Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

11 bidders attend ARMM automated polls pre-bid conference

At least 11 parties have attended the Commission on Election's (Comelec) pre-bid conference for the automation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections a Comelec spokesperson said.

Among the companies who joined Tuesday's pre-bid conference was Mega Data Corp., which has indicated it will submit a position paper requesting that it be qualified to participate in the bid, said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

Mega Data Corp., a local company pushing the "Botong Pinoy" (Vote Filipino) initiative, was hoping that it would be included as potential bidder despite not having any "track record" in a prior successful election.

Jimenez said that the "request for proposal," which was put together by the Comelec based on the recommendations made by an advisory council, requires that the potential bidder should have been part of a prior successful election.

The potential bidders were a mix of local and foreign companies, the Comelec spokesperson said. Jimenez, however, declined to give the names of the companies until they officially submit their bids on March 10, 2008.

The Department of Budget and Management has allocated about P867 million for the automation of the elections in ARMM this coming August.

The Comelec website has announced the schedule of the bid and its requirement for the upcoming elections.

The publication of the invitation to bid was made from February 14 to 16, 2008.

A pre-bid conference was scheduled on February 25 but was moved to February 26 because that day was declared a non-working holiday.

The Comelec is giving bidders until March 10, 2008 to submit their bids.

The opening bid documents is set on March 10, 2008.

The Comelec en banc announced in a resolution that it has accepted the recommendations of an advisory council led by the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT).

The recommendations include the use of two technologies in the ARMM elections: the direct recording electronic (DRE) technology and the optical mark-reader (OMR).

DRE uses a touch-screen or touch-pad technology for voting, while OMR requires voters to fill in a paper-based ballot that is fed to a specially designed machine, similar to a scanner.

The Comelec en banc, however, has decided to use the DRE technology for the whole province of Maguindanao, which was contrary to the advisory council's recommendation to limit its use to two cities or municipalities.

The Comelec en banc decided to use the DRE for the whole province of Maguindanao to fully test the technology in time for the 2010 elections.

"The recommended scope of the use of DRE technology is too insignificant to be a sound basis for a proper evaluation for that technology’s suitability for use in Philippine elections," the Comelec said in its resolution.

The advisory council is the body of expert advisers created under Republic Act 9369. It is a body tasked to recommend to the Comelec which technology to use for the automation of elections.

Members include the Chairman of the Commission on Information Communication Technology, representatives from the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Education, a representative from the academe, representatives from IT professional organizations and from non-governmental electoral reform organizations.
By Erwin Oliva - INQUIRER.net

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Telcos buck new access-code fees

TELECOM companies have opposed the plan of the National Telecommunications Commission to impose fees on telephone access and exchange codes, saying the proposed charges are “exorbitant.”

In a draft circular, the NTC said it will charge P10,000 a year for one 3-digit exchange code and one VoIP prefix code; P8,000 a year for one access code, P5,000 a year for one number code.

Globe Telecom Inc., Digital Telecommunications Phils. Inc. and the Philippine Association of Private Telephone Companies said the fees are “exorbitant” and will translate into additional taxes to be borne by customers.

“[The] P8million annually for each new mobile access code, coupled with the proposed fees on other number codes are significant expenses that regretfully, must be reconciled with telco retail schemes for the sake of business buoyancy,” Froilan M. Castelo, Globe’s head for regulatory affairs, said.

Castelo said that that the new fees may impede the continuing drive for affordable communication, adding that as a substantial contributor to the government revenues, Globe wants NTC to reconsider or stop altogether the plan to impose administrative fees on number codes.

The Globe executive pointed out that numbers should not be the subject of administrative fees as they are not a scarce public resource.

“We disagree with the proposed principle that numbers are like spectrum, and as such are scarce public resources that need to be effectively administered for which user’s fees will be charged,” Castelo said.

Castelo said the 09XX series alone can hold about 8 million numbers. “There are more numbers to go around than the Philippines’ mobile subscriber market can be expected to grow for several generations - potentially forever when traditional numbering finally evolves into NGN [next generation network] or IP-based locators for that matter,” he said.

The NTC imposes fees on the names and numbers to promote the efficient use of such limited resource.

The regulator said the fees will apply to all public telecommunications entities and value added service providers with assigned names and numbers.

These include the three-digit exchange codes used to identify where a subscriber is connected, prefix code for voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), access code, number codes in the 1-900 and 1-800. By Darwin G. Amojelar, Manila Times Reporter

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Mobile broadband a boon to society

Mobile broadband a boon to society, enterprises and individuals, says Ericsson CEO

After posting strong consumer uptake of mobile broadband in 2007, the world has yet to see and realize the true power of this technology, which when harnessed to its full potential can help contribute to productivity and enhance the quality of life to benefit society, enterprises and individuals.

Carl-Henric Svanberg, president and CEO of Ericsson, the world’s leading provider of telecommunications equipment and related services to mobile and fixed networks operators globally, speaking at the recent Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona said, that mobile broadband benefits society in more ways than one – including the current drive to reduce travel and shrink carbon footprints – as a pitch in the global effort to help conserve the environment.

"It is important, if you really want to have a society that works, to use communications to reduce travel and make this planet work for the long perspective," he said.

Svanberg believes that key to quality of life issue is sustainability, which he adds has become business critical today, with energy optimization driving competitiveness and dominating global political agendas.

Proudly proclaiming that his company has taken the lead in this area, he mentions some of Ericsson’s energy optimization innovations such as innovative radio base station designs like the Tower Tube and other alternative energy solutions that have been rolled out to customers to help reduce total cost of ownership, while at the same time improving the environmental performance of mobile network growth worldwide.

In 2006 Ericsson reduced the power consumption of its latest generation of WCDMA base stations by 35 percent, and has pioneered the introduction of many alternative energy sources such as solar power and biofuels in the telecom sector, to make mobile telephony economically and environmentally sustainable in emerging markets.

In a related development, Ericsson announced in a press release at the event, its new hybrid energy solution for diesel and batteries that’s been deployed by Celtel Uganda, first operator to install this solution. It is a self-contained power solution that enables a parameter setting for the batteries’ optimal charging and discharging levels, thereby extending the lifetime of the battery and the generator. The solution significantly reduces energy consumption in mobile networks outside the electricity grid, cutting network operating costs by up to 50 percent.

At the same event, the Swedish telecom giant took the occasion to unveil its groundbreaking next-generation radio base stations, the RBS 6000 series, the smallest energy efficient site solution available in the market today that supports GSM/EDGE, WCDMA/HSPA and LTE in a single package. Its compact design requires only 25 percent of the space used by previous generations while at the same time doubling capacity. The RBS 6000 series reduces power consumption by 20 to 65 percent, compared with existing Ericsson radio base stations, and offers a simple, energy-efficient site solution that helps operators reduce costs across all areas of ownership.

Breakthrough year for mobile broadband, personal TV

"2007 was a breakthrough year for mobile broadband where we’ve seen a strong uptake in 3G and HSPA (High Speed Pocket Access) technology adoption," he said.

According to the Svanberg, there are at present 174 HSPA networks in commercial operation in 76 countries, majority of which are operating at 3.6Mbps or higher speeds. (HSPA is the natural evolution for GSM/WCDMA, the technology that is used in over 86 percent of the world’s wireless networks today). To date there some 180 million WCDMA subscriptions, including HSPA, a figure that is growing by 6.5 million per month.

He said that the uptake of 3G and HSPA continues to be strong in regions that have networks operating commercially. This year, Ericsson expects to see 3G/HSPA networks rolled out in Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Russia, with India coming on board by end of the year.

"We see that in the 3G networks that we monitor in Europe, data traffic now exceeds voice and accelerates quickly, from between 50 to 1500% depending on the operator’s strategy," Svanberg said.

With the HSPA ecosystem growing fast -- over 400 mobile terminals, embedded modules and personal consumer devices provided by 80 suppliers are available today, and with some 250 companies are delivering HSPA, including operators, suppliers and service providers, Svanberg opines that the unrivalled breadth and depth of the ecosystem available today offers unmatched economies of scale that will benefit all players.

Meanwhile, the Ericsson CEO pointed out the shift that is happening in the television viewing habit of consumers, one that is moving from broadcast to personalized television experience.

"We are now stepping into the individual television experience and we aim for a top position," he said. "Today, we are moving from the classic way to watch television, to more interactive and then to the individual TV experience. We believe that Ericsson is the only company with a complete end-to-end offering when it comes to mobile TV and IPTV, and we understand the consumer."

Svanberg said television is a major opportunity for operators to provide consumers a true multimedia experience and Ericsson has a complete offering, strengthened by its acquisitions of Redback, Marconi, Entrisphere and TANDBERG Television, and its services offering. "The key differentiations between today’s television experience and tomorrow’s are IMS - which is a vital part of the seamless television experience." Red R. Samar - Manila Bulletin

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Telecoms liberalization a model for services

GENEVA--When talks to open up the telecoms sectors started in 1994, the EU's negotiator did not know what an e-mail was, mobile phones and the Internet were in their infancy, and it was very expensive to call abroad.

But in the 10 years since the Basic Telecommunications Agreement (BTA) came into force in 1998, the sector has seen dramatic and unimagined growth.

Billions of people in rich and poor countries are now connected by mobile phone, new companies and jobs have arisen, and new industries and services are opening up on the back of telecoms, from outsourcing to social networking.

By the end of 2006, mobile phone subscribers had increased 20-fold, and now represent 70 percent of all phone subscribers.

Mobile growth rates are particularly strong in developing countries, running at over 50 percent a year in Africa, the World Trade Organisztion (WTO) said.

"There are more people connected today than we could have dreamed of 10 years ago. Prices have declined. Minutes of use have increased... We have seen new business models develop," said Robert Pepper, head of global advanced technology policy at US network equipment maker Cisco Systems.

"The world has benefited significantly from the BTA and from those market liberalization decisions," Pepper, a former telecoms regulator, told a WTO symposium.

Trade officials and industry officials say the telecoms deal -- which succeeded because trade negotiators and industry regulators worked together -- can serve as a model for opening up other services.

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said he hoped last week's symposium would inspire negotiators in the long-running Doha round to make a "quantum leap" in the services talks.

Telecoms liberalization had particularly marked effects in developing countries.

One study of six emerging markets by consultants Deloitte for Norwegian telecoms operator Telenor estimated that a 10 percent increase in mobile penetration can boost GDP growth rates by 1.2 percentage points.

Rapidly growing mobile phone use fostered by liberalization as new companies, domestic and foreign, enter the market creates jobs and rising revenues for telecoms companies.

That in turn provides tax revenues for governments, raises the incomes of other businesses through enhanced productivity and creates yet more jobs and revenues as the telecoms companies and other businesses buy more services.

Recent average annual growth of mobile subscribers in Ukraine of 70 percent has boosted productivity by 9 percent a year, said Telenor's vice-president for government relations, Harriet Berg.

The example of Ukraine can be mirrored by dozens of developing and transition economies around the world.

Liberalization in Mauritius saw the cost of international calls drop 80 percent and of mobile calls fall by more than 50 percent. The Indian Ocean island is now building up an outsourcing industry on the back of telecoms, said Krishan Oolun of the ICT Authority of Mauritius.

"The fear that this negotiation would only serve the strongest economies has absolutely been demonstrated to be wrong," said Kurt Falkenberg, a top EU trade official who was lead negotiator for Brussels in the talks.

Access to mobile phones has empowered poor people in developing countries, and boosted their incomes.

Farmers can find the best price at different markets before they set off, and are not dependent on middlemen, for example.

Pakistan, which fully liberalized its telecoms market under the BTA, has seen mobile subscribers jump to 79 million from 2.4 million. Telecoms contributed 2 percent to GDP in 2007, or 5 percent including indirect effects, compared with almost nothing before the reform, said Zainab Hussain Siddiqui, senior project manager at the Ministry of Information Technology.

Of course, the reform has enriched companies, too.

Egypt's Orascom Telecom, with operations in several emerging markets that have constantly far outstripped growth expectations, will soon have over 80 million subscribers, more than 150 times what it started with in 1998, said investment and business development officer Michael O'Connor.

India's Tata Communications, which took over an incumbent in 2002, now generates over half its revenues outside India and is active in a range of telecoms services that did not exist six years ago, said head of strategy Srinivasa Addepalli.

And yet the market is far from perfect. Companies still face restrictions on access or ownership in many countries.

At the same time, operators say existing rules on liberalization in telecoms need to be enforced and broadened to ensure continuing growth in the sector as it readies for billions of dollars of investment in next-generation networks.

"That transformation will simply not occur without a global move to removing the remaining barriers to foreign investment in trade in telecommunications," said Tony Warren, head of regulatory affairs at Australia's Telstra.

And as telecoms converge ever faster with information technology, media and content, it must wrestle with new issues such as free speech, hate speech, pornography, public safety and national security. "If we don't, we run the risk that regulators, government officials around the world, will put up their own rules and block connectivity," said Donald Abelson, a communications and trade consultant who was chief US negotiator on the BTA talks.

Operators say the industry's glory years are still to come.

Telenor's Berg points to massive growth potential, given that only 12 percent of Asians are on the Internet, which in turn is increasingly accessed via mobile.

And Telstra has drawn up ambitious plans ranging from remote appliance power management to teleworking and high-definition video-conferencing for countries to exploit telecoms to reduce carbon emissions. By Jonathan Lynn - Reuters

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Computer crimes rising, say police

Crimes committed via computer rose sharply last year, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Sunday.

A briefing paper on cyber crimes by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said that PNP's 1,843 crimes involving computers were reported to police in 2007, almost triple the 527 crimes reported in 2006.

Overall, a total of 2,624 computer crimes were reported from 2003 to 2007. From only 37 in 2003, the number of computer crimes rose to 56 in 2004. It surged to 161 in 2005.

Between 2004 and 2006, the PNP's cyber crime unit investigated 195 cases requiring computer forensics.

The online crimes consist of, among others, credit card fraud, cyber pornography, copyright infringement, and computer crimes defined as in Republic Act No. 8792 or the E-Commerce Act, and RA 8484 or the Access Devices Regulation Acts.

CIDG commander Chief Supt. Raul Castañeda said they were going "full blast" against cyber crimes.

"We are really focusing on cyber crimes. We have to be prepared because this is the wave of the future," Castañeda told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).

The CIDG's efforts have resulted in the conviction in 2005 of JJ Maria Giner, the first conviction of a hacker in the country. Giner was convicted under the E-Commerce Act for hacking into government websites.

The CIDG has also disabled 21 "phishing" sites based in the country. Phishing is an attempt to fraudulently obtain sensitive information like user names, passwords and credit card details by passing oneself as friendly and trustworthy through electronic communication.

Computer and cell phone forensics were also used in other cases like the one against members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA), the murder of former Abra Rep. Luis Bersamin, the cases against Magdalo soldiers, the Batasan blast as well as other bombing incidents, and the Peninsula Manila siege.

Castañeda revealed that training and procurement of equipment was ongoing to beef up their capabilities in computer forensics and cyber crime investigation.

He noted that computer forensics as well as cell phone forensics were becoming vital in antiterrorism and anti-criminality operations.

Castañeda said efforts to fight cyber crime were mostly concentrated in Metro Manila. But he said they would put up satellite units in Davao, Zamboanga, Cebu and Baguio cities.

At present, the CIDG's computer crimes unit only has nine operatives. But 200 CIDG personnel have received training in cyber crime investigation.

Most of the equipment being used by the CIDG came from the US Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program.

To boost its campaign against cyber crimes, the CIDG is forging closer ties with the National Bureau of Investigation, the Police Anti-Crime Emergency Response unit, Interpol, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Anti-Money Laundering Council and Microsoft.

The Philippines is also tying up with other countries with cyber crime units like China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and Hong Kong. By Alcuin Papa - Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Good computer science training is key to more IT jobs in RP

Good computer science training is key to more IT jobs in RP

"Training will create jobs," said a Sun Microsystems executive here, as he explained the impact of having more training programs established in local universities and tertiary schools.

"Worldwide, there is a shortage of IT talent," said Matt Thompson, director of the Sun Developer Network and Open Source Programs Office of Sun Microsystems.

"If the Philippines can become a place where high quality IT talent found coming right out of the university, more jobs can be created here," he said.

Thompson said that his experience showed that "training creates the jobs."

Sun Microsystems introduced high-level computer science training in the Philippines in local universities through the Java Education and Development Initiative (JEDI).

Thompson said the JEDI program was initially geared towards teaching Java. But through the years, the program has evolved to include other courses, including mobile applications and security.

Currently, Sun says 273 schools out of 1,600 universities and tertiary schools that have joined the program.

JEDI is a collaborative project of Sun Microsystems and the University of the Philippines Java Resource Development Center in partnership with Philippine Society for IT Educators (PSITE). It was launched in February 2005 in a PSITE convention in Cagayan de Oro City.

To date, the JEDI program has rolled out seven courses, with three additional courses being developed, including one on "Sun SPOT," a programmable object technology developed in Sun's experimental labs.

Sun SPOT will be introduced in the JEDI program by June 2008.
By Erwin Oliva - INQUIRER.net

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