Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Monday, March 10, 2008

NTC sets new interconnection rules

THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will issue new rules designed to curb anti-competition practices.

The proposed circular on so-called reference access offers (RAO) will be the new template on interconnection agreements spelling out the prices, terms and conditions a public telephone entity would offer another telecom company or value-added service provider for access to its network, facilities, systems or customer base.

The NTC said an effective and efficient interconnection is key to sustainable competition in the industry.

The regulator said technological changes, expansion of market boundaries and the emergence of new services and business practices underscore the need for new and more substantive rules for access to and interconnection of networks.

Interconnection refers to the linkage, by wire, radio, satellite or other means, of two or more existing telecom carriers or operators to allow their subscribers to access or reach each other.

“A regulatory framework to ensure that markets function effectively for interconnection agreements to be fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory is in the best interest of consumers,” the NTC said.

The regulator said the greater transparency in access arrangements will reduce access-related disputes and protect non-dominant service providers against discrimination and abuse of market power by their more dominant rivals.

Under the draft circular, all telcos are required to submit to the NTC a RAO for each of the access services applicable to it that have been specified by the regulator within 90 days from the date of effectivity of the circular.

“The prices, terms and conditions stipulated in the RAO should represent an access provider’s definite offer, sufficient in substance and form so that an access seeker that accepts the offer may not be refused access,” the circular said.

The circular said the access services that must be offered under RAO includes fixed and mobile network termination service, mobile internet, broadband access services, mobile data termination service, among others.

The NTC said that an access provider is not allowed to modify or withdraw its RAO after it has been submitted to the regulator, unless otherwise approved upon petition, by the same.

“Any access agreement adopted pursuant to an approved RAO may not be terminated by an access provider prior to the end of the period at which the RAO is valid, without the approval of the Commission,” the NTC said.

The regulator said the terms and conditions of the access agreement that is entered into pursuant to a RAO may not be modified or amended except by mutual written consent of the parties concerned and with the approval of the NTC. By Darwin G. Amojelar, Manila Times

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Ozamiz officials nix telecom cell site

OZAMIZ CITY—Members of the city council have turned down an application for the construction of a cell site by telecommunications giant Smart Communications.

The councilors disapproved the request after finding out that the cell site has already been operational since October last year.

The cell site is located in Purok 5 of Barangay Tabid, a rural village some 10 kilometers from here.

The request passed first reading and was referred to the committee on public utilities.

Councilor Taryn Mecaros lamented that the operation of the Smart cell site was a big insult on the city council.

Councilor Ma. Constancia Lim even suggested that the company be given notice to stop the cell site’s operation and eventually have it demolished as it constituted “an illegal improvement” in the absence of the council’s approval.

Lim has long batted for some clearance from health authorities that residents living around the facility are safe from any danger of sickness arising from radiation waves.

Apart from the Smart cell site, another one operated by Globe Telecommunications is located in Purok 4 in the same barangay. Ryan D. Rosauro, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Interpol aids PNP vs hi-tech crimes

THE International Criminal Police Organization has assured the Philippine National Police of support in developing technical capability in cyber crime investigation and bioterrorism preparedness.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble made this assurance to PNP chief, Director General Avelino I Razon Jr. when they met in Hong Kong during the 20th Interpol Asian Regional Conference.

Razon said PNP personnel have been assured of participation in upcoming “Train the Trainors” seminar of Interpol on cyber crime investigation and bioterrorism preparedness.

According to Razon, the PNP “welcomes this support of Interpol to the capacity building efforts of the organization in addressing these highly-technical crime concerns.”

“Although the technology involved in bioterrorism preparedness is quite new to us, it is never too early to be prepared and to prevent it from happening by developing capacity to detect and respond to crisis of this nature,” Razon said.

Razon said capability in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) response has now become institutionalized in modern police forces around the world as preparedness for both industrial accidents and acts of terrorism.

The Interpol has created its Bioterrorism Prevention Resource Center to provide member countries with a central point to find bioterrorism resources relating to prevention, preparation and response.

In other developments, Razon announced that the PNP is cooperating with Indonesian counterparts in developing a DNA databank of known members of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic militant network Jemaah Islamiyah.

Razon said the PNP will assist their Indonesian counterparts in acquiring DNA profile of JI members known to be operating in some areas in the Philippines.

He said initial coordination were made between the PNP and INP during a separate meeting in Hong Kong.

Razon arrived back in the country on Saturday following the successful participation of the Philippine delegation to the 20th Interpol Asian Regional Conference in Hong Kong.

The other members of the Philippine delegation to the Interpol conference are Police Director Edgardo M Acuña, PNP Director for Personnel and Records Management (DPRM); Police Director Romeo Ricardo, Director for Plans; and Chief Supt. Silverio Alarcio, Director for Operations, among others. By: Fernando M. Cariaso - Journal Online

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Fox Gate Call Center in Bohol

FACED with difficulties in getting qualified workers for the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, a Cebu-based call center is looking into working with the academe outside Cebu to solve the labor shortage.

Fox Gate Solutions Inc., a newly opened all Filipino-owned call center with facility at Piazza Elesia Center in Barangay Talamban, Cebu City, held an exploratory conference in Tagbilaran City, Bohol to coordinate with school representatives and education officials on developing new talents to fill the dearth of qualified call center agents.

The company, which began its operations in January 2008, plans to increase its staff to 70.

“The call center industry is here to stay and the demand for qualified call center agents will continue to grow in the coming years,” said Fay A. Jaca-Paras, Fox Gate Solutions Inc. chief executive officer and president. “We want to stay long in the industry that is why we want to establish rapport with the community and the academe, to work with them to sustain the supply of manpower.”

The exploratory conference was aimed to create awareness about the industry, gauge the preparedness of Bohol’s labor pool and assess how Fox Gate can help in developing the skills of Boholanos.

Paras said Fox Gate believes in partnering with the academe, which plays a major role in molding and producing people with the right qualifications fit for the call center industry.

Local talent

“Our thrust is to help develop talents in the localities,” she said, adding that Fox Gate plans to establish more offices in the Visayas, particularly Tagbilaran and Tacloban City, Leyte “so local qualified talents need not migrate to major cities to work.”

She noted that some Cebu-based call center companies have organized job fairs in Bohol but few were successful because of lack of awareness and qualified applicants.

Fox Gate is willing to establish a training center to equip local residents with the required call center skills and knowledge. It wants to conduct training for teachers in Bohol who will be able to transfer the knowledge and skills to their students.

Hazel Aguisanda, Fox Gate senior manager for training and quality, said the trainings will be conducted by professional practitioners in the call center industry.

To quality for a job in a call center, an individual must have excellent English communication and interpersonal skills, as well as basic computer and Internet knowledge.

Ma. Claudette Manus, Fox Gate vice president for operations and business development, said the company is focusing on Bohol to provide employment opportunities in that province. She said some of those behind the company are also Boholanos who want to give something back to their community.

Manus said that based on the number of attendees to the conference in Tagbilaran, the event was a success.

“But this is just the start. We’re looking at this long-term,” she added.

Fox Gate is also working with a telecommunication company to strengthen the information technology infrastructure of Bohol.

Fox Gate provides outbound telemarketing support to small and medium firms in the US. EBV

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Cyber crimes

Journal Editorial
FILIPINOS fear that the country, which is now acknowledged as the cellular telephone capital of the world, might be heading toward a period of “extraordinary boom” when it comes to the number of crimes being committed through the use of computers and mobile phones.

Statistics show that from only 37, 56, 161 and 527 in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, respectively, cyber crimes shot up to a record 1,843 last year. This brought to 2,624 the total number of crimes committed through the use of computers during the five-year period.

Observers attributed the increase to the growing number of people using computers and cellular phones, largely students and employees in the government and private sector, from the peaceful islands of Batanes in Northern Luzon to the scenic islands of Sulu in Mindanao.

The figure may not be that high considering the total number of the population (almost 89 million), but it is hard to take in a country where many of the people are poor, jobless and underemployed. Besides, the Philippines is known to be the only Christian country in Asia.

Between 2004 and 2006, the cyber crime unit of the 125,000-member National Police, now headed by Director-General Avelino I. Razon Jr., investigated 195 cases requiring computer forensics.

Computer and cellular phone forensics were used in a number of cases, including those filed against members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army, suspects in the murder of the late Abra Rep. Luis Bersamin and Magdalo soldiers.

The online crimes consist of, among others, credit card fraud, pornography, copyright infringement and computer crimes covered by Republic Act 8792 (E-Commerce Act) and RA 8484 or the Access Devices Regulation Act,
The PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, in a briefing paper on cyber crimes, also claimed to have disabled 21 “phishing” sites based in the country. Chief Supt. Raul Castañeda heads the CIDG.

“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.

CIDG and other concerned government agencies need additional manpower and financial resources to bolster the war against cyber crimes. At present, the PNP’s cyber crime unit only has nine operatives, But some 200 CIDG personnel have been trained to investigate cyber crimes.


Farmers in 12 communities now Internet addicts

By Anselmo Roque - Inquirer Central Luzon Desk

SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ -- Confronted with a pest attack on his rice field, Marcelino Dizon, a 60-year-old farmer from Barangay Rang-ayan here, went straight to the barangay hall to search for answers.

With the flick of a callused finger, Dizon turned on a computer and started surfing the Net. In no time at all, he had the information he needed.

In Magsaysay, Davao del Sur, Bienvenido Mariano, 62, faced a similar problem. He got the answer from the Internet—stem borers were attacking his plants—and learned what he should do to solve the problem.

Dizon and Mariano are among the hundreds of farmers in 12 cyber communities around the country who have become adept at using the Internet as a tool for improving rice-farming techniques.

“I never expected that I would be able to learn to use the computer, much less the Internet,” said Dizon.

“I am able to get answers right away to my queries on rice farming,” he said.

Dizon’s village, which is 9 kilometers from the city proper, has no landline telephone connection. But through the wonders of information and communications technology (ICT), Barangay Rang-ayan is now connected to the Internet and its residents are able to make phone calls using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.

VoIP is the routing of voice conversations over the Internet instead of the traditional telephone networks. The technology turns telephony signals to digital audio which pass as compressed data over the Internet, which is a worldwide interconnection of computer networks.

Mariano’s village is 21 km from the provincial capital of Digos where the Internet backbone has been installed and beamed to their cyber community by wireless technology.

The cyber community project is being undertaken by the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture (Opapa), an alliance of two international organizations (the International Rice Research Institute and the India-based International Crops Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics), six state colleges and universities, and nine agencies of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Science and Technology.

Established in July 2003, the Opapa focuses on content development and management of information on rice farming and the growing of other crops and even livestock.

The Muñoz-based Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has been chosen to host the Opapa. An interagency advisory council, chaired by the PhilRice executive director, governs the academy.

The Opapa has established 12 cyber communities as test-beds for linking knowledge centers, local government units, farmers’ cooperatives or groups and markets through ICT.

Aside from Barangay Rang-ayan here and Magsaysay town in Davao del Sur, the other cyber communities are in Batac, Ilocos Norte; San Mateo, Isabela; Magalang, Pampanga; Victoria, Laguna; Bago City, Negros Occidental; Midsayap and Kabacan in North Cotabato; Banaybanay, Davao Oriental; Dujali, Davao del Norte, and Butuan City, Agusan del Norte.

Farmers were first trained on the use of a computer. Later, they were taught how to get into the Internet and use it as a tool for getting information.

Opapa staff have compiled amusing stories of these beginner sessions on basic computer and Internet operations in the different cyber communities.

“Some of the trainees were even afraid to switch on the computer. They were afraid it would explode,” said one trainer.

“It was very amusing. We really spent time teaching them how to use the mouse and even how to correctly place their fingers on the keyboard,” said another.

In San Mateo, Isabela, about 300 farmers underwent hands-on training for several Saturdays last year until they became “addicted” to the use of the computer and the Internet.

“Before, I could only go to nearby towns, but now I can travel around the world because I’ve learned how to use the Internet,” said Nemesio Garon, a farmer from Puypuy, Laguna.

He said more information about rice farming is now available to him because of the facilities for connecting to the Internet right in his village.

Nemesio Macabale, the city agriculturist here, said he and his staff were themselves forced to learn and master the use of the Internet because it was his job to “preach” to the farmers in his cyber community here.

“Now, I know how to chat, e-mail, and search the Web for the latest in agricultural information,” he said.

Some agriculture extension workers said they have learned about the latest technologies in rice production with the establishment of the cyber communities.

Opapa also offers other services like the mobile classroom for Internet technology and the texting center.

The mobile classroom, equipped with computers and an audio-video system, introduces the use of the computers and the Internet in remote areas.

In 2005, the mobile classroom traveled on a road show from Aparri to Davao, reaching more than 3,000 extension workers, agricultural officers, cooperative leaders, mayors, farmers and governors.

The Opapa was able to show the farmers that it is now quite easy for them to get updated on agriculture developments, particularly in rice farming, consult with experts online, and other services that the Web can provide.

The academy has also put up a Web portal for various rice farming technologies and several modules for the production of other crops.

The texting center, on the other hand, provides opportunities for farmers and technicians to get answers to their problems in rice production through text messaging.

“There is no intention to replace the existing system of extension service to the farmers,” Sebastian said.

“These services of the academy are just meant to complement the existing extension service in agriculture through the wonders of the information and communication technology,” he said.

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