Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Saturday, February 11, 2006

ISPs bound to die, says PLDT

By Darwin G. Amojelar, Manila Times Reporter

Independent Internet service providers (ISPs) are a dying breed across the globe, according to Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).

The country’s largest telco said this in response to the claim of the National Telecommunication Commission that carrier-affiliated service providers are killing the competitive spirit of independent ISPs in the country.

The NTC earlier blamed lack of competition in the market for the poor performance of ISPs, which, it said was the result of the increasing dominance of carrier-affiliated service providers.

But PLDT opposed the view, saying “there is evidence suggesting that the ISP business model is in decline globally and that the performance of the individual players is not driven by the carriers’ actions, but by the nature of the business and the capabilities of the individual players.”

The company added there is evidence to show that ISP affiliates of large carriers are themselves losing money and unable to grow.

It cited that the number of Internet subscribers in the United States has increased 56 percent to 80 million in 2005 from 51 million in 2000, while the number of dial-up ISP subscribers has gone up to 36 million in 2005 from 47 million in 2000.

“This reflects the fact that ISPs add little value, typically providing simple Internet connectivity and potentially an e-mail service,” the company said.

PLDT argued that its affiliate, Infocom, which falls under the “large carrier” group, posted a stagnant revenue from 2002 to 2004 at about P380 million.

PLDT also said that Infocom’s net income has also “drastically” suffered a loss of P115 million in 2004 from a profit of P25 million in 2002.

“On the other hand, players such as Pacific Internet and Tri-Isys hold leadership positions in the ISP business and have won several awards,” PLDT said

Smart offers more affordable text load

SMART Communications Inc., the Philippines’ leading wireless services provider, has introduced new affordable text load packages addressing various communication requirements of its subscribers.

The company said the Smart Load All Text 10, which will be sold at the suggested retail price of P12, will give subscribers 10 SMS (short messaging system or text messaging) and P1 worth of airtime, while Smart Load All Text 20, which will be sold for P23, will give subscribers 20 SMS and P1 airtime.

As an added innovation, the 10 or 20 SMS do not expire and may be accumulated, so subscribers may use them anytime they want. Subscribers may also use them for texting other networks. The P1 airtime load, however, will expire after one day for Smart Load All Text 10, and two days for Smart Load All Text 20.

Subscribers have to maintain at least P1 airtime load to use the SMS.

“This is part of Smart’s wide range of innovative and affordable load packages designed to address the diverse communication requirements of our subscribers,” Butch Jimenez, head of Smart’s wireless consumer division, said.

Besides the nonexpiring text, prepaid subscribers who avail of the Smart Load All Text will enjoy free overnight texting from 11 p.m to 7a.m., during the 30-day promo period from February 12 to March 13.

“One day of free overnight texting will be given to those who will get Smart Load All Text 10. For those who will get Smart Load All Text 20, two days of free overnight texting will be given,” the company said. --Darwin G. Amojelar - Manila Times

Friday, February 10, 2006

Globe wants lower rates on calls from one network to another

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes, The Philippine Star

Globe Telecom is proposing to bring down off-net call (from one network to another network) rates to levels that would approximate those charged for on-net calls or those made within a network.

Specifically, Globe wants to slash access charges or the fees that phone companies pay one another to complete calls by 62.5 percent to P1.50 a minute from P4 for domestic calls from landline to mobile and from mobile to mobile, and by 83 percent to 50 centavos a minute for mobile-to-landline and landline-to-landline calls from the present P3.

Globe has also recommended a 75-percent cut in termination fees on overseas calls to landlines at three US cents a minute from the present 12 cents and 56.25 percent in fees on overseas calls to mobile phones to seven cents a minute from the present 16 cents.

Globe president and chief executive officer Gerardo Ablaza said the international inbound termination rate should be brought down so as not to give significant opportunity for arbitrage by bypass or arbitrage operators.

"We believe that with retail rates on a downward trend, it is timely to reassess the current access fee structure. The current fees make off-net pricing obsolescent compared to on-net," he added.

Gil Genio, president of Globe subsidiary Innove Communications, added that while subscribers are enjoying lower retail rates for calls within the network, it is difficult right now to talk about lower rates for calls to other networks because of the current regime of high access charges.

"That is why we are also proposing a reduction in access charges for off-net mobile calls," he said.

He said that since rivals PLDT and Smart are separate companies, any calls made between the two should be considered off-network calls and charged the same access fees as those applied to other carriers, rather than as on-net calls.

Both officials said that off-net retail prices should approximate those of on-net prices which can only happen if the access charges do not differ significantly, whether the call is made within the network or terminating to another carrier’s network.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Globe Telecom CEO says no increase in SMS, call costs

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva, INQ7.net

GERARDO Ablaza, Jr., Globe Telecom Inc. president and chief executive officer assured subscribers on Wednesday that the company will not increase the cost of making calls or sending text messages with the implementation of the reformed value-added tax (RVAT) this month.

"Competition is heading towards making prices lower. So it's counterproductive for Globe to raise its prices due to reformed value-added tax," Ablaza told reporters.

He did not disclose details on how Globe intends to absorb the additional tax on services.

Republic Act 9337 or the Reformed Value Added Tax law has adjusted the current rate from 10 percent to 12 percent for services.

Smart said last week that it would not increase the cost of making calls and sending text messages either. Costs will remain the same for its prepaid subscribers despite the RVAT. Smart’s SMS rate will remain at one peso per message.

Smart added, however, that it would have to reduce discounts to retailers buying wholesale electronic load or airtime packs.
Ramon Isberto, Smart Communications public affairs head, told INQ7.net that this was the best way to keep their subscribers and the retailers of their electronic loading service happy.

"This means that retailers of the electronic loading will have smaller margins. But how do we keep them happy? We will soon come out with new set of products for them. So we're encouraging our retailers not to increase their prices if they sell electronic load (airtime) to subscribers," Isberto added.

Meanwhile Globe will release a more detailed explanation on how it intends to "absorb" the additional 2 percent VAT on services, according to Jones Campos, assistant vice president for Globe Telecom public relations.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Will public schools use Microsoft or open source?

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva, INQ7.net

THERE is now a brewing issue on whether government should use Microsoft or open source-based software in the second phase of the "PCs for Public Schools Project" of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), says a government source privy to the bidding.

Dita Maralit, director for special concerns of the DTI and in charge of the PCs for Public Schools project stressed, however, that the brewing war between proponents of Microsoft and open source software "is not an issue."

"People are batting for Microsoft while some are pushing for open source software. That is not an issue. [The bidding] is a long process so we must be careful. The bidding is still in the process," Maralit told INQ7.net in a telephone interview.

She said that according to the terms of reference of the project, the software to be used in the project is a choice among three operating systems: Windows, open source, and Mac-based software.

She added that the project proponents are currently at the stage of post-qualifying the bids, and expect to have the PCs deployed by June 2006, noting that she cannot discuss details until the winning bid is announced.

The DTI is allocating 500 million pesos for this project that hopes to distribute about 12,000 desktop computers to 1,200 schools in the Philippines. These computers will come with software.

The Japanese government is giving over 500 million pesos in a grant for the DTI to roll out the third phase of the PCs for Public Schools program.

The agency has distributed more then 30,000 computers to over 2,000 Philippine public high schools since the program was launched in 2000.

The DTI is the proponent of this project; the Department of Education is its implementing partner. The Department of Science and Technology is also developing courseware for integration into the program. Gilas Foundation will provide Internet access to the schools provided with computers.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Subic Telecommunications Co. Inc.

Philippines – Subic Telecommunications Co. Inc. is involved in voice, video and data transmissions. It offers a wide range of services from basic telephone service to frame relay services.

SubicTel is a subsidiary of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT). Its main office is in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Olongapo city, Philippines.

SubicTel's history began in 1992 when the United States left its naval base in Subic bay. Salvaging the remaining telecommunications equipment in the abandoned naval base, the people of Olongapo put up a fledgling telecommunications company for the area.

In 1996, SubicTel became a joint venture among the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), PLDT and AT&T. The company was instrumental in the Philippines' successful hosting of the APEC summit in 1996. SubicTel became a 100-percent PLDT-owned subsidiary in 2000.

In 1998, SubicTel acquired a 5ESS Digital Switch from Lucent. The switch has since served as a local toll and international gateway switch with C7 TUP and ISUP signaling protocols. The company also deployed remote switches using fiber optic technology that includes synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH) transmission system.

In 2002, SubicTel rolled out its Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ASDL) network in Subic and nearby areas.

The company also uses microwave technology for voice and data transmissions.

SubicTel provides voice, data and other telecommunications services such as basic telephone service, domestic and international long distance services, operator and telemarketing services.

The company also provides ISDN, domestic and international data services, DSL, ASDL, international and private leased lines, local and domestic leased lines, frame relay services and Internet.

The company also offers building wiring consultancy, and equipment maintenance (PBX, telephone systems).

SubicTel has been the telecommunications lifeline of the Subic Bay Freeport area since the company's founding. At present, it provides services to approximately 18,000 subscribers. Its major clients include establishments in the Freeport area such as FedEx, Wistron and Ocean Adventure.

The Global Sources team was welcomed by SubicTel's Noel Bernal during the team's visit to the company's headquarters. There, the team was informed of the history of SubicTel – the Subic Bay Freeport area's transmission and telecommunications backbone.

Telecom Sources' assistant editor Monina Villena was impressed by the company's equipment. Seeing the products that she has been writing about has given her a renewed interest in telecommunication systems. "My perceptions on some of the equipment changed when I saw them, firsthand. I wish there was more time to learn," she relates.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

French gendarmerie abandons Internet Explorer for Firefox

Agence France-Presse

PARIS--Supporters of open sourcing for computers have been given a shot in the arm by news the French police is abandoning Microsofts Internet Explorer for the Mozilla Foundations browser Firefox.

The gendarmerie's 70,000 desktops were being converted to Firefox and its e-mail client Thunderbird because of the navigator's "reliability, security and inter-operability with other state services," said General Christian Brachet, IT director of the police force.

The move should be complete by the end of the year, he said, as enthusiasts of open sourcing wrapped up an annual meeting in Paris at the Solution Linux 2006 exhibition.

Firefox had been chosen because it was based on the W3C standard, an international norm for the Internet, and because it works equally well under Microsoft, Mac or Linux.

Firefox has now taken over nearly 18 percent of the French Internet browser market approaching the European average of 20 percent, according to a survey carried out in January by XiTi Monitor, an Internet site quality management service.

The French gendarmerie is also thinking ahead to a future when citizens could, for example, directly report a theft to the police via the Internet.

"With Firefox as our default browser we are not imposing a specific browser on the citizen: hell be able to use any one as long as it respects the WC3 standard," Brachet told the monthly magazine Linux Pratique.

The switch to an open source navigator follows the police departments decision last year to migrate from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice for all of its desktops.

OpenOffice is a collection of different applications, which can be downloaded free of charge, such as a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation programme similar to Microsoft Powerpoint, a vector graphics editor and a database program similar to Microsoft Access. Many of the components are designed to mirror those available in Microsoft Office.

By the end of 2005, all the gendarmeries computers had made the switch to OpenOffice 1.4 and by March should have moved to version 2.0.

The change should save the police more than two million euros a year, according to Colonel Nicolas Geraud, deputy director of the gendarmeries IT department.

Geraud, speaking at the Solution Linux 2006 exhibition, said this has been the annual cost of buying MSOffice licenses for the gendarmerie since 2004.

The move to open source also meant the department could better control its fixed costs as IT expenses were becoming independent of the number of desktops in use, he added.

On the ground the move to OpenOffice.org had been accompanied with a system known as ICàRE, developed by eight non IT-specialist police officers, to help police officers write out their reports.

"This product corresponds exactly to their needs because it was developed by their colleagues," Geraud said.

The gendarmeries initiative is not isolated in the French government.

A certain number of French government administrations have also chosen to move to open source, including the interior ministry, customs, equipment ministry, culture ministry and above all the finance ministry.

The latter is planning to move its 80,000 desktops to open source starting in the second half of 2006, most notably for the tax department allowing citizens to file their tax returns by Internet.

The finance ministrys newly created division for the modernization of the French state is actively supporting this migration towards open source to maintain efficiency while cutting costs.

No decision has yet been taken to move from Windows to Linux, said Geraud, "but we're considering the option."

On network efficiency

HIDDEN AGENDA By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes
The Philippine Star

Ayala-owned Globe Telecom is best in terms of network efficiency based on recent reports submitted to the National Telecommunications Commission.

Last Oct. 17 from 2:52 p.m. to 6:42 p.m., Globe based on 56 call attempts registered call setup success rate of 98.21 percent, followed by Smart Communications with 96.3 percent based on 54 call attempts, and Sun Cellular 72.55 percent with 51 call attempts. Call setup success rate simply means that out of 56 calls made from a Globe network, 98.21 percent were successfully connected.

Call completion rate is at 98.18 percent for Globe, 98.08 for Smart, and 91.89 for Sun during the said period. Drop call rate was 1.82 percent for Globe, 1.92 percent for Smart, and 8.11 percent for Sun. Drop call rate means that a call is disconnected by the system.

Also on Oct. 17, 2005, from 8:36 p.m. to 9:33 p.m., Globe posted a call setup success rate of 100 percent based on 26 call attempts, Smart 96.15 percent based on 26 calls, and Sun 75 percent based on 20 call attempts.

The same report revealed that call completion rate was 100 percent for Globe, 92 percent for Smart, and 86.67 for Sun while drop call rate was zero for Globe, eight percent for Smart, and 13.33 percent for Sun.

Meanwhile, for Oct. 18, 2005 from 8:36 to 9:33 p.m, out of call attempts of 31, 30, and 32 for Globe, Smart, and Sun, call set-up success rates were 96.77 percent, 96.67 percent, and 87.5 percent respectively.

Call completion rate for the period was 96.67 percent for Globe, 89.66 percent for Smart, and 85.71 percent for Sun while drop call rate was 3.33 percent, 10.34 percent, and 14.29 percent, respectively.

For October 20, 2005, from 9:59 am to 11:28 am, out of 38, 38, and 37 call attempts for Globe, Smart, and Sun, call set-up success rates registered were 92.11 percent, 100 percent, and only 10.81 percent, respectively.

The following call completion rate were reported: 89.57 percent for Globe, 94.74 percent for Smart, 100 percent for Sun while drop call rates were 11.43 percent, 5.26 percent, and 0.0096 percent, respectively.