Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Saturday, August 04, 2007

New House ICT committee chair to focus on NTC, push DICT

By Erwin Oliva - INQUIRER.net

CEBU CITY, Philippines -- The new chairman of the House of Representatives’ committee on information and communications technology (ICT) wants to revisit the mandate of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

Catanduanes Representative Joseph Santiago who was designated as the new House chairman on ICT, said Thursday he intends to revisit the 1995 Public Telecommunications Policy Act to make the NTC a more "professional" government agency, similar to the US Federal Communications Commission.

Santiago was a former head of the NTC

"We want fixed terms for the commissioners of the NTC, while making the agency more independent. I know this because I was there," Santiago said in a telephone interview.

NTC's regulatory powers also need to become more flexible to the changes in the telecommunications industry, which is now merging with the information technology industry.

The NTC chairman and the two commissioners are all appointed by the President.

He cited the experience of Australia, which has been adjusting its telecommunications laws as new technologies emerge.

"Together with the industry, I hope we can craft general guidelines for the amendment to the 1995 Public Telecommunications Policy Act," he added.

"We have to update the law, and keep its provisions as broad as possible, for instance, with respect to treatment of potential new technologies, and leave the particulars entirely up to the NTC," Santiago said.

"For example, right now, there is ambiguity whether this or that entity should be treated as a service or a value-added service (VAS) provider, and whether this or that function or offering should be regarded as a VAS or not," he said.

"Yet, the truth of the matter is, there are simply too many new technologies now that Congress did not even conceive of when it passed the law 12 years ago," Santiago said. "So we may have to reshape the law precisely to keep it totally open to new technologies."

Santiago said he will also push for the creation of Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

He said the current Commission on Information and Communications Technology is a "toothless" agency, which has no "clear mandate by legislation."

The Catanduanes solon vowed to transform the NTC into "a more potent quasi-judicial regulator and a dynamic driver of ICT growth."

Meanwhile, Santiago said he will soon call on a public hearing on the controversial national broadband network project of the Department of Transportation and Communications.

"Instead of focusing on the players in the project, I want to look into the idea if government really needs to create this network or we would just leave this to the private sector," he said.

He said that some government agencies are now operating their own networks.

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Arroyo names new CICT chairman

By Erwin Oliva, Lira Dalangin-Fernandez = INQUIRER.net

Reposts to correct position offered to the outgoing head of the Commission on Higher Education.

CEBU CITY, Philippines -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has appointed Ray Anthony Roxas Chua as the new chairman of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology.

In an interview with reporters here, Arroyo said Chua was chosen because of his background in computer science.

“His appointment has been signed but not yet transmitted,” Arroyo candidly said when asked by INQUIRER.net about Chua's appointment.

Arroyo said Chua has worked in the US and has decided to come back to the Philippines to work for his family. She said the new chairman of CICT is the grandson of Anthony Roxas Chua.

A former government executive who declined to be identified said Chua is a graduate of Wharton, which Arroyo also mentioned in an informal interaction with reporters here. Chua has also worked for the IT department of Citibank in San Francisco.

CICT legal counsel Lorenzo Formoso said he did not know Chua personally, but welcomed the news because “CICT can now continue to do its work.”

Arroyo was in Cebu to inaugurate the new facility of Accenture and said that the company’s Cebu expansion is an example of the “higher value services” she mentioned in her State of the Nation Address.

“Cebu is now one of the centers identified in the Cyberservices corridor,” she said.

She also stressed that the outsourcing industry should gradually focus on higher-value services such as software development.

Arroyo said that Romulo Neri's appointment to the Commission on Higher Education would help the country's tertiary education, which will produce the graduates needed by various industries including the outsourcing industry.

“I thank Carlito Puno for what he has done with CHED,” Arroyo said, adding that the government executive is being offered the post of president of Cocochem

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Increased training opportunities sought for BPO sector

Demand for workers seen to hit nearly 1M in 2010

By Michelle Remo - Inquirer

THE NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority has urged the government and the private sector to provide more training opportunities for people wanting to get employed in the business process outsourcing industry.

This sector has the potential of becoming a much bigger contributor to the overall growth of the economy if the country can provide the amount of labor required by investors, NEDA Director General Romulo Neri said.

In a paper distributed to the media, the NEDA, quoting industry projections, said the total number of people employed in the BPO industry has the potential to increase by nearly 200 percent to 920,764 in 2010 from the projected 343,013 this year.

Of the projected number, the call center subsector is seen to account for the biggest share of 331,000.

The BPO industry is also seen to generate a gross revenue of more than $12 billion by 2010 from only a little about $3 billion last year.

The NEDA said the revenue-generation performance of the BPO sector was fast catching up with the remittances sent by overseas Filipino workers, which hit $12 billion last year.

The booming BPO industry was partly credited for the increase in foreign direct investments in the Philippines in 2006. From only $1.854 billion in 2005, FDI increased by 26 to $2.345 billion last year.

Earlier, the Department of Labor and Employment raised concern over the mismatch between the qualifications of college graduates and the skills required by the companies investing in the Philippines.

"The BPO industry has a huge potential (in providing more employment) and so we have to have more training so that we can supply the labor demand," Neri said.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in her State of the Nation Address last month, said her administration was targeting to make

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Car satellite navigation systems can be hacked--experts

Agence France-Presse
LAS VEGAS -- Satellite navigation systems in cars can be hijacked remotely with relative ease, allowing hackers to feed drivers bogus directions, two experts told a major security conference here.

Andrea Barisani and Daniele Bianco from the website Inverse Path demonstrated Thursday how antennas and a patchwork of commonly available electronics can be employed to replace the legitimate traffic information radioed to the systems with false instructions.

The hacker tool works on in-car Radio Data System "SatNav" devices standard in Europe, which are becoming increasingly common in North America and are due to debut this year in Australia, Barisani told security professionals meeting in Las Vegas for the Black Hat digital self-defense conference.

"If we can make it, anyone can make it," Barisani said as he and Bianco assembled their hacking masterpiece for their seminar. "We type on keyboards all day and aren't very mechanical."

While navigation systems plot routes using stored maps and satellites, the systems receive perpetual updates about traffic accidents, road closures or other conditions that sometimes call for setting new courses.

The updated information is sent in packets of computer code on FM radio frequencies, sometimes sharing wavelengths with radio programs.

The hacking device can "sniff out" and replace legitimate traffic data on existing channels or create fake broadcasts on unused frequencies, according to Barisani.

Its signal can easily be boosted to a 16 kilometer (10 miles) radius, he said.

In-car navigation systems continually scan for data channels, downloading information about traffic, weather, and road problems.

"We can see what is going on and change the destination," Barisani said.

"We can create bad weather, fresh snow, full car parks, accidents...close bridges, roads or tunnels, and the SatNav will pop-up a detour."

Barisani referred to re-routing GPS-dependent drivers as the "keep your parents from getting home attack."

The two Italian experts said they discovered mischief-inspiring pre-programmed alerts they could trigger, among them the messages "air raid," "bomb," "bull fight," and "boxing match."

"You can mine all the highway, sending alerts for bombs, air crashes and terrorist incidents without end -- World War III on your highway," Barisani said. "The boxing match makes sense, because after an accident in Italy you get boxing on the highway."

The results of hacks were sent to the Traffic Message Channel in Europe that handles the sending of updates and alerts to in-car devices.

TMC wrote back that "pirate radio" stations are illegal and it is confident protections are built into devices, according to letters posted at the website of Inverse Path, where Barisani is chief security officer.

"The problem is people implicitly trust these things," Barisani said of in-car navigation systems. "You worry about viruses in your computer at home but not in your car. This is an open door to software running your car."

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Barangay.ph now accepts move-inners, provides home away from home setting

By EDISON D. ONG - Manila Bulletin

Nanette de Dios Alcaro's heart never left home. The first home.

So much so that when she started her first major, global Internet-related business, it had to be in a Pilipino name – kababayan and barangay, for example. Very distinctly Filipino.

First home for her is the Philippines. Second home is Las Vegas in the USA. Together she and her other half of the brain partner Jonno Alcaro are making East meet West via the Cyberspace. Nanette and Jonno are president and CEO, respectively.

With over 26 years behind him in the financial security industry, specializing in the marketing of services, Jonno is a former co-owner, director and EVP of Yellowpages.com , while Nanette is the former director of sales and marketing of deluxe hotels both in Manila and the US. Together they have over 45 combined years of marketing expertise in the US, worldwide and online.

"The mission of Barangay.ph is to bring our homeland closer to overseas Filipinos of every generation," they said. Its vision is to be the global resource of things important to Filipino overseas. It aims to make the lives of Filipinos overseas easier by providing relevant information, products and services at the click of a mouse, 24/7/365.

She continued that the goal of Barangay,ph is to support local businesses in the Philippines and contribute to the growth of the economy. For example a minimum of ten percent of all profits from the portal and its sister sites, Kababayan.ph and FilipinoYellowPages.ph will go to the building furnishing and equipping of schools in the Philippines.

We believe the best way to help the country is through education., they remarked, "It is our way of giving back to our home that has made us who we are."

Stated Nanette, "We have created an online connection to home, as well as an online vehicle for all other Filipino interests. We invite everyone to utilize this portal to post their messages, wares and services."

Barangay.ph is targeted towards the 10 million Filipinos living outside the country from all demographics, including emigrants and the second generations thereafter who are dying to know more about their roots and heritage.

The two executives came to Manila last July to formally launch on the 25th, Barangay.ph and to invite individuals, companies and associations to "come on-board and partner up with the site."

She remarked, Barangay.ph will work hand in hand with your enterprise to get your name, product and message delivered to a global audience. It is a collaborative effort with commercial and non-commercial organizations, both public and private.

As the name implies, explained Jonno, Barangay.ph is a Web portal designed around buildings typically found in a village. The 13 buildings current found on the site include Associations, Banks, City Hall, Hospital, Library, Market, Real Estate, Restaurant, School, Social Hall, Theater and Travel.

The Market building, for example, will sell goods and services to buyers worldwide for delivery to family and friends in the Philippines. The Library building will provide resources such as Filipino newspapers from around the world.

Jonno said the content of the buildings will develop as the demand for it grows. Adding that they are in the business of driving traffic in to their Website.

Nanette explained in a nutshell, Barangay,ph is an online portal that will provide Filipino overseas with easy access to patronize and support our home country. "Barangay.ph will work hand in hand with your enterprise to get your name, brand and message delivered to a global audience."

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Politics and profit set stage for Internet security disaster

The Internet is ripe for hacking chaos and rampant crime due to serious computer defense flaws, specialists told cyber security experts from around the world at a major conference here.

The experts who met at the Black Hat digital self-defense conference in Las Vegas also heard from US counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke, who blasted what he described as President George W. Bush's lack of interest in enhancing the nation's cyber security.

A dark secret is that the companies devoted to defending systems have "massive security problems" of their own and most react to attacks instead of predicting and preventing them, said Dinis Cruz of London-based Ounce Labs.

"The big question is will the perfect storm occur," Cruz told AFP.

"I wish a bunch of kids would just bring this thing whole down because it would really help us to understand the level of mess we are in."

Internet browsers can be used by hackers to get into computers and take control, sessions at Black Hat revealed.

Hackers are increasingly using software commonly used when sharing text, video and music files to hide and deliver malicious codes that infect machines.

"The industry is in a very reactive mode at the moment," Cruz said.

"A lot of the stuff we have here is quite immature because we don't have proper attackers. We are waiting for a new generation of attackers that can exploit our vulnerabilities."

Software developers are under pressure to quickly produce programs at low cost, making thwarting abuses by evil doers a low priority, according to security specialists.

One Black Hat attendee equated Microsoft's new Vista operating system to a fortresses with thick concrete walls and steels doors, and a defense program that was "a stupid security guard handing keys" to wily attackers.

"It is crazy to think of all the applications we depend on a lot of times have massive vulnerability," Cruz said.

"A lot of security providers add more problems to networks than they solve."

Clarke, who worked for both presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said that the global economy could be shut down by hackers.

"We are building the global economy on a foundation of cyberspace 1.0 with a structure that has not changed since its creation," warned Clarke.

"We are still running code from vendors all over the world that is replete with errors."

Clarke said Bush cut funding for Internet security research and ignored a prepared cyber security plan.

"I handed it to him in the Oval office and he signed it, but I don't think he ever read it," Clarke said of a plan he recommended before quitting and becoming an author.

The Bush administration, financial institutions and much of the United States "don't get it" when it comes to cyber security, according to Clarke.

Since leaving government in 2003 Clarke has written three books: "Against All Enemies," a critical look at blunders in the US-led war on terror, a political thriller and a tech-heavy science fiction novel. He is also chairman of a risk management firm.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Broadband deal challenged at SC

Iloilo Vice-Governor Rolex Suplico on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to nullify the controversial broadband contract between the government and Chinese company ZTE Corp.

In a 129-page petition the former congressman said the $329-million contract to build a National Broadband Network violates the Procurement Act, the Build-Operate-Transfer Law and the Telecommunications Policy Act which calls for the privatization of all telecommunications projects.

Suplico said the contract was also one of the reasons why Romulo Neri was pulled out as Socio-Economic Planning Secretary to temporarily head the Commission on Higher Education.

He said he had anticipated that the Department of Justice would consider the contract as an executive agreement that does not need a public bidding.

In an interview, Suplico said Neri was demoted to CHED to keep him out of the decision-making process on the escalating controversy hounding the NBN project.

“Neri was taken out of the loop on the NBN Project because he now shares a different view on its viability and regularity. He was demoted for giving the right advice to the President,” he said.

Neri had recommended to President Arroyo that the telecommunication project be implemented by the private sector at no cost to the government. Based on transcripts of their meeting on the Cyber Corridor Initiative in November last year, Mrs. Arroyo agreed with Neri.

But apparently, Neri was forced to endorse the proposal that the project be carried out by ZTE through an alleged government-to-government agreement, and not through a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme as had been agreed upon, Suplico said.

“Neri had no choice but to toe the line. There’s nothing much he could do but to endorse it, as he was apparently kept in the dark until the final stages of the ZTE agreement had been drawn-up. But among colleagues and his close circle of friends, he has maintained that this deal was a mistake and that it should be undertaken by the private sector by way of BOT,” Suplico said.

Under the deal, ZTE will set up the network using funds the Philippine government would loan from the Chinese government and turn over its operation to the government after it is completed. The deal also contained a “sovereign guarantee” clause which requires the government to refund ZTE in case of financial losses.

Neri had preferred that instead of loaning money from the Chinese government just to establish a national Internet backbone, the government should have allowed the private sector to build the network.
--Maricel V. Cruz - Manila Bulletin

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Globe-Yahoo partnership targets over 40 M RP users

Globe Telecom, in partnership with Yahoo, aims to reach over 40 million Internet users in the Philippines via the Yahoo!Go and Yahoo!oneSearch services — Internet applications optimized for the small screens of mobile phones.

Yahoo, a leading global Internet brand with 500 million users worldwide, already reaches 85 percent of all Internet users in the country, according to David Ko, Vice President and General Manager, Connected Life Asia, Yahoo.

"Most of these Internet users are mobile phone users as well," he pointed out. "We want to bring Yahoo!Go to all 20 million Filipino mobile phone users."

Ultimately, "Our goal is to have over 40 million Filipino users gain access to yahoo via their Personal Computers or mobile phones."

"Yahoo is our partner, not just in business, but in nation building as well," added Gerardo C. Ablaza, Jr., Globe President and CEO.

"We both support GILAS - Gearing up Internet Literacy and Access for Students. Together with other GILAS partners, we are hooking up all of the Philippines’ over 5,000 secondary schools to the internet."

Yahoo! Go 2.0 is a suite of Yahoo applications including Yahoo! Mail, Calendar and Address book that customizes content from the Internet and reinvents mobile search.

Yahoo! oneSearch gives instant answers in a new format on the mobile phone. Search results are easy to read and expand consumer access to News, Images, Finance, Weather, Flickr, Web and mobile Web results with easy navigation to other web sites.

Under the new partnership, Globe will distribute Yahoo!oneSearch and Yahoo! Go 2.0 to makes it easier for people to conduct Internet searches in their mobile devices.

In addition, Globe is adding its own content in the yahoo search engines. Hence, subscribers can use oneSearch to look for listings of the latest ring tones and other downloadable content from Globe and its partners.

Furthermore, Globe is offering a fifty percent discount on browsing charges to make the Yahoo mobile experience affordable to subscribers.

Yahoo! Go 2.0 is now available for download free of charge from the myGlobe WAP site.

First launched in the United States in January 2007, Yahoo! oneSearch is currently available in 14 countries around the world — Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Italy, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.

The service will soon be available in Korea and Taiwan as well.
By EMMIE V. ABADILLA - Manila Bulletin

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

DoJ says $330-M broadband deal legal

By Tetch Torres - INQUIRER.net

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has affirmed the legality of the $330-million broadband contract the Philippines signed with a Chinese company.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez told the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) that the proposed National Broadband Network (NBN) project could be considered an executive agreement, “provided that the loan agreement between the Philippine government and China Exim Bank is subsequently concluded."

He said executive agreements do not fall under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act requiring that "all procurement activities must be made through public bidding."

Lawmakers have questioned why the government settled for negotiating with a chosen company, ZTE Corp., rather than auctioning off the project as mandated by law.

They accuse the government of failing to consider the offers of other telecommunication firms amid reports that two other firms have offered to undertake the project at significantly lower costs -- Amsterdam Holdings with $242 million and Arescom USA with $135 million.

The DoTC is pushing the project as a means to cut government spending in telecommunications, which is estimated to be worth about P4 billion every year. The agency estimates that government can save around P3.6 billion in communications expense if the NBN pushes through.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Filipino entrepreneur to startups: Learn from open source

By Erwin Oliva - INQUIRER.net

A Filipino entrepreneur who sold his software startup to IBM urged local software startups not to ignore the open source movement. Instead, they should start embracing the community's practice of developing software.

Open source software has allowed smaller companies today to challenge behemoths like Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, Sybase, Bea and even IBM, said Winston Damarillo, entrepreneur-turned-venture-capitalist and founder of several companies including GlueCode Software, Simula Labs, Exist Global and LogicBlaze.

Stressing that open source is not about cheaper or free software, Damarillo said the open source model has increasingly challenged bigger companies because they're backed by a community willing to collaborate and share information.

Citing his experience with GlueCode Software, the executive said his startup got sold to IBM because it took advantage of the disruptive nature of the open source software.

GlueCode is an open source Java outfit that IBM bought for an undisclosed amount. Earlier reports indicated that the computer giant bought GlueCode Software because it offered a low-end, open source alternative to its own WebSphere software suite.

Speaking before an audience of software professionals in a forum organized by Ayala Technology Business Incubator and the Brain Gain Network in Manila, Damarillo said the open source movement is now creating more micro-multinationals or mini-independent software vendors that cater to niche software markets.

"You're seeing more IP creations [software] that are not centered on one creative genius but on a global community, he said. "Open source is not about cheap software but about access to software innovation."

He said that it took GlueCode 11 months to get the attention of IBM.

Open source has somehow paved the way for the "redistribution of wealth" in the software industry, he said.

Gone are the days when software products are dictated by giant vendors, he added. And thanks to the Internet, distribution, marketing and development of software have become less of a challenge for a software startup.

"Open source has become an engine for collaboration and research and development," he added.

"Open source usually starts with a great idea that you wish to share to the world," Damarillo said, rejecting the idea of software patents. "Open source is a phenomenon that has changed the mechanics of global software engineering."

The software industry in general is headed toward an open source model, which is best exemplified by Google.

Google, he stressed, believes in the mantra that software development is about "making [software] easy to use first; revenues later."