- Toshiba Corp. has developed new optical wireless communications technology for connecting personal computers and digital audiovisual equipment. Compared with current wireless LAN technology, Toshiba's transmits data roughly 30 times faster, at 1.5 Gbps, using infrared laser light. This is fast enough to transmit images from high-definition TV broadcasts and high-resolution PC images without compressing data. Because light travels straight, transmitters and receivers must be aligned likewise in optical wireless communications. This requirement has made devices for such communications impractical for use at home. Toshiba overcame this hurdle by developing an optical wireless system that can exchange data even if the transmitter and the receiver are up to 2 meters out of alignment over a 10 meter distance.
- Toshiba said it has developed the world's smallest methanol fuel cell for use in wireless headsets and other wearable electronics devices. The prototype direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) is roughly thumb size, measuring 22 millimeters by 45 millimeters and weighs 8.5 grams. It is "small enough for integration into a wireless headset for mobile phones but still efficient enough to power an MP3 music player for as long as 20 hours on a single two-CCs charge of highly concentrated methanol." Toshiba expects to commercialize DMFC for handheld devices in 2005 and has yet-to set retail prices.
Mobile / Wireless
- Net-2Com Corp., a start-up firm that was spun off by Fujitsu Ltd. will put on the market this autumn wireless IP telephone handsets that can automatically choose the most suitable communications system for each call. The phone, developed jointly with Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., will switch to a mobile phone or other telephony system in places where a user cannot access a wireless local area network. Existing wireless IP telephones can only be used near a ground station, limiting their use primarily to a company's internal lines. The firm intends to sell the phone to corporate customers, pitching its low calling charges and usability outside a LAN. Net-2Com will make the handset, with Fujitsu Laboratories providing the software. Users can program the phone to automatically choose the cheapest telephony system as well as install business application software in the handset.
- Renesas Technology expects its sales to rise slightly this fiscal year, while its operating profit will get a boost from more restructuring and solid orders for its semiconductor products. The world's third-largest semiconductor maker by sales said it's targeting group wide sales of ¥1.1 trillion ($10.2 billion) in the fiscal year through March, up from ¥985.6 billion ($9.1 billion) last year. The joint venture comprised of the customized chip businesses of Hitachi Ltd. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. aims to post a group operating profit of ¥60 billion ($556.5 million) this fiscal year, up from ¥45 billion ($417.4 million) last year. Renesas plans to cut its capital investment to ¥90 billion ($834.7 million) in the current year from ¥120 billion a year earlier.
- Hansol LCD Co., a Korean flat-panel screen manufacturer, reported its second-quarter revenue fell 2.6% on-year to W131.5 billion ($113 million). In a public disclosure to the stock market, the company returned to the black with a net profit of W2.5 billion ($2.2 million). Hansol LCD is a late bloomer in the fast-growing market for LCD screens, which are used for flat-panel televisions and computer monitors.
- KT Corp., the country's largest fixed-line and broadband operator, will open an internet portal site next month, with aspirations toward reviving its fading its online business, company officials said. The site, paran.com, will begin services July 17 and provide subscribers with e-mail, online communities, games, homepage-making and other functions. KT had been operating two portal sites, hitel.co.kr and hanmir.net, but both lag significantly in popularity compared to other major portals such as daum.net or naver.com. KT plans to take hitel.com and hanmir.com off the web with the launch of the new portal, but will allow subscribers of the two sites access to paran.com without changing their identification codes and passwords.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
- Korean handset makers are set to challenge Japan's current lead in the camera-phone market by strategically increasing shipments. Korean companies now account for about 14% of the world's camera-phone market, led by Samsung Electronics with 11.8%, LG Electronics with 1.4% and Pantech & Curitel with 0.8%. In comparision, Japanese companies accounted for nearly 60% of the market last year. However, the Koreans' combined market share is expected to reach as high as 40% as they plan to ramp up production focusing on high-end phones. Companies plan to add camera features to about half of their models destined for shipment as part of a strategy to strengthen their upscale brand image and capitalize on the fast-growing demand for camera phones.
- More than 1.3 million SK Telecom subscribers switched services through this month to the two smaller mobile-phone operators in accordance with number portability, according to the Ministry of Information and Communication. According to statistics tracked by the mobile carriers through June 13, KT Freetel Co., the country's No. 2 carrier, attracted 768,125 subscribers from SK Telecom, accounting for 58% of the mobile-phone users that changed service providers.
Mobile / Wireless
- LG Electronics Inc. has expanded its supply agreement with US-based Cingular Wireless, to provide mobile handsets based on GPRS technology. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. GPRS, or general packet radio service, is a faster version of the global system for mobile communications, which speeds up data reception and transmission for e-mail and web browsing. LG Electronics will provide two additional GPRS handset models, both in clamshell designs -- C1300 and L1200 -- to Cingular, a joint venture of SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp., with functions that allow global roaming services, multi-messaging and wireless Internet services.
- Hanaro Telecom Inc. announced plans to expand its share of the long-distance and international telephone services market. Hanaro, which received a government license to market long-distance and international phone services starting in July, will bundle its inner-city, long-distance and international phone services under the name "Hanafone." Subscribers will be offered 50% discounts on international calls for three months.
- The Korean government plans to introduce the "mobile virtual network operator" model to the local telecom industry, with the objective of stimulating market competition and generating new revenue streams through the expansion of data-driven mobile services. The Ministry of Information and Communication and the state-run Korea Information Strategy Development Institute began a joint research project last week to discuss the direction and phasing in of MVNO. The group expects to submit its final report to the ministry by the end of November. The ministry will make the final decision on whether and when to adopt the MVNO model.
- Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, the hard-drive venture between Hitachi and IBM, unveiled plans to build a $500 million plant in China. Hitachi Global Storage Technologies is the world's second-largest disk drive maker by revenue after Seagate Technology. The new plant, to be built in Shenzhen, will produce 10 million disk drives in its first year of production starting from the fourth quarter of next year. Ultimately, the facility would have the capacity to make more than 30 million disk drives ranging in size from 3.5 inches to 2.5 inches and 1.8 inches to one inch. The new facility, which will boost the company's employee numbers to 11,500 from 4,500 now, was expected to help Hitachi Global Storage Technologies cut production costs by 15% to 20% initially.
- The Chinese government is calling on internet service providers (ISPs) to sign a "self-discipline pact" meant to stop the spread of information that could harm national security as defined by Beijing. The country already requires internet firms to police their online content and weed out any criticism of the central government. It also tries to block sites it deems politically sensitive or otherwise unacceptable. The new pact was initiated by the China Internet Association, a government-run industry group. Firms that sign on must promise not to spread information "threatening the national security, social stability or containing superstitious or erotic content," the agency said. Internet service providers must also make sure they do not provide links to other sites with inappropriate material. The pact calls on Internet cafes to direct web users to "healthy online information," and it urges respect for intellectual property rights.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
- A lengthy delay in granting third-generation (3G) cellular licenses in China may spur more mainland consumers to obtain multiple mobile phone service subscriptions. Demand for dual-platform mobile phones that work on both xiaolingtong and GSM (global system for mobile communications) networks is also expected to climb. It was common for China Mobile users to cross over and take advantage of heavy handset subsidies - especially free phones and bonus usage minutes - offered by rival China Unicom, while keeping their old accounts. A new DBA survey of China Mobile subscribers in selected mainland cities found that 36 percent of its subscribers also used the low-cost xiaolingtong service provided by fixed-line network operators China Telecom and China Netcom.
Mobile / Wireless
- Samsung Electronics will begin supplying mobile-phone handsets based on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java technology to China Unicom Ltd. next month. The company did not disclose financial terms of the agreement. Samsung, the world's third-largest maker of mobile phones behind Nokia of Finland and Motorola of the U.S., said its SCH-X859 model Java phone will be the first phone supplied for the UniJa project. Sun formed an alliance with China Unicom and ZRRT, a service provider in China, to develop and promote Java-technology-based wireless applications and services under the name UniJa.
- Nanotech Corp., the first Chinese semiconductor manufacturer to obtain its equipment from industry giant Intel, plans to spend as much as $650 million on a chip factory to begin production late next year. Nanotech announced it had reached a deal to purchase used equipment from Intel for the new plant, to be built in the Chinese city of Changzhou, about 140 kilometers (85 miles) Northwest of Shanghai. Intel also will transfer manufacturing technology and provide training to Nanotech employees as part of the agreement. The deal marks the first time Intel, the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer, has sold manufacturing technology and equipment to a Chinese chip company, and highlights the continuing expansion of China's nascent semiconductor industry. Nanotech joins an expanding group of Chinese chip makers aiming to serve the country's fast-growing chip demand. The leader is Shanghai-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., which listed on the New York Stock Exchange in March. Foreign chip companies also are establishing footholds in China, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which expects to start production this year at a $898 million Shanghai facility.
- Japan's Dai Nippon Printing Co. will provide advanced 90-nanometer technology masks used in semiconductor production to computer memory chipmaker ProMOS Technologies Inc. of Taiwan. ProMOS signed a long-term agreement with Dai Nippon on advanced technology masks, but it did not specify the level of technology beyond 90 nanometers, nor did the company disclose financial details of the deal. Semiconductor masks are a key part of the chip production process and can cost as much as $1 million each for newer ones used in state-of-the-art 12-inch chip plants. A chips' transistor components and the spaces between them are measured in nanometers.
Singapore / Malaysia / Philippines / Indonesia
Mobile / Wireless
- The number of mobile telephones in the Philippines is expected to hit 30 million by the end of this year. Industry leaders estimate that there are about 25 million cell phones in use in the Philippines currently. SMS or mobile phone "text" messages are wildly popular and are made possible by second generation mobile technology while 3G or third generation technology would enable full multimedia access including Internet telephony and video.
- International data carriers and companies they serve say Singapore is taking too long to implement a December ruling forcing the city-state's dominant local phone company to lower access charges. A senior executive at one of the carriers said the companies "are approaching an apoplectic state of concern. How can we have had six months of absolute silence on such an important issue?" Companies such as AT&T Corp., MCI Inc. and Cable & Wireless PLC first complained to Singapore regulators in October 2002 about the rates that Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. charges them for local leased lines -- access to the cables that link buildings in the city center to global data networks. As in most major cities, one company controls the final cable links to homes and buildings.
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