Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Microsoft allows cafés to offer online trainings

By Ehda M. Dagooc - PhilStar

Internet Cafes will soon be able to provide training services to its clients, as Microsoft Philippines is moving up to allow these entities as authorized mini-training center to provide accessible basic IT education skills to the masses.

Microsoft Philippines managing director Rafael Rollan announced that this program will soon be started in Cebu, and in other areas in Southern Philippines, to help Internet Cafes in the region boost their consumer traffic and offer sensible services, other than games and net browsing.

“Any consumer can go to an Internet Café and get trained on different Microsoft products,” Rollan said explaining that the company is going to build an online network access to authorized net café to accept consumers interested on online training.

“This is a computer based and online training. Internet Cafes will provide the dedicated PCs for this purpose,” he said.

This program will provide Internet Cafes another revenue channel, while any individual, regardless of age, can get easy training access to different Microsoft programs.

This concept will be presented by Microsoft to the Cebu Provincial government soon, as well as Local Government Units (LGUs).

“This is something we want to explore with the Provincial government here, to introduce IT education through iCafes. This is another form of learning access,” Rollan said.

Next year, this unique program will be aggressively pursued by Microsoft, starting with several presentations to Internet Café owners and key government officials in different areas in the region.

“We use iCafes as one of the channels to push our program ‘bridging digital divide’, offering easier eLearning access to Cebuanos and the rest of Southern Philippine markets,” he said in an interview in his recent visit to Cebu.

According to Rollan, with Microsoft’s way of partnering with the government in this concept, he hopes that more and more Internet Cafes will be interested in this new business concept, becoming a non-formal educational training center arm for Microsoft.

Last year, Microsoft presented different concept of business opportunity for Internet Café owners, this is on the possibility of converting Internet Cafes as call centers during night.

There are over 2,000 registered Internet Cafes in Visayas and Mindanao. In Cebu, there are 600 net cafes, this number is still growing.

Microsoft had been working closely with the Internet Café owners in the Visayas and Mindanao in different programs, such as offering different revenue generating opportunities.

Meanwhile, the company is on its continued advocacy to encourage Internet Café operators to use licensed software installed in each of the computer terminal.

Hi-tech House session hall to stop absenteeism

By Delon Porcalla - PhilStar

Roll calls and voice votes might soon be a thing of the past as well as, hopefully, absenteeism among congressmen when the House of Representatives goes hi-tech next year.

Come end January, lawmakers may not need to stand up to be counted, but their physical presence is still required for them not to be marked absent once renovation of the session hall of the Batasan complex is completed.

Catanduanes Rep. Joseph Santiago, chairman of the House information communication technology (ICT) committee, said the state-of-the-art session hall will force all 240 congressmen to religiously attend sessions.

“You have to be physically present to press the button. It requires a thumbprint, which means fingerprints of other persons will not be recognized,” Santiago, former commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission, told The STAR.

The renovation will take about a month and according to Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., this would cost them around P25 million to P30 million.

“The floor here will be elevated (by six inches) to lay down the wires. We will be hi-tech by next year,” De Venecia told The STAR in a separate interview.

Unlike in the present set-up where voluminous documents are stacked on top of each lawmaker’s table at the plenary hall, Santiago said the tables will soon be paperless and free of clutter by next year, with only four buttons on it.

“The buttons are ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘abstain’ and another one for fingerprint scanner. Mas malinis na tingnan,” he said.

What a congressman can do every session, he stressed, is to press the button once the session is called to order at 4 p.m.

Just like the electronic or biometric voting which should save the chamber a lot of time, Santiago revealed the House leadership can also get rid of the roll call, which almost always eats up an hour of legislative work.

So will viva voce (voice vote), which “will be a thing of the past,” he said. “I think that will no longer be needed.”

Lawmakers still have to be physically present though, because they have to press their vote button every time it is needed.

This will prevent legislators from roaming around or going to other places when the House is deliberating on a measure. “they can’t go far. They will be obliged to sit down. In the US, they can vote inside their office, but not here.”

However, the scheduled Jan. 21 resumption of session may be extended by another week due to time constraints, as construction work may not be finished in a month – from Dec. 21 to Jan. 21. “We may ask (the Senate) for an extension, maybe a week,” De Venecia said.

The Speaker said the Philippine parliament wants to be at par with their counterparts in “Europe, US and most of our Asian neighbors, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore,” among others.

De Venecia said the electronic voting “will save us much in terms of plenary discussion time because we can do away with the repetitious roll calls for attendance and conventional individual voting.”

Santiago also revealed that once the state-of-the-art equipment is placed, congressmen can browse pending bills online, and check committee reports or memos. “They can even file their bills electronically from their office.”

Each of the 240 congressmen will also be provided with a “brand new laptop” as part of the computer modernization and e-Legislation project, aimed at establishing the House as a major player and contributor to e-Governance programs in the public sector.

Eventually, Santiago said they will also be pushing for wireless Internet service (wi-fi) not just in the plenary hall, but also Congress-wide, which means in the entire 16-hectare Batasan complex.

Teachers’ group hits DepEd for hush-hush demo on CyberEd

Teachers’ group hits DepEd for hush-hush demo on CyberEd
By Rainier Allan Ronda - PhilStar

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) denounced the Department of Education (DepEd) for holding a hush-hush suppliers’ demonstration for the controversial P26.48-billion Cyber Education Project (CEP) last Dec. 17.

ACT, an umbrella organization of public and private school teachers’ associations and college instructors’ groups, said the hardware demonstration was attended by Education Secretary Jesli Lapus, Commission on Higher Education chairman Romulo Neri and other members of the Presidential Task Force to Assess, Plan, and Monitor the Entire Educational System headed by Dr. Mona Valisno.

Also at the event were officials of Chinese firm Tsinghua Tongfang Nuctech – which the Chinese government has designated as the contractor for the CEP – and representatives of its supplier-firms.

Antonio Tinio, ACT chairperson, said that the demonstration was proof that DepEd was still pushing for the expensive but still untested education technology despite the its having been suspended by President Arroyo.

“This proves that Malacañang and the DepEd are quietly preparing for the implementation of the controversial Cyber Education Project behind everyone’s back, even though serious questions regarding the educational value of the project, its economic viability, its legality, and whether or not it’s tainted with corruption, remain unanswered,” Tinio said.

Lapus, in an interview with The STAR, confirmed the “equipment test” by Tsinghua, the group that they were talking to for the implementation of the CEP.

However, Lapus said that there was nothing irregular in the exercise since it was only a venue for DepEd and other education stakeholders to evaluate the CEP proposal.

Lapus said that the Monday demonstration involved testing of satellite dishes to be supplied by American and Israeli firms that are possible equipment suppliers of Tsinghua.

“There was no cost to DepEd. They’re trying to convince the user (DepEd) and the Chinese about their satellite dish equipment,” Lapus said.

But Tinio scored the DepEd for keeping the demonstration under wraps.

He noted that members of the public, school personnel not directly involved with the demonstration, and media were barred from the event.

According to eyewitnesses, Lapus had asked a news reporter from a national daily to refrain from covering the activity.

According to a 14-page handout provided by the DepEd to invited guests, a copy of which was obtained by ACT, the demonstration consisted of a 27-minute live broadcast of a classroom lecture on the “Cause and Effect of Earthquakes” by a Master Teacher in Science from a studio in an undisclosed location.

The satellite feeds were transmitted to a facility in Subic, a classroom in Antipolo, as well as a classroom in Muntinlupa Elementary School.

Tinio scored the DepEd for failing to pilot-test satellite-based classroom instruction before signing the P26-billion deal with the Chinese.

According to the DepEd, three suppliers were involved in the demonstration: the United States-based ViaSat, the Israeli firm Gilat, and the Filipino satellite operator Mabuhay Satellite Corp.

ViaSat provided the equipment for the classroom in Muntinlupa while Gilat equipped the school in Antipolo. Mabuhay provided its Agila 2 satellite for broadcasting.

The DepEd handout also stated that these suppliers were “invited by Tsinghua.”

Tsinghua has been exposed by ACT as a leading supplier of x-ray inspection machines for airports, customs, and other security applications. It is headed by Hu Haifeng, the son of Chinese president Hu Jintao.

Tinio noted that the supplier demonstration raised several important questions that must be clarified by the Arroyo government.

The CEP aims to set up a satellite-based network that will provide live television broadcasts of lessons to over 37,000 public schools nationwide.

Costing P26.48 billion, it will be funded by the People’s Republic of China through a concessional loan where the PROC will be the one to identify their preferred contractor, in thus case Tsinghua Holdings.

It will be recalled that President Arroyo suspended the project last August, in the wake of allegations of high-level corruption in the national broadband network project of the DOTC, also funded by a PROC concessional loan.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

RP IT industry clamoring for ICT department--SunPhil exec

RP IT industry clamoring for ICT department--SunPhil exec

By Erwin Oliva

MANILA, Philippines -- If it’s going to take a “miracle” for a proposed bill creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), then so be it, the outgoing president of the Information Technology Association of the Philippines (ITAP) said.

Cynthia Mamon, also president and managing director of Sun Microsystems Philippines (SunPhil), said the local IT industry is still clamoring for the creation of a department that would champion ICT in government.

“We in the IT industry are united in supporting the development of the ICT industry. One thing we’ve been clamoring for is the creation of the DICT. We feel that without a strong, fully funded authority in IT -- a champion -- it would be very difficult to push IT as a competitive strategy,” Mamon said.

Mamon stressed that if the Philippines wants to become globally competitive, the local ICT industry needs a “focused” government leadership as well as a physical and human resource infrastructure to help develop the industry.

The outgoing ITAP president lamented that corruption continues to mar ICT projects in government, citing the voided P1.3-billion computerization project of the Commission on Elections and the recent and controversial National Broadband Network.

The House committee on information and communications technology has created a technical working group to work on consolidating several bills proposing the creation of the DICT.

The House ICT the committee is chaired by Catanduanes Representative Joseph Santiago. Representatives Luis Villafuerte was named chair of the technical working group.

The proposed department of ICT hopes to oversee all ICT projects and activities in government. Currently, the CICT has been created by the Office of the President as an interim body to the planned department.

Similar bills creating the department of ICT were pushed in previous Congress. One was House Bill 3218, which was filed under former Congressman Simeon Kintanar (2nd District, Cebu) in the 13th Congress.

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ICT market in Apac to hit $154B in 2008--IDC

ICT market in Apac to hit $154B in 2008--IDC

By Erwin Oliva

MANILA, Philippines -- The information and communications technology (ICT) market in Asia Pacific excluding Japan is expected to reach $154 billion in 2008 and grow at a rate of 10 percent over 2007, market analyst IDC said.

IDC said China and India will continue to contribute close to half of the region's total ICT spending next year.

India is also expected to become the fastest growing economy worldwide in terms of overall ICT spending in 2008 over 2007.

Next year, government spending in ICT is also seen to increase due to "digital inclusion" initiatives and new demands from a more tech-savvy population, Graeme Muller, head of IDC's Asia Pacific predictions committee, said in a statement.

IDC noted that China and India will experience "double digital growth" next year.

"GDP growth rates in China and India are forecasted to range between 9 and 10 percent for both countries in 2008. Increasingly, the small and medium business segment in these two countries is adopting more IT solutions as a strategic business differentiator," IDC said.

Meanwhile, IDC said that "green IT" will emerge more in Asia Pacific in 2008.

"With increasing concerns over global warming and climate changes, the focus has turned to green technologies and environmental protection in the ICT industry. It is not surprising that while corporate social responsibility is an important reason for companies to adopt green IT, the underlying motivation is that of cost savings," the analyst said.

IDC stressed that "the greenness of ICT vendors is going to become more important as purchasing criteria for end-user organizations."

The ongoing "political risk" in emerging markets in Asia Pacific will not hamper ICT growth, IDC said.

IDC has also predicted that the combined ICT spending in the ASEAN ICT market would exceed India, and would become a significant market for ICT investments in 2008.

IDC's predictions for 2008 drew upon latest IDC research and inputs from more than 900 analysts worldwide.

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Microsoft, Google, Yahoo pay fines for Internet gambling

Agence France-Presse

WASHINGTON--Microsoft, Yahoo and Google agreed to pay a total of $31.5 million to settle a government probe into their role in promoting online gambling dating back to 1997, officials said Wednesday.

The settlements marked the latest development in a US crackdown on Internet gambling, which has attracted a large number of Americans using offshore gaming websites.

The Microsoft settlement totals $21 million, including 4.5 million to the United States and a $7.5 million contribution to the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Microsoft also agreed to provide a $9 million campaign aimed at showing young Web users that online gambling is illegal under US law. Microsoft did not admit wrongdoing in settling the allegations that the software and Internet giant received payments from online gambling businesses for advertising.

Google agreed to pay $3 million dollars to settle similar charges and Yahoo 7.5 million and to fund an online public service campaign discouraging online gambling.

Neither company admitted the allegations.

The three companies could have been prosecuted under the Federal Wire Wager Act, federal wagering excise tax laws, and various state statutes and municipal laws prohibiting gambling.

"These sums add to the over $40 million in forfeitures and back taxes this office has already recovered in recent years from operators of these remote-control illegal gambling enterprises," said US Attorney Catherine Hanaway.

"Honest taxpayers and gambling industry personnel who do follow the law suffer from those who promote illegal online behavior."

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

RP Internet cafés urged to adopt code of conduct

By Erwin Oliva

MANILA, Philippines -- A local firm that owns Internet cafés nationwide is pushing for the adoption of a “code of conduct” for Internet shops, specifically to address child pornography on the Internet.

Local firm Everything Online Inc. (EOL), said the code of conduct was introduced during a conference this month, where lawmakers and representatives of ECPAT Philippines were present. ECPAT stands for “End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes.” It is a network of organizations and individuals working to eliminate the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

In an interview, EOL chief operating officer Elmer Argano said EOL hopes to encourage other Internet shop owners to adopt the code of conduct, which focuses on “self regulation.”

The code of conduct was launched during the first National All I-Café Operators Conference held at the Grand Boulevard Hotel early this month.

The code of conduct is part of the ECPAT Philippines campaign, dubbed “Make-IT-Safe.” It hopes to raise awareness among communities and ICT stakeholders in the growing menace brought about by child pornography and the commercial sexual exploitation of children online.

Argano pointed out that the code of conduct is significant because majority of the Internet café patrons are children, young people and young adults.

“Internet Café Owners in the country are important community hubs and should be channels for development and for bridging the digital divide that still pervades in society. These channels play a major role in bridging the scientific and technological community with that of the general public and also setting the parameters on content,” said Argano.

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BSA rewards 7 informants in RP for giving info on piracy

BSA rewards 7 informants in RP for giving info on piracy

By Erwin Oliva

MANILA, Philippines -- At least seven individuals have been rewarded for providing information that led to successful enforcement actions against seven companies found to be infringing on copyrights of software companies, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) said.

The BSA is a non-profit organization that represents leading software and hardware companies, which promotes the use of licensed software. In the Philippines, it has supported the Philippine Software Industry Association, Philippine Internet Services Organization, the Institute of Internal Auditors, the Association of Government Internal Auditors and the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.

It also supports the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT), a government-led initiative that is composed of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Optical Media Board (OMB) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

BSA declined to divulge any information on the identities of the informants and the value of rewards given due to confidentiality and for their protection. BSA also declined to give the name of the companies which were identified by the informants.

BSA anti-piracy campaign has been offering rewards to anyone who could provide information that would lead to a successful enforcement action and prosecution against any company using illegal software.

Tarun Sawney, director for Anti-Piracy in Asia of BSA, explained in a statement that the reward campaign only applies to reports on corporate end-users of pirated and unlicensed business software of its members. The value of the reward would then depend on the information provided by the informant and the result of the enforcement action, Sawney said.

Software piracy is punishable under the Intellectual Property (IP) Code of the Philippines. Those found guilty could face up to nine years imprisonment and a fine of up to P1.5 million. Tips or leads are usually received through BSA's toll-free anti-piracy hotline at 1-800-1-888-8787.

The reward could go up to one million pesos, the BSA said.

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Telcos form group to mitigate risks from natural disasters

Telcos form group to mitigate risks from natural disasters

By Lawrence Casiraya

MANILA, Philippines -- Telecommunications companies have formed a consortium of regional carriers to avert service disruption in case of natural disasters such as last year’s Taiwan earthquake which affected Internet and communications connections.

Called Pacific Partners, the alliance is composed of 14 major Asia Pacific carriers including the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).

All members of the alliance have signed a memorandum of agreement to ensure quick restoration of services in their networks during major cable system failures, according to PLDT.

The other carriers are AT&T of the US, China Telecom, CAT Telecom of Thailand, Chunghwa Telecom of Taiwan, KDDI of Japan, Korea Telecom, INDOSAT of Indonesia, REACH of Hong Kong and Australia, Singapore Telecom, Telecom New Zealand, Telekom Malaysia, VNPT of Vietnam and VSNL International of India and Canada.

In December 2006, an earthquake originated from Taiwan damaging nine international submarine cable systems. Existing restoration plans proved insufficient, causing major difficulties in the Asia-Pacific region, including the slowing down of the Internet.

Top officials of major carriers met a few months later to discuss the impact of the Taiwan earthquake and came up with measures to avert a similar crisis.

One of the things agreed upon was to pursue a strategic cooperation initiative that would pool all available resources at their disposal – including manpower and facilities -- to deal with multiple cable failures that may occur in the future.

Under the terms of the MOU, the group will develop “Disaster Recovery Principles and Mechanism (DRP/M)” to ensure each party’s quick return to business-as-usual operation.

The end-goal is to minimize the impact of international cable failures on the consumer and business customers of all 14 carriers.

A committee chaired by PLDT carrier marketing management head Genaro Sanchez was created in early 2007 to undertake this task.

The DRP/M is expected to be ready for implementation by early 2008.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Innove gets licence to offer services in Subic & Olongapo

Innove gets licence to offer services in Subic Freeport and Olongapo City

INNOVE Communications Inc. has obtained a permanent license from the National Telecommunications Commission to operate both the international domestic leased line services and local telephone service with public payphone facilities in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and in Olongapo City.

The NTC said it approved Innove’s application because of the high demand for data services and phenomenal growth of Internet-related services and e-commerce market.

The regulator handed down its decision on December 10, saying: “In the interest of public service, and because Innove is legally, financially and technically qualified, the Commission grants Innove a certificate of public convenience and necessity to provide international domestic leased line services and to establish, operate and maintain local telephone services with public payphone facilities and public calling stations within the territorial jurisdiction of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), for a period coterminous with the life of its existing franchise.”

Innove, the wireline unit of Globe Telecom, was first issued a provisional authority by the SBMA on February 17, 2006, valid for 18 months or up to August 16, 2007.

Earlier, Subic Telecommuni-cations Company Inc. (SubicTel), a subsidiary of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., filed a case before the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City to restrain the Globe’s unit from providing domestic and international tele-communications services in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

SubicTel claimed it has the option to renew its 10-year exclusivity privilege to provide state-of-the-art telecom facilities in the area but since the period has lapsed, the SBMA began entertaining other applicants.

However, the Olongapo trial court denied the case filed by the subsidiary of PLDT to stop Innove from operating in the area.

SubicTel has been operating in Subic initially as a joint venture with PLDT, SBMA and the US-based telecom firm AT&T. Later, SBMA and AT&T sold their equity to PLDT.
--Darwin G. Amojelar - Manila Times

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Measuring web traffic and the pitfalls of web rankings

By Erwin Oliva, Leo Magno - INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines -- As with most processes on the Internet, web traffic measurement is evolving. If not scrutinized, web rankings may end up confusing or misleading users rather than enlightening them.

During the early years of the Internet, site owners installed “hit” counters to give people an idea of the amount of traffic flowing into their websites. A hit is generated whenever a file on a webpage is served. It is basically a request for a file from a web server. There are also “page views” which are measured when an entire page within a website is summoned from the server. It is a request for a file whose type is defined as a “page” in web analytics parlance. A single webpage could contain numerous hits. In the same vein, a visitor can call up numerous page views from the same website.

As website publishers, advertisers and marketers began looking closely at the web as a business, measuring web traffic became a sport, one that could be confusing or even misleading for the reader.

“The promise (and problems) of web measurement have been around since the web’s inception, but only now are large advertisers and marketers truly betting the farm on the medium and moving millions of dollars away from traditional media such as TV and newspapers. Measurement numbers are used by website publishers to sell ads, by ad agencies to satisfy clients, and by third-party measurement firms who package those numbers into high-priced reports," wrote media critic and journalist Mark Glaser in a Mediashift article.

Web analytics

Filipino search engine marketing experts agree that there is no single, reliable platform that could measure web traffic accurately. In most cases, figures generated are mere “guesstimates” of the real activity within a website.

“I don’t think there is anything out there right now that can be a reliable source for measuring the traffic of any website that you don’t own and control. Unless you have access to the web analytics platform being used by a website, you would not be able to properly measure its traffic,” said Jonathan Casuncad, search engine marketing manager at Netbooster Asia.

Netbooster Asia, which is part of the Netbooster Group, is a Philippine Internet marketing agency that has achieved both Google AdWords Qualified Company and Yahoo Search Marketing Ambassador status, according to Casuncad.

Third-party web-based tools such as Quancast and Alexa, however, have been utilized by companies to give people an idea of how much traffic a website generates.

Casuncad considered Quancast as “probably the most technically sound third-party platform out there today in terms of measuring a website’s performance mainly because they ask the participation of the websites that want their traffic and content measured.”

But without access to a website’s information and direct cooperation of the website owners, Casuncad said there is no reliable way for any third-party body to measure online traffic and website performance “at a level of relevance and accuracy that would be good enough to base business decisions on.”

Benj Arriola, another Filipino search engine optimization marketing specialist, said there are web-based tools like Compete.com that produce “some sort of web ranking but does not require any tracking code on your site.”

But like Casuncad, Arriola stressed that Quancast and Compete are not very reliable.

He said paid and free web analytics will likely do a better job in measuring website traffic since they require installed tracking codes. One of the more popular and free “page tagging” web analytics tool is Google Analytics, which require website owners to post codes on webpages for the purpose of tracking traffic.

Another way of measuring web traffic is looking at unique visitors, which is often determined through the user’s IP address.

Arriola, however, said that measuring unique visitors is also not fool-proof.

“Within big corporations on large wireless networks, different people could be running on the same external IP, thus multiple people might be visiting a page but it is recorded as a unique hit, thus it is not reliable for multiple visitors using the same IP,” he said.

All these tools and methods are still unreliable, Arriola said.

Alexa and reliability issues

One of the more popular web tracking tools is Alexa, which started surging in terms of usage as early as the 1990s.

Casuncad said Alexa today is “no longer as relevant as it was in the ‘90s when it comes to representing Internet surfing behavior.”

“Since Alexa can only track data on users who have the Alexa toolbar installed on their browsers, the data that it can show may be skewed and could not be an accurate reflection of how the majority of online users surf the website,” he said.

Arriola said Alexa’s numbers are not reliable at all. But it could serve as a “very rough trending tool of comparison.”

SEO experts unanimously agree that Alexa rankings could easily be manipulated.

“The Alexa ranking is mainly based on the traffic hits it gets from people visiting a site that has the Alexa toolbar installed. A simple manipulation could be to install the toolbar and keep visiting a single site that you want to have an increased Alexa ranking. Now, in the blackhat point of view, this can go even higher using scripting tools that will automate the whole process,” Arriola said.

Casuncad said that if a website owner has a significant number of people download and install the Alexa toolbar and require the same people to visit the website constantly, the website’s Alexa ranking would soon increase. His experience tells him that doing this consistently would produce results in three months.

A web publisher could then publicly claim that it is ahead of its competitors, when in fact that same data and ranking could have been artificially inflated by its own employees, similar to hiring dozens of monkeys who do nothing all day but click on the refresh button to boost their ranking.

An article in Businessweek makes a good point about Alexa: “Web outfits seem to agree that Alexa is flawed, but they continue to rely on it because the data are so addictive. Since Alexa’s numbers are free and available online, they can easily be plugged into a PowerPoint presentation or onto a blog, providing a quick-and-dirty way to get a competitive snapshot. Blogs cite Alexa as gospel, and its graphs are part of nearly every startup’s pitch to investors.”

Evolving metrics and SEOs

In article from Seattlepi.com, Internet giant Yahoo!’s decision to use Ajax to create “flashier” and easy-to-use web-based services affected its page views, a yardstick for the Internet giant to measure web traffic.

“Experts say the stubborn attachment to page views may also be keeping some sites from improving their usability,” the article said.

Arriola, for his part, said that measurement of web activity has become more specific. SEO companies do not only look at rankings and the number of page views and visitors, but also check so-called “key performance indicators,” or KPIs.

“KPIs can be as unique as a client wants it to be. It can be number of conversions. A conversion may be a sale, a lead, a subscription, or downloading a form. People who have hits and views as KPIs are more interested in branding. Those that have conversions as KPIs are more interested in ROI,” he said.

SEO has also emerged as a new way of boosting web traffic, as this new breed of web experts use every means to land websites on top of a search engine result page. SEO experts are now being hired to help increase a website’s page rank in different search engines like Google and Yahoo!

With more people using search engines like Google and Yahoo! to surf the web, search engine optimization experts use various keyword techniques to boost the ranking of a website in a search.

“I believe that search engines are still the best and biggest source of targeted, first time (unique) visitors. Since search is the second most popular activity online (first is email), it is a most valuable source of high-quality traffic. If you target the right set of keywords, you can dramatically increase your website’s unique visitors,” said Casuncad.

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Subictel Quietly Lowers its DSL Rates

Good luck trying to find it on the Subictel website. And you might not hear about it from the friendly ladies at the customer service counter - who have taken the brunt of angry customers' complaints about Subictel's high prices and poor quality service.

But Subictel has finally brought its rates for DSL service into line with industry standards. They now offer a basic monthly package for 999 pesos - which is exactly on par with Manila, Angeles and the rest of the country (as well as Subictel's likely competitors in Subic).

The basic 999 peso package says it offers speeds of 384 kbps downstream, and other monthly plans - 1299 pesos, 1995 and 2500 pesos - offer additional speed, going up to 1.9 mbps. But since Subictel has never been able to verify the speed they offer (their customer service agents take great glee in explaining that all online Internet connection speed trackers are unreliable!) then how will they verify that you are getting what you pay for if you take the high-end package?

If I opt to pay for the higher speed package then I have to trust that Subictel is giving me something that the basic package holders aren't getting for less money. Hmmmm. . . trust Subictel. . . how could you go wrong with that?

Another interesting aspect of their new DSL packages is the range. The cheapest is 999 pesos and the most expensive is 2,500 pesos. For years, the only residential DSL package they offered was for 2,500 pesos a month. If the only rate they offered previously is now the highest rate in the new range, isn't that a tacit admission on their part that they have been over-charging customers for the last, oh, decade or so?

Subictel has gorged on bloated Internet fees from its captive customers for years, but clearly they can see competition on the horizon. They have brought their prices into line. Now, it's time to get their customer and technical service in gear.

For those who want to downgrade to the new 999 or other cheaper plans, or are ready to sign up now that the plans are affordable, you need to ask their customer service specifically about the cheaper plans. They sure didn't seem eager to volunteer the information during a recent visit by The Subic Bulletin.

For those who want to take advantage of the new cheaper plans, expect lots of hidden and surprise fees, punishments for opting for the cheaper plans, and brittle long-term, lock-in contracts.

The Subic Bulletin Blog

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