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Tuesday, March 9, 1999 Published at 08:09 GMT


Hong Kong's speedy Net

Hong Kong Telecom's fibre-optics: Key to a faster future

By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall

Microsoft has signed a deal with Hong Kong's main Internet service provider which it says could revolutionise computer use in the territory.

Gates: Internet becoming more powerful
The project will provide a full-service high-speed Internet experience for Hong Kong residents.

The partnership with Hong Kong Telecom is called Zoom and will be a forerunner of the kind of broadband Internet services users around the world can expect in the future.

Jill McGivering in Hong Kong: "An important step towards the convergence of television and computers"
On offer for PCs and televisions in the next few months will be downloadable movies, music, online shopping, interactive gaming and the ability to run software over the Net.

The latter service echoes the network computer idea of Microsoft's rival, Oracle. It could allow someone to write a letter using rented time with Microsoft Word on Hong Kong Telecom's servers, rather than having a copy of the program on their computer's hard disk.

The innovation could help to thwart software pirates and change the way people use their computers and TVs enabled for interactivity.

Convergence of technologies

"Hongkong Telecom and Microsoft announced a strategic cooperation to develop high-speed broadband services that would allow Hong Kong to fully experience the convergence of low-cost personal computers and telecommunications technologies," a joint statement said.

[ image: Gates: Internet convert]
Gates: Internet convert
"The service will converge two distinct media technologies - the information-centric and inexpensive personal computer, and the image-based television - benefiting consumers, students and businesses dramatically."

Microsoft chief Bill Gates is visiting Hong Kong where he announced the deal with Hong Kong Telecom. He has been particularly concerned at how slow access speeds are affecting the growth in popularity and usefulness of the Internet.

But Hong Kong Telecom has an extensive fibre-optic network capable of delivering huge amounts of information at high speed. The company provides Net connections for up to 70% of local users.

Gates: World becoming a smaller place
Mr Gates told a news conference his company would join Hong Kong's proposed Cyberport project.

"We will participate in the Cyberport, making sure we put engineers and architects there so that all the companies have immediate access to any information of any Microsoft tools and things they want to get done," he said.

The £1bn project is envisioned as an international multi-media and information services centre which would attract new buildings equipped for high-speed, broadband networks.

Gates brings CE to Shenzhen

The Microsoft chief was due to travel on Wednesday to the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen and sign an agreement with six mainland Chinese computer companies to bring movies and Internet services to mainland television viewers, according to Bruce Ning, a public relations executive employed by Microsoft in China.

The products will be based on the Windows CE operating system.

The government-sponsored project will use advanced software developed in Microsoft's new research center in the Chinese capital of Beijing, Mr Ning said.

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