Global Dispatches

An international news digest

EC Threatens Germany With Action Over Law

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission last week threatened the German government with legal action unless it scraps a new law that protects Deutsche Telekom AG from competition in the broadband Internet access market.

The commission sent a letter of formal notice to the German government after issuing repeated warnings not to adopt the legislation. The letter gives Germany 15 days to reply before the case is sent to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

“I regret that Germany has chosen to ignore the commission’s concerns about this new telecom law despite several clear warnings from the commission,” said Viviane Reding, European Union commissioner for information society and media, in a statement.

Germany has argued that Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom should be granted a “regulatory holiday” because of the massive investments it has made in its broadband infrastructure.

Reding argued that such breaks are “an attempt to stifle competition in a crucial sector of the economy and in violation of the EU telecom rules in place since 2002.”

The commission is targeting amendments in the German law that effectively exempt Deutsche Telekom’s fast Internet access network from competition. The amendment was requested by the company, which is still partly owned by the German government.

-- Paul Meller, IDG News Service

Effort to Sell Bankrupt BenQ Mobile Fails

MUNICH -- Attempts to find an investor for bankrupt German mobile phone maker BenQ Mobile GmbH have failed, the company’s insolvency administrator announced last week.

“I now see no realistic chance to sell the entire company in one piece and enable a new start,” administrator Martin Prager said in a statement. “We have to acknowledge that the market has decided against BenQ Mobile.”

Munich-based Siemens AG sold its money-losing mobile phone manufacturing business to Taoyuan, Taiwan-based BenQ Corp. in 2005. In August 2006, the new owner announced plans to stop investing in the operation.

After “intensive inquires and market analysis,” the last potential buyer withdrew its interest in buying the company, acknowledging that a profitable continuation of BenQ Mobile’s handset business was “not realistic,” Prager said. He declined to identify the potential buyer.

Since October, Prager has held talks with more than 100 potential buyers and entered into negotiations with 30.

In the coming weeks, the insolvency administrator plans an auction to sell BenQ Mobile’s assets.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

BT to Open £14M London Data Center

LONDON -- British telecommunications giant BT Group PLC late last month disclosed plans to spend £14 million ($27 million U.S.) on a new data center in southern London. The center is aimed at helping the company strengthen its hosting and management services.

Work on the 930-square-meter facility, which will have biometric security features, should be completed by September, the company said.

BT is looking to grow its data services business by 20% annually, with an emphasis on corporate, public-sector and financial services customers. Rajiv Abeysinghe, BT’s data center transformation manager, noted that many BT customers are asking the company to architect and host applications within BT’s 70 data centers.

Abeysinghe also noted that BT is looking at potential renewable energy solutions for its data centers as it seeks to cut utility costs. BT is asking vendors to make products with stricter limits on temperature, humidity and air quality, which could allow for more utility savings, Abeysinghe said.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

EC Unit to Study Data Center Energy Use

BRUSSELS -- A European Commission group this week will debate whether to create a voluntary code of conduct on energy efficiency for data center operators. The EC said that the renewable energies unit of its Joint Research Center will discuss the idea during a meeting in London.

Antonia Mochan, spokeswoman for the EC unit, said that any code of conduct would be voluntary. Organizations that adopted it would nonetheless agree to abide by certain principles or standards, she said.

The commission has made few regulations about computer energy consumption, said Kevin Fisher, Intel Corp.’s standards and regulations manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Part of the problem is a lack of metrics for establishing efficient server power consumption, although several efforts are under way, he said.

Environmental agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, which placed limits on countries’ greenhouse gas emissions, are driving government interest in reducing energy consumption, according to Fisher. At the same time, large corporations are looking to cut utility costs.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

CSC Awarded $190M Australian Services Job

LEEDERVILLE, Australia -- Water Corp. in Western Australia late last month signed a $190 million Australian ($150 million U.S.) IT services contract with Computer Sciences Corp.

El Segundo, Calif.-based CSC has been working with Leederville-based Water Corp., which provides water and wastewater services to cities and towns spread over 2.5 million square kilometers in Western Australia.

Under the new agreement, CSC will be responsible for the ongoing support and maintenance of Water Corp.’s existing applications and for the development and implementation of new systems. The pact also calls for CSC to provide project, program and demand management capabilities, which will result in faster and lower-cost delivery of systems, the water company said.

-- Sandra Rossi, Computerworld Australia

Compiled by Mike Bucken.


Briefly Noted

Japan and Russia plan to link their telecommunications networks via a new undersea fiber-optic cable connecting Ishikari on Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, to Nevelsk, Russia. The cable, which is expected to be in place by the end of this year, avoids the area south of Taiwan where many cables were damaged in a powerful earthquake last year. It will be able to carry up to 640Gbit/sec. of data.

-- Martyn Williams, IDG News Service

LM Ericsson Telephone Co. has made an offer to acquire Southampton, England-based Tandberg Television ASA in order to beef up its expertise in Internet-based TV technology. Ericsson offered 9.8 billion Swedish kroner ($1.4 billion U.S.) in cash for Tandberg, topping an earlier $1.2 billion (U.S.) bid by Arris Group Inc. in Suwanee, Ga. Tandberg sells video encoding and compression equipment.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

Google Inc. last week added several new features to its Chinese Google.cn search engine. Google.cn was launched in early 2006 to help Google expand its business in China, where the company’s main search engine, Google.com, is sometimes slow or unavailable. The new features include the ability to search Chinese Web sites using Pinyin, a Romanization system for Chinese characters.

-- Sumner Lemon and Steven Schwankert, IDG News Service

About half of the work on Intel Corp.’s recently announced “teraflop research chip” was done in India, according to Vasantha Erraguntla, engineering manager at the company’s India Research Center in Bangalore. Erraguntla led the design team in Bangalore that worked on the logic, circuit and physical design of the chip. The rest of the work was done in Intel’s Oregon research labs.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

The National Open Centre, a think tank in Birmingham, England, opened last week to analyze how open-source software can be used in government and the private sector. The center will study issues around open source, such as the use of standards and procurement guidelines, said Ed Downs at the National Computing Centre in Manchester, England.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

Global Fact

$364B

Total value of exports of IT products, from PCs to networking gear, from China in 2006, up 35.7% from 2005.

Source: Chinese Ministry of Information Industry

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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