RealTime IT News

HKT's ISP Builds Up Pace For IPO With New China Portal

For the third anniversary of its ISP unit, Interactive Multimedia Services (IMS), Hongkong Telecom (HKT) stepped up the pace with the introduction of its new Chinese portal and plans to develop the Web site into a portal for Greater China.

IMS, branded as Netvigator, is Hong Kong's largest ISP with 330,000 subscribers.

In the last few months, HKT has been increasing the international exposure of its ISP by regular announcements regarding new services, acquisitions, and partnerships. Industry analysts speculate that Netvigator is in the run for a listing on NASDAQ in the United States.

"With our leading Internet services and technology, Netvigator is working towards bringing together Chinese communities across the world and connecting them to the information world of the new millennium," said Allen Ma, CEO of HKT's Interactive Multimedia Services, regarding the new face of its portal.

"The launch of the enhanced Netvigator.com demonstrates our determination in taking the global lead as a provider of Chinese Net content and services," added Ma.

Ma indicated that IMS planned to be offering both traditional and simplified character versions of the portal by the third quarter to target Greater China. Currently, Netvigator is featured in traditional characters which is only suitable for Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The aim of IMS is to have the top Chinese portal in the world by the end of the year.

For content and services, HKT's provider plans to spend HK$1 billion (US$130 million) over the next 3 years.

Last year, Netvigator launched the SAR's first broadband Internet access service, the consumer-targeted Supernetvigator, and an interactive television service, iTV.

Critics point out that the service hasn't really caught on with only 12,000 customers signed up.

However, Netvigator is now offering a 1.5 M broadband service to the business sector on a trial basis.

To cover this sector on its LAN-based broadband service, Ma said, "It's just a matter of adding capacity. There is no feasible limitation on bandwidth. Hongkong Telecom has the largest ATM network in the world."

Regarding HKT's role in Hong Kong's technological future, Ma stated, "We are committed to strengthening Hong Kong's position as the leading information city in Asia."

"Hongkong Telecom will do this by nurturing the Internet culture here, extending broadband network coverage and developing more value-added Internet services for customers, together with specific solutions for the business and education communities," he said.

Recently, the Hong Kong Internet Service Provider's Association (HKISPA) blasted HKT for anti-competitive tactics as the largest fixed network provider and called upon the SAR Government to take action.