Making The Internet Profitable

SINGAPORE — The Internet revolution has brought about, among other recognized financial benefits and lifestyle changes, the second wave of e-business and the broadband era, which Steve Wood, Asia Pacific vice-president of Nortel Networks’ Content Networking Business Unit, dubs as one of the most exciting developments that unleashes the value of the high-performance Internet.

Speaking at COMDEX/Asia at Singapore Informatics 2001, a three-day technology exhibition and conference that targets the region’s IT and business professionals, Wood told attendees and participants that Asia is primed for the coming of the wireless Internet. In particular, Singapore and the North Asian countries of Korea, Japan and Hong Kong are showing the most promise.

“The wireless Internet is the next big thing in the Asia Pacific region,” he said. “By 2003, Asia will represent 50 percent of the global opportunity for wireless Internet applications and services. Even now there are 3G auctions taking place in Asia, and in Australia and New Zealand. There will be a rapid uptake in this technology by the end of the year.”

According to Wood, the bandwidth demand cycle is constantly placing more pressure on service providers to build out their network infrastructure with increasingly robust technology and equipment. “The number of Internet users is growing, mobile phone uptake is significant, and services and applications need high-speed connectivity,” he said.

“Service providers are acknowledging this cycle; take Sony as an example. It has repositioned itself as a personal broadband network solutions company.”

He identified three new drivers for the high-performance Internet: Content, from text-based to video streaming on demand for applications such as e-learning; Location, from fixed lines to mobile; and Services, from generic to personalized traffic and experiences that promote one-to-one interactivity.

“The Internet can be used as a one-to-one audience casting tool,” Wood added. “And people will be willing to pay for the services — that’s the way to make the Internet profitable.”

Nortel’s vision for the high-performance Internet is linked with what it calls the Intelligent Optical Internet – a US$150 billion opportunity by the time 2005 rolls around. The company assesses it to be worth US$30 billion last year.

With the optical Internet, Wood said, traffic can move faster at 6.4Tbps on wider fiber-optic paths (160 wavelengths), and travel further up to 4,000 kilometers. Couple these technological advances with end-to-end intelligent network management and you have a recipe for successful broadband content delivery via wireless devices.

Key success factors, however, still revolve around end-user needs. Wood also stressed that service providers should be mindful of the need to create customer ownership, cater to multiple devices, be quick about taking products and services to the market, and develop rich content and applications.

COMDEX/Asia 2001 is held at the Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Center (SICEC), April 10 – 12. It is showcasing more than 140 exhibiting companies from Singapore, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Korea, Taiwan, the U.S. and U.K.

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