Saturday, April 10, 2004
KVH Telecom Co., a Tokyo-based communications firm affiliated with U.S.-based fund manager Fidelity, has tied up with U.S. Net access provider Internap to provide corporate customers with access to low-cost Internet Protocol circuits for teleconferences between Japan and the U.S. Usage fees offered by the two firms are expected to be about 30% less than the monthly fees of 600,000 yen charged by the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. group for similar services, provided via an integrated services digital network (ISDN). KVH Telecom will provide teleconference services for about 800 companies, mainly banks, in Tokyo and Osaka, through local IP circuits based on optical fiber networks. Internap handles the long-distance IP circuit business linking Japan and the U.S. In the U.S., it provides the service to about 1,600 firms. The tie-up will combine their respective strengths in local and long-distance services, offering IP circuits with a transmission speed of 1-100 megabits per second according to customer needs.
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
K-Opticom Corp., a telecommunications affiliate of Kansai Electric Power Co. would no longer accept new applications for its Astel Kansai PHS (personal handyphone service) service that day and will shut the business down next March. The company said it will concentrate its resources on fiber-optic service to the home in competition with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.
The PHS service generated losses of 3 billion yen a year. K-Opticom, meanwhile, is competing with NTT West Corp. to provide fiber-optic Internet service in the greater Osaka region, where it has 40% of the market. By shedding a money-losing business, it hopes to compete more effectively.
The Federal Communications Commission and the cable industry said they will seek Supreme Court review of a recent appeals-court decision. The recent ruling would force cable companies to open their broadband lines to rival Internet-service providers. The FCC, along with Time Warner Inc., Cox Communications Inc. and the leading cable-industry group, also asked the San Francisco federal appeals court to stay a ruling that would have gone into effect today. Last week, the judges denied a petition by the FCC and the cable companies to have the full court review an earlier decision against them, which was made by a three-judge panel. A majority of the five-member FCC had been pushing to leave high-speed Internet service provided by cable companies largely unregulated to spur investment.
Instead, the appeals court found that these connections are to be regulated the way telephone networks are, thus requiring that companies such as Time Warner allow Internet-service providers such as its America Online unit or Earthlink Inc. to lease their lines. Article from Wall Street Journal.
The idea of renting movies online seems a lot less silly than it did two years ago, when a site called Movielink debuted. Internet connections have gotten a little faster, we've had time to get used to the idea of the computer as home theater and Movielink (www.Movielink.com) has been joined by a competitor, CinemaNow (www.cinemanow.com). Most important, music services like Apple's iTunes and Roxio's Napster have shown that people will buy fairly priced downloads, even when the same stuff is available for free on file-sharing systems. But the movie-rental sites themselves haven't improved nearly as much, to judge from a week of trying out each. CinemaNow and Movielink now offer better downloading options that reduce or eliminate the lengthy wait to transfer a movie to a computer.
Nice example about the copy / content rights:
...Movielink's chief executive, Jim Ramo, explained that until the late '90s, studios didn't buy Internet distribution rights, which means the site must negotiate with individual copyright holders for each movie. Ramo noted that he can't provide "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," because the rights to the song "Twist and Shout," which plays in one scene, would cost too much to obtain...
Read the complete articleWashington Post Link
Monday, April 05, 2004
Japan, China and South Korea will work together on developing new technologies, including 4G mobile phones, digital broadcasting, computer security and open-source software, a Japanese official said Monday. Talks have been underway over the last several months to work out ways the three nations can cooperate in information technologies, including those for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and future Internet systems, an official at the telecommunications ministry said on customary condition of anonymity.
A meeting was held in Seoul in March among officials from the three nations, where they agreed to share information and work together on developing fourth-generation mobile phones by 2010, another ministry official said. No specifics on a standard have been decided, he said.
Telecom ministers from the three nations are set to hold their third annual meeting in July, and an agreement to work together on the phones may be discussed there, officials said.
The most common cellphones now in use are second-generation, although third-generation use is expanding in some nations, including Japan and South Korea. There is now no single global standard for third-generation phones, which promise more functions and faster data transmissions than earlier phones. Fourth-generation mobile systems are still experimental.
Japan, China and South Korea recently have stepped up their push to pool resources on new technologies and possible common standards for the region. Of particular interest is the development of Linux and other open-source software that offer alternatives to products from Microsoft Corp.
Subscribers to fiber-optic communications lines nearly quadrupled in a year to reach 1.04 million as of Feb. 29, the Ministry of Telecommunications said Wednesday. The high-speed communications method, which makes possible the transmission of large amounts of data such as video files, was once heralded as the next standard in broadband communications. Although it has been behind ADSL (asymmetrical digital subscriber lines) in the race to attract users, it is catching on.
The number of subscribers to all broadband communications services was 14.49 million as of Feb. 29. The bulk of this figure was subscribers to DSL services -- mainly ADSL users -- which increased 292,000 on the month to 10.9 million. This was followed by subscribers to cable access, which numbered 2.54 million. Subscribers to fiber-optic lines increased 82,000 on the month. Fiber-optic services offer transmission speeds of up to 100mbps. Companies that offer such services are bolstering sales efforts.
However, content for such high-speed communications has not been fully developed, and prices are still relatively high. For example, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone East Corp.'s fiber-optic service for homes, which includes Internet service provided by OCN, costs 7,854 yen per month, almost 3,000 yen more than a 40mbps ADSL service.
In a keynote speech, Craig Barrett, chief executive officer at U.S. microprocessor giant Intel Corp., emphasized that information technology will pave the way for competitiveness and growth potential, especially in Japan. Another keynote speaker, Akinobu Kanasugi, president of NEC Corp., stressed as broadband Internet services have spread, it has become more necessary to have computer networks accurately recognize the people accessing them or the given objects being handled for security reasons.
Speech of Craig Barrett:
... If you look at one class of new technology, it is associated with the digital home. The digital home is this combination of rich content, communications and computing capability. The consumer electronics industry in Japan, which is premier in the world, is looking to use information technology to work in a new field of consumer electronics to stay ahead of the competition. What they are looking (to do) is to create the truly digital home where communications, computing and rich content converge. This digital home will be one of the most exciting advances we have over the next five to 10 years.
This whole approach has been driven by three concepts in the physical science space, which can be simply stated. One is Moore's law that you can put more and more electronic functionality into an integrated circuit each year.
The second is Metcalfe's law which was that the value of a network increases as the square of the number of connections in the network.
The third law is the photon's law, or the ability of researchers to figure out on an annual basis how to send twice the number of light photons than a glass fiber. Basically the increase of the bandwidth of a lass fiber by a factor of 2 every 10 or 12 months.....
France Telecom Japan, a unit of the French telecommunications giant, plans to set up an R&D facility in Seoul, South Korea. The move recognizes the fact that broadband technology has found broader acceptance in South Korea than in Japan, and that France could learn a great deal from the technologies and services available there. Initially, the Seoul office will have a staff of two researchers. Broadband services reached 21.3 of every 100 South Koreans as of the end of 2002, the highest rate in the world.
NTT Communications Corp. and four other firms announced Monday that they are cooperating in the e-learning business. The five will handle all aspects of distance education, from server administration to educational content. A content distribution system will be created using software from SumTotal Systems Inc., and content creation software will be made from Sony Broadband Solution Corp.'s products. Servers and other equipment will be provided by Sun Microsystems KK. As the first phase, the group will provide lectures on protecting personal information as well as IP Innovations Inc.'s IP telephone technology. IP Innovations' content will be sold to corporate clients on an application service provider basis from NTT Communications' data centers starting in late April. Because no new equipment will be needed, the service can be introduced in a short time at low cost.
Article from Nikkei Net Interactive
Ito-Yokado Co. and five group firms plan to start building in November one of Japan's largest corporate fiber-optic networks and connect their headquarters with all 11,000 or so of their stores, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun learned Monday.
By unifying their core information systems, the group hopes to strengthen its product procurement and development of original products. The six companies are also considering using the network for new types of sales promotion activities.
This information system upgrade, estimated to cost a total of slightly less than 30 billion yen, is expected to be completed by the end of fiscal 2007.
The network, to be built by leasing fiber-optic circuits from the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. group, will also be connected with Nomura Research Institute. Seven-Eleven Japan will likely be the first to switch to the new fiber-optic network, with the process slated to begin in November. The new information system will enable personnel at the six companies' headquarters to instantly track inventories and sales at all stores, including those belonging to other firms. Such sharing of information will allow Ito-Yokado to, for example, procure a strong seller at York-Benimaru through the latter retailer. In addition, it will likely provide useful sales data when developing original products with manufacturers or trading houses. The communications speed of the fiber-optic network is expected to be at 1Mbps at first. It will likely be raised to 100Mbps in the future. The group headquarters will also introduce IP (Internet Protocol) phones to cut communications costs.
Article from The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Tuesday morning edition
Broadband Net-phoning services pushing aggressive expansion plans are discovering a harsh reality: Some residential Internet service providers in the United States currently can't guarantee the bandwidth required to handle calls effectively. Broadband Net-phoning services are hitting a stumbling block as they try to expand in the United States: The third-party broadband networks they rely on can't guarantee the bandwidth needed for glitch-free calls.
AT&T Vice President Kathy Martine said she learned that lesson the hard way during recent trials of the company's CallVantage Net-phoning plan, which it hopes to introduce in 100 markets this year. Some customers' broadband connections just weren't good enough to provide "AT&T-like" quality, she said. So the company was forced to help the broadband providers fix their connections.
Now AT&T Labs is "doing a lot of statistical modeling and analysis on that so we can, in fact, prove where the problems are in the future," Martine said recently. "But the reality is, it's only as good as the broadband connection to your home."
Analysts forecast that VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) calls will eventually outstrip conventional calls, thanks to cost savings of up to 30 percent. Consumer demand has been encouraging, providers say, and VoIP plans have now been announced by all of the major carriers in the United States, as well as by their cable rivals. Still, industry insiders worry that ongoing quality problems could hold back growth.
Read further in: link form CNET.com
SBC Communications Inc. reached a seven-year deal to lease wholesale access to its network to rival Sage Telecom Inc., which has 500,000 phone customers in SBC's 13-state region. The deal is the first one publicly announced since a U.S. appeals court threw out federal regulations that required dominant local telephone companies like SBC to lease their networks at government-mandated rates.
The Federal Communications Commission adopted network-sharing rules years ago in hopes of promoting competition for local phone service, but the regulations prompted a prolonged court battle. The FCC urged the Bells and their rivals this week to negotiate commercial agreements for access instead of pursuing further litigation. The agency also encouraged the companies to use mediators to work out deals, if necessary. Specific terms of the deal weren't released, but the companies said prices will gradually rise during the life of the deal and the average monthly wholesale cost per line would likely be below $25.
Published on http://interactive.wsj.com
Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., one of Asia's biggest phone companies, is teaming up with U.S. Internet-phone start-up SIPphone Inc. to offer low-cost, and in some cases free, phone service over the Web. The deal will allow SIPphone -- started by MP3.com Inc. founder Michael Robertson -- to route calls anywhere in the world over SingTel's global phone network. SingTel and SIPphone, based in San Diego, initially will market the service in Asia and try to strike deals with other regional Internet-service providers to sell packages of phone services.
But the SingTel-SIPphone deal's reach will be global: It will allow anyone using special SIPphone gear, such as one of the company's phones or adapters, to use a new type of SingTel calling card to place calls cheaply from anywhere, to anywhere. Customers can buy the calling cards online, not just in Asia, when the new service starts later this month, said Richard Tan, SingTel's vice president of international carrier services. Singapore-based SingTel owns Australia's second-biggest telecommunications company and has sizable stakes in telecom firms in other countries including India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
The partnership is another sign of the power of "voice over Internet protocol," or VOIP, technology, which is disrupting the business models of major phone companies and threatening to slash their profits. The technology transforms a voice on the phone into digital packets, which then travel over the Web and are reassembled at their destination. Because they are carried over the public Internet, and not a traditional phone line, calls are either free or heavily discounted because they avoid many regulatory fees.
Full article published on http://interactive.wsj.com