Wednesday, March 17, 2004


Internet – Broadband

China takes broadband crown from Japan
According to a recent market analysts report, China is now top when it comes to DSL - outstripping the broadband-savvy Japanese to reach the top spot.
In terms of subscriber numbers, China overtook Japan at the end of last year with nearly 11 million users, while Japan came a close second with 10.2 million. However, with the largest population in the world - about 1.3 billion in 2003, according to UN figures, But the figures for number of DSL subscribers per 100 phone lines tell a different story, with China managing just 5.1, Japan ahead with 14.4 and broadband flagship South Korea notching up a whopping 27.7. In terms of percentage growth, China lagged again, with Portugal more than doubling its DSL take-up in the second half of 2003.

China's official news agency, Xinhua, put the huge jump in DSL down to a boom in the Chinese entertainment industry, with users hungry for broadband, film and gaming. Tim Johnson, a principal analyst with Point Topic, favours a combination of factors, including China's desire for industrialisation and to be seen as a high-tech player, as well as providing economic incentives for those going online to go straight to broadband rather than first opting for dial-up.

However, while DSL makes gains in China, Wi-Fi may be set to struggle. Intel, one of the biggest manufacturers of wireless chips, has given the two-fingered salute to the Chinese market after refusing to comply with a Chinese encryption standard that is due to come into effect on 1 June.
Some manufacturers regard the standard as prehistoric and insecure, and Intel has threatened to stop selling its Centrino chips - used by China's most popular laptop maker, Legend - after the June deadline. The Chinese government will only release the protocol to Chinese companies, so if Intel wants to stay in the market, it will have to partner with a local firm.

The overall picture for broadband, however, is looking bright, with almost 28 million DSL lines added worldwide last year to create a grand total of 63.8 million.
Source; March 04

Internet – Services

Hotmail back online
Microsoft has blamed an internal problem for leaving millions of Hotmail users unable to access their email on Friday.
The service, along with MSN Messenger, suffered an outage early Friday evening (+1 GMT), although it is now understood that the service is fully up and running again.
A spokesman for MSN told that, along users around the world were hit. He ruled out any notion that the email service was the subject of a malicious attack. He also declined to discuss the nature of the internal problem.
Although he couldn't say how many people were hit by the problem he described it as "extensive", adding that it hit a majority of Hotmail's 140m users, locking them out of their email accounts.
Source; The Register, March 04

Broadband – USA Market

Broadband Internet Grows To 25 Million In The U.S.
According to recent analysis the US cable and DSL providers accumulated over 24.6 million high-speed Internet subscribers by the end of 2003. The twenty largest cable and DSL providers in the US added a combined 7.4 million high-speed Internet subscribers in 2003.
Additional broadband provider results include:
- Cable adding about 4.5 million broadband Internet subscribers compared to close to 3 million added by the major DSL providers over the same time period
- The top cable broadband providers now have a 63% share of the overall broadband market.
And, from a new LRG study, Broadband Internet Access & Services in the Home 2004, based on a survey of 1,600 households nationwide, come some details on the usage and opinions:
- 62% of residential households subscribe to an online service at home, and about one-third of this group subscribes to broadband
- 73% of broadband subscribers are "very satisfied" with their Internet service compared to 49% of narrowband/dial-up subscribers
- About 30% of current narrowband subscribers are interested in getting broadband
Clearly the market for broadband has become more competitive in the past year, and competition will only intensify as the number of broadband subscribers in the US doubles over the next four years. Yet it is premature to proclaim that DSL is catching up to cable.

Broadband Internet Subscribers at end of 2003 Net adds in 2003

Comcast 5,283,900 1,663,600
Time Warner 3,228,000 802,000
Cox 1,988,527 580,577
Charter 1,565,600 427,500
Cablevision 1,057,020 286,895
Adelphia 951,406 324,236
Bright House Networks 620,000 130,000
Mediacom 280,000 89,000
Insight 230,000 85,200
RCN 195,000 42,669
Cable One 133,800 54,400
Total Top cable
15,533,253 4,486,077

SBC 3,516,000 1,317,000
Verizon 2,319,000 649,000
Bell South 1,462,000 441,000
Qwest 637,000 127,000
Covad 517,000 136,000
Sprint 304,000 153,000
ALLTEL 153,028 82,846
Cincinnati Bell 99,000 24,400
CenturyTel 83,400 31,100
Total Top DSL 9,090,428 2,961,346
Total Broadband 24,623,681 7,447,423

Sources: The Companies and LRG, Inc. – March 04

Environment – Legislation

E.U. moves to protect dolphins, porpoises ensnared in fishers' nets
European Union nations are close to agreeing on measures designed save the lives of thousands of dolphins and porpoises caught accidentally in fishing nets, officials said Tuesday.
The proposals, which would require fishers to install acoustic "pingers" on their boats to scare away the marine mammals, could be approved next week at a meeting of fisheries ministers in Brussels, E.U. officials said.
The rules could apply to fishers in the Baltic Sea, North Sea, English Channel, and other waters off northern and Western Europe, although some nations are seeking exemptions for some areas and smaller boats, given the high cost of installing the equipment.
According to British estimates, the pingers could cost up to 6,000 euros (US$7,400) per boat and would need renewing every 18 months.

Despite the cost, some fishing organizations backed the proposals.
"It's pretty much a disaster to catch a dolphin or a porpoise; you lose catch and you damage gear," said Hamish Morrison, chief executive of the Scottish Fisherman's Federation, in a telephone interview. "Many fishers have respect and affection for dolphins," he added. "There's an old legend that dolphins are the souls of drowned fishermen."
E.U. funds could be used to help fishing organizations cover the costs of the acoustic equipment.

The new rules would also phase out drift nets in the Baltic Sea. Such nets, often several miles, long have been banned in other waters because of the risk of entangling marine mammals.

However, some Baltic nations want to delay the ban to protect their fishers. Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Estonia — which are set to join the E.U. in May — are especially concerned about the impact of a ban on their fleets.

Worldwide more than 300,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises die unintentionally in fishers' hauls, according to a study released last year by American and Scottish biologists. Before it introduced its own pinger program in 2000, Denmark estimated up to 6,000 porpoises were caught annually in its waters alone.

However, although the acoustic gear has proven effective in protecting dolphins, porpoises, and small whales, Morrison said the ultrasound frequency used to scare them away from nets has the opposite affect on some types of seals.

"There has to be some fine tuning of the technology, literally, because they act like a dinner gong for harp seals," the Scottish fishers' leader said.

The E.U. plans would also place observers on selected boats to ensure that skippers respect the rules. Failure to respect a ban on drift nets in the Mediterranean costs the lives up to 4,000 dolphins every year, the WWF estimates.
Source: Associated Press


Telecommunications – Wireless

T-Mobile Takes Wireless PocketCinema
Cinemaelectric, Inc. announces the launch of its PocketCinema™ mobile video content offerings via leading operator T-MOBILE in the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Austria and Czech Republic, a total market of over 40 million mobile subscribers.
Source; CinemaElectric, Inc