International Briefs

Japanese Financial Reforms to Spur Online Information Industry

Information services companies and start-ups are rushing to exploit
business opportunities after the launch of Japan’s “Big Bang” financial

Fujitsu, Hitachi and NEC joined forces in March to promote a
protocol for stock transactions via the Internet, anticipating that
deregulation of commissions on stock trades could boost sales of the
protocol to securities firms.

Wako Securities, Okasan Securities and New Japan Securities have begun joint testing of Net commerce based on the protocol.

The Japan Center for Economic Research predicts Japan’s information services market, including program development and data processing, will expand about 200% to 20.64 trillion yen in 2005 from the level of 1996.

(Nikkei Weekly, Japan; April 1, 1998)

Controversial Australian TV Programme Turns to Net as Channel

With its unabashed reportage and vox-pop material on drug-taking, the
Australian series “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll” was too controversial for
the commercial TV networks, the ABC and SBS.

Instead, the program will be aired on the Internet, reaching a global audience unfettered by broadcasting guidelines and programming decisions.

Internet broadcasting company Net Ventures has set up the online venue for the show, which users will tune into via a RealPlayer video streaming plug-in and a Web browser.

(The Australian; March 31, 1998)

Asian Newspaper Publishers Urged to Embrace the Internet

The U.S. newspaper industry is healthy, despite the advances of television
news and the impact of the Internet, Tony Ridder, chairman and CEO of
Knight Ridder, told Asian newspaper publishers at the recent Asian
Newspaper Publishers Exposition.

“Nothing is more uncertain than what
impact the Internet might have on our business. I would urge you to embrace
the Internet, study it and experiment with it and don’t leave it to
competitors from other industries to figure out how to make a business
using that technology,” he advised.

(Associated Press; March 30, 1998)

Internet May Help Business Cooperation in the Middle East

The stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations may receive some help from an
online database which is the focus of a U.S. Department of
Commerce-sponsored conference.

The conference is part of the Middle East-North Africa PeaceNet project which studies ways to remove barriers to free trade and investment in the region and with the U.S.

Twelve attendees from Jordan, Egypt, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza will learn about the latest networking tools. The Clinton administration arranged the meeting to help find ways of using the Internet and other technologies to
foster closer economic cooperation in the region.

(Wired News; March 28, 1998)

Asia-Pacific Internet Association to Work On Bandwidth White Paper

The Asia-Pacific Internet Association, formed in May 1997 and based in
Singapore, is preparing a white paper on the issue of sharing bandwidth
costs between carriers in the U.S. and elsewhere.

As Internet content is no longer restricted to U.S. Web sites, ISPs like Singapore Telecom, Hongkong Telecom and KDD (Japan) are asking for a change in telecom tariffs for connections to the U.S. backbone.

(Financial Express, India; March 27, 1998)

European Tech Fair Showcases Internet Products

The 12-year old CeBIT trade show has become so big that the population of
Hanover doubles from March 19-25 when the show hits town along with 7,205 exhibitors from 59 countries.

This year’s show featured Internet products and services like Nortel’s Digital PowerLine technology, which provides Internet access over existing electricity lines at speeds of up to 1Mb per second.

Ericsson’s Concept One watch connects to PCs and picks up e-mail. Easynet and UUNET fought for more subscribers while AOL gave away free trials.

(Internet Magazine, Britain; March 23-30, 1998)

ITU Report: Global Disparity in Phone, Internet Access

Nearly half of all households worldwide are unable to afford a telephone,
and one previously imagined panacea, the mobile cellular system, is still
far out of their reach, according to the ITU’s “1998 Report on the Global
Development of Telecommunications.”

Industrialised nations account for 84% of users of mobile cellular phones, 91% of fax machines, and 97% of all computers connected to the Internet.

Thailand alone has more cell-phones than all of Africa, and there are more computers connected to the Internet in Estonia than in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa).

(Inter Press Service; March 23, 1998)

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