RealTime IT News

International Briefs

ISPs, Solutions Providers in India Gear Up for Increased Demand
Thanks to the newly liberalised ISP policy, prospective ISPs and solutions providers in India are jockeying for position.

MTNL will be a tough competitor in New Delhi and Mumbai. Incumbent commercial ISP VSNL will continue its existing service till operations are handed over to a fully-owned subsidiary.

Other ISP candidates in the wings include British Telecom, AT&T, MCI, Sprint-RPG, and the Hindujas. Vendors and solutions providers entering the market include 3Com, Bay Networks, Datacraft RPG, Digital, HCL Group, Microland, Silicon Graphics, Wipor, Tata Lucent, and PowerTel Boca.

(Voice and Data, India; January 1998)

Online Shopping to Account for $4.8 Billion in 1998
>From airline tickets to tennis rackets, Internet sales in the last quarter of 1997 accounted to nearly $1 billion, twice the volume for the same period a year ago and higher than any previous quarter, according to Forrester Research.

Online sales are projected to reach $4.8 billion this year, double that of 1997. Computers and other high-tech gear have accounted for $863 million in 1997, a figure that may grow to some $1.6 billion this year.

Web merchants selling airline tickets and booking hotel and car reservations accounted for $654 million in sales last year. By 1999, travel is expected to be the No.1 e-commerce category, with some $2.8 billion in total sales.

(Business Week; January 26, 1998)

Canadian Telecom Company Expands Into Internet Communications
John Roth, CEO of Northern Telecom, the Canadian manufacturer of telephone equipment worth $13 billion in sales today, says the company is now eyeing the "Web tone" market of the future.

Northern Telecom earns 5% of its revenues from data-handling equipment. His company and Sun have started jointly developing products that use Java, such as Java-based Internet call waiting, and software that lets home PC users employ a single telephone line to browse the Internet and receive incoming calls at the same time.

Data overtook voice traffic on telecommunications highways last year, according to Nortel. Data traffic is growing at 30% a year as compared to voice at 3%.

(Forbes Magazine; January 23, 1998)

Web Advertisers Discover VRML's Appeal
Advertisers and ad firms are beginning to clue in to the expressive power of VRML.

Cosmo Software is developing "deep banners"--the longer the banner stays up on the page, the more information it displays, even including up-to-the-minute reports.

Out of the Blue has designed a banner for Verifone which is a 30-second VRML video-clip whose size is a mere 90 Kb. Intel's "Pentium II enhanced" ad campaign will include sites that feature VRML banners. There is also a VRML push channel called the Blitcom Network.

(Internet User; January 23, 1998)

Internet Society Urges Thai Members to Oppose Net Restrictions
In the midst of a controversy over a proposed Internet law in Thailand, the Internet Society (ISOC) has sent a letter to its more than 300 members in Thailand, calling on them to support unrestricted online free expression.

The proposed "Internet Promotion Act" has called for (among other things) the licensing of Internet content providers. The letter, sent by Martin Burack, Executive Director, and Vinton Cerf, Vice President of Chapters, urges the members to dissuade proponents of the proposed law from pushing forward with restrictive language.

"We see a danger," they said in the letter, "that the law could lead to a government censorship committee that would attempt to exercise broad and heavy-handed control over the Internet."

(Bangkok Post; January 21, 1998)

International ISPs Expand Into Internet Telephony
ISPs like Internet Telephony eXchange Carrier (ITXC), PSINet, and Qwest Communications International are planning to roll out voice services that run over their Internet backbones and are accessed from standard telephones, not PCs.

By not passing off telephony traffic to other ISPs, Qwest and PSINet hope to eliminate, or at least decrease, network delay.

In Europe, Deutsche Telekom, which began Internet telephony service trials last year, can carry calls between some cities in England, Germany, Japan, and the U.S.

Another approach is for ISPs to form international alliances with one another. This month, Japan's leading ISP, Nifty Corp., said it will offer Internet telephony to its 2.5 million customers, thanks to a tie-up with a U.S. company.

(LAN Times; January 1998)

Lucent Installs Internet Telephony Servers in Australia
Lucent Technologies has announced immediate availability of its Internet Telephony Server in Sydney and Australia.

Unlike Australian ISP OzEmail's Internet phone product for consumers, Lucent's telephony server is primarily aimed at corporate and government Intranets and Web sites.

Lucent's server technology has been available in the U.S. and Europe for several months. The server uses Bell Labs' Elemedia voice compression technology, and complies with the emerging voice over IP industry standard, VoIPIA1.0.

(Sydney Morning Herald; January 20, 1998)

Database Of International Consultants Launched In New Zealand
An international directory of business consultants has been published on the Internet by Auckland-based Proconsul International.

Companies visiting the site can choose selection criteria, search the consultant database, and read abstracts about possible candidates free.

Consultants currently pay $99 per year for inclusion in the database. Proconsul hopes to become an international resource for companies based anywhere in the world. The company expects turnover of $5 million to $10 million in two years time.

(InfoTech Weekly, New Zealand; January 20, 1998)

Swedish Telecom Giant Ericsson Eyes Mobile Internet Communications Market
Mobile communications is growing at an astonishing rate--4.6 million new cellphone subscribers worldwide each month and two million a month in Asia-Pacific alone.

Companies like Ericsson, whose equipment is compatible with both the GSM and D-amps standards, are also eyeing the mobile Internet communications market.

By the year 2001, 5 per cent of mobile subscribers are expected to be Internet users, but they will account for up to 20 per cent of the traffic. Ericsson already derives more than 70 per cent of its US$18 billion revenues from wireless technology and claims 40 per cent of the worldwide cellphone market.

(InfoTech Weekly, New Zealand; January 20, 1998)

Australian Companies Experiment With Internet Strategies
Sydney-based consulted APT Strategies has just completed a study on Web use by Australian companies, surveying strategy managers from 90 large organisations.

General information distribution and brand awareness were the main reasons the companies surveyed were online, while sales directly through the Internet were relatively low.

70 per cent of organisations said they would like to try out secure electronic transactions. Respondents expected their spending on the Web to more than double. A large proportion of the increase would be spent on advertising sites as companies battle for customers' attention.

(The Australian; January 20, 1998)

A/C Nielsen Conducts Survey on Internet Usage in Singapore
AC/Neilsen SRS conducted a survey of 1,000 adults in Singapore during the last quarter in 1997.

It revealed that about 25 per cent of all Singaporeans regularly use the Internet. 74 per cent of those who log on at least once a week feel that the Internet is essential for the modern household.

About 14 per cent of the adult population does not know what the Internet is. About 76 per cent believe the Internet has a role to play in education.

Predominantly, Internet users in Singapore tend to be male and below 35 years old.

(Singapore Business Times; January 19, 1998)

Web Sites Around the World Track Asian Economic Crisis
The economic crisis in Asia has generated a great deal of interest in news about the region, and many people are increasingly turning to the Web for timely information.

"You are going to pick up a wider range of perspectives with the Internet than with other systems," said Ronald R. Reuss, chief economist for U.S. brokerage firm Piper Jaffray.

Useful sites in this regard, include Far Eastern Economic Review, Indonesia Net Exchange, International Monetary Fund, The World Bank, International Workers Bulletin, Asian Buying Consortium, and World Economic Forum.

(New York Times; January 19, 1998)

Worldwide E-Mail Grows At a Fifty Percent Annual Rate
The emergence of e-mail may be the biggest change in electronic communications since the invention of the telephone.

Worldwide use is growing 50 percent annually, and about two-thirds of users are in the U.S. Industry experts estimate that from 60 million to 80 million Americans use e-mail now, at home and at work.

"The total number of electronic messages sent will rise from 776 billion in 1994 to 6.6 trillion by 2000," according to a survey by the Electronic Messaging Association.

(Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News; January 19, 1998)

Multilingual Translation Services Mushroom On Web
The Internet is finally becoming multilingual.

Altavista has begun an option to translate the results of searches from English to French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese and vice versa.

Though often inaccurate, an automated online translation system is an easier alternative than hiring a private translator to interpret a page.

Other useful sites are Travlang dictionaries, Web of Online Dictionaries (with links to more than 400 foreign dictionaries in 130 different languages), and Learn Japanese Online.

(San Jose Mercury News; January 18, 1998)

Anglo-Dutch Unilever Group to Spend More on Web Advertising
Anglo-Dutch consumer products group Unilever, the world's second largest advertiser, plans to spend 10 percent of its 1998 U.S. advertising budget on new forms of communication like the Internet, according to chairman Niall Fitzgerald.

"A substantial amount of what we do with mass communications does not hit the right customers," he said.

(Reuters News Agency; January 16, 1998)

Best Of The Web: 1997
Here are the Weekly Mail and Guardian's best picks of the World Wide Web in 1997: Pepsi World '97 (best corporate site), Internet Movie Database (best service site), Jango (best e-commerce site), Abele Owners Network (best real estate site), Music Boulevard (best music site), Classifeds2000 (best classifieds site), Keebler (best children's product site), Mother Jones (best magazine), Smoking Gun (best investigative journalism), Lost Highway (best movie promotion), Greatest Painters on the Web (best art site), The Onion (best satire), Tunes.com (best music resource), Mirriam Webster Online (best educational site), Bianca.com (best virtual community), and CyberAtlas (best Internet resource guide).

(Weekly Mail and Guardian, South Africa; January 14, 1998)

Web Presents Challenges For Companies Reaching Multilingual Audiences
"Web sites are more complicated than any other medium because one instance is in all markets simultaneously. TV or print ads display in just one market," said Benjamin Sargent of Massachusetts-based International Communications, which helps companies adapt their Web sites to appeal to various language markets around the world.

Companies must not just translate words but be sensitive to laws and customs, savvy to local markets, smart about technical design, and prepared to cede some authority over content to local divisions.

"The Web is so U.S.-focused, most Webmasters don't even know where to begin," says Tiziana Perinotti, a localisation consultant.

There are also technical challenges, such as publishing in Asian languages. Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, require two bytes rather than one for each character, and hence rely on special, localised versions of Web servers and operating systems.

(CIO Magazine; December 1997)