Archive for August, 2003


Friday, August 1st, 2003

Scientists say they have identified a deep sea ocean sponge living which grows thin glass fibres capable of transmitting light better than current telecommunications fibre optic cables.

The natural glass fibres also are much more flexible, according to an Associated Press report. “You can actually tie a knot in these natural biological fibres and they will not break – it’s really quite amazing,” said Joanna Aizenberg, who led the research at Bell Laboratories.

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Friday, August 1st, 2003

Listening to the radio on one of my trips to Sydney, I heard the newsreader, with his customary straight delivery, read out a news item along the following lines:

A customer in Romania had received a letter from RomTelecom, the local national telephone company, in response to a letter he had written back in 1976. The phone company confirmed receipt of this letter, in which the customer had applied for a telephone connection.

The answer was that, unfortunately, now – 28 years later – a telephone line was still not available for him. The letter further stated that the enclosed application form needed to be filled out again in order to keep his order current.

In a follow-up call made by the customer, the telephone company confirmed that indeed he needed to fill in a new form in order to establish that the connection was still needed. The reason for this, according to the operator, was that many people died during the course of the application process, and they couldn’t, of course, issue phone lines to deceased people.

Paul Budde



Friday, August 1st, 2003

Ever since competition was introduced the industry has resembled the trenches in WWI. New competitors continue to seek affordable access to the national network in order to offer competitive services and the incumbents have gone all-out to prevent this from happening.

After close to ten years of fighting, battle fatigue has set in and most traditional voice and data services remain firmly in the control of the incumbent. All round the world this is already leading to new price increases in access charges, call charges, roaming, termination fees and a range of enhanced voice services – and this despite the fact that IP-based technologies could easily cut those costs by another 50%.

This unwinnable trench warfare has led to a guerilla campaign being conducted by competitors and regulators alike, in an effort to find ways of circumventing the incumbent’s stranglehold. The incumbents have created a monster that is perceived as very ugly by everybody in the industry and in government.

As a result, all those involved are trying to find a means to get around the problem. IP-based technologies and wireless broadband can be used by competitors to avoid using the incumbent’s network. This is certainly not a healthy development, but if we don’t see any evidence of change in attitude by the incumbents further guerilla activities can be expected.

Corporate users have now installed significant IP-based networks and, by linking networks together, they are in a position to terminate national and international calls in such a way that they can bypass the incumbent’s exorbitant fees.

Businesses across the world have been complaining about high telecoms rates and they will do everything within their power to use new technologies and new opportunities to gain competitive advantage.

While the guerilla fighters have the support of the public, the question is whether, in the end, this will be in the best interests of society and the economy. It is essential to maintain the integrity of a nationwide telecommunications infrastructure. It won’t be easy to base the future telecoms infrastructure on a number of disruptive developments. My hope is that these developments will just be sufficiently disruptive to force the incumbents to alter their old business methods – I would not like to see them lead to a patchwork of networks with interoperability, integration, security and reliability problems.

See also:
Industry Analysis – Structural Separation
Global – Analysis – Industry – Structural Separation
Global – Industry – Key Regulatory Issues
Global – IP and VoIP – 2004 Analysis
Global – IP – Convergence – IP applications

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Friday, August 1st, 2003

In August 2003 The County Court of Victoria launched its eFiling system, an advanced electronic filing system developed by CITEC in association with IBM, the County Court of Victoria and legal professionals.

The system allows legal personnel to file and process civil court documents from work desks 24 hours day, thus reducing the time spent in attending court to file documents.

Some further advantages of eFiling are that up-to-date case records are available online; the progress of applications and documents can be tracked; access to the justice system for practitioners outside the city area; monthly billing for lodged documents instead of the presentation of a cheque with each document lodged by hand.

By the end of the year, eFiling will be available to all legal practitioners in the Court’s jurisdiction, and similar systems are being planned for other states.

See also:
Australia – E-Commerce – Overview and Analysis
Australia – E-commerce – Business Statistics and Analysis

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Friday, August 1st, 2003

Entertainment Industry
The digital revolution, coupled with renewed advertiser confidence, is driving the Australian entertainment and media industry into a new and exciting growth era. However, piracy continues to threaten industry expansion, according to the latest Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook 2003 – 2007.

The latest PricewaterhouseCoopers Outlook reveals the Australian industry will grow at a 5.5 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the 2003-2007 forecast period, to $22.1 billion. Growth in Australia will be slightly higher than the 4.8 per cent CAGR for the global industry. Australian consumer-user spending is predicted to rise by 6.7 per cent, to $12.6 billion. Advertising spending will grow by 4.0 percent CAGR to $9.5 billion.

Growth in the Australian sector will be concentrated in the entertainment driven industries, bolstered by consumer shifts to new digital technologies and distribution.

Internet, broadband, pay TV
PwC predicts consumer spending in Internet access to grow by 14.6 per cent, buoyed by the uptake in broadband technology; interactive games should increase by 11.6 per cent, supported by competitive console prices and the introduction of online console gaming.

Subscription television is expected to grow by 9.4 per cent, off the back of the Foxtel/Optus agreement and the roll-out of digitised and interactive services; and filmed entertainment should increase by 7.0 per cent, driven by Australia’s ongoing conversion to a nation of DVD collectors.

Ongoing piracy issues
However, the Outlook shows piracy will increasingly plague the industry’s performance, and pose the most significant threat to sector growth.

The music industry has traditionally been the hardest hit by piracy. However, growing broadband penetration and a disconcerting willingness of many people to rationalise the theft of entertainment will see the impact of piracy significantly dampen consumer spending on all form of digitised entertainment.

By the end of the decade virtually all entertainment and media will be in digital format – which reinforces the urgency of developing an effective means to combat piracy’s impact.

While the sector is starting to take a stronger stance against piracy through prosecution of both commercial pirates and end users, entertainment and media organisations needs to approach this option with caution. Zero tolerance – particularly at a consumer level – has the potential to alienate customers, in turn doing damage to brand image.

New distribution models
In addition to vigilantly protecting their intellectual property, PwC recommends entertainment and media organisations look to developing their own digital distribution models in an attempt to encourage customers to buy from legitimate sources.

The upside of piracy is that it tells the industry about consumer demand and delivery preferences, but what it also says is that consumers will not want to pay if they do not perceive they are getting good value for money and service.

In the case of the music industry, the success of Apple iTunes Music Store has demonstrated that consumers are prepared to buy licensed product when the value-price equation is favourable. Added convenience, ease of use, superior content, and clever customer service, can improve value, while bundling products enhances the price side of the equation.

Free-to-air TV
The Outlook reports that improved economic conditions, coupled with upcoming sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup, have renewed advertiser confidence, which will stimulate industry growth.

As advertisers return after the worst advertising slump in decades, they will first focus on free-to-air television. As economic conditions improve further, and world-class sporting events near, ad dollars will be shared amongst all traditional and new forms of advertising, with all achieving positive growth in each year of the forecast period.

Advertisers have emerged from the industry recession with a vigilant focus on accountability. They want hard proof of audience reach and return on their advertising investment. And the challenge for non-traditional formats, particularly out-of-home, cinema and Internet advertising, will be to prove their worth.

Until the newer technologies develop a generally-accepted audience measurement tool, traditional formats, such as television, newspapers and radio, with their reach advantage, will continue to capture the lion’s share of advertising.

Media reforms
PwC also noted how the Government’s failure to gain support to pass its Bill of media reforms will place Australia at a distinct disadvantage to a number of other countries, and will force Australian media organisations to revisit their strategies and objectives.

The rejection of the Government’s proposed deregulation of cross and foreign media ownership laws has held the local sector back at a time when many other countries are moving forward. The continuation of onerous cross media laws will force Australian media organisations to look offshore for growth.

As a result, funds that could have been used to improve Australians’ entertainment and media experience are instead benefiting people in other countries.

Furthermore, a few percentage points of Australian media ownership here, a couple of radio stations there simply holds no appeal for major foreign investors when compared to vastly more appealing opportunities in their home countries or larger international markets than our own.

Consequently, Australia will probably miss out on the fruits of international intellectual and investment capital which people in many other countries already enjoy.

See also:
Australia – Broadcasting – Analysis and Overview 2003
Australia – Radio – Overview and Statistics
Australia – Pay TV – Statistics – Industry Revenues and Analysis
Australia – Film Market
Australia – Broadband – Content

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