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October 26, 1995

MINIGRAMS EXTRA

By CBR Staff Writer

Pakistani computer users will gain local call access to the Internet next month via a subsidiary of state-owned Pakistan Telecommunication Corp, by connecting to the existing Public Data Network, the company told Reuters: it said it is planning a final three-day test this week of a connection to an Internet service provider in New York; computer users in Karachi got their first taste of Internet in July through Karachi private electronic mail provider Digicom Pvt Ltd but Pakistanis living outside Karachi had to make a costly trunk call to Digicom before they could get on to the Internet; they will now connect at local rates through the Public Data Network which said its service would be almost twice as cheap as Digicom’s $3.15 per hour logged on to the Internet plus a monthly membership fee; the Public Data Network, one of 14 data networks that wot licences in Pakistan after paying a $16,000 fee, said its rates are to be decided.

The opening of Brazil’s state-controlled communications industry, the world’s eleventh largest telephone network, faces political obstacles that dictate that dismantling the monopoly must be gradual and the communications minister promises to promote a cautious approach to privatisation of Telebras which, with its 27 subsidiaries in as many states, operates 95% of Brazil’s phone lines, and bills $7,500m per year: main resistance to privatisation come from employees of state near-monopoly and the left-wing Worker’s Party – fear of losing jobs or privileges, such as generous pension benefits, is at the heart of opposition, and political patronage is another roadblock to privatising the phone system, with top management appointed by the Ministry of Communications, sometimes on the recommendation of state governors, sources said; as a first step, several segments of the industry, including the cellular telephone market and data communications and satellite services, will be opened to competition, likely during the first half of next year; gradually, over the next four or five years, the 27 Telebras subsidiaries will be merged into seven or eight regional operators, similar to the Baby Bells in the US, and basic phone service will be privatised, analysts say; although privatisation is a long way off, hundreds of foreign equipment manufacturing firms are rushing in to get a piece of the telecommunications action in Brazil, with NEC Corp, Siemens AG, Alcatel NV, L M Ericsson Telefon AB, Northern Telecom Ltd, Motorola Inc, Hyundai Electronics Co, Nokia Oy, Oki Electric Industry Co and Samsung Electronics Co among them.

Welsh regional electricity distributor South Wales Electricity Plc, and joint venture partner International CableTel Inc have been awarded a new regional cable delivery licence that will double the venture’s total potential customer base in the South Wales region to 600,000 homes: South Wales Electric and CableTel, as 40-60 joint venture partners in CableTel South Wales Ltd, will pay about ú104,000 annually for a 15-year licence from the first year after they start providing service in the area, and will have to pay a revenue share to the licensing authority in the later years of the licence; the deal is in line with the electricity company’s strategy of developing a growing income stream from investments outside its core businesses.

Telecom Italia Mobile SpA says that the number of people subscribing to its digital network has risen to 180,000 in October from 65,000 in June, with subscribers for its analogue TACS service rising to 3.17m from 2.7m over the same period.

A high-tech Language Valley, Belgium’s version of California’s Silicon Valley, will be established in western Flanders once a cluster of software companies join a speech technology firm in the Ieper area of Belgium – foreigners usually call it Ypres: the creation of this high technology park is a joint initiative by the Flemish regional government and Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products NV, the Belgian speech response technology firm.

Sega Enterprises Ltd’s Sega of America Inc and distributor of software, peripherals and systems, and publisher of computer-related magazines and books Softbank Corp of Tokyo have set up an equally-owned joint venture to distribute interactive entertainment and personal computer software and hardware in the US, offering less expensive and more efficient distribution services to the video game and business markets; the new company, to be incorporated on November 1, will be based in Hayward, California and will create a one-stop shop for the 30,000-plus US retailers that sell video game and personal computer software; future plans include opening a distribution centre in the eastern US, the companies said.

Madrid-based Telefonica Moviles SA says the number of cellular phone customers reached 785,500 or 2% of the population, a 114% rise from the same time last year; it expects to sell 600,000 cellular telephones in 1995, with 2.4% penetration by the year-end, 3% in the first six months of 1996: Telefonica Moviles began offering digital service in July alongside its analogue system and the US West Inc-led Airtel Consortium, the first to compete in Spanish cellular market, started selling digital phones this month.

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So are Apple Computer Inc’s woes down to the company seriously misforecasting demand and so under-ordering proprietary parts, or is it all the fault of IBM Corp and Motorola Inc for not making advanced PowerPCs fast enough? 601 and half a dozen of the other, we’d say.

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