Cyber Ramblings - Oct 17, 2000

17 October 2000
Aussie Firm Gets Go-ahead on Broadcasting Licenses
Pay television licenses have been issued to Access1 Pay Television in order to start streaming digital video footage to Australian PC owners. The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has allocated Access 130 broadcasting licenses The license allows Access1 to deliver the content anywhere in Australia. Unlike other broadcasters, Access1 delivers 'TV style' channels in digital form using Internet Protocol (IP). Viewers watch programs as they are downloaded or streamed to their PCs. A PC is needed to view Access1 Pay Television, although viewers can also connect a TV set. Viewers must log onto Access1's Internet site via an ISP to activate a video stream. Access1 has indicated content will include finance, commerce, shopping, sport, adult material and movies. The service will also work via cable or other digital transmission means.

Ericsson Launches WAP Gateway
Ericsson launched the enterprise Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Gateway, which allows enterprises to bring mobile e-commerce services to their customers. It also provides mobile office users access to corporate Intranet resources. The WAP Gateway offers applications for all vertical markets. With specially designed applications the WAP Gateway can support virtually anything mobile office users want to do which requires real-time access to corporate Intranet services. It creates opportunities for mobile offices by providing mobile users with access to corporate directories, calendars, news services, and e-mail. The Enterprise WAP Gateway fully supports the WAP standard according to the WAP Forum and it runs on Window NT. The WAP Gateway guarantees interoperability on any present and future mobile system.

After Delays, Bluetooth Cards Shipped to Australia
This month, Australia will finally get its first look at Bluetooth, the technology that may one day eliminate the need for data cords--but there's a catch. After long delays, Toshiba will this month begin shipping the first Bluetooth network cards to Australia. The $390 cards will connect notebook computers to other Bluetooth devices within a 30m range. Bluetooth will allow connections between an extraordinary array of devices -- phones, handheld PCs, even cameras--but none of this will be possible for the moment. The first of these devices isn't likely to arrive until early next year. Ericsson will be one of the first vendors on the market with its T36 mobile phone. Toshiba says more products are in the pipeline, including Bluetooth cameras, headsets and projectors. Nevertheless, analysts in the US have predicted a long wait until Bluetooth products arrive in great numbers. Some have suggested it could be 2002 before the technology becomes popular. The launch follows an effort by developers to improve security in Bluetooth. Toshiba now claims the technology is secure--data is encrypted and Bluetooth devices are safe from eavesdroppers. Meanwhile, separate wireless LAN technology has grown in popularity among PC vendors. Manufacturers such as Dell and IBM have created notebook PCs with built-in wireless antennas based on the 802.11B specification. Apple has also lent its brand to the technology with its Airport device. Unlike Bluetooth, 802.11B devices require a base station to operate, but have much greater range than Bluetooth cards. Vendors say the technology is particularly popular in schools. Toshiba says 802.11B won't be used in Palm devices or mobile phones; wireless LANs require more power than Bluetooth, draining the battery. Bluetooth's greatest disadvantage is possibly its 1Mbps bandwidth. Toshiba "doesn't recommend" more than eight people simultaneously interact via Bluetooth devices. With both technologies gaining attention, Toshiba is hedging its bets. From early next year, Toshiba notebooks will begin to include both wireless LAN and Bluetooth antennas.

European Commission Drafts Contract for Businesses
The European Commission has prepared a draft contract for use by businesses wanting to transfer personal data to countries outside the European economic area that do not have equivalent data protection laws. Under the terms of European data protection laws, U.K. businesses must not transfer personal data, such as the names and addresses of its customers, to any country without equivalent protection for individuals' privacy. This would include, for example, the U.K. branch of a U.S. company wanting to e-mail marketing data back to its parent company in the U.S. The draft contract is designed for downloading, completing and signing by the data exporter and data importer. It provides that an affected individual would be able to enforce his or her rights under the contract as a beneficiary of it. The data exporter must warrant under the contract that, for instance, if sensitive personal data is involved, the individual concerned has consented to the transfer to a country without an adequate level of protection. The data importer also makes several undertakings to ensure compliance with the general principles of data protection found in E.U. law, such as offering an individual equivalent rights of access to and correction of data held as those to which he or she would be entitled in the country from which the data is exported. The Commission is inviting comments from any interested parties before 16th October. More information and contact details can be found at:

Brazil Firm Cuts off Free Internet Access
Although free Internet access in Brazil is less than a year old, the trend may be ending before it even had time to matriculate. Last week UOL, the country's leading Internet company, announced that its subsidiary, NetGratuita, would stop offering free access to its 2 million subscribers. UOL CEO Luis Frias said in a press conference that free access was not a viable business model. Now that it dominates the biggest Internet market in Latin America, UOL is hoping to go public on the Nasdaq before the end of the year. As a result, the company is doing everything it can to slow its burn rate. UOL launched NetGratuita in response to the roaring debut of a highly aggressive and well-funded company, IG. People were signing up for IG's service at the rate of one subscriber every three seconds, and this pushed companies such as UOL and Terra Networks to match the offer. But, UOL executives never quite believed in the NetGratuita model. Even when it launched, UOL advertised its paid ISP more aggressively than the free-access service. The unplugging of NetGratuita comes in the wake of the failure of Super11, one of the first companies to offer free access in Brazil. And it raises a question about the future of this business model in the region. Terra Networks, the Internet arm of the Spanish telco Telefonica, will continue to offer free access. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group showed that e-commerce in Latin America this year would barely exceed $500 million, a puny figure compared to estimates for the U.S., Europe and even Asia, which are expected to reach $61 billion, $9 billion and $7 billion, respectively. The question now is whether the 2 million NetGratuita customers will migrate to IG--a shift that could give IG the critical mass it needs to monazite its traffic and improve its revenues.

GoldPocket, Game Machine Team to Take on Hispanic market
GoldPocket Interactive, a leading provider of technology enabling large-scale, interactive, Internet-based events, and GameMachine, Inc., a developer of games and interactive entertainment applications, announced today a strategic partnership to deliver Internet/TV convergence entertainment to Spanish and Portuguese-speaking audiences in the United States and abroad. The agreement allows GameMachine to offer GoldPocket Interactive's (GPi) EventMatrixTM technology to multimedia entertainment outlets and television networks to enable convergence entertainment programming in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets. GoldPocket Interactive's proprietary EventMatrix technology enables an unlimited number of people to participate in live, fully interactive programming and events.