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Tuesday, 01 March 2005 18:00

News Roundup Extra 1 Mar 2005


Telstra upgrading ADSL

Telstra has begun upgrading its ADSL equipment to deliver internet services at speeds up to 16 times faster than are currently available.

The AustralianIT reports (1 March) that the carrier revealed the plan as South Australian internet service provider Internode launched Australia's first ADSL2 service today, which could deliver services five times faster than Telstra's ADSL. Other ISPs are also scrambling to boost ADSL speeds.

The paper quotes a Telstra spokesperson Patrick O'Beirne as saying that the carrier expected to install DSL equipment capable of up to 24Mbps in all exchanges by mid-2006.

The new equipment would support the next-generation ADSL2+ standard, expected to be ratified by the Australian Communication Industry Forum later this year.

Telstra was unable to say when the service would be made available commercially, according to The Australian.

The Australian says internet service providers using their own ADSL equipment have pushed the carrier into lifting a 1.5Mbps cap on its services. The report says that Agile Communications, the wholesale arm of Internode, began accepting customer orders for Australia's first ADSL2 service today following moves by iiNet and iPrimus to push the technical limits of DSL technology by offering internet access at speeds above Telstra's technical limit.

Internode turned on ADSL2 exchanges across South Australia and one Melbourne CBD location last week, and the ISP hopes to roll out equipment to enable ADSL2 across another 35 to 40 exchanges in metropolitan Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide by September, reports the paper.

Centrelink cancels software project

A $20 million Centrelink software project, mysteriously cancelled in mid-roll-out almost two years ago, is under investigation by the Australian National Audit Office, claims The AustralianIT in a report (1 March).

The paper reports that The Edge Project, described by Centrelink as an answer to data entry and data accuracy problems, and nominated by the agency for an industry award, was developed and partly installed over six years before being cancelled in 2003. The Audit Office is examining the management of the project, the contract with SoftLaw and the reasons for the halt.

According to The Australian, the Audit Office has questioned Centrelink and the Department of Family and Community Services as part of its audit, due to be released by early April.

According to Audit Office papers, says the paper, SoftLaw was contracted by the then Department of Social Security in 1997 to design a prototype expert software system that would deliver greater consistency in decisions on complex family assistance payments, and record the reasons for decisions.

The prototype was piloted and SoftLaw won a tender to develop Edge in 1999, says The Australian, adding that work started in March 2000 and a progressive roll-out began in July 2002 involving seven Centrelink offices.

Woolies supply chain revamp progressing well

Woolworths has passed the high-risk phase of its massive supply chain overhaul, with chief executive Roger Corbett saying the supply chain initiatives are well under way and "underpin our forecast cost reductions", according to a report in The AustralianIT (1 March).

The AustralianIT reports that, announcing its half year to January 2 results, Woolworths said for the half-year it spent $47 million (8.7 per cent of net capital expenditure) on IT and technology-related supply chain activities.

This year it expects to spend $122 million, or 15.5 per cent of forecast net capital expenditure, the paper reports, and since Project Refresh began in 1999 it had delivered cost savings amounting to 4.03 per cent of sales, a cumulative saving over the past five and half years of $3.2 billion, according to Mr Corbett.

The Australian says that according to Woolworths' results, installation of phase two of the project was well advanced and "many critical" IT facilities were complete. The distribution centre forecast-based replenishment system, Stocksmart, is fully operational, and it has improved DC inventory and service levels.

IBM top in Unix servers

IBM regained the top spot in Unix servers in the fourth quarter, market research firm IDC said.

The AustralianIT reports (1 March) that IBM, which continues to hold the No. 1 spot overall, ended the quarter with 38.2 per cent share of the overall server market revenues and a 36.3 per cent share of overall Unix server revenues, IDC said.
IBM's version of Unix, called AIX, competes with Sun's Solaris and Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX Unix operating systems.

The paper says that HP ended the fourth quarter at No.2 in both overall servers as measured by revenue and also No. 2 in the Unix market, according to data released by IDC.

The Australian reports that Sun Microsystems was the third largest server vendor, but it market share declined to 9.4 per cent in the fourth quarter from 10.3 per cent in the year-ago quarter, IDC said. Sun's unit shipments, however, rose 7.9 per cent. IBM widened its total share from 37.7 per cent a year ago and HP's share of server revenue inched up to 25.9 per cent from 25.7 per cent.

IBM had the largest year-over-year sales growth among the top five vendors with 26.1 per cent, IDC said, reports The Australian, adding that sales of servers that use the freely available Linux operating system generated $US1.3 billion ($1.65 billion) in revenue in the fourth quarter and accounted for 9 per cent of worldwide server revenue, IDC said.

Bank extends internet platform

Global banking group HSBC has extended its internet banking platform to business customers, and is testing new services for personal users, reports The AustralianIT (1 March).

The Australian reports that in a first for Australian users of internet banking services, HSBC is testing an account aggregation capability with a view to introducing it later this year. The service, provided to the bank by financial systems specialist eWise, will offer a wealth management summary for the bank's 100,000 personal internet banking customers, including details of accounts held with other financial services providers, says the paper.

The pilot, with 3500 local customers, began last year and the bank will decide its future in the next three months, securities services head Craig Keary said, reports The Australian.

The Australian reports that the bank already offers an integrated banking and broking service so that with a single log-on customers can access their bank details and broking account in the same browser window.

Optus technology restructure

Optus is finalising IT Morph, its internal technology restructure, saying it has created 40 new jobs, although there have been "a handful" of redundancies, The AustralianIT reports (1 March).

The project, which began in earnest in October, is designed to reduce reliance on external suppliers.
It also aims to restructure internal IT around three groups: customer care and billing, corporate IT, and project management, the paper reports.

The Australian says that over the next three to five years Optus expects to spend $100 million consolidating its IT systems.

The paper says that the program, overseen by information chief Soo Kee Ng, marks a major change of direction for Optus, which has relied on major IT services groups including Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

Optus told The Australian that the restructure would enable the company to make greater use of the IT services of parent SingTel.

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