A week in tech; part 1

All the latest tech news from Japan and Korea.

A week in Japan tech

Telecommunications

- NTT access fee boost will cut profits at other telecoms companies. The two NTT regional carriers will raise their connection fees by 5% in fiscal 2003 and introduce a burden-sharing adjustment system. With more and more people opting for cheap internet telephony, the telecom companies hesitate to offset the hike by a rise in the fixed-line fees they charge to subscribers.

Mobile / Wireless

- NTT develops cell phone equipped with GPS technology. One push on a button on the handset enables users to see on their screen a map showing where they are, send the map over the Internet to other cell phone users and store the map into the phone's memory. The mova F661i phone incorporates a GPS antenna and provides information about users' locations via a satellite.

- NTT DoCoMo develops wristwatch-type personal handyphone system (PHS), planning to market a limited number over the internet from April. The product, dubbed "WRISTOMO," normally serves as a wristwatch, but a push of a button instantly transforms it into a PHS handset. Japan's top mobile phone operator will determine whether to expand production, depending upon demand.

- NEC aims to quintuple its overseas shipments of cellular phone handsets next fiscal year to 5 million units compared with 1 million this term. NEC plans to double its operating profit to Y200 billion next fiscal year from this fiscal year's estimate.

- Sony EMCS develops a Bluetooth transceiver module for cellular phones and other digital devices. Integrating peripheral circuitry with a baseband IC (integrated circuit) and a high-frequency radio IC developed by the US firm Silicon Wave, the new Bluetooth module is small and consumes just 40 milliamperes, around 20% less than comparable products from other companies.

Hardware

- eMachines raises first-year sales goal for Japan from 100,000 computers to 125,000. The company has enjoyed strong sales of desktop models priced under Y50,000, not including monitors. The low price has attracted attention and has resulted in stronger-than-anticipated demand. The company, which has an exclusive sales contract with Tsukumo, began marketing in Japan at the end of 2002.

- NTT Electronics markets wavelength router, which controls the routing of signals in optical communications without first converting the optical signals into electric signals. The AWG Router, priced at Y1.25 million, uses wavelength multiplexing technology to control the routing of signals from its eight input ports to its eight output ports.

Information Technology

- IT breakdowns plaguing Japanese companies. 3,200 ATMs operated by Resona were out of order last week. 2002 saw a number of bank system failures: UFJ Bank, Mizuho Financial Group, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking. Tokyo's air traffic control centre suffered a breakdown March 1 that caused the cancellation of 250 flights. The strain of cost-cutting is apparent in all cases.

- Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama seeks ways to criminalize the creation of computer viruses and other online misconduct and how to facilitate investigation of such acts. The envisaged penalties are up to three years in prison or Y500,000 in fines for people who write, spread and infect computers with viruses, and up to two years in jail and Y300,000 in fines for those acquiring and storing them.

A week in Korea tech

Mobile / Wireless

- Government's plan to introduce LBS (location-based service) raises privacy issues. The MIC’s revision would make it obligatory for mobile handset makers to embed LBS functions in their products, sparking concerns that the locations of mobile users that can be pinpointed via an LBS system could be used to compromise the privacy of that user.

Internet

- The head of Hanaro Telecom under pressure to step down as the company's largest shareholder opposed his reappointment. LG Group, which owns a 13% stake in Hanaro through affiliates such as Dacom Corp and LG Telecom, said chairman Shin Yun-sik should take the blame for the losses in his six-year tenure.

Semiconductors

- Hynix Semiconductor faces the imposition of heavy import duties in both European and United States markets. The European Commission have found the chipmaker guilty of receiving illegal government aid and proposed duties of 30 to 35% on shipments of its dynamic random access memory chips to the European Union. Hynix faces a similar probe in the US.

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