Getting the World Online

SOUTH AFRICA — Increasingly, e-players are striving to take advantage of the Internet’s global reach but many are finding that the reliability, performance and security of international networks aren’t up to scratch, hindering their efforts to deal with buyers and suppliers online.

Players from highly developed nations are finding that expanding e-business into the developing world is frequently hampered by poor Net access services, low security standards and slow performance. As such, varying levels of speed, efficiency and disproportionate service qualities plagues e-businesses that hope to deliver globally consistent levels of service.

“Most international traffic crosses several service providers before it gets to its destination, so it’s difficult for any provider to guarantee end-to-end service levels,” stated Tony Marson, an analyst at Probe Research Inc. “Unless you’re using a service provider that owns its own international network, reliability and round-trip latency will differ widely from region to region.” According to Marson the majority of the world’s countries will have to manifest substantial improvements in connectivity, performance and reliability before international e-business becomes a reality.

Many e-business remain equally skeptical about a dearth of international digital security standards. Additional barriers in the form of language, culture, and support resources further hamper efforts at setting up global e-services.

Despite the difficulties many of the larger e-players are, however, beginning to extend their scope. In the past six months alone multinational companies have built more than 200 data centres around the world to boost performance and backup for global e-commerce in a variety of countries including SA.

Nonetheless some are speculating that it will take at least a decade before global e-business emerges as a pervasive phenomenon. “We estimate that it will take at least seven to 10 years before all the significant differences between services in different countries are smoothed over,” stated Artie Ahrens, senior vice president of computer and network services at MasterCard International Inc.

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