Archive for June, 2003

THE $23 MILLION TELCO BAILOUT IN TASSIE – MAY2003

Thursday, June 26th, 2003

After the State Government’s startling back-flip in December 2002 it was obvious that a business case no longer existed for Downer to run a fibre-optic telecommunications network in Tasmania. The construction company had run the cable next to its gas pipeline across the island, and the State Government had committed to extending the network to businesses and residents alongside the reticulation of the gas network. Out of the blue, a few days before Christmas, the government cancelled the plan and went for a significantly smaller version of the gas plan, as proposed by New Zealand-based electricity utility, Powerco – a plan that did not include any plans for the broadband network. Subsequently the government had to bail Downer out, at a cost of $23 million.

In May the government announced it would make this stranded asset available to parties willing to broadband Tasmania in competition with Telstra, and they indicated they had secured the rights from Powerco to utilise their trenches to extend the cable to the areas where Powerco was taking the gas network.

However, without the original broadband plan (rapid roll-out of gas pipelines throughout a very large part of Tassie) the government will find it difficult (impossible) to come up with a business model that will work.

They will have to make some serious commitments before anybody is likely to show any interest in commercialising their ‘big pipe’. Broadband infrastructure is an expensive business and deployment will not happen without significant government involvement. This will need to include:
A timely roll-out agenda – if it takes too long Telstra will fill the gap and it will be extremely difficult for the new company to win those customers back.
Extensive coverage – the broadbanding of some business centres alone will not warrant the $23 million investment. Large commercial and residential areas will need to be covered.
The government has to become an anchor tenant on this new network. It will need to give its whole-of-government telecoms business to the new player and it should also fund broadband access to schools, hospitals, libraries, council offices, police stations, etc.

This will necessitate the development of a Broadband Agenda for Tasmania. Without such an Agenda nobody will be able to build an economically viable broadbanding plan for Tassie, in which case the $23 bailout will simply go down the drain.

It is to be hoped that the government will work out a more sustainable plan.

Paul Budde

For a comprehensive overview of the Tassie situation see: Australia – Regional Projects (VIC, TAS & SA)

See also:
Australia – Government Markets (NSW, Tasmania, WA, Local Govt)
Australia – Broadbanding Regional Australia
Australia – Broadbanding Local Communities

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ADOPT A MUMMIFIED PET INTERNET FUNDRAISING BY EGYPTIAN MUSEUM

Thursday, June 12th, 2003

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo has gone online to find people to adopt mummified pets. Animals available for adoption include cats, snakes, crocodiles, monkeys and even the extinct sacred ibis bird. Adopters receive an information pack including a certificate of adoption, background story on their adopted animal and a photo. Under the scheme people can co-parent a mummified pet or be a sole adopter.

Money raised will help to pay for a climate-controlled room, special conservation cases for the mummies and fund research. The mummified pets offer important information about ordinary life in ancient Egypt as well as the environment, and flora and fauna. The animals can be adopted on the Animal Mummy Project Website: www.animalmummies.com.

For more information on Egypt, see separate reports: Egypt – Internet, E-Services, Wireless Communications and Broadcasting and Egypt – Key Statistics and Telecommunications Market Overview.

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SLOVAK THIRD GSM LICENCE REVOKED – SEPEMBER 2002

Thursday, June 12th, 2003

Slovakia has revoked the GSM licence it issued in July 2002 to local ISP Profinet.sk due to the non-payment by Profinet of the first instalment of the licence fee.

Slovakia has two incumbent GSM mobile operators, EuroTel and Orange Slovensko, both of which started operating services in 1997. Mobile subscribers are growing very strongly, with just over 87% annual growth to March 2002. The two operators are showing similar growth rates.

Slovakia has been planning a third GSM operator for some years. As long ago as August 1998, the then regulator, the Ministry of Transport, Posts and Telecommunications (MTPT), announced a tender for a new GSM-1800 licence. Two bids were received but the MTPT rejected them on the grounds that inadequate documentation had been submitted prior to the deadline. A second tender was announced in February 1999 and closed two months later but failed to attract any bids at all. Potential investors were thought to be deterred by uncertainty over interconnection arrangements as well as costs of installing the network.

Orange and EuroTel had protested strongly. They claimed that their networks, particularly in the Bratislava area, were already at the limit of their capacity and that they should be given access to the GSM-1800 spectrum. This resulted in the MTPT selling each of them a GSM-1800 licence for US$10 million each and delaying the third licence.

Plans were announced in September 2000 to award three UMTS licences by the end of 2001. A ‘beauty contest’ tender was eventually launched in January 2002 with a closing date of March 2002 for one 20 year combined GSM-900, GSM-1800 and UMTS licence at a fixed price of US$34.2 million, plus two further 20-year UMTS licences at US$33.86 million each. The closing date was extended twice, to May 2002.

Only one bid was received for the combined licence, from local ISP, Profinet.sk. The two incumbent mobile operators, Eurotel and Orange, were the lone bidders for the two further UMTS licences. The licences were awarded in July 2002 to the bidders.

From the date of the formal licence award, Profinet was required to launch a GSM service within six months and its 3G service within 30 months. The GSM network had to cover at least 20% of Slovakia’s population within 18 months. In August 2002 it was reported that Profinet had not paid the first instalment, one third of the fee for its licence, which was due. The remaining fee was to be paid by early December. In September the Telecommunications Office revoked the licence.

See also: Slovak Republic.

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TV-BASED INTERNET ARRIVES IN SOUTH AFRICA

Thursday, June 12th, 2003

Television-based Internet finally arrived in South Africa in April. It was officially launched as Sansui’s Mentacom WebTV. Viewers can send and receive e-mail, surf the Web or conduct banking transactions while watching television. An exclusive alliance with Netactive will allow users to subscribe and receive full Internet access for R85 (AU$16.43) a month.

For more information see separate report: South Africa – Broadcasting.

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IPSEC IMPROVED INTERNET SECURITY — JUNE 2003

Sunday, June 1st, 2003

The security of information exchange on the Internet will be strengthened as a result of a testing event in July organized by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). ETSI’s Plugtests™ service is mounting its first interoperability testing event for IPsec, the increasingly popular security protocol which aims to protect information exchanges at the Internet Protocol (IP) layer.

IPsec’s potential contribution to the security of the information infrastructure is now widely recognized, and its development has recently been attracting considerable interest globally as the use of IP in company networks and for sensitive applications increases. Defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its various security services include the guarantee of authenticity and confidentiality of data. IPsec provides additional functionality to supplement existing security solutions; it offers protection to all the applications using the network (without any need to modify them), it protects access to a given network by acting as an advanced firewall and it safeguards remote access to an intranet. It offers high end-to-end security and is particularly relevant for Virtual Private Networks (VPN); it will protect all exchanges between private networks separated by an untrusted network. It thus has enormous potential to help secure the increasing amount of electronic traffic which forms the basis of the Information Society.

For more info on the July event: www.etsi.org/plugtests/home.htm.

See also:
Global – E-Commerce – IT Standards, Security
Technology – Internet 1 – Overview
Technology – Internet 2 – TCP, UDP
Technology – Internet 5 – Applications and Protocols

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