A week in tech: Part 1

All the key tech news from Japan and Korea in the past week.



- Japan Telecom to lease out broadband fiber-optic communications lines to companies by the hour starting next year. The company will offer the right to send the optical signals of various wavelengths along its fiber-optic lines. Each line, which can transmit data at 10Gbps, can be used simultaneously by several firms.

Mobile / Wireless

- J-Phone opens a Vodafone mobile phone store in JR Shinjuku Station. Vodafone holds a controlling interest in the Japanese firm's corporate parent. J-Phone, which intends to change the brand name of its mobile phones to "Vodafone" by the end of the year, plans to gradually remodel all of its outlets.


- Fujitsu looking to partner in the field of hard disk drive development and production but is also considering selling its HDD operations. Negotiations related to the HDD division are under way with both Japanese and foreign companies and that Fujitsu wants to engineer a tie-up arrangement by March 2004. The firm wants to wipe out its cumulative loss of more than 100 billion yen by restructuring.

- Advantest nearly doubles its full-year net loss forecast as a dull economy and uncertainty over war in Iraq took their toll. But the company, Japan's largest maker of microchip-testing equipment and one of Japan's most-actively traded hi-tech shares, vowed to return to the black on a pre-tax basis in the next business year from April 1, with help from new products and cost cuts.


- Niws plans to enter the market for Linux software. Until now, the systems developer focused on Unix systems, but it has decided to respond to the strong growth in demand for Linux products. It plans to use Linux in all its systems by May, and sign cooperative agreements with 50 companies with Linux technology in the coming year. Its sales target is 3 billion yen in the first year.

- Japan Research Institute develops a security software application for Linux. The software will be marketed in April, together with an IT service offering. The module adds monitoring functions, forced access controls and enough other security features to meet the criteria for B1 level security as detailed in the U.S. government's Orange Book for computer procurement.

Information Technology

- Japanese government re-evaluating 41 legacy computer systems running proprietary software that are now being used by central government ministries and agencies. The Liberal Democratic Party's Select Commission on the e-Japan Priority Policy Program will present reform guidelines calling for the replacement of legacy systems with new, open systems that can run general-purpose software.

- An All Nippon Airways computer system down for about two and a half hours Friday morning, causing cancellations of about 150 domestic flights and delays in others nationwide. The computer glitch occurred at around 4:50 a.m. on the first day of a three-day weekend in a system that manages flight schedules, nationwide cargo transport, and check-ins at Tokyo's Haneda airport.



- KT Freetel names a majority of externals to its board of directors. KTF has appointed 5 outside directors to the 9-member board of directors to guarantee its independence. The former environment minister Kim Myung-ja was the 5th appointee as an outside director in the directors' pool that consists of professors, businessmen and lawyers.

- DDI Pocket announces international roaming service in Taiwan for PHS (personal handyphone system) users. International roaming services for cellular telephones have been relatively expensive, but with the spread of common PHS standards overseas, DDI Pocket can offer the service at low cost. The company is partnering with Taiwan's First International Telecom to offer the service.

- KT to jointly market wireless broadband services in the region. KT's partners are StarHub, Telstra, Maxis Communications and China Netcom. The alliance will provide global roaming Internet services across the Asian-Pacific region starting in the second half of 2003. The marketing alliance will provide high-speed wireless Internet access in South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and China.

- Heads of conglomerates in Seoul to lead operations following the outbreak of a U.S. war with Iraq. LG Chairman Koo Bon-moo has been engaged in the establishment of a holding company and pushed R&D investments in electronics sector as planned. SK Chairman Son Kil-seung is busy coping with fraud allegations, while drawing up a contingency plan in response to the Iraqi war.


- E-commerce sales reached 44.92 trillion won ($36.05 billion) in the third quarter of last year, the National Statistical Office (NSO) said yesterday. The office said this was a 3.5 percent or 1.57 trillion won rise compared to the preceding quarter. It also represents a surge of 41.0 percent compared to the same period in 2001 when 31.86 trillion won worth of business was conducted on-line.

- KDDI to cooperate with the Communications Authority of Thailand, Thailand's largest communications carrier, to link Japanese companies in Thailand with Japan through a low-cost international IP network, by June. KDDI has already formed similar links with communications carriers in China, offering IP networking, and in South Korea, offering wide-area Ethernet.


- Samsung SDI targeting a big increase in sales of plasma-display panels this year. The South Korean company aims to sell 350,000 plasma-display panels this year, up from 63,000 in 2002, citing increased orders from domestic companies and negotiations with suppliers in Europe, China and Japan. Samsung SDI expects its monthly capacity of 20,000 units to rise to about 40,000 units by 4Q.

- Samsung Electronics ranks as the world's largest flat-screen manufacturer for five years in a row in 2002, a report issued by U.S.-based market research firm Display Research showed. LG.Philips LCD, a unit of the LG Group, also ranked second in the global market share for the flat-panel screens, known as TFT-LCD.

A week in tech is brought to you by FinanceAsia, and IRG, Asia's boutique investment bank to the telecoms, media and tech sectors. More can be found at:

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