Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Globe-PLDT competition over duo service heightens

Competition between Globe Telecom and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. over dual services heightened again after the former expanded its Duo service to cover pre-paid subscribers.

Dual services allow unlimited landline calls on wireless handsets. But Globe said its duo-service, which allows unlimited calls to landline numbers within the same area code, is now available to pre-paid subscribers both in Metro Manila and Cebu. The services was previously limited to post-paid subscribers.

“Fast becoming popular to customers in Metro Manila and Cebu, Globe Duo is now available in pre-paid in Metro Manila starting June 5 and this was introduced in Cebu since May 25,” Globe said.

Globe announced the introduction of its Duo service for pre-paid subscribers, a day after PLDT introduced a second SIM that can be inserted in mobile phones or other wireless handsets to make unlimited landline calls from anywhere in the country.

The company said the new product “PLDT Call All” revolutionizes the residential landline by giving Filipinos total freedom to call their loved ones across the country anytime, for an additional monthly fee of only P250.

Globe’s Duo service for post-paid subscribers, announced a month earlier, allows free calls from a mobile phone to any landline number within the same area code, for an additional cost of P399 monthly.

The new Globe Duo service for pre-paid subscribers are available for those who will get a special Duo pre-paid SIM pack worth P45. The cost of the service that allows unlimited mobile and landline calling within Metro Manila and Cebu is P125 for five days and P350 for 14 days.

“We want everyone to experience the best in unlimited calling at an affordable price. So we are introducing the pre-paid variant and we have initially rolled it out in Cebu and now in Metro Manila. Duo is an innovative service and a great offering that we want to make available to more customers,” said Ferdinand dela Cruz, head of Globe’s consumer wireless business. By Roderick T. dela Cruz - Manila Standard Today

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IBM trades legal suits with Philippine govt agency

The local unit of US computer giant IBM has filed a libel suit against a Philippine government agency after being accused of selling it faulty software, court records showed Friday.

IBM Philippines filed against the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) after an advertising campaign in which it claimed the US giant had sold it faulty software.

IBM Philippines said the GSIS ads in local newspapers "were not only false and misleading, but were motivated by ill will and malice."

The computer firm is demanding P205 million (US$4.33 million) in damages and legal expenses.

IBM said GSIS had acquired the faulty software from a local joint venture of three local firms that IBM Philippines was not a party to.

"IBM was not involved in the design, supply, installation and maintenance," of the systems, it said in a statement.

GSIS filed a civil suit against IBM Philippines on Wednesday and its US parent over the alleged failure of its software system, demanding more than 100 million pesos in damages and litigation expenses.

GSIS officials also said they had filed suits against the president of Questonix Corp., the firm contracted to install the IBM database management software. Agence France-Presse

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Senate urged to approve ICT Department bill

FOREIGN BUSINESS leaders have urged the Senate to pass into law a bill that would create an executive department devoted to managing the country’s information and communications technology (ICT).

The timely passage of the bill which establishes a Department of ICT will ensure the sector remains competitive despite the economic crisis, the Joint Foreign Chambers said in a letter to the Senate dated May 19.

An outsourcing industry group agreed, saying that such a move will support their growth.

Senate bill 2546 had been filed last August by Senators Jinggoy P. Estrada, Loren B. Legarda, Edgardo J. Angara, and Antonio F. Trillanes IV and is awaiting second reading. A counterpart bill has been passed by the House of Representatives.

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Is Singapore's e-govt model exportable?

Singapore wants to sell its e-government model to the world. But do other countries want or need what Singapore is offering? FutureGov asked government information officers in India, China, South Korea and the Philippines…

“Our achievements in e-government services are highly regarded by many countries,” Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts told the press at the launch ceremony for Singapore‘s new international e-government consultancy, IDA International. “We have attracted increasing attention from the public agencies of many countries. They share the same interest to develop their own e-government programmes. They are keen to work with us,“ he said.

But are they? True enough, the Infocomm Development Authority has found a market for Singaporean IT firms in countries such as Brunei, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago. But besides Brazil, IDA has yet to export its expertise to a country of the size and complexity of China or India. Or besides Brunei, a country nearby in Asia Pacific.

Madhav Ragam, Director of Government & Education, Healthcare & Life Sciences for IBM’s Growth Markets Unit, says that four things needs to be in place before any model can be successfully exported: “Strong leadership, a well-defined governance model, close alignment with the budget process and clearly defined performance measures.” He argues that while Singapore’s e-government technology cannot simply be uprooted and planted elsewhere, technology is not the issue. “It is the holistic thinking around a challenge for government – be it tax or customs clearance – that has put Singapore ahead of others.”

Ray Roxas-Chua, Chairman, Commission on Information and Communication Technology, the Philippines: I admire Singapore’s e-government programmes and I have the utmost respect for the IDA. I believe a country like the Philippines can learn a great deal by studying the Singapore e-government model. However, it will probably be very difficult for the Philippines to adopt the Singapore model in its entirety. Managing the e-government programmes of an island citystate with 5 million people is vastly different from that of a country with over 7000 islands and 90 million people. In addition, our government structures are also very different. For example, the Philippines does not even have a Department or Ministry of ICT, so our e-government programmes are handled by the Commission on ICT under the Office of the President. We are currently in the process of passing a law establishing a Department of ICT, so that we will finally have a stronger authority to push e-government initiatives. Adopting the Singapore e-government model in its entirety might be a stretch, but I am open to learning more about their best practices to see what may be applicable in the Philippines.

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GSIS files libel case against IT contractor

By Alexander Villafania - INQUIRER.net
The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) filed on Thursday a libel case against the head of IT systems integration company Questronix.

The government agency alleged that Questronix President Alex Aloba discredited the government agency through statements published in two major dailies last May 31.

GSIS and Questronix, along with IT services company IBM, are in a bitter dispute over the problematic implementation of a massive GSIS database project.

The libel case against Questronix would be the second against the company, with the first being a breach of contract case that was filed by the GSIS on June 3.

IBM Philippines and its US-based parent company IBM Corporation are also respondents in the first tort and breach of contract case by the GSIS.

GSIS blamed IBM Corporation and Questronix for the constant crashes suffered by its main database infrastructure collectively called ILMAAAMS (Integrated Loans, Membership, Acquired Assets and Accounts Management System), which processes nearly all of the transactions of the GSIS and its more than 1.5 million members.

Questronix is the main contractor to implement ILMAAAMS in 2006.

The project cost was P80 million at that time.

Problems started on March 30 when ILMAAAMS suffered a major crash, resulting in a halt of all transactions for that day.

GSIS Chief Information Officer Helen Macasaet said it had earlier requested Questronix to identify the cause. Questronix later reported alleging problems with the IBM’s DB2 database software were to be blamed.

Macasaet argued that IBM continued to fail in providing a solution despite repeated calls, leading to the decision by the government agency to file a civil case against IBM and Questronix.

The GSIS is also seeking P100 million in damages against the respondents.

In retaliation IBM on June 3 said it is filing a libel case against the GSIS, seeking P200 million in damages. The company accused GSIS of unwarranted public attacks against them.

Prior to the filing of their cases, IBM Philippines insisted that it had no contractual relationship with the GSIS on the ILMAAAMS project, thus it was not present when DB2 was being installed and maintained.

The company also said it has already been working on solving the GSIS problem at their expense.

In a press conference, GSIS Chief Legal Counsel Estrella Elamparo said Aloba imputed that GSIS was to blame for the massive system crashes, despite reporting earlier to GSIS that software bugs in the database software were the culprit.

“He made it look like GSIS was at fault but it was GSIS who wasthe victim because many of our members are relying on this system to process their transactions,” Elamparo said.

Mitigating measures

With the cases already in court, GSIS officials said they are implementing mitigating measures to prevent crashes of the DB2 software, which they continue to use.

Macasaet said that some of the electronic processes that should have been done through ILMAAAMS are now being handled manually.

They are also prioritizing certain daily transactions, such as online queries, loans and membership updates.

Macasaet also stressed that the agency might be forced to shift to different database software if problems persist. “We might fast track another project that’s not even supposed to be implemented yet just to make sure we don’t encounter these problems.”

Nevertheless, Elamparo said that is still open to discussions with the respondents to try and fix the problem. “We’re open to settle this because it’s not just us who are suffering but the GSIS members.”

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Globe, Senate spurred to action after Enrile’s outburst

Globe Telecom has started investigating the complaint of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile over the diminution of his prepaid cell-phone load, said Froilan Castelo, the service provider’s head for regulatory affairs.

Castelo clarified that subscribers who agree to the offers of ringtones, games and MMS pictures by content providers are apt to experience diminution of load even if they do not use their mobile phones to call, or to text.

“They experience deduction of loads perhaps because of the ringtone or ring back,” he said, adding if the firm’s investigation would show that the service providers are at fault, “we terminate their services.”

Enrile had called for the Senate inquiry after noting that his pre-paid load in his Globe-serviced cell phone had gone down three times even when he was not using it.

This prompted Sen. Bong Revilla, chairman of the Committee on Public Services, to initiate an investigation even during the congressional recess.

The Second Regular Session adjourned sine die Wednesday evening. The 14th Congress would next meet at the inaugural session of the Third Regular Session on July 27, 2009. However, Senate committees have been authorized to conduct hearings even during the recess.

Revilla said he would call Globe, Smart and Sun Cellular to the committee hearing.

He said that prepaid cell-phone subscribers have been protesting against the “pernicious confiscation” of unused load credits, putting of expiration dates on the pre-paid load credits, as well as the “excessive and unnecessary” advertisements by these telcos.

“Since a franchise is merely a privilege granted by the government through Congress, it would be tantamount to a gross violation of their franchise if such claims be proven true,” he said.

When news of his problems regarding his cell-phone load came out, Enrile said he was flooded with similar complaints.

Enrile’s outburst on his cell-phone load led to calls for an investigation by Sen. Joker Arroyo who claimed that telcos charge per minute of calls even though the law says every six seconds.

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero meanwhile complained of frequent dropped calls as a result of overloaded cell sites.

Sen. Richard Gordon, for his part, cited unsolicited or spam messages such as ringtones.

The senators said it would look into complaints against services of telcos.

Enrile said he was ready to appear at the inquiry but would prefer that it be done after two weeks to give the senators time to rest.

--Efren L. Danao And Francis Earl A. Cueto
Manila Times

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

RFID system to help track pupils? PNP floats idea

THE Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system, originally used by manufacturers to track inventories, is now in wide use for other applications, including the tracking and retrieval of medical records. But soon, if the chief of Metro Manila’s police force were to be followed, it could also be an innovative way to ensure the safety and security of students while inside the school premises.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Regional Director, Chief Supt, Roberto Rosales, made the suggestion on Monday to Metro Manila public-school superintendents and parents-teachers association (PTA) officials.

RFID is a relatively new technology that uses a device attached to an object, an identification card, for example, for purposes of identifying and tracking the person or the carrier of the object using radio waves. This object, typically referred to as an RFID tag, can be read from several meters.

RFID is now being used by some manufacturing companies in managing inventories of their products. It is also being used in some hospitals abroad to help doctors and nurses retrieve medical data of patients given an RFID device through a handheld device connected to a central server.

In a round of inspection that Rosales led on Monday morning in connection with the opening of classes for school year 2009-10, he asked school officials to consider the use of RFID to monitor the whereabouts of students while inside the campus and to prevent the entry of unauthorized individuals posing as students.

Rosales visited P. Gomez Elementary School in Sta. Cruz, Manila and Ramon Magsaysay High School where he finished his elementary and high school, respectively, and the Caloocan National High School.

Caloocan National High School, which has 9,343 students enrolled for this year, has the biggest number of students in the country, according to the Department of Education.

Rosales said NCRPO will continue to be under Full Alert Status for the next two weeks to cover the opening of classes for elementary and high school this week as well as the opening of classes for collegiate level next week.

Relatedly, Major Gamal Hayudini, commander of the 4th Civil Relations Group, Civil Relations Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said students are among the primary targets of lawless groups, “especially the left-leaning organizations in their recruitment.”

Students are also at risk from kidnap-for-ransom groups, said the AFP, citing what happened in Barangay Sunrise, Isabela City, Basilan, earlier this year where a school boy was kidnapped even during peak hours of the day.

Still, the AFP and the PNP have strengthened security measures “to protect the students and the teachers” but also requested them to cooperate “with authorities against these criminals.”

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday said the first day of classes went on smoothly.

Still, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said they had instructed school authorities to keep a tight watch over students for signs of the A(H1N1) virus.

Lapus said he has made the use of faucets and hand washing a daily routine for students and ordered all schools to make sure they have running water.

The DepEd and the health department have set up a response-alert system similar to that of typhoons, that would allow school authorities to suspend classes if needed.

During the weekend, the Departments of Health and Education rejected last-minute calls to suspend classes over the A (H1N1) scare, saying that doing so might cause panic and disrupt preparations for the opening of classes in 43,000 schools nationwide.

Lapus urged parents to call their “Oplan Balik Eskwela” command center at 636-1663 and text 0919-4560027 for complaints.

He said the DepEd has quick-response teams that are on call from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As of Monday afternoon, the DepEd had received 352 queries and complaints, of which 348 were resolved. Most complaints involved the collection of fees.

During the press conference after his school inspection, Lapus reminded school authorities against collecting fees of any kind during this month. Written by Claudette Mocon / Business Mirror

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

New US command to focus on cyber battlefield

WASHINGTON – The US military is moving ahead with plans to create its first "cyber command" designed to bolster America's potential to wage digital warfare as well as defend against mounting cyber threats, officials said on Friday.

After President Barack Obama announced Friday his plans to overhaul cyber security policy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was expected to soon formally propose the new cyber command that will be overseen by a four-star officer, Pentagon officials told Agence France-Presse.

The move reflects a shift in military strategy with "cyber dominance" now part of US war doctrine and growing alarm over the perceived threat posed by digital espionage coming from China, Russia and elsewhere.

US officials say China has built up a sophisticated cyber warfare program and that a spate of intrusions in the United States and elsewhere can be traced back to Chinese sources.

Defense officials say the cyber command would focus on security efforts for US networks along with offensive capabilities to ensure "freedom of action in cyberspace" to protect America's interests.

The precise details of US cyber military power remain secret, but it includes technology capable of penetrating and jamming networks, including the classified Suter airborne system, analysts say.

The technology has been reportedly added to unmanned aircraft and allows for users to take over enemy sensors to "see what enemy sensors see, and even take over as systems administrator so sensors can be manipulated into positions so that approaching aircraft can't be seen," according to Aviation Week.

Speculation has persisted that Israel may have used the technology in a 2007 air raid against a Syrian construction site.

The new US military cyber center would be placed initially under US Strategic Command, which is already leading the military's cyber security efforts, and be located at Fort Meade in Maryland.

The officer widely expected to lead the command is Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, the director of the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA).

By naming Alexander, the Obama administration may be hoping to resolve a long-running feud over which agency should have authority over cyber warfare and security.

Civil liberties' activists have warned against allowing the secretive NSA to take the lead in overseeing cyber security, saying it would place too much power in one agency with the NSA policing the same networks that it exploits to carry out eavesdropping.

In unveiling his plans to create a new White House post to oversee cyber security, Obama promised privacy rights would be carefully safeguarded even as the government moves to step up efforts to protect sensitive civilian and military networks.

Alexander has described cyberspace as the new military frontier that could shape the future of US national security, comparing it to sea or air power.

"Maintaining freedom of action in cyberspace in the 21st century is as inherent to US interests as freedom of the seas was in the 19th century, and access to air and space in the 20th century," Alexander told a congressional hearing earlier this month.

He said new realities had forced the Pentagon to place a higher priority on cyberspace.

"The rapid expansion and global dependence upon cyberspace required the defense department to evolve its warfighting doctrine to include cyberspace as a viable domain on par with the domains of land, sea, air and space," he said.

Obama's new cyber policy comes as gangs of cyber criminals, foreign intelligence services, industrial spies and hackers increasingly prey on US networks, according to various studies.

There have been reported breaches of the US electricity grid and the F-35 fighter jet program, and Obama mentioned a cyber attack – blamed by some accounts on foreign spy services – on the computer hub for his own 2008 presidential campaign. Agence France-Presse


Right of reply bill to cover bloggers

Right of reply bill to cover bloggers

By Philip Tubeza - Philippine Daily Inquirer
The controversial right of reply bill will not only affect print and broadcast media, but could lead to Internet censorship since it also covers bloggers, “texters” and even iPod users, a party-list lawmaker warned Saturday.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Mong Palatino said the bill’s sponsor in the House, Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, admitted during interpellation that House Bill No. 3306 also covers websites, e-mails, Internet social networking sites and other electronic devices in its scope.

Palatino noted that Section 1 of HB 3306 states, “All persons, natural or judicial, who are accused directly or indirectly of committing, having committed, or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply to charges or criticisms published in newspapers, magazines, newsletters or publications circulated commercially or for free, or aired or broadcast over radio, television, websites or through any electronic device.”

“The bill, therefore, would not only affect media outfits and journalists but also all website owners, website masters, e-mail account holders and other netizens who are not necessarily media practitioners,” said Palatino who has been a blogger since 2004.

He said the bill would affect “the more than five million bloggers and millions more of Internet users in the country.”

“My fear is that when this bill comes to law, it will be used to regulate the content of the Internet, when we are checking our e-mails, when we open our Friendster or Facebook accounts, when we are checking our websites. Does this mean that we will be compelled to moderate, modify or edit our personal websites? Is this not Internet censorship and suppression of freedom of speech and expression?” Palatino said.

“Does this mean that whenever a criticism is published in these venues a person can use the Right of Reply to compel a blogger or moderator of a social networking site to publish a space or a reply for that person? Or when an individual decides to copy or repost an article from a news website in his or her personal blog, and in the future the said article becomes a subject of this Right of Reply, will he or she be sanctioned or fined also?” he said.

In reply, Abante said the bill would be defined more clearly through its implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

“Primarily, this bill refers to media publications and practitioners. I would think it will be defined more on the IRR,” he said.

But Palatino said that Congress should just remove the line “any electronic device” in the bill’s first section. The bill is still up for amendments in the House.

“Again, this would affect more than 60 million mobile phone users and iPod owners in the country,” Palatino said.

Palatino said he would oppose the right of reply bill on the grounds that it violates the freedom of the press and the public’s freedom of speech and expression. He also said he was not amenable even to a “watered down” version of the bill because it merely “renders the Right of Reply pointless.”

He also encouraged bloggers, netizens, texters and concerned youth to register their opposition to the “apparent railroading of the bill in Congress.”

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Computer crash was GSIS’ fault—contractor

A technology contractor threatened with a lawsuit by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for the malfunctioning of its computer database has tossed the blame back to the government pension fund.

Questronix Corp., which supplied the GSIS database software package, said the pension fund managers themselves caused their computers to crash because of poor database management and lack of standard backup measures.

Questronix said that the GSIS used the system in an “unusual” way that led to a crash twice.

Last week, GSIS officials sent Questronix a demand letter, saying the crashes caused the agency “incalculable damage” and resulted in a backlog of applications for loans, including 20,000 filings for claims mostly by newly retired members.

In a letter to the GSIS dated May 28, Questronix countered that if the pension fund had invested in disaster recovery and implemented proper backup-and-restore procedures, its members would not have been left hanging by the crash.

Questronix is the lead systems integrator for the GSIS database that brought together sub-systems from German software application vendor SAP-AG, which included software developed and licensed by IBM Corp.

GSIS claimed it was supplied with “defective software” and has threatened a series of suits against IBM, SAP-AG and Questronix.

In a statement to the Inquirer, IBM Philippines had countered that GSIS did not engage IBM in the selection, customization and implementation of its system.

IBM said its DB2 was packaged with an application that was part of a global OEM (original equipment manufacturer) arrangement between SAP and IBM. Ronnel W. Domingo - Philippine Daily Inquirer

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