Global Dispatches

An international news digest

Korean Court Rejects Microsoft Appeal

SEOUL, South Korea -- The Seoul High Court last week rejected an appeal by Microsoft Corp. to delay the implementation of penalties imposed on it by the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC).

The commission late last year fined Microsoft 33 billion Korean won ($35.6 million U.S.) for violating the country's fair trade regulations. It also ordered the company to offer two versions of its Windows XP operating system in Korea -- one without Windows Media Player and Windows Messenger, and another that includes links to Web sites offering rival software. The high court set an Aug. 24 deadline for compliance.

Microsoft appealed the ruling in March and also asked the Seoul High Court to defer the deadline until the appeal is heard.

Microsoft last week said that it plans to comply with the commission's order by the deadline. It also said that its appeal of the order will continue.

"While Microsoft believes that the KFTC's order will hinder technological innovation in Korea," the company will continue its Korean business, it said in a statement.

-- Martyn Williams, IDG News Service

Telecom Italia Bids for AOL Units in Europe

ROME -- Telecom Italia SpA has made a nonbinding offer to acquire AOL LLC 's businesses in Germany and France. AOL is looking to sell the divisions to improve its struggling European operations.

A spokesman for Rome-based Telecom Italia confirmed the offer late last month but would not disclose the amount of its bid. An AOL spokesman did not confirm the Telecom Italia offer but did say that AOL is exploring its options for all its European businesses.

"There's a review under way of all of AOL's businesses in Europe," said a spokesman for AOL (U.K.) Ltd. in London.

"AOL's basic problem over the past couple of years has been that as broadband becomes more widespread, growing revenue becomes more difficult," said John Delaney, an analyst at London-based Ovum Ltd. Buying AOL's divisions would allow Telecom Italia to expand its user base of 1.5 million customers in France and Germany.

-- Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service

Telstra CEO Threatens to Scrap $2.2B Project

CANBERRA, Australia -- The head of Australia's largest telecommunications company has threatened to scrap a $3 billion Australian ($2.2 billion U.S.) national high-speed, fixed-line broadband network.

Telstra Corp. CEO Sol Trujillo said the firm objects to government regulations that could require the company to allow its rivals to use the network for free or at low rates. He said competitors should pay commercial rates for access to the network.

Melbourne-based Telstra has proposed building a next-generation, fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) wire-line network, first throughout the country's major cities and later to smaller towns. "We will not invest in FTTN unless we achieve regulatory settings that will permit Telstra shareholders to earn a competitive return," Trujillo said in a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra late last month.

"I want to be clear about something I keep on reading about -- that we're bluffing," Trujillo said. "If there's any belief in the room, let me dismiss that belief."

-- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

Taiwan to Invest $3.1B in Web 2.0

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's state-controlled telecommunications company plans to invest 100 billion New Taiwan dollars ($3.1 billion U.S.) over the next five years to upgrade its network and further develop applications and services based on the so-called second-generation World Wide Web, also known as Web 2.0.

Chunghwa Telecom Co. in Taipei will spend half the money on infrastructure, replacing miles of copper phone lines with fiber-optic cable and the latest switches, said a spokeswoman for the company. The other half will go toward developing services and applications on the network that are designed around Web 2.0, she said.

Chunghwa also plans to continue building on Web 2.0 projects that are already up and running, such as Xsuite, which offers users drawing applications, blogs, video blogs, photo diaries and other services. About 3 million people in Taiwan have signed up for Xsuite.

Web 2.0 technologies promise to support applications and services based on the collaboration and sharing capabilities of the Internet rather than on static Web pages.

The company said it will also begin to transfer voice phone calls to IP from traditional switch lines, continue to build its television and movie broadcasting service and delve into other multimedia services.

-- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

Palm Pulls Treo Devices From European Market

DUBLIN -- Palm Inc. on June 30 stopped shipping its latest smart phone to Europe because the devices don't comply with the European Union's new regulations on "the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment." The law, better known as the RoHS Directive, was created as part of an effort to reduce hazardous waste from electrical goods.

Palm decided nine months ago not to update the Treo 650 to comply with the regulations, which went info effect July 1. "We felt like the product was long in its life cycle," said Ed Colligan, Palm's president and CEO. The move isn't part of an effort by the company to abandon the European market, said Colligan, who noted the recent opening of an engineering facility in Dublin.

Palm expects to ship a new smart phone to Europe later this year, said Palm Chief Financial Officer Andy Brown. In the meantime, European operators have a stock of Treo 650 phones to unload.

-- Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service

Briefly Noted

Powerchip Semiconductor Corp., Taiwan's largest dynamic RAM maker, and Macronix International Co. in Hsinchu, Taiwan, have agreed to jointly develop 100-nanometer manufacturing technology as the first step in a five-year research partnership. Separately, Macronix agreed to farm out production of some of its chips to Hsinchu-based Powerchip Semiconductor.

-- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

Wipro Ltd. in Bangalore, India, plans to establish a so-called near-shore facility in Australia over the next two years. The facility will provide a mix of local and offshore service offerings. Details of the operation weren't disclosed, but Wipro President Suresh Vaswani said such operations typically employ between 50 and 150 people.

-- Sandra Rossi, Computerworld Today (Australia)

The Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and the Australian Electoral Commission have signed contracts worth a combined $112 million Australian ($83.1 million U.S.) to extend outsourcing deals with Computer Sciences Corp. The agencies first signed contracts with El Segundo, Calif.-based CSC in 1998.

Michael Crawford, Computerworld Today (Australia)

European Union antitrust regulators gave unanimous support to a plan to fine Microsoft potentially hundreds of millions of euros for failing to comply with the EU's 2004 antitrust ruling. Microsoft said in a statement that it is dedicating "massive resources" to ensure that it complies with the order.

-- Paul Meller, IDG News Service

BenQ Mobile GmbH plans to lay off up to 10% of its German workforce as part of its effort to return to profitability. The handset maker expects to present a layoff plan to employees later this month, the Munich-based company said in a statement. In April, CEO Clemens Joos said BenQ Mobile had cut €150 million ($191 million U.S.) in costs by trimming R&D and marketing operations.

-- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

Global Fact

64%: Share of the world's estimated 300,000 spam servers that are located in Taiwan. About 23% are in the U.S.

Source: CipherTrust Inc., Alpharetta, Ga.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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