By Gail Nakada, CBS.MarketWatch.com
Bandwidth trading is coming to an Asian country near you.
RateXchange Corporation /zigman2/quotes/203237915/composite RTX +1.52% ) and Amerex Bandwidth are introducing RateXchange's electronic trading system in the key Asian-Pacific markets of Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia today. Using Amerex's existing offices to establish a physical presence, RateXchange and Amerex expect to gain immediate access to the Asian-Pacific markets. Carriers and ISPs' demand for additional bandwidth in the region is increasing to the point that RateExchange estimates the Asia Pacific bandwidth market could represent $300 million in annual gross merchandising value.
Created in the spring of 1999, Amerex Bandwidth, Ltd. is a sister company to Amerex Natural Gas, Inc. and Amerex Power, Inc. The three companies are part of the Amerex Group of Companies that provides risk management services, data services, trade execution and consulting services. "Amerex has 22 years of commodity trading experience in international oil and gas markets and trading bandwidth is a natural progression," said Mike Moore, President of Amerex Bandwidth. RateXchange and Amerex' hope their Asian-Pacific expansion timing will meet market pressures requiring suppliers and buyers to incorporate risk management practices, including bandwidth trading, into their organizations to effectively compete.
"The combination of RateXchange's Trading System ("RTS") with Amerex's brokering experience will accelerate adoption of the already emerging bandwidth trading practice by carriers in the region," said Eric R. Handa, Managing Director of RateXchange Asia-Pacific, based in Hong Kong.
AirFiber materializes broadband services out of thin air
Look! Up in the sky, is it a bird? Is it a plane? No - it's broadband! AirFiber, a privately held American company based in San Diego, is literally shooting broadband access through the air to buildings in urban areas via optical beams from rooftop transceivers.
"Fiber can take from six months to a year and a half to lay and that's even longer in Asia," Geoff Mordoch, manager of Air Fiber public relations, told CBS MarketWatch.com . "With Airfiber you bypass the huge cost of deploying fiber optic cable and can get your network up and running in a few days."
The OptiMesh network, based on wireless optical networking technology, delivers high-bandwidth access for voice, data and multimedia services over the air using invisible eye-safe lasers. The network links into a "mesh" through rooftop transceivers that receive and send voice, data and multimedia services. Investors and distributors like Nortel Networks are betting on the company to deliver broadband in dense to medium dense urban areas all over the world.
According to Mordock, just one building in the chain needs to have a fiber optic cable link, after that it really is "wireless". Redundant features provide carrier-grade reliability of 99.999 percent in even the most severe weather conditions -- that equals to a worst-case scenario of about five-minute service loss per year. (Wireless phones average around 99 percent reliability.) Buildings move and shift given hot and cold temperatures but the technology has dynamic links built in that automatically adjust the beams to these slight variations.
AirFiber ( http://www.airfiber.com/ ) had an exhibition booth at ITU Telecom Asia in Hong Kong in early December where it gave the first live demonstrations of wireless optical network technology in Asia to enthusiastic response particularly from emerging telecom carriers. The company is already deep in testing with Japanese telecom provider KDI - part of the KDDI group -- evaluating AirFiber's OptiMesh(tm) high-bandwidth (up to 622 Mbps) network to provide telecommunication services to companies in Japan as an alternative to fiber optic cable. Test trials have featured end-to-end application demonstrations including full-motion high-bandwidth video conferencing. The test period appears to be drawing to a close and though Airfiber will not discuss details of further contracts, KDI appears very enthusiastic about deploying the technology.
Japan already has an extensive (and exclusive) fiber optic network thanks to NTT but the rest of Asia, however, is racing to lay cable between cities. Waiting for that last mile from metropolitan networks into individual buildings is proving very costly for companies anxious to sell broadband services. Optical networking enables companies to stop waiting, quickly build the infrastructure, get to market and sell the service. Airfiber has already started licensing resellers in the region, just closing a deal with Comsyst in Australia to resell the technology in the market. "We're seeing a lot of interest from companies in China, particularly southern China, Hong Kong and Singapore," Mordock says.
Chinadotcom unit gobbles up Cyberimage
Chinadotcom's wholly owned subsidiary Web Connection has just announced a three-year buyout deal for Bangkok-based e-business services firm Cyberimage. Cyberimage has been part of Thailand's interactive industry since 1995 and boasts clients like Procter & Gamble /zigman2/quotes/202894679/composite PG +0.91% , GE Capital, Hitachi , Panasonic, Toyota /zigman2/quotes/207653022/delayed TOYOF -0.79% and Siam Cement.
The Cyberimage deal follows Web Connection's recent entry into Europe through its acquisition of Revolution in the UK, enabling the company to integrate Europe with the Venex (Japan) and XT3 (Australia) acquisitions into their Asia network base. Chinadotcom is counting on deals like these to nurse gross margins through access to lower cost resources. No financial details of the buyout were released.
Sina.com gets official go-ahead for Chinese content provider license
Sina.com is one of the first private companies to receive government approval by China's Ministry of Information Industry to upload content from China. Strict new regulations implemented in the fall of 2000 require commercial websites apply for government licensing to run Internet content sites. The content provider license will allow Sina.com to continue operating online content-based businesses.