A week in tech

A summary of all the major tech stories in Asia this week broken down by country and sector.



Furukawa Electric is considering closing or selling five of the 10 optical fiber plants it bought last autumn from Lucent Technologies for $2.2 billion. With capacity utilization rates remaining low, the company will also cut its work force in related divisions by 20% from the current 3,700 by year-end. The global telecommunications slump has caused the firm to post a fiscal 2001 group net loss.


Dell Computer Japan released a 93,800 yen (US$750) desktop personal computer for the domestic market. The DIMENSION 4500C is the first Dell Computer product for sale exclusively in Japan. Dell Computer's PC shipments in Japan increased 39.5% to 818,000 in 2001. Dell moved up two notches to sixth place in market share, with 6.1%, compared with 4.2% the previous year.


NTT Communications has built an online network that allows Japanese manufacturers to trade personal computer parts and other information technology equipment globally. NTT Communications has employed the data protocol as well as the data exchange and authentication systems adopted by RosettaNet, an industry consortium of major U.S. technology companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Intel.


About 60 publishers and 500 book stores will set up an Internet sales system by year-end enabling them to share information on inventories and sales via the Internet. The new system will be developed and operated by CSK, Seiko Epson and a consortium set up by some 18 leading book store chain operators.

Mobile / Wireless

Index to raise 1.2 billion yen (US$9.6 million) from media corporations including Fuji Television Network., Asahi National Broadcasting, Matsushita Communication Industrial, Daiichikosho, Toei and other firms. Anticipating the popularization of third-generation cell phones, the cellular phone content provider will study the possibility of developing handsets suited for transmitting video and other new services jointly with content providers and mobile phone manufacturers.



Dacom and Hanaro Telecom are competing for the purchase of the 30-percent stake in Powercomm, the leased-line subsidiary of state-owned Korea Electric Power. The sale is expected to start on June 11.

Mobile / Wireless

SK Telecom signed an international roaming agreement with Verizon Wireless, the largest cellular phone operator in the U.S. The agreement allows some 30 million customers of Verizon Wireless access to SK Telecom's network with their own handsets and phone numbers when in South Korea. The two companies agreed to promote mobile phones that can be used in both countries before the World Cup tournament starts.


Mobile / Wireless

The number of mobile phone users in China reached 167 million this April, an increase of six million subscribers from the previous month. According to China's Ministry of Information Industry, the latest user base represents a mobile phone penetration rate of 13 percent. China now leads as the world's No.1 mobile phone market, with the U.S. at No.2 with 136 million subscribers.

LG Electronics plans to boost mainland handset sales by the millions by the end of next year, despite being a latecomer to the rapidly growing market in China. By next year, LG plans to sell more than three million phones in China, two-thirds of them for the GSM network.

Venture Capital

Shanghai New Margin Ventures shifts investment focus to environmental equipment and pharmaceutical companies. The PRC government's spending and stricter enforcement of environmental regulations has opened a market in the environmental sector that could offer more investment opportunities than telecommunications, media and technology combined. The Company also expects to boost by 60% the number of investments it made last year, which was nine.



Taiwan may further ease restrictions on foreign ownership in its telecommunications companies if this is requested during the next round of World Trade Organization negotiations. The next round of WTO consultations over the service industry is expected to start later this year.

Alcatel may switch business focus to 3G network equipment as profits from the fixed-line market shrink. With Taiwan finally issuing its five 3G licenses in February, Alcatel has invested about US$3 million to build a 3G application center, launched in Taipei. The company plans to show the center to mobile operators and content providers.



KepTel plans to raise as much as $501.4 million from the sale of non-core assets to focus on network engineering and to pay off debt. KepTel, a unit of conglomerate Keppel Corp., expects to divest its shipping and logistics businesses in 2002. It expects that the sale of mobile operator Mobile One (M1), jointly owned by Singapore Press Holdings , Keppel, Britain's Cable & Wireless and Hong Kong's Pacific Century CyberWorks, will depend on market conditions.

Hutchison Whampoa and Singapore Technologies Telemedia missed a deadline to reach a definitive agreement with creditors of bankrupt Global Crossing. Attorneys for the creditors had earlier rejected Hutchison and STT's $750 million joint bid for 79 percent of Global Crossing , saying it was too low given that the firm has an estimated $22.4 billion in assets. Hutchison and STT have said previously that they have no plan to raise their bid.

Hong Kong


Mobile phone subscribers in Hong Kong reached 5.77 million ù a new high equivalent to 85.8 per cent of the population ù just six months after the territory saw its first fall in ownership rates. Growing optimism over the economy, purchasing by parents buying phones for increasingly younger children and a rise in sales of pre-paid SIM cards and are fuelling the increase.


Cable & Wireless has secured key licenses in Hong Kong and Singapore. Cable & Wireless officials said that it had been granted an external fixed-telecommunications network services license by the Hong Kong Government and a facilities-based operator license in Singapore. The company is prepared to make a comeback in the region, competing with Pacific Century CyberWorks and SingTel for corporate business.

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