication authorities will add 33 more GSM radio stations in the biggest city of Yangon to expand GSM coverage amid increasing usage of mobile phones in the city.

The project, to be completed at the end of this year, will be launched by local private companies on competitive tender system, reports Xinhua news agency citing the local weekly Flower News on Monday.

Meanwhile, the country has planned to introduce 80,000 more GSM mobile phone lines during this year, in a bid to enhance telecommunication services.

According to the state-run Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), the number of GSM mobile phones across Myanmar hit 392,800 in 2008, up from 211,812 in 2007.

GSM phones have been extensively used in Myanmar since it was introduced in 2002 after cellular ones in 1993 and the DECT ( Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication) and CDMA in 1997.

According to the MPT, GSM phones in Myanmar can auto-roam over two dozen townships far up to the border areas and mainly cover all other major cities in addition to Yangon and Mandalay.

Moreover, Myanmar is making efforts to introduce world's up-to- date audio-visual mobile phone in the country for the first time to upgrade its telecommunication links.

The upgraded system will be based on the existing GSM network, the authorities said, adding that the introduction of 3-G WCDMA system represents Myanmar's entry into a new phase of its mobile phone system.

Moreover, Myanmar has planned full coverage of public access centers (PAC) in every township in the country by the end of this year to facilitate communication links.

There has been over 400 PAC opened in 44 townships in Myanmar since 2004.

According to the telecommunications authorities, the number of internet users in Myanmar has reached over 300,000, up from merely dozens in four years ago.

Myanmar To Add More GSM Radio Stations

Europe: OFCOM calls for adoption of the telecoms policy reforms

[zdnet] The head of UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has urged European parliamentarians and telecommunications ministers to resolve an argument that has erupted over a raft of new legislation.

At the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) conference in Brussels on Thursday, chief executive Ed Richard said if the Telecoms Package failed to become law by the end of this year, it would be a "significant blow" to regulatory certainty in Europe.

The Telecoms Package contains potential European laws that have been worked out through intense negotiations over recent years. These include the speeding up of number porting between operators, new guidelines on fibre access deployment and the use of radio spectrum, and the creation of a new pan-European regulatory body, called Berec.

Ofcom pleads for Telecoms Package to pass

Northern Ireland: A transatlantic telecommunications cable which will connect Northern Ireland directly to the US

[bbc] A transatlantic telecommunications cable which will connect Northern Ireland directly to the US for the first time has been brought ashore.

US company Hibernia Atlantic brought the submarine cable to Portrush in an operation over the weekend.

The cable deployment is part of Project Kelvin which will improve the speed and extent to which NI firms can trade information with the rest of the world.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said it was an "historic milestone".

"The new cable will connect Northern Ireland, for the first time, directly to North America and greatly improve connectivity with Europe," she said.

"When combined with the new terrestrial telecommunications infrastructure, currently under construction across Northern Ireland, it will put us at the heart of the global economy."

Communications cable lands in NI

Africa: Investment in telecoms remains unabated despite the economic slowdown, with international providers set to increase their presence

[afp] Investment in Africa's telecom industry remains unabated despite the economic slowdown, with international providers set to increase their presence, a report said Wednesday.

A study carried out by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, African Development Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said mobile phone coverage and internet use are expected to grow this year.

"The current crisis will probably have less impact on FDI (foreign direct investment) for telecommunications because of Africa's large potential market and the relatively low impact of the crisis on the consumers," said the report, entitled "African Economic Outlook".

Mobile phone subscriptions rose by 41 percent in 2008, far outstripping the number of fixed line users in the continent.

"While small operators struggle to finance network expansion, large cash-flush operators such as MTN, Orascom Telecom, Zain, Orange and Vodafone will be able to move in to the African market," it added.

Those companies, along with Moov and Tigo, accounted for 52 percent of total subscriptions in Africa, the study said.

Although African economies are still expected to expand in 2009, analysts fear the growth rate will be slower than the increase in population.

Africa telecom investments boom despite downturn: study

Tunisia: New licences were awarded to Divona and to France Telecom

[telecomtiger] France Telecom along with Tunisia-based Divona bagged licence to offer fixedline and mobile services in Tunisia for $ 189.7 million.

While creating 1000-2000 direct jobs, the alliance aims to invest one billion dinars in the venture. The tie-up is aiming to launch its services on Jan 01, 2010.

The Turkish government has expressed satisfaction over the bid offer especially on the back drop of the ongoing financial meltdown.

Others to participate in the bid included Turkish operator, Turkcell.

India’s BSNL had pulled out from the race earlier citing high penetration rate coupled with the high bid price as a deterrent.

France Telecom wins licence in Tunisia

Chad: Orascom received $4.9 million from Sotel Tchad, awarded by an arbitration court

[albawaba] Orascom Telecom Holding SAE (“OTH”) announced on Monday that it reached settlement with the Republic of Chad and has received $4.9 million in satisfaction of an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) panel award issued in OTH’s favor in the arbitration action brought by OTH against Sotel Tchad, the Chadian fixed telecommunication line operator, and the Republic of Chad.

The dispute arose from a decision by the Chadian Ministry of Telecommunications to invalidate the transfer of 51% of the shares of TchadMobile to OTH despite the fact that a valid agreement was entered into in late 2002 between OTH and Sotel Tchad. As a result, OTH suspended its operation of TchadMobile in July 2004. After its repeated efforts to resolve the matter amicably with representatives of Sotel Tchad and the Government, and as a last resort for the enforcement of its rights, OTH proceeded with the ICC arbitration on 4th March 2005.

Orascom Telecom gets $4.9 million in compensation

UK: Top bosses attack the proposed STG 6 levy to pay for rural broadband

[The Times] Two of Britain’s biggest telecoms bosses have this weekend come out against the government’s proposed £6-a-year levy on telephone lines, labelling it as an unfair “poll tax” that marks a backwards step for their industry.

The measure, planned for next year, is forecast to raise between £150m and £175m a year to go towards a superfast broadband network in one-third of the country where it is not commercially viable to build it.

“It is like a poll tax, a fixed figure for everyone,” said Charles Dunstone, chief executive of Carphone Warehouse, whose Talk Talk business has 4.25m broadband customers. “I don’t really know if the government can justify it to the electorate.”

Jeremy Darroch, boss of BSkyB, which has 2.1m broadband customers, 1.7m phone customers and is 39.1% owned by News Corporation, the ultimate parent of The Sunday Times, said: “There are hard-pressed people who see a phone-line as a necessity, but may have no interest in broadband.
“When competition has done a good job of driving down prices, we don’t want government policy to force costs up again.”

The measure was a key plank of the communications minister Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report, unveiled last week.

“There are voices who have taken the very theological view that any kind of intervention is just bad,” Carter said this weekend. “I have to say I disagree. There is no evidence to support that beyond what I would call hard political theology.”

BT and Virgin Media, which hope to benefit most from the subsidy, declined to comment.

Top telecoms bosses attack phone levy proposal

Vietnam: Farmers outraged by a telecoms project that dug up newly planted rice fields without notice or appropriate compensation

[than hnien news] Hundreds of farmers in Phu Yen Province are outraged and frustrated by a telecommunications project that dug up their rice fields without prior notice or agreement.

It was only after work on the project was obstructed by furious farmers that the contractor held a meeting to offer meager compensation for what was destroyed.

The farmers’ fields were dug up to install optical fiber cables from the province’s Tuy Hoa Town to Song Hinh District.

Hanoi-based Post and Telecommunication Construction Joint Stock Company (CPT) was laying the cable as part of a project to develop telecommunication systems in 10 central provinces funded by Japan’s official development assistance and invested in by Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group (VNPT).

The contractor dug up dozens of kilometers at a width of four meters along Provincial Road 645 in the province’s Dong Hoa and Tay Hoa districts.

Thanh Nien reporters who visited the affected fields Wednesday found many farmers picking up rice plants from the excavated soil in the hope of replanting them elsewhere.

“We had just supplied fertilizer on the green fields a few days ago. They have callously dug the plants up,” said Huynh Van Luan from Hoa Binh 2 Commune in Tay Hoa District.

On a nearby farm, local resident Le Thi Thi was replanting the rice seedlings. “I had to race with the contractor’s backhoe to save these seedlings from being destroyed,” she said.

The farmers said they found last Friday their fields had been excavated and obstructed the contractor from wreaking further damage.

The contractor then held a meeting with the farmers and promised compensation of VND2,500 (US$0.14) per square meter that had been dug up, and to refill the site.

Vo Thi Lam of Hoa Binh 1 Commune in Tay Hoa District said the compensation was too meager for the cost of fertilizer, seedlings and labor it would take to replant the area.

The replanted area would have to be tended on a different schedule from the rest of the fields and it would be hard to harvest rice of different ages on the same field, one farmer said.

Hoang Van Sy, head of the construction team of the Tuy Hoa – Song Hinh cable line, said they had notified local authorities about the work.

Nguyen Van Giang, deputy chairman of Hoa Binh 2 Commune People’s Committee, confirmed the notification, but said the contractor had not mentioned any compensation.

An official of Tay Hoa District, Vo Van Cach, said he was not aware of the cable construction.

Tran Tan Dung, director of VNPT Phu Yen, said the parent company had held bids or assigned contractors for all project packages.

“VNPT Phu Yen only supervises technical aspects during the construction and will manage the work when they are completed [scheduled in September],” he said.

He also said the contractor was responsible for notifying residents about the work and offering the compensation before construction.

So far, only 80 affected farmers in Dong Hoa District’s Hoa Thanh Commune and Tay Hoa District’s Hoa Binh 1 Commune have accepted the compensation offered by the contractor. Official figures about the number of affected farmers in Tay Hoa District’s Hoa Binh 2 Commune were not available.

Telecommunications project digs up rice fields without notice

Latin America: bundling/multiple-play broadband has the best chance of success in attracting lower-income households

[PRNewswire] As operators continue to exhaust the high-income consumer segments in Latin America, the bundling strategies with the best chance of success involve broadened offerings that will attract lower-income households to broadband and pay-TV, according to a new report from Pyramid Research, the telecom research arm of the Light Reading Communications Network.

Multiplay Services in Latin America: Operators Target the Mass Market examines the multiplay strategies of several leading operators in Latin America and the rationale for engaging customers outside the higher-income population segments. This 12-page report compares the cost of multiplay services across several markets to demonstrate that there is potential for costs to come down in Latin America, which would boost penetration. Case studies of two integrated operators -- NET Servicos in Brazil and Claro in Central America -- examine the strategic challenges and choices involved in expanding target markets through bundling.

In Latin America, bundling has gained traction in the last three years as fixed operators expanded into the pay-TV market and cable operators pushed further into traditional telco territory. So far, bundling has attracted mostly people in high-end socioeconomic groups who can afford these services; however, the value proposition of operators is being challenge, notes Jose Magana, analysts at Pyramid Research and author of the report.

"Given that Latin America's GDP per capita was $7,856 in 2008, operators must face the fact that to keep penetration of fixed services growing and meet revenue expectations, they will soon exhaust the high-income consumer segments in Latin America," says Magana. "Therefore they must start developing strategies to attract lower-income households to broadband and pay-TV by offering an assortment of bundles," he adds.

Although selling to lower-income consumers is a challenge, they also represent an opportunity to reap considerable benefits because of the significant size of the populations. "The challenge is to find the right mix of prices, and differentiation, such as higher broadband connection speeds, pay-per-view content, and specific pay-TV packages, will be crucial to increasing uptake of packages and helping to contain the decline of ARPS," he explains. "The addressable opportunity for operators is to gain access to the 70 percent of households that remain underserved in Latin America -- if operators can access at least half of those households, they will easily be doubling their service base in terms of customer relationships," Magana says.

Multiplay Services in Latin America: Operators Target the Mass Market is part of Pyramid Research's Latin America Telecom Insider report series. Telecom Insiders are packed with trend analysis, industry best practices, market sizing and forecasting, competitor analysis, and case studies, providing you information you can leverage to make better business decisions.

Secret to Multiplay Success in Latin America Requires Mass Market Appeal, Finds Pyramid
see also an excerpt from the report

Malaysia: competition is driving faster growth in mobile broadband

[PRNewswire]Soaring demand for mobile broadband services in Malaysia, driven in part by intense competition, will result in higher-than-expected growth rates for telecom operators in that nation through 2014, according to a new report from Pyramid Research, the telecom research arm of the Light Reading Communications Network.

Communications Markets in Malaysia offers a precise profile of the country's converged telecommunications, media, and technology sectors based on proprietary data from our research in the market. The 27-page report provides detailed competitive analysis of both the fixed and mobile sectors, tracks the market shares of technologies and services, and monitors technologies such as WiMax, IPTV, and VoIP. It provides a comprehensive view of the communications market by analyzing key trends, evaluating near-term opportunities and assessing upcoming risks factors.

Over the next five years, the Malaysian telecom market will grow at a CAGR of 9.2 percent, Pyramid Research forecasts. In 2014 it will generate $11.7 billion thanks in part to increased demand for mobile and fixed broadband services, notes Tae-Hyung Kim, analyst at Pyramid Research and author of the report. "Mobile penetration reached 98 percent in 2008, which is more than double the regional penetration average of 47 percent," Kim says.

Pyramid Research expects Malaysia's mobile penetration rate to increase to 133 percent by 2014. At that point mobile broadband subscriptions will number 2.6 million -- an upward revision from earlier forecasts. Although nearly three-quarters of Malaysia's mobile revenue is now generated by voice services, broadband data services will account for an increasing proportion of mobile revenue over the next five years, Kim notes. "Pyramid Research expects mobile data services to account for 45 percent of all mobile revenue by 2014, driven by increases in adoption of mobile broadband services and mobile data applications," he explains.

Four operators engage in cutthroat competition in Malaysia's mobile market. "New entrant U Mobile, along with the latest 3G licensee Digi, will take competition to the next level as each operator attempts to compete in not only traditional mobile voice and data services but also in the mobile broadband arena," Kim says. "We believe that incumbent Maxis and runner-up Celcom will continue to lead the market with a combined market share exceeding 70 percent through the end of our forecast period, while U Mobile's gains will likely come at the expense of Digi."

Communications Markets in Malaysia is part of Pyramid Research's Asia/Pacific Country Intelligence Report Series. Pyramid Research's premium Country Intelligence Reports are the industry's best available analysis on market trends, regulatory environments, and competitive dynamics for 60 countries worldwide.

Malaysia's Mobile Broadband Demand Growing Faster Than Expected, says Pyramid Research
see also an excerpt from the report

Broadband: Services remain a top spending priority for consumers even in tight economic times

[PRNewswire] Consumers are unwilling to part with their broadband services at home even in the midst of the economic downturn, preferring to cut spending on things like dining out and leisure travel, according to a series of recent studies sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent.

These findings were uncovered as part of a global study exploring the impact of the economic recession on spending for telecom services and the role broadband services can play in promoting global economic growth and social welfare. The study, conducted by of Alcatel-Lucent's Market Advantage Program (MAP) - in cooperation with market research firms Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates and Ipsos MediaCT - employed statistical analysis to determine how consumers prioritize household spending, given a recessionary mindset, comparing the relative value of a wide variety of specific fee-based services.

Broadband services appear to be nearly recession-proof, with 84 percent of consumers identifying broadband as an essential network service and therefore the least likely target for spending cuts. The studies also showed that more consumers globally are planning to subscribe to and/or upgrade their broadband services, even while reducing spending in other areas. Key factors driving this preference include a desire to reduce the cost and travel time associated with commuting, coupled with a preference for greener alternatives. In developed countries, respondents also noted a growing dependence on the Web as an information source, business tool, social network and entertainment venue.

"This clearly shows that people across the world rely on broadband services as a central part of their social and economic lives," said Tim Krause, Chief Marketing Officer for Alcatel-Lucent. "As the world looks at ways to address the twin challenges of economic growth and climate change, our research shows that broadband and the digital economy must absolutely be at the top of decision making agendas."

The research indicated that attitudes about broadband cut across regions and socio-economic strata, however it also revealed distinctions in attitudes about the economy between consumers in high-growth markets and those in more developed markets.

In markets such as France, for example, consumers indicate that the financial crisis has had a greater negative impact on their household when compared to consumers in other countries.

In contrast, people in emerging countries are more optimistic about the future than those in developed countries around the world. While two thirds of consumers indicated they are cutting expenditures, 85 percent of consumers from emerging countries indicated that their household economic situation would be the same or better a year from now compared to 64 percent of respondents in the developed countries.

Broadband Services Remain a Top Spending Priority for Consumers Even in Tight Economic Times, Research Shows

Enterprises are just beginning to understand the potential of Web 2.0 tools and public and private social networking platforms

[PRNewswire] Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, is pleased to announce the results of its end-user survey, 2009 Corporate Use of Social Networking, an evaluation of how social networking is used in enterprises. The survey presented questions on corporate use of social networking, policies regarding corporate social networking sites, and the utilization of Web 2.0 tools. The survey includes responses from 1,439 participants.

Social networking has increasingly been making itself more visible in the workplace, and its functionality is being harnessed by corporations globally. Web 2.0 technologies are widely in use. A vast majority (80% of survey respondents) report that they personally use Web 2.0 technologies to connect and share with friends and family while at work. More than half of all respondents (54%) reported that they use Web 2.0 technologies for professional purposes such as connecting with colleagues, generating leads, and collaborating on projects.

"However, despite the current hype of social sites such as Facebook and Twitter, social networking platforms are still perceived as being used only for social purposes," explains Vanessa Alvarez, Industry Analyst with Frost & Sullivan's Unified Communications practice. "Enterprises, both big and small, are still just beginning to understand the potential of Web 2.0 tools and public and private social networking platforms. The next level of productivity will occur when enterprises can use these tools to go beyond the social aspect, and harness the unlimited potential of these tools to more effectively manage workflows and drive business."

Social networking sites are the most utilized Web 2.0 tool. Nearly three-fourths of respondents report using social networking sites for personal use within an organization. Besides social networking sites, other tools cited include blogs, wikis, and teamspaces.

When considering usage in the enterprise, medium-sized enterprises (those with 100-999 employees) employ Web 2.0 tools more often than small (1-99 employees) or large (1000+ employees) enterprises, except for teamspaces, which are most utilized by large enterprises.

More executive-level management, or current leaders, avail themselves to Web 2.0 tools than do entry or mid-management employees.

According to the survey, roughly four out of ten organizations formally use social networking/Web 2.0 tools. In most cases, the IT department initiated the program, with the vast majority of the initiatives managed internally.

The majority of respondents also indicated that their organizations have written policies regarding the use and access of social networking sites. Of those individuals working at companies without a written policy, 80% work in organizations that allow access to such sites, despite no formal policies.

Frost & Sullivan's survey goes on to measure the length of time participants have been using corporate social networking, in which roughly one-third of respondents report formal organizational use of social networking/Web 2.0 tools within the past year.

Interestingly, client relations, advertising, marketing, and other business communications are not part of most organizations' use of Web 2.0 tools. The majority of respondents reported that their organizations use Web 2.0 tools primarily for internal use, staff relations, and training.

"Social networking and other Web 2.0 technologies are literally changing the way people think about collaboration, and how willing they are to share information," says Melanie Turek, Industry Principal with Frost & Sullivan's Unified Communications practice. "Organizations have always looked for ways to make their employees more collaborative; today, they need to look for ways to make their collaborative employees more effective."

Corporations Slow to Adopt Social Networking and Web 2.0 Tools, According to Survey by Frost & Sullivan

Disaster recovery: Survey Says Virtualization Can Play Major Role in Disaster Recovery - But Not Provide Complete Solution

[PRNewswire] A large majority of information technology (IT) executives say virtualization technologies can play a major role in a disaster recovery plan -- but these technologies are not a complete solution, according to the results of the State of Disaster Recovery survey conducted by Harris Interactive(R). While many IT decision-makers say they have deployed virtualization, survey data show most had not yet utilized the technology in a disaster recovery situation.

In the survey, commissioned by SunGard Availability Services, 74 percent of IT respondents indicate virtualization can play a major role but is not a total solution for disaster recovery plans. One-quarter of IT respondents say they would never include virtualization technologies in their disaster recovery plans.

Sixty percent of IT respondents say they have virtualization in place now as a recovery tool from unplanned outages -- but only 29 percent have used it successfully with eight percent saying they used virtualization but unsuccessfully. Another 29 percent of IT decision-makers say they have deployed virtualization but not yet used it as a tool for disaster recovery.

"Virtualization technologies are changing the way disaster recovery solutions are developed and deployed -- for both end-user organizations and third-party service providers," said Don Norbeck, technology officer, virtualization and product strategy at SunGard Availability Services. "The survey reveals companies see virtualization as part of their disaster recovery strategy, but most recognize they also need more. The Achilles heel of many virtualized IT environments is they depend on a single data center to execute system failover should an outage occur. A recovery strategy with no off-site data center can result in no recovery."

Future Technology Deployments

Over the next two years, half of IT decision-makers indicate their companies will be looking into virtualization as an option for managing unplanned outages and disaster recovery. About a quarter of IT executives say they will be looking into cloud computing and grid networking as potential options.

"The technology landscape for disaster recovery is changing quickly -- presenting challenges for end-user organizations to stay current. These changes demonstrate the value in teaming with a third-party vendor with core competencies in data centers and recoverability to help navigate through information availability issues in virtual, cloud and grid environments," said Mr. Norbeck.


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of SunGard Availability Services in March 2009 with 497 qualified respondents, including 277 business and 220 IT participants. Qualified business respondents hold at least a director level title and have associated responsibilities, such as business and staff, in business areas. Qualified IT respondents hold at least a manager level title and have associated responsibilities, such as business and staff, in IT areas. All respondents came from companies with 50 or more employees.

Survey Says Virtualization Can Play Major Role in Disaster Recovery - But Not Provide Complete Solution

CIOs: IT professionals in the U.S. are devoting less budget to innovation than their counterparts in the U.K., Japan and Germany

[PRNewswire] While many information technology (IT) professionals are investing in specific areas of IT infrastructure, 55 percent say the economy has changed the role of IT and 51 percent say that budget constraints are the biggest barrier to their innovation, according to a new study commissioned by Microsoft Corp. and conducted by Harris Interactive(R) Inc. The study results indicate that IT professionals in the U.S. are devoting less budget to innovation than their counterparts in the U.K., Japan and Germany.

"Businesses that focus solely on reducing IT costs in this economy will not be as well positioned as those that develop new capabilities and solutions," said Bob Kelly, corporate vice president of infrastructure server marketing at Microsoft. "IT is uniquely capable of not only delivering bottom-line cost savings, but also providing innovative solutions that will help organizations weather the storm and thrive. Now, more than ever, IT is a strategic asset."

Innovation in a Challenging Economy

Of the four countries included in the study, the recession appears to make the biggest impact on IT innovation in the U.S. IT managers in Japan and the U.K. indicate they will devote 41 percent of their budgets toward innovation versus "keeping the lights on," or maintaining current systems. IT professionals in Germany plan to invest 35 percent, while their counterparts in the U.S. plan to spend only 29 percent on innovation. On average, IT professionals across all four countries say they will allocate 37 percent of their budgets to innovation in 2009. Only 22 percent of IT professionals cite giving the business a competitive edge as their current top priority.

"Companies that make smart investments in IT will gain a foundation for their business that empowers innovation, boosts productivity and, ultimately, helps improve the bottom line," Kelly said. "Investing in IT is a path to success, now and in the future."

The economy may also be diminishing investment in "green" IT innovation. Eighty-four percent of IT professionals consider green factors when making decisions about datacenters, but "green" plays into the final decision for only about half of those organizations (44 percent of the total).

Efficiency Versus Cost-Cutting

Though the economy seems to be affecting IT's ability to innovate, more survey participants are focused on driving business efficiency (48 percent) than on simply reducing IT costs (30 percent). Nearly two-thirds will increase their planned investment in at least one infrastructure technology, including virtualization, security, systems management and cloud computing, all of which can help organizations streamline operations and deliver business value.

Security Challenges and Solutions

Customers cite security as the No. 1 challenge in managing their infrastructure, and report that protection of customer and company data is the top security priority for IT decision-makers over the next one to three years (73 percent).

A majority of IT professionals view security as an enabler of business. More than half think that IT security responsibilities include advancing overall business goals (52 percent) and increasing end-user productivity (51 percent).

The Benefits of Innovation

NuStar Energy LP is an example of a company that has used IT to thrive and grow in a volatile economy. The company, which owns an oil and gas transportation and storage network and an asphalt refining and marketing business, has grown rapidly through acquisitions and recently joined the Fortune 500. NuStar relies on Windows Server, Microsoft System Center and Microsoft Forefront software to help manage and secure its 8,491 miles of pipeline, 82 terminals and two asphalt refineries, which have a combined throughput capacity of 104,000 barrels per day.

"Our chief challenge as an IT organization is responding quickly to what the business requires us to do," said Robert Amos, manager of infrastructure systems at NuStar Energy. "We are committed to Microsoft because it provides integrated, familiar infrastructure that is simpler to manage across the company, helping us stay compliant and competitive as we grow our worldwide business."

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online among 1,200 IT decision-makers at enterprise and SMB organizations in the U.S. (n=308), U.K. (n=310), Germany (n=281) and Japan (n=301) by Harris Interactive on behalf of Microsoft between April 9 and May 5, 2009. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Could U.S. IT Pros Be Losing a Seat at the Strategic Table?
see also IT Pro Survey details

Egypt sets goal of surpassing US$1.1 billion in information technology export revenues by 2010

[PRNewswire] The strength of the relations between the U.S. and Egypt on a business level has never been better, and Egypt is primed to increase the volume of its IT/ITES exports to US$1.1 billion by 2010.

This was the message communicated by His Excellency Dr. Tarek Kamel, Egyptian Minister of Communications & Information Technology at a special luncheon hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), and the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham Egypt), in Washington, DC. Also attending this luncheon were Mr. Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Mr. Richard Patterson, Vice President of Global Delivery, IBM.

During the visit to New York and Washington, DC, Dr. Kamel and Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) officials met with senior business executives from top Fortune 100 companies like Board Chairman and CEO of IBM Corp. Samuel J. Palmisano to discuss new business, technology innovation and future opportunities to collaborate in Egypt.

Egypt has been highly aggressive over the past decade in delivering on major infrastructure, bandwidth, educational and telecommunications projects to drive increased interest in companies looking to establish major global service delivery centers in the country.

"Egypt is now at the new crossroads for next stage in the IT revolution," said Dr. Kamel. "With a long history of innovation, we are a young, energetic country with a population that grew up in the technology world, so we've keyed some of the specific goals as a nation around technology -- being a hub for innovation and research, cyber security and cross-border collaboration."

Egypt is located on the paths of most optical cables linking Africa and Asia with Europe and North America. Egypt has also developed fiber connectivity with its neighbors, which makes it a prime location for transient traffic to the region. With the only direct connection from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt is also strategically positioned to be a manufacturing, logistics and distribution hub for Europe and the Middle East.

"Many people do not realize that we are a multi-stakeholder country - English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch and Arabic are all common languages that are currently serviced out of Egypt. So many companies across Europe and the Middle East come to Egypt and are very comfortable with the language, culture and communications," Dr. Kamel continued.

A.T. Kearney recently positioned Egypt as sixth on its 2009 Global Services Location Index, an improvement of seven ranks from 2007. Cairo was also ranked in the seventh position amongst top 50 emerging outsourcing cities across the globe in a study prepared by Global Services - Tholons. Currently, companies such as Microsoft, Vodafone, Teleperformance, Wipro, SQS, Valeo, and Alcatel all have offices in Egypt's Smart Village, a 600-acre technology business park in Cairo. In May of this year, Delta Rasmala relocated its own Egypt headquarters to Smart Village.

"Global IT and telecommunications companies find that our Egyptian market provides real opportunity and advantages for investment including competitive operational costs, political stability, and highly qualified human resources," Dr. Kamel stated.

Egypt continues to make progress in combating software piracy as highlighted by its reduced software piracy rating in the sixth annual Business Software Alliance (BSA), IDC Global Software Piracy Study. The report sees Egypt's 2008 rating drop a further one percent on the previous year, with levels reducing to 59 percent, and a total fall of 10 percent since 2003. This is the fifth consecutive year that Egypt's piracy rates have fallen and these rates are well below other countries such as Morocco, the Philippines, and Bulgaria.

Egypt is primed for business growth driven by tax, customs and financial sector reforms. Egypt was named as leading global economic reformer by the World Bank in its 'Doing Business 2007' report.

Earlier this month, Cisco and ITIDA announced that Cisco was going to be adding a brand new customer service and support center in Egypt as a means to serve its customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with employees that could communicate in seven different languages.

"Egypt is now, more than ever, at the crossroads of where technology, culture, innovation and business meet. Through the appropriate legal and regulatory reforms which can accommodate deregulation and development of the telecommunications sector, the government of Egypt has helped put laws in place around e-commerce, intellectual property and investment to help incoming companies truly maximize their profitability," said Dr. Kamel. "New tax and customs reforms were implemented by the government, according to which the highest personal tax rate was cut from 32 percent to 20 percent and the corporate tax rate cut went from 42 percent to 20 percent."

"Much of Egypt is now connected by main roads, power generation has improved considerably and Egypt is enjoying a remarkable talent pool as investing in human capital is part and parcel of the government's plan," Dr. Kamel continued. "Egypt's human resources have always been one of its greatest assets, with its almost 330,000 college graduates yearly - 31,000 alone focused on engineering or science - enjoying excellent multilingual capabilities."

Egyptian leadership is also focused on collaborating with companies to advance the penetration of the Internet in Egypt and to get the nation on the forefront of technological developments, while at the same time focused on protecting and supporting its youth in using the Internet as a means of creativity and innovation.

"The dreams of our generations are great and so are the challenges, stretching hands of cooperation and collaboration is the only way to envisage a better world. It is high time to put differences and discrimination aside, to bridge all the gaps by exchanging expertise with openness and maturity needed to push the technology forward, build on what was achieved and innovate for the future. As change is the wave of the age, innovation and creation is the future, and our role is to secure it for the coming generations."

Egypt sets goal of surpassing US$1.1 billion in information technology export revenues by 2010