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 Monday, 16 May 2005

The following is the message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on World Telecommunications Day, 17 May 2005:

"We live in an age in which communication between people is essential to achieving our shared goals of development and peaceful coexistence. Innovations in information and communication technologies have increased exponentially our capacity to connect with each other. It is up to us to use to harness the potential of these technologies in our work to extend the benefits of education, health care, trade and environmental protection to all.

The theme of this year’s World Telecommunication Day, "Creating an Equitable Information Society: Time for Action", calls on us to give shape to the vision adopted at the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in 2003. I urge Member States and all other stakeholders to reaffirm their commitment to that process, and to participate at the highest levels when the Summit reconvenes in Tunis in November of this year.

Efforts to build an equitable and accessible information society depend on the strength of partnerships between Governments, civil society and businesses, underpinned by the support of international organizations such as the United Nations. On this World Telecommunication Day, which marks the 140th anniversary of the founding of the International Telecommunication Union, let us pledge to bridge technological differences and promote interconnectivity for all. Together, we can create a truly global information society that will benefit all the world’s people."

Monday, 16 May 2005 17:03:57 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mindjack: Piracy is Good? How Battlestar Galactica killed Broadcast TV:

"October 18th, 2004 is the day TV died. That evening, British satellite broadcaster SkyOne — part of NEWS Corp's BSkyB satellite broadcasting service — ran the premiere episode of the re-visioned 70s camp classic Battlestar Galactica. (That episode, "33," is one of the best hours of drama ever written for television.) The production costs for Battlestar Galactica were underwritten by two broadcast partners: SkyOne in the UK, and the SciFi Channel in the USA. SciFi Channel programers had decided to wait until January 2005 (a slow month for American television) to begin airing the series, so three months would elapse between the airing of "33" in the UK, and its airing in the US. Or so it was thought.

The average viewer of the SciFi network is young and decidedly geeky. They are masters of media; they can find ways to get things they shouldn't have. Thus, a few hours after airing on SkyOne, "33" was available for Internet download."

Monday, 16 May 2005 16:47:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Security researchers are reporting a new brand of phishing attack that attempts to use stolen consumer data to rip off individual account holders at specific banks.

"Phishing is a form of online fraud that has exploded in frequency over the last several years. Typically using large-volume e-mail campaigns, phishers try to trick people into sharing personal information that the thieves then sell or use to commit identity theft. The new breed of attack, however, could have a higher success rate because the e-mails present unsuspecting recipients with accurate information in a document that looks like legitimate bank correspondence."

The news article brings forward that "The attacks take advantage of poor technological defenses and continued consumer vulnerability, and evidence the work of an organized group with real research-and-development resources,"  Furthermore, it states that "So far, the success rates that we've seen are amazing. People are expecting to see a crude attack that tries to steal their information; they're not expecting to see this much real information as part of the attack."

The article also highlights another report on phising trends released by the Anti-Phishing Working Group stating that "attacks are increasingly relying on so-called keystroke loggers, a form of malicious program, to garner consumer information. Rather than trying to direct people to fake Web sites that ask for personal information, keystroke phishers capture login names and passwords for online bank accounts when customers access the accounts via computer. The keystroke logger programs then forward that information to the attackers."

For the full ZDNet news article, click here.

Monday, 16 May 2005 09:28:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities, released its newest data on Internet usage in EU25, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Norway and Iceland. The ICT household and enterprise surveys run by Eurostat measure, among other things, the rate of take up of the Internet and the use made of ICTs. This current edition highlights some of the first results from the 2004 survey round.

A comparison of Internet usage by individuals and by enterprises in several European countries, and for the first time EU25, shows that in 2004 just under half (47 per cent) of the EU25 population aged between 16-74 used the Internet. The average percentage of enterprises using the Internet in the same year was 89 per cent.

The Nordic countries, Sweden, Denmark and Finland had the highest density of Internet usage both by individuals and enterprises. Estonia was the highest user in both ranges from the new EU Member States, with the same degree of usage as the EU15 average with 50 per cent of individuals and 90 per cent of enterprises using the Internet.

Some of the main points raised in the report are:
  • SMEs are lagging behind large enterprises in Internet use.
  • There is a gender gap in Internet use overall, but this narrows in the 16-24 age group.
  • The broadband roll-out is gathering speed, overtaking ISDN as a means to access the Internet in enterprises.
  • Enterprises interact via Internet with public authorities more than individuals.
  • Almost half of the enterprises with more than 250 employees purchase via the Internet.

For the full report, see:
Statistics in Focus: Internet usage by individuals and enterprises 2004

For the related press release, see:
Internet usage in the EU25: Half of individuals and nine out of ten enterprises used the internet in 2004

Monday, 16 May 2005 08:34:01 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The high reliance on ICTs as an enabler for social and economic development and the speed with which critical information systems and data can be accessed, manipulated and destroyed has put cyber security on the top of the agenda as one of the main challenges to the emerging Information Society and the knowledge-based economy.

Within the framework of its mandate in the Istanbul Action Plan Programme 3, ITU and the Government of Latvia are organizing a regional seminar on Cyber Security for CIS, CEE and Baltic States. The seminar will provide a forum for Member States and Sector members from the region to discuss and exchange views on the main cyber security threats and challenges faced by countries in the region. Countries will have the opportunity to present national initiatives related to cybersecurity policies, strategies and legislation.

More information on the event can be found here.

Monday, 16 May 2005 07:30:32 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 15 May 2005

Singapore's IDA has announced Intelligent Nation 2015 or iN2015 — a 10-year master plan to grow the infocomm sector, and chart the use of technology for work, life and leisure. [via James Seng's Blog]

Sunday, 15 May 2005 21:48:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Roger Darlington's CommsWatch notes some of the issues facing Ofcom concering regulation of next generation access networks. Ofcom's Phase Two consultation document (PDF), which is  part of its strategic review of telcommunications devoted six pages (paras. 8.49 - 8.74) to the subject of regulating next generation access networks. From the Phase Two consultation document (8.60-8.61):

  • "We believe that the deployment of next generation access represents an opportunity for a new competitive structure to emerge which would avoid the regulatory battles of the last twenty years. Next generation access networks also have a slightly different regulatory imperative to today’s infrastructure. Because they are not yet in place to any significant degree, there is a strong imperative that regulation does not disincentivise their timely and efficient deployment. As we noted in Chapter 4, there is widespread acceptance among our stakeholders that widely-available broadband is critical to economic competitiveness, and many consider that this effect will become more pronounced with the advent of the more powerful broadband applications which can only be supplied over next generation broadband access networks. This suggests that there is a strong citizen interest in seeing these networks deployed as soon as possible. But this needs to be carefully balanced against our duty to safeguard the interests of consumers, where appropriate by promoting effective competition.
  • These are clearly conflicting factors..."
Sunday, 15 May 2005 21:48:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Register: The problem with grid computing has traditionally been tying it down into a real-world context. The theory is great – getting lots of individual technical components working together as if they were one big resource - but it’s the wackier or conversation stimulating applications that have received all of the attention. More details in a free Quocirca report entitled Grid Computing Update.

Sunday, 15 May 2005 21:41:45 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 13 May 2005

A policy paper funded by Vodafone provides insights into the economic and social impacts of mobile telecommunication. Recognizing that mobile telephony has a positive and significant impact on economic growth, and this impact may be twice as large in developing countries as in developed countries.

Through the study, researchers found that "people in Africa use mobile phones very differently. Most strikingly is the accessibility of mobile as the overall impact of mobile extends well beyond what might be suggested by the number of subscriptions alone."

For more information, see the report summary and key facts or click here to download the report in full.
Friday, 13 May 2005 10:32:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | is the BBC's new developer network, providing content feeds for anyone to build with. Alternatively, share your ideas on new ways to use BBC content. [via Slashdot:]

Friday, 13 May 2005 10:22:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 12 May 2005

Richard Stastny in VoIP and ENUM debates as to whether we need phone companies for VoIP:

"I want to pick up on the statement by Jon Peterson on slide 2 of his presentation at the ITU-T/IETF NGN meeting in Geneva I posted last week:

On the Internet, telephony is an application
– Not necessarily a service, no service must be provided This implies that if no service is provided, one does not need a service provider either.

Tom Evslin in the last? of his series of posts "As the Phone world Turns Part 9 - Do we need Phone Companies?" first gives a tutorial how VoIP and especially SIP is modelled after e-mail and from this comes to the conclusion:

Notice that most medium or larger size companies DO NOT use any outside servers other than DNS when doing email.

So three quick inferences for the phone world from the analogy with email:

  • consumers and very small business will continue to need someone to operate “voice” servers for them but that service is likely to be bundled AT NO EXTRA COST with ISP service or be “free” and advertising supported.
  • larger businesses will operate their own servers and will not require a service provider other than for DNS and basic connectivity to the Internet
  • There is no long term business model which supports charging by the minute for voice transport"

Now add to this the recent post from Tom Keating: "Traditional Telephony Dying at the Hnads of VoIP", where he cites a report from the Info-Tech Research Group:

  • "... that 23% of small- to mid-sized enterprises have already implemented VoIP technology and that number will grow to 50% within the next three years.
  • VoIP is displacing traditional telephony services a lot faster than anyone expected,” says George Goodall, Research Analyst at Info-Tech Research Group. “It means a whole change to the look and feel of an organization’s IT infrastructure.”
  • While one network that handles applications and telephone calls is an IT manager’s dream, the speed with which VoIP is coming to the market might be an IT manager’s nightmare,” Goodall says. “Senior managers are demanding the cost savings associated with VoIP, vendors are scrambling to reinvent their offerings, and IT managers are scrambling to implement the technology.”

So "service providers" = "telcos" are left with the residential customer, and what they are offering there is not very exciting: it basically simple POTS replacement. The only one here going sucessfully into another direction is Skype.

So the (local) phone companies will be squeezed regarding services between enterprise DIY and cleverly branding and globally acting up-starts."

Thursday, 12 May 2005 11:10:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From Engadget: A Bangalore-based company is the latest to get in on the recent trend of cheap computers, following Nicholas Negroponte’s $100 PC, VIA’s $250 PC, and AMD’s cheap Personal Internet CommunicatorEncore Software, with the backing of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, has developed three different PCs ranging in price from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 20,000 (between $230 and $460US).  The basic model is the Softcom, a desktop with a 15-inch monitor, moving up a bit is the Mobilis, a Linux-based mobile desktop with a 7.4-inch LCD screen, and at the top of the heap is the Mobilis Wireless, which adds a built-in GPS receiver and GPRS wireless modem.

Thursday, 12 May 2005 10:17:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From the April 2005 ITU News (free subscription required): International Internet Connectivity:  Are poor countries subsidizing the rich?, contents include:

  • Framing the issues
  • The ITU role: The story thus far... and the future
  • What does the Working Group on Internet Governance say?
Thursday, 12 May 2005 10:01:18 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ETSI has published two documents on ENUM approved at the January 2005 TISPAN Plenary:

  • ETSI TR 102 055 V1.1.1: Telecommunications and Internet converged Services and Protocols for Advanced Networking (TISPAN); ENUM scenarios for user and infrastructure ENUM.
  • ETSI TS 102 172 V1.2.1: Telecommunications and Internet converged Services and Protocols for Advanced Networking (TISPAN); Minimum requirements for interoperability of ENUM implementations. This document serves as the basis for the upcoming ETSI ENUM Plugtest.

[via VoIP and ENUM]

Thursday, 12 May 2005 09:15:32 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 10 May 2005

The Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) is discussing how to improve current Internet governance arrangements in order to bring them more in line with the WSIS principles. In the light of these discussions, this questionnaire has been developed to allow for a structured feed-back. 

The WGIG has also opened a public discussion forum with instructions on how to use the associated Plone software.

Tuesday, 10 May 2005 16:34:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

News on VoIP regulatory proceedings since the beginning of 2005 from the ITU-D's Regulatory Reform Unit newsroom.

Tuesday, 10 May 2005 11:21:33 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 09 May 2005

Daniel Karrenberg has published an excellent and comprehensive FAQ explaining the operation of the Internet domain name system root server system.

Monday, 09 May 2005 14:45:44 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Making the world (of communications) a different place (PDF), Report of a working session of the Internet Research Task Force's End-to-End Research Group, January, 2005

Monday, 09 May 2005 09:03:02 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 05 May 2005

NetWizard's Blog has a post on the start-up work on a standard mail abuse reporting format:

  • Since the initial draft two 1/2 weeks ago, a lot of things took place. First of all, Dave was nice enough to open up a public mailing list for anyone who wants to comment on the draft. I will be putting information on it into the -01 draft which is currently in the works. Second, there is now a small public page called "ARF" or "Abuse Reporting Format" which will hopefully contain all the info on this in one easy to find place. Third, I am working on the next (-01) draft which will hopefully explain things better than the current one and put in place a normal extensibility mechanism (an IANA registry similar to what the SIP folks have).
Thursday, 05 May 2005 07:29:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 04 May 2005

The UK communications regulator OFCOM has done one of the first public consultations on the regulatory implications of Next Generation Networks (NGN), particularly with regard to BT's 21CN NGN initiative. The consultation document, entitled Next Generation Networks - Future arrangements for access and interconnection (overview,complete) explores the implications of Next Generation Networks (NGNs) for access and interconnection arrangements in the UK. The responses to the consultation are available here.

In BT's response to the consultation, it indicates some of its views on 21CN regulation:

Finally BT observes that some key aspects of the strategic positioning, NGN access and interconnect, are not addressed in Ofcom's questions. We wish to point to the following specific points.

  1. We would expect that NGNs will blur many of the boundaries all of us in the industry currently take for granted. For example, the distinction between "operators" and "service providers" will diminish; and one could foresee an increase in pan-European alternative providers leveraging their IP infrastructure using next-generation interconnection more effectively. Further, as the barriers to market entry are lowered through technology advances and open standards, we would expect many new entrants to change the landscape - some with innovative value propositions and others by identifying and exploiting new arbitrage angles.

  2. We believe end user customers will soon demand seamless, ‘any to any’ interworking between mobile and fixed networks. Operators will require the ability to roam on, and interconnect to, other national and international fixed and mobile networks in order to facilitate the provision of next generation services. The regulatory regime needs to become more technologically neutral and focus on economic bottlenecks, irrespective of the underlying network technology.

  3. We believe that innovative services will be heavily reliant on intelligent interworking to provide coherent services. Therefore, cross platform access (including roaming and interconnect) to intelligence capabilities will be essential in ensuring further development of services and competition in the convergent marketplace.

  4. BT is disappointed to see the level of potential regulatory intervention and micromanagement, both in commercial and technical terms, demonstrated in this Consultation. This is particularly inappropriate as it followed so soon after the second phase of the Telecoms Strategic Review, which promulgated a deregulatory agenda and a focus on regulating only bottlenecks. This Consultation also includes some substantive inconsistencies of approach which will need to be addressed.

  5. It is critical that the outcome of this - and any later - consultation processes should be a regulatory regime which rewards investment and does not leave BT with a significant proportion of the 21CN investment risk, whilst distributing the investment returns across the industry. Ofcom will wish to consider this issue as they contemplate the responses to the Consultation.

The ITU Strategy and Policy Unit, in cooperation with the ITU-T and ITU-D, is organizing a workshop on NGN Policy and Regulation in February 2006.

Wednesday, 04 May 2005 16:32:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Red Herring reports that: Vonage will spend $10 million to start providing 911-style services for its customers, partly by using Verizon’s infrastructure to connect callers with emergency dispatchers, the VoIP provider announced Wednesday. The investment is Vonage’s first substantial attempt to close the company’s emergency calling gap. The cash is a relatively low price to address a shortcoming.

[via Fergie's Tech Blog]

Wednesday, 04 May 2005 15:32:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

CommsWatch has a post on the challenges to content regulation with convergence:

"It is not obvious why, in a news item today, the "Guardian" should highlight the challenge to conventional regulation of broadcasting posed by the growing trend to put broadcast material over the Internet. After all, it was 20 January 2005 when Ofcom published its Annual Plan for 2005/06 which contained the following statements:

  • "We will prepare for further change, for example, by examining how digital platforms and services are likely to evolve and the implications for regulation, including regulatory withdrawal. (para. 1.5)
  • "We will also look forward by conducting a review of digital, multi-media platforms. We hope this will facilitate a wide-ranging public debate about whether content, including internet content, could or should be regulated in a converged world, and, if so, how. (para. 2.15)
  • "In setting the agenda for media literacy, we will complete a major research programme and seek to identify areas of concern relating to emerging communications technology and services, particularly relating to fixed and mobile internet content. We will encourage public debate and engagement on key issues such as labelling. (para. 3.30)
  • We will carry out a review of digital platforms that will address the regulatory issues associated with content becoming available via a range of different media. (para. 3.47) andWe hope this review will facilitate a wide-ranging public debate about the future development of content and the implications for regulation, if any. (para. 3.48)
  • "Media literacy agenda setting: Identify areas of concern relating to emerging communications technology and services, particularly relating to fixed and mobile internet content, and encourage public debate. (Annex 3, section 3)

There [i]s obviously a theme here: Ofcom wants a debate on Internet content and it intends to encourage, facilitate and inform such a debate. It is now up to broadcasters, Internet service providers, and others to engage in that debate. Today's "Guardian" piece suggests that the issue has "come to a head" because of the European Commission's review of the Television Without Frontiers Directive. However, it was 21 March 2005 when the new European Commissioner Viviane Reding used a speech to the Council of Presidents of UNICE in Brussels to state:

  • "Let me be clear. The Television without Frontiers Directive can no longer just be concerned with broadcasting. Television is now on the Internet; it is also going mobile. Admittedly, for the moment TV on the internet is small scale but it will grow. We have to make sure it grows strongly and correctly. And for this we need the right, modern framework. I will only regulate this new market where absolutely necessary in the concerns of European citizens for diversity, quality, decency and safety from abusive uses. Also, convergence means increased competition between media. This indicates relaxing regulatory restrictions to leave more to the market and to consumer choice than in the traditional media world. In particular, I am thinking about easing advertising restrictions.""
Wednesday, 04 May 2005 11:59:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is hosting a 3-day workshop on anti-Spam strategies from 3-5 May 2005. The workshop is conducted as a result of the last ASEAN Telecommunications Regulatory Council (ATRC) meeting in Vientiane, Laos (July 2004) where the ATRC has agreed to the setting up of a Working Group (WG) to work on anti-SPAM measures led by MCMC.

Wednesday, 04 May 2005 09:57:32 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 03 May 2005

The programme and presentations at the European Electronic Communications Regulatory Forum held 13-14 April 2005 in Barcelona are available [via ERO and my weblog]

Tuesday, 03 May 2005 17:43:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

AfrISPA appoints regional carriers

As part of its aim to establish true inter-country connectivity within the African continent, the African Internet Service Providers Association (AfrISPA) has appointed two organisations as regional carriers. Transtel and the Africa Online/SkyVision JV are the two bidders that successfully met AfrISPA's criteria to provide an African regional Internet traffic solution, in order to remove the current dependence upon overseas carriers and to promote the establishment and growth of African regional data carriers. The establishment of a network of Internet exchange points (IXPs) within Africa would also result in reduced costs, improved speeds and the improvement of the Internet backbone within Africa as a whole.

According to AfrISPA, Africa Online will offer a fully meshed network, which uses proven and reliable VSAT technology to provide point-to-point connectivity between IXPs. It will also utilise existing terrestrial links between certain countries, such as Kenya and Tanzania, making it possible to create regional hubs whose component countries can share one VSAT link and so reduce installation costs even further.

From IT Web [via my weblog]

Tuesday, 03 May 2005 17:36:06 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Australian Government Information Management Office has recently released A Guide to Open Source Software for Australian Government Agencies". [via Slashdot

Tuesday, 03 May 2005 15:32:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 02 May 2005

The Economist Intelligence Unit has published its annual e-readiness ranking of the word's largest economies. Currently 65 countries are assessed on their ability to promote and support digital business and information and communications technology (ICT) services. A country's e-readiness is essentially a measure of its e-business environment, a collection of factors that indicate how amenable a market is to Internet-based opportunities. The ranking allows governments to gauge the success of their technology initiatives against those of other countries. It also provides companies that wish to invest in online operations with an overview of the world's most promising investment locations. The 2005 rankings

  1. Denmark
  2. US
  3. Sweden
  4. Switzerland
  5. UK

A more comprehensive method is ITU's Digital Access Index (explanation here in English, French and Spanish).

[via Information Policy]

Monday, 02 May 2005 22:39:38 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Richard Stastny has a post on his take on the 1-2 May 2005 ITU-T workshop on NGN in collaboration with the IETF in Geneva at ITU headquarters.

  • The workshop was very well attended (270 participants), both from IESG and IAB, and also from ITU-T SG groups and other standardization bodies (e.g. ETSI TISPAN). An indication of the high-level attendance can also be derived from the speakers list in the program.

Update: he has some further thoughts in a later post on the different visions of NGN.

[via VoIP and ENUM]
Monday, 02 May 2005 21:59:30 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

This article by Ian Peter looks at competing views of the historical origins of the Internet and gives his views how this relates to Internet governance.

Monday, 02 May 2005 12:20:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Dissemination and Acquisition of Knowledge in a Mobile Age (PDF), Paper Abstract (PDF), presented by Lara Srivastava, ITU Strategy and Policy Unit, 28 April 2005, Seeing, Learning and Understanding in a Mobile Age, Institute for Philosophical Research - Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Budapest, Hungary). The conference website and other papers are available here.

Monday, 02 May 2005 10:19:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 01 May 2005
Sunday, 01 May 2005 11:22:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Richard Stastny in his VoIP and ENUM has an interesting post on the debate as to whether "SIP is dead" versus Skype versus NGN:

  • So the real fight will take place between the planned IMS NGN and the existing Skype NGN, having a headstart of approx. two years. If the IMS NGN will be able to catch up will be decided finally by the customer, because he will be able to choose on his mobile device if he is using the IMS NGN VoIP or the Skype NGN VoIP. Of course one can download a SIP client also on a Smartphone, try to configure it (good luck) and register with a free SIP provider, , in case there are any left. Then he may be reached via his SIP URI and also contact anybody with a SIP URI, if thery are any. Metcalfe's will be against this approach.
Sunday, 01 May 2005 09:44:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Exploring the Reality of eCommerce Benefits Among Businesses in a Developing Country by Alemayehu MOLLA

The use of e-commerce by businesses in developing countries is related to the potential benefits of participating in international value chains, increasing market access and reach, improving internal and market efficiency, and lowering transaction costs. Belief in such benefits has led to the adoption of e-commerce by some businesses in these countries. However, the questions of what and how much benefits businesses in developing countries are actually reaping from their e-commerce investments are not well covered. This paper attempts to explore the real benefits of e-commerce based on data from 92 businesses in South Africa. The findings indicate that e-commerce benefits are by and large limited to improving intra- and inter-organisational communications. Strategic benefits such as improving relationships across the value chain, increasing market reach, and reducing market, operation and supply chain management costs are not as widely found as the standard model of e-commerce would have us believe. These findings support the argument that cautions against an over-optimistic view of e-commerce for developing countries.

From Institute for Development Policy and Management [via my weblog]

Sunday, 01 May 2005 08:25:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 29 April 2005

Business Inaction Could Lead to Cybersecurity Law

U.S. businesses for years have urged the government to let them set computer-security standards of their own, but their inability to do so could now prompt Congress to step in, experts say.

Those who worry that regulation may stifle innovation say the business community may have already missed an opportunity to prove the government's help is not needed. "The market is in a much better position to respond to this challenge ... but corporate America has not provided evidence across the board that they've taken this issue seriously enough to protect consumers," said Bob Dix, a lobbyist for Citadel Security Software Inc., who until last year handled cybersecurity for a congressional subcommittee. The private sector is under scrutiny after a string of incidents at data brokers, retailers and other businesses exposed at least half a million U.S. citizens to identity theft.

The business community for years has argued that any government regulations would quickly become outdated in a rapidly changing field, and a 2003 Bush administration plan called on the private sector to set its own standards.

Working with the the Homeland Security Department, an industry-led task force issued a set of guidelines in April 2004 that called for company chief executives to take direct responsibility for their computer systems. One year later, only two companies have adopted the guidelines: Entrust Inc. and RSA Security Inc., whose chief executives co-chaired the task force.

Corporate lawyers warned that any public security promises could open the door for lawsuits in the wake of a security breach, said Entrust CEO Bill Connor.

From Reuters [via my weblog]

Friday, 29 April 2005 22:50:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The latest EU Competition Policy newsletter has an article on pages 8 - 15 entitled State aid rules and public funding of broadband:

  • In the recent months, the Commission had the opportunity to assess several projects involving public support to broadband  development. The considerations developed in this article reflect the Commission's conclusions in the ensuing decisions and aim at providing guidance on how to design forms of intervention that do not raise competition concerns. A word of caution is, however, necessary. These are the first decisions on State aid relating to broadband projects: the present views might evolve in the light of further experience and in view of the quick pace of economic development and technological evolution in the sector.

[via EuroTelcoblog]

Friday, 29 April 2005 15:47:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Netcraft has announced it is making available a phishing feed: "Netcraft is now making available the list of phishing sites reported by the Toolbar community and validated by Netcraft as a continuously updated feed suitable for ISPs, hosting companies, enterprises, and other companies that operate mail servers and web proxies, or network monitoring systems." [via Fergie's Tech Blog]

Friday, 29 April 2005 14:35:01 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The ITU-T has prepared a brochure giving an overview of ITU-T's H.264 advanced video coding standard. The increased compression efficiency of the new ITU-T H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) standard will lead to new application areas and business opportunities. Broadcasting over cable, satellite, cable modem, terrestrial, etc., will benefit from the new standard. It is now possible to transmit video signals at about 1 Mbit/s with TV (PAL) quality, which enables streaming over xDSL connections. Another interesting business area is TV transmission over satellite. By choosing H.264, the number of programmes per satellite can be doubled in comparison to current systems using H.262 (MPEG-2). Also, in the field of mobile communication, H.264 will play an important role because the compression efficiency will be doubled in comparison to the coding schemes previously specified by Third-Generation Mobile (3GPP and 3GPP2) for streaming.

The new Recommendation is destined to influence further application areas including but not limited to the following:

  • Interactive or serial storage multimedia (ISM or SSM) on optical and magnetic devices, DVD, etc.
  • Real-time conversational services (RTC), such as videoconferencing and videophone, over ISDN, Ethernet, LAN, DSL, wireless and mobile networks, modems or mixtures of these.
  • Video-on-demand or multimedia streaming services, such as remote video surveillance (RVS), over ISDN, cable modem, DSL, LAN, wireless networks, etc.
  • Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS) over ISDN, DSL, Ethernet, LAN, wireless and mobile networks, etc.
  • Multimedia services over packet networks (MSPN), such as multimedia mailing (MMM), etc.
Friday, 29 April 2005 11:59:20 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The presentations from last month's ITU-T Cybersecurity II Symposium, hosted by RANS in Moscow, are now available, including presentations from:

  • Mr Herbert Bertine, Chairman of ITU-T Study Group 17, presentation
  • Mr Igor Faynberg, Technical Manager, NGN Standards, and Technologies and ITU-T FGNGN WG 5 Leader, presentation
  • Mr Magnus Nyström, RSA Security, presentation
  • Mr Charles Brookson, Head of Technology and Standards, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), UK, presentation
  • Mr Igor Furgel, Common Criteria, T-Systems GEI GmbH, presentation
  • Mr Bill McCrum, Deputy Director General, Telecom Engineering, Industry Canada, presentation
  • Mr Hyun-Cheol Jeong, Senior Research Staff, Korea Information Security Center of KISA, presentation
  • Mr Gary Kondakov, Managing Director, Kaspersky Labs in Russia, CIS and Baltic countries, presentation
  • Mr Eliot Lear, Consulting Engineer, Network Security, CISCO, pesentation
  • Mr Alexander Pogudin, CEO of Center of Financial Technologies, presentation
  • Ms Amal Abdallah, Federal Communications Commission, USA, presentation
  • Mr Andrey Chapchaev, Director General, Infotecs, presentation

Friday, 29 April 2005 11:45:22 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The May/June 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine has an article entitled Down to the Wire by Thomas Bleha with the summary:

  • Once a leader in Internet innovation, the United States has fallen far behind Japan and other Asian states in deploying broadband and the latest mobile-phone technology. This lag will cost it dearly. By outdoing the United States, Japan and its neighbors are positioning themselves to be the first states to reap the benefits of the broadband era: economic growth, increased productivity, and a better quality of life.
Friday, 29 April 2005 07:40:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Russian security authorities should be given broader powers to control telecommunications and the Internet, argues Dmitri Frolov, of the Federal Security Service's Information Security Center.

Frolov spoke Thursday in the Federation Council, or Russia's upper house of parliament, at a panel discussion devoted to telecommunications and Internet regulations.

The Federal Security Service proposes setting new rules for Internet providers so that it could prevent the spread of extremist ideas, track down illegal online operations, and get access to databases with mobile telephone subscribers' details, such as e-mail addresses, Frolov said. There should be compulsory registration of mobile phone users with Internet connectivity.

The Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications is opposed to the idea of adopting a separate law on Internet operations. Speaking at today's panel discussion in the Federation Council, Deputy Minister Boris Antonyuk said the use of the Internet could be regulated by more general laws already in effect, including those dealing with advertising, the protection of consumer rights, and administrative offenses.

[via Fergie's Tech Blog and RIA Novosti]

Friday, 29 April 2005 07:32:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 28 April 2005

The information society: Measurements biased by capitalism and its intent to control-dependent societies—a critical perspective, Sara Hyder

  • The brief communication examines the definition of the information society from economic, political, technological, and social conceptions, which reflect a single model of world development. International organizations use development rankings that naturally position developed nation-states at the top of world development models. The criteria used in current rankings to measure information's effect on societies are inadequate.
Thursday, 28 April 2005 15:56:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC) has published its statistics on the number of Internet Users in FY2004. Over 75 million Japanese access the Internet through mobile phones. [via my weblog]

Thursday, 28 April 2005 12:52:57 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ZDNET Australia is reporting that Australian regulators have signed an agreement with Asia-Pacific nations to step up the war against spam.

Twelve Asia-Pacific communications and Internet agencies have joined the Australian Communications Authority in signing a memorandum of understanding -- the Seoul-Melbourne Anti-Spam Agreement --on cooperation in countering spam.

ACA acting chairman Bob Horton said the memorandum was "focused on sharing knowledge, information and intelligence about known sources of spam, network vulnerabilities, methods of spam propagation, and technical, educational and policy solutions to the spam problem".

Other agencies involved include:

  • the Internet Society of China;
  • Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau, Hong Kong (CITB);
  • Philippines Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT);
  • Philippines Computer Emergency Response Team (PH-CERT);
  • the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC);
  • the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan (METI);
  • Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan (MIC);
  • New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development (MED);
  • Taiwan Computer Emergency Response Team / Coordination Centre (TWCERT/CC) and;
  • the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Kingdom of Thailand (MICT).

The new document is based on an agreement signed in late 2003 between the ACA, the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) -- since renamed the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) -- and the Korea Information Security Agency.

Furthering cooperation among international initiatives in countering spam will also be discussed at the ITU's upcoming WSIS Thematic Meeting on Cybersecurity which will begin with a countering spam day as a following up to ITU's meeting in July 2004 on countering spam.

Thursday, 28 April 2005 09:44:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Intel Corporation has announced the availability of its first WiMAX product, providing equipment manufacturers and carriers the ability to deliver next-generation wireless broadband networks around the world. In addition, several service providers worldwide announced plans to begin commercial WiMAX trials based on Intel silicon products later this year, giving consumers and businesses a glimpse at this emerging wireless high-speed broadband technology. Key equipment providers also announced WiMAX solutions based on Intel's product..

The Register (via Wireless Watch) had a recent review of the WiMAX Summit in Paris, France and the related standards debate.

  • It quickly emerged that the issue preoccupying both vendors and potential operators is the road to mobility and exactly how the transition to the forthcoming 802.l6e mobile standard will be achieved. With a key WiMAX Forum meeting to be held in the coming week in Spain, and 802.16e set to be ratified this year, it is essential to the uptake of the platform that the route to mobility is clarified as soon as possible.
  • All agree that 802.16 will be the platform with which WiMAX hits the big time. Most of the equipment majors are merely licensing fixed 802.16d (now renamed 802.16-2004) gear, while focusing their own development efforts on 'e'. That means that the chances for chipmakers to net the big OEM deals - with Alcatel, Nortel and the others - rely on the mobile standard. But there are two basic schools of thought among the chipmakers and their licensees as to their strategy in the interim.
  • One is that there is a period of at least two years before 802.16e achieves volume, and that the upgrade path will be complex. That means the priority is to make 802.16-2004 as impressive as possible in order to drive short term sales and increase confidence in WiMAX. This will mean creating a so-called 'd+' technology that goes beyond the basic stipulations of the fixed standard, with a focus on aspects such as quality of service for voice and video, and portability with consumer grade subscriber equipment.
  • The other view is that the market needs to move to mobility more rapidly, by offering pre-standard networks that provide most of the functionality promised for 'e'. This strategy rests on the belief - or hope - that the mobile standard will come to market rapidly and that the leap from its predecessor will be a simple one.

In related news, only days before a deadline for its first licensing fee payment, South Korea’s Hanaro Telecom announced Tuesday it will forego a license to roll out a WiBro mobile broadband network (based on 802.16e technology). Hanaro was one of three Korean operators granted licenses by the Korean Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) in January. "We still believe WiBro is commercially viable. We plan to grant the remaining licensee withdrawn from Hanaro to an eligible hopeful,’’ MIC director general Kim Dong-soo said.

[via my weblog, The Register, MIC]

Thursday, 28 April 2005 08:43:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 27 April 2005

CAPTEF (Conférence des administrations des postes et des télécommunications d’expression française ) Member States adopted a declaration recognizing the importance of the fight against spam at a meeting held in Paris between the 29th and 30th of April 2005. The main purpose of this meeting on "CAPTEF Internet" was to present the various methodologies adopted by the Member States for securing information systems, fighting spam and managing Internet domain names.

The final declaration emphasizes the collection of national contacts responsible for different areas in the fight against spam, which is to be disseminated to international organizations (OECD, ITU, etc.), and the reinforcement of cooperation and international coordination for sharing information on legislation, specific country needs, and anti-spam technologies.

Nineteen countries are currently members of CAPTEF: Benign, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, Central Africa, Congo, Côte.d'ivoire, Djibouti, France, Gabon, Madagascar, Mali, Maurice, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Chad, and Togo. Six other countries: Algeria, the Comoros, Guinea, Morocco, Tunisia, and Democratic Republic of Congo take part as observers.

For further details, see Direction du développement des médias.

Wednesday, 27 April 2005 15:32:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |