Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Medical transcription group sees double-digit growth in 2006

By Alexander Villafania, INQ7.net

The Medical Transcription Industry Association of the Philippines Inc. (MTIAPI) is hoping that the medical transcription business will grow by close to a hundred percent in 2006 as the US medical institutions become more open to offshore outsourcing.

MTIAPI President Evelyn Abat said the local medical transcription industry could grow between 16 million US dollars to 20 million US dollars by the end of 2006, double the figures of the industry’s estimated overall growth last year.

Abat added that the organization is continuing to get more companies to join in an effort to market the local industry to the US, the main market for medical transcription.

From 60 members, the MTIAPI is hoping to get 40 new members within the year.

The industry is also expected to hire 2,000 new medical transcribers this year. There was an estimated 6,000 medical transcription professionals hired last year.

Abat said that one of their activities this year is to partner with US-based medical transcription organizations, particularly with the American Association for Medical Transcription, for match-making and pass-through projects.

“The small start up medical transcription firms can find new opportunities by tying up with counterparts from the US. This way, we can continue growing the industry as a whole and not just per company,” Abat said

Lack of awareness leads to more Net attacks

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva, INQ7.net

LACK of awareness on Internet security and not lack of investments in the right technology often leads to Internet security problems, the Philippine Honeynet Project founders told INQ7.net this week.

Referring to themselves as "Internet security researchers," Mark Ryan Talabis, 29, and Carlo Monteverde, 26, established the Philippine Honeynet Project (http://www.philippinehoneynet.org) partly to increase local awareness in Internet security in the Philippines.

"There has been no single body or group dedicated to collecting first-hand Internet security information about attacks on Philippine-based sites and networks. So we decided to set up one in September 2005," Talabis said.

The Philippine Honeynet Project has established a network of "sensors" on the Internet that capture patterns, trends, and types of attacks on Philippine-based websites and networks. Last December, the tandem was first to alert security experts of a disturbing and suspicious activity that turned out to be a new virus roaming the Internet.

Funded primarily by Talabis and Monteverde, both also consultants of the Asian Development Bank, the Philippine Honeynet Project is a now a "probationary" member of the Honeynet Reseach Alliance (http://www.honeynet.org).

Both are now spending their spare time working on the Philippine Honeynet Project.

Talabis said that he is doing this out of his passion for Internet security. "This is our passion. But as they say, what is passion if you don't have money," he quipped.

It’s thanks to the Ateneo University Information Technology Institute that they've managed to continue work on the Philippine Honeynet Project, Talabis said. However, sustaining this project will soon require additional funding and support from a third-party willing to work for a non-profit organization. The project is also looking for willing students to help analyze data they gather from their Honeynet network.

"Our plan this year is to really focus on building more awareness about Internet security because lack of awareness remains the biggest problem in the country," he added.

Talabis is currently finishing his masters at Ateneo University; Monteverde is a computer science graduate of the Centro Escolar University.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Investments in call centers rise

By ANGELO S. SAMONTE, The Manila Times Researcher

The Philippines’ two leading incentives-giving bodies last year approved more than P12 billion in investment pledges for the establishment of more information communication technology (ICT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) enterprises.

The Board of Investments (BOI) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) posted combined actual project registrations amounting to P12.11 billion for ICT and BPO operations, Celeste Ilagan, BOI executive director, said.

She said the approvals would add more seats to the existing 40,000, raising the industry’s maximum seating capacity to 70,000 this year.

Given the 100-percent growth in the number of potential jobs arising from the investment pledges, the government set a 50-percent to 70-percent expansion in employment for the sector this year.

Ilagan said the Department of Trade and Industry plans to tap the US and European markets by focusing on niche services. "The Philippines can compete in medical transcription and procurement services and this is the current thrust of our promotions. Nonvoice outsourcing service has a bright prospect for our local industry," she said.

According to Ilagan, major investors in the Philippines last year include Dell, infusing more than $3 million, and Convergys, which opened eight sites. Convergys’ new investment alone would create some 6,000 seats, she said.

Meanwhile, the Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corp. plans to establish another site for its call-center operations in the Philippines, following the success of its operations in Alabang, Muntinlupa.

"HSBC was very much encouraged by the operations of its call center in Northgate Cyberzone which presently has about 2,000 seats," Trade Secretary Peter Favila said, adding that the bank is interested in putting up its second site north of Metro Manila.

Favila is egging on HSBC to locate its noncore activities and back-office functions in the Philippines. In a visit to HSBC Electronic Data Processing (Philippines) Inc., the trade chief said the country’s strength in BPO make the Philippines a premier location for IT-enabled services in international market. "The country offers a combination of ‘best-in-class’ service and operation costs significantly reduced compared with many other locations around the world," he said.

Inaugurated last July, HSBC’s P1.5-billion call-center facility is the company’s eighth service center in Asia. The bank also operates in India, mainland China and Malaysia.

Favila said several investment promotion agencies have organized more outbound investment missions to attract more foreign companies to invest in the country.

"These missions are not only sent to heighten investors’ interest but to get firm commitments from companies, thus, our investment drive will be more focused to identified and targeted firms," he said.

Another foreign firm, Siemens Inc., a subsidiary of Siemens AG of Germany, announced that it would launch a new business unit this January that will deliver IT helpdesk and customer care services mainly for English-speaking global customers.

The company said the new IT outsourcing division in Eastwood City Cyberpark will have a initial capacity of 500 call-agent seats, in addition to Siemen’s existing satellite call-center offices in the US, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Turkey and Singapore

DTI sees 50% growth in ICT investments

By Marianne V. Go, The Philippine Star

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is projecting a 50 percent growth in investments in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector to P17 billion this year based on the 2005 investment figure of P12.11 billion.

According to Celeste Ilagan, Trade and Industry executive director for international marketing, the projected growth in the ICT sector this year is expected to come from at least seven pipeline investments by seven American firms.

Last year, Ilagan said, a total of P12.11 billion was invested in the ICT sector by 70 projects approved by the Board of Investments (BOI), the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) and various other ecozones in the country.

The biggest single investment last year of $3 million was made by Dell Inc., although in terms of number of seats, Convergys created 6,000 seats.

In terms of export revenues, Ilagan said, the ICT sector generated $2.266 billion last year.

The Philippines is positioning itself to become a global center for information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services.

The Philippines is relying on the quality of Filipino ICT workers, a competitive infrastructure, the Filipinos’cultural affinity with the West and continued government support.

In 2004, ICT investments amounted to P8.07 billion, resulting in more than $1 billion in exports revenues.

RP BPO industry forecast to grow $12.4B in 2010

By Alexander Villafania, INQ7.net

The Philippine business process outsourcing industry is set to grow to 12.4 billion US dollars by 2010, slightly higher than previous forecasts of 10 billion US dollars, according to a joint forecast from the Business Process Outsourcing Association of the Philippines, the Bureau of Investments, and the Commission on Information and Communications Technology.

In their new forecast, the average revenue growth rate is about 30 percent starting this year.

The leading BPO services for the next four years are back office, medical and legal transcription, all with annual overall growth rates of 50 to 80 percent.

The joint forecast expects the number of new jobs created to reach 303,000, or another 30 percent annual growth rate, by 2010, starting this year. By 2010, the total Philippine BPO workforce will reach 1.1 million.

For the rest of 2006, the forecast is 3.78 billion US dollars in total revenues, or a 52 percent growth rate.

Meanwhile the BPO industry as a whole is expected to generate 103,000 jobs by the end of 2006, a 44 percent increase from the previous year.

The year 2005 was a turning point in the industry as it grew 137 percent or 2.5 billion US dollars in revenues versus one billion US dollars in 2004.

Last year also saw a 53 percent increase in BPO workforce or 81,000 new jobs generated, compared to 30,500 in 2004

Thursday, January 12, 2006

IT school STI to enter call center business

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva, INQ7.net

INFORMATION technology school STI is set to enter the call center business, as it partners with call center solutions provider Five9 and John F. Kennedy (JFK) Center Foundation Philippines, an official told INQ7.net.

STI will enter a deal with JFK Center Foundation Philippines and Five9 this week, which will establish 400 to 500 small to medium-sized call centers that will generate additional 88,000 jobs by 2008, on top of the current 100,000 jobs.

Under the deal, Five 9 will provide the technology, while JFK Center Foundation will offer the training. STI, on the other hand, will provide the infrastructure and manpower.

"We will test pilot this in our main office in Makati. The idea is to operate this call center at night using our computer labs. Eventually, the STI-trained graduates will run this center," said Restituto Bundoc, STI head of public affairs, said in an interview.

STI chairman Monico Jacob said in a statement that STI intends to take advantage of its network of 120 schools nationwide.

Jacob said that the school will establish call centers in STI facilities, with a minimum of 50 seats each.

He said this will be part of its "enrollment -to-employment" vision the company has been espousing.

"We are confident that through this partnership, we can contribute to the achievement of the government's goal of generating 10 million jobs by 2010," he said.

Initially, some 80 STI campuses will be transformed into call centers by night. Eventually, the STI will establish a separate strategic business unit to handle the call center operations of the school.

At present, only 2.89 percent or less than three out of every 100 fresh college graduates are hired in the business process outsourcing (BPO) – contact center industry (BPO-CC) each year, raising concern that the Philippines would not be able to sustain the growth of the 10 billion dollar sector with the dearth of qualified Filipino agents.

JFK Center Foundation seeks to revolutionize the BPO-CC industry in the country through the development of centers of excellence and is working with educational institutions such as STI.

Five9 is an international call center solutions provider that has chosen the Philippines as the site of its regional headquarters in Southeast Asia. In 2005, the company introduced its award-winning Five9 Virtual Contact Center (VCC), a revolutionary technology that allows small organizations to start a call center with minimal capital.

Former Presidential Management Staff head and now Ambassador to Greece Rigoberto Tiglao, who used to head the government's jobs generation program, will witness the formal signing of the deal this week.

Bayantel wants NTC to reconsider 3G application

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva, INQ7.net

LOPEZ-OWNED telecommunications firm Bayan Telecommunications Inc. (Bayantel) asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Wednesday to reconsider its application for a third-generation mobile network license, according to NTC Deputy Commissioner Jorge Sarmiento.

Sarmiento said Bayantel's failure to rollout a cellular mobile telephone service (CMTS), despite being given the authority to run one, disqualified the company in the recent bidding of 3G frequencies.

The NTC official said Bayantel was appealing its application, arguing that its failure to rollout a CMTS was "beyond its control."

"Bayantel claims in its motion for reconsideration that they should be relieved from complying with the track record requirements due to legal and corporate issues. And since they failed to rollout their CMTS, this affected their track record," Sarmiento added.

A court injunction and a corporate rehabilitation have prevented Bayantel from rolling out CMTS in the Philippines, according to its written motion for reconsideration submitted to the NTC.

The NTC has given all local operators, who failed to qualify as the fifth 3G operator, until January 13, 2006 to appeal their applications.

The NTC has granted government 3G licenses to four operators, namely Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Digital Telecommunications (Digitel), and Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprise Inc. led by Roberto Ongpin.

RP ranks high in UN e-government readiness study

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva, INQ7.net
THE PHILIPPINES is among the top countries in South and Eastern Asia in terms of e-government readiness based on the 2005 Global e-Government Readiness Report of the United Nations.
Due to improved government presence on the Web and a pool of English speaking human capital, the country was ranked fourth in the region, next to South Korea, Singapore and Japan, in the South and Eastern Asia region, the report showed.
Angelo Timoteo Diaz de Rivera, commissioner of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology and director general of the National Computer Center, said the results of the UN study "is really favorable to the Philippines, as we have gained stature in terms of providing government content online."
Having read the report, Diaz de Rivera said that the UN study especially took notice of our government portal, www.gov.ph, which was cited to be a good practice for a developing country.
"This means that our government portal was an excellent example of a government portal for developing countries," he said.
"The Philippines' online presence offers an integrated all-services national site, http://www.gov.ph, which is at par with the best in the world and could be considered a good practice. Among the many notable features, the dedicated e-services section illustrates, that one can simply but effectively, integrate information across departments and provides a single place for the users to find them," the report said.
The study also noted the Philippines as among the top 25 countries who are using the web e-government "to its fullest." Ranked 19th, the Philippines was among six developing countries that have used the web to promote e-services in government. This was based on the web assessment portion of the study, which assesses a country's government effort to make provisions for e-services.
The study stressed that problems in infrastructure continues to constrain the proliferation of e-government in the Philippines.
Despite this, the Philippines' overall ranking worldwide improved from 47 to 41 out of 191 countries surveyed in the UN report, Diaz de Rivera added. United States remains to be the global leader in e-government readiness in the recent UN study.
The CICT commissioner said the UN study looks at three aspects in a country: government web presence, human capital, and information infrastructure.
Diaz de Rivera said the Philippines scored better in the web presence aspect, which eventually translated to a better ranking for the country in 2005.
The top 15 countries in the South and Eastern Asia region -from top to bottom, are South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Brunei Darussalam, Mongolia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, and Laos.
"The Philippines [has] developed a solid [web] presence across all stages of e-government. In general, therefore, it has covered most of the basic functions and features while simultaneously developing transactional facilities and venturing into the networked presence stage though it still lacks a formal online consultations mechanism," the report said.
It suggested that the Philippines needs to "fortify [web]sites at the ministerial level, which are good but far from matching the quality of its national [web]site."
The UN study said that some government websites, such as the Department of Finance at http://www.dof.gov.ph, was unavailable in the course of its study last year.
"A brand new, re-designed, site is now online, which still has some parts under construction, though it is still very valuable. Its maintenance problems thus resolved, the site now sets the standard for the other departments in the country and consequently contributed to the country's overall rise this year," the report added, referring to the DoF website.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Women comprise more than half of RP Internet users—UN study

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva, INQ7.net

WOMEN now represent more than half of Internet users in the Philippines, a recent United Nations study showed.

As a result, the Philippines has ranked third in the list of countries with the highest percentage of female users, the 2005 United Nations Global e-Government Readiness Report said.

The top two countries cited were the United States and Canada, followed by the Philippines, South Africa, Iceland, Thailand, Australia, Sweden, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Croatia, Estonia, Russia, Zambia, Uganda, China, India, Poland, Belarus, Ethiopia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Senegal, Lithuania, and Jordan.

The study reached this conclusion despite the Philippines’ low Internet penetration (Internet users as a percentage of the total population) of 0.6 percent.

The study also reported a high percentage of professional women in the Philippines going online, which, it further revealed, was even higher than in US and Canada. This confirmed observations that countries with higher e-government readiness were more likely to promote gender equality, which includes access to the Internet.

In the same study, the Philippines ranked fourth in e-government readiness in South and Eastern Asia, behind South Korea, Singapore and Japan.

"Information technology is a tool for providing access for all. But for women who are often in the economically insecure, marginalized groups, it can be especially potent tool for economic and social advancement. Promoting gender access and inclusion to ICTs should be considered primarily an issue of opportunity since ICTs can help women enhance economic and social empowerment and greater political participation," the study said.

A typical Internet user in the developing world would be male, under 35 years old, urban-based, speaks English, has a university education and a high income. In short, a member of an elite minority, the study added.

Women represent about 50 percent of the world population.

Details of the study can be downloaded at

In barely 2 hours, Reds attack three cellphone sites

(AFP) - Communist rebels have attacked three mobile phone transmission towers in the Philippines in barely two hours, the military said Tuesday.

About 10 New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas used firebombs to attack the transmission tower of Digitel communications in Pandi village, Bulacan province, just outside Manila late Monday and caused some damage, the military said in a statement.

Just 20 minutes later another group forcibly entered the Globe Telecom cell site compound in the northern province of Nueva Ecija. They hurled petrol bombs and fired on the control cabin.

The suspects fled in a van while police prevented the fire from spreading.

Another 20 minutes later, NPA rebels hurled three petrol bombs at another Globe Cellphone site at Hagonoy town in Bulacan but security guards extinguished the blaze.

Regional military chief Major General Romeo Tolentino said the attacks were probably due to NPA demands for extortion or "revolutionary tax."

He directed his units to help police hunt the attackers.

The 8,000-strong NPA is the guerrilla arm of the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines. It has attacked 23 Globe Telecom cellular towers in recent months, blasting them or burning them down.


Digitel cell site bombed

MALOLOS CITY -- A band of still unidentified armed men bombed the cell site and tower of the Digitel Telephone Company in Bgy. Poblacion, Pandi town, late Monday night.

No one was reported hurt in the incident but flames razed cables in the compound, according to reports reaching Bulacan police director Sr. Supt. Benedict Michael Fokno.

Police said at around 11:25 Monday night, a group of at least 10 armed men stormed the site, firing high-powered firearms before lobbing homemade Molotov bombs at the communication facilities of Digitel.

The Digitel cell site is located at the middle of a rice field and is some 300 meters away from the municipal hall and the police station. It is also located near the compound and cell site of another telephone company which was not attacked by the suspects.

P02 Ferdinand Cabuhat of the Pandi Police Station said the bombers used ladders in climbing up the cyclone wire fence of the communication facilities and then fired their guns before lobbing bombs that destroyed several communications equipment.

Aside from the volley of gunfire, police and the residents in the area also heard a loud explosion before flames engulfed the site.

Among those believed to be damage was the cell site provider equipment for Digitel's Sun Cellular subscribers, police investigators said. However, police said some of the equipment including those inside a steel box appears to be intact. They said the rest of the tower is also still intact.

"The police can not generally rule on the extent of the damage brought by the attack because it is only the Digitel firm which has the authority and the capability to do so," Sr. Supt. Fokno told members of the Bulacan Capitol Press Corps.

Police said the suspects fled on foot.

Police recovered pieces of broken glass believed to have come from the Molotov bombs, two pieces of improvised wooden ladder and bamboo poles, seven empty shells for M-14 rifle and 15 pieces for M-16 rifle. Police also recovered three pieces of live ammunition for M-14 rifle.

Fokno said they are still determining if the incident was a handy work of suspected communist New People's Army (NPA) or other possible armed men trying to threatened the said telephone firm.

Last year, a cellular site tower in Calumpit town some 20 kilometers north of this town was attacked and destroyed by suspected communist rebels.
Emil G. Gamos & Erick Silverio Journal.com.ph