Global Dispatches

An International News Digest

BT Drops Subcontractor For U.K. Health Project

LONDON -- Looking to speed the delivery of software, BT Group PLC last week dumped one of the main subcontractors working on a 10-year project to upgrade the U.K. national health system.

A BT spokesman said the company is transferring Chalfont St. Giles, England-based GE Healthcare's projects to Cerner Corp. in Kansas City, Mo., in the third quarter. In January, GE Healthcare paid $1.2 billion to acquire IDX Systems Corp., the company originally contracted for the work.

GE Healthcare was hired to build software for the U.K. National Health Service's Care Records Service, which will make electronic patient records accessible through a nationwide network. BT Group is responsible for building the network.

The BT spokesman said the company expects that the change will lead to faster delivery of software to health care facilities. In a statement, GE Healthcare said the parting was amicable.

BT is one of four prime contractors involved in the U.K. government's 12.4 billion pounds ($23.1 billion U.S.) effort to overhaul NHS technology in England and Wales, digitizing patient records and creating an advanced communications infrastructure. Fujitsu Services Holdings PLC, another of the prime contractors on the project, had dropped Burlington, Vt.-based IDX in April 2005 in favor of Cerner.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

Microsoft Moves to Avoid More EC Fines

BRUSSELS -- Microsoft Corp. has filed another batch of technical information with the European Commission in an effort to avoid further fines for violating a 2004 antitrust ruling.

On July 12, the commission fined Microsoft 280.5 million euros ($359 million U.S.) for not supplying the technical information required under the antitrust ruling. At the time, the EC warned that further fines would be likely if all the requested documentation wasn't supplied by July 31.

The commission is still working to determine whether Microsoft has supplied the required documentation, said an EC spokeswoman. "I don't know when the analysis will be finished," she said.

Microsoft representatives in Europe could not be reached for comment.

The March 2004 antitrust ruling charged that Microsoft had abused its monopoly in desktop PC operating systems to gain advantage in the markets for workgroup server operating systems and media player software.

-- Peter Sayer, IDG News Service

Indian Outsourcing Not Slowed by Rise in Wages

BANGALORE, India -- India will continue to be an attractive offshore outsourcing location for IT services in the coming years, despite 12% to 15% annual increases in technical staff salaries, said analysts.

The cost advantage of hiring engineers in India is likely to continue for at least five years, said Sudin Apte, senior analyst and country manager for India at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.

India's demographics, including large numbers of software engineers graduating each year, continue to give it an edge over other countries, he said.

Aruna Jayanthi, vice president for outsourcing at Capgemini India, added that "in terms of ability to scale number of staff and everything else, I don't think any other country can offer what India can."

Capgemini plans to make India its hub for offshore services delivery, Jayanthi said.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Philippine Telco Extends Fiber-Optic Network

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines -- Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) late last month launched a 10Gbit/sec. fiber-optic link to Baguio City as part of a $300 million (U.S.) nationwide network rollout that seeks to address emerging broadband markets.

In 1998, the Makati City-based telecommunications conglomerate invested $197 million to launch the nationwide digital fiber-optic network (DFON). Since then, PLDT has spent around $90 million more to add an IP-based network that can transmit voice, video and data services.

The $30 million DFON link to Baguio City, located in the northern province of Benguet, runs on two separate fiber-optic cables with a 10Gbit/sec. transmission bandwidth that can carry more than 120,000 voice calls, PLDT said.

"This is really not meant to meet current demand but to position Baguio City to invite more investments," said Eric Alberto, head of the PLDT corporate business group.

-- Lawrence D. Casiraya, Computerworld Philippines

Nokia Tests Wi-Fi Cellular, Phones

ESPOO, Finland -- Nokia Corp. has begun testing technology that lets users make calls on both cellular and wireless networks and switch between networks without interruption.

Around 50 people in Oulu, Finland, are testing the new service, called Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA), as part of a two-month pilot initiated by Nokia in cooperation with the city of Oulu and Helsinki-based telecommunications firm Finnet Ltd.

The new Model 6136 cell phones used in the test can automatically transfer voice or data connections from GSM networks to Wi-Fi when the device recognizes a compatible wireless network, according to a Nokia spokesman. And when users make a Wi-Fi call or data transfer outside of a Wi-Fi network's coverage area, the connection is transferred to a GSM link without interruption, he said.

Nokia is the latest of several vendors, including Motorola Inc. and BT Group, to implement such technology. Other companies, including TeliaSonera AB in Sweden and Finland and T-Mobile USA Inc., plan to offer UMA service in the coming months.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Briefly Noted

SAP AG plans to invest $1 billion (U.S.) in India over the next five years, CEO Henning Kagermann told reporters in Delhi last week. Kagermann also disclosed that by the end of 2006, 20% of the software maker's research and development budget will be spent in India. The company expects to employ 3,500 workers in the country by the end of the year.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

SanDisk Corp. in Milpitas, Calif., has agreed to acquire competing flash memory developer M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers Ltd. in Kfar Saba, Israel, for $1.6 billion (U.S.) in stock. SanDisk officials said the deal should help the company quickly improve its position in the mobile phone industry. M-Systems will become a subsidiary of SanDisk at the close of the deal, expected in the fourth quarter.

-- Martyn Williams, IDG News Service

Two top executives and an engineer from Taipei-based Via Technologies Inc. were found innocent of industrial espionage by a panel of Taiwanese judges. The case stemmed from a 2003 civil lawsuit filed by D-Link Corp. in Hsinchu over an alleged theft of chip-testing simulation software. Although Via and D-Link settled the civil side of the case out of court in August 2004, prosecutors continued the criminal proceedings. The two companies never revealed the terms of their settlement.

-- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

Wells Fargo & Co. in San Francisco last week said that it is setting up a software development facility in Hyderabad, India, citing a growing need for technology talent that can't be met solely in the U.S. It will open in the fourth quarter and house between 30 and 50 local staffers.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Cognos Inc. in Ottawa has opened a virtual innovation center for customers in Australia and New Zealand. It will employ one full-time worker and provide a forum for large customers to access industry peers, analysts and "performance blueprints," which are specific process and policy enhancement models sourced from clients.

-- Darren Pauli, Computerworld Australia

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon