Thursday, December 02, 2010

Verceles: Blueprint for National Internet Exchange - Will it happen in the Aquino administration?

I got the chance to catch up lately with former Congressman Leandro Verceles Jr. For newbies in the Internet community, Verceles is a major proponent and co-author of important IT-related legislations in the country such as Y2K Law and E-Commerce Law. He is also the man behind RPWeb that mandates government to connect online and use it as a means to render public service.

Shared with him the paper written by Tunde Fafunwa on the Need for a National Internet Exchange where the urgency for such is amplified or else the quality of our Internet infrastructure will degrade in the long run. Having a local Internet exchange will provide more reasons as well for sites to be hosted locally rather than route all Internet traffic abroad.

The Need for a True National Internet Exchange (Philippines) - V1.2 by Tunde Fafunwa of Kitskoo.com

This issue is not new anymore and discussed from time to time for a decade now. Verceles sent me quite a lengthy reply on this and decided to publish it in full.

I am hopeful that for as long as the local Internet community keeps clamoring for better Internet, there is still chance for a National Internet Exchange to be implemented in the country. I guess it is only a question of whether President Noynoy Aquino will take the leadership and mandate the players to make it happen.

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My comments on the “NATIONAL INTERNET EXCHANGE” and a suggested BLUEPRINT for its immediate implementation and sustainability

by Leandro Verceles Jr. (former Congressman of Catanduanes 1992-2001)

I am quite surprised that it has been a decade now and the viable “National Internet Exchange” (“NIE”) concept continues to remain a concept. As then congressman and chairman of the Congressional Sub-Committee of Information Technology (1992-2001), I had advocated for the realization of this important infrastructure item to pole-vault the growth of the then sunrise IT industry. Starting with RPWEB (1997) that mandated internet connectivity in every government division office numbering in the thousands and the E-Commerce Act (2000), both of which I humbly had authored, it was the intention eventually that a NIE would come to be to handle the steadily growing internet traffic in the country.

The creation of the NIE would give more sense to and reduce the cost of expensive bandwidth for our telcos and ISPs. The choking point is that pipe from the Philippine gateways to the international internet grid, most likely ending up in the United States. By avoiding this pipe in the transmitting and receiving of data, traffic from the Philippines meant for the Philippines would be less congested, less delayed, and will translate to savings for the local carriers and users of bandwidth. Business wise, it would really have made good sense for the telcos if they had set up a NIE in the country.

I would suppose that the normal distrust of the stakeholders, most especially among the telcos, with having a supposed neutral entity to run the NIE has been a deterrent to its set-up. An organizational model that would be acceptable to the stakeholders, most especially to the telcos, has so far eluded the industry. Likewise, the distrust of government to be that neutral entity has likewise been a consideration.

With confidence on the present administration to level the playing field starting with the President’s strong support for private sector-public sector joint ventures and a non-sense regulatory environment to be demonstrated by minimal government interference and equal treatment to all, government should try once again to get the industry stakeholders together.

The Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) with the participation of the DOTC and the NTC can take hold of this great opportunity and invite the stakeholders, most importantly the telcos, in a sit down conference to work out a strategy leading to the creation of the NIE. At this juncture, the stakeholders have nothing to lose if they attend the conference. Coffee will be free and snacks should also be served and the air-conditioning cold to make it as comfortable as possible so all will stay for the talks. Telcos sponsors of the conference should be avoided.

Invited should be no less than at least executive vice presidents of industry stakeholders, most especially the telcos, to ensure that the talks will start at a high level. If that proves difficult, then go to Plan B, that is, the occasion may be graced by the President himself even for 30 minutes only. With President Aquino there, it is the hope that there will be enough excitement and gentle persuasion for the CEOs and presidents of the telcos to come to the conference and involve their companies in the NIE.

Once there is positivity amongst the invited stakeholders to at least explore the possibility of creating the NIE then the work can be left with the stakeholders’ middle management to work out the figures, details and implementing activities.

Taking the lead in trying to get the stakeholders to come up with a NIE may be a special task group coming from the CICT. But it must be very clear that the participation of the CICT is not to run the NIE or put it under their jurisdiction but only to get the stakeholders together. The end product (a NIE) will be the creation of stakeholders themselves. The DOTC and the NTC can assign officers to be seconded to the CICT to help the stakeholders navigate the complicated government regulations.

Some ideas for consideration in the set-up of the NIE:
  • The CICT, DOTC and the NITC should not have jurisdiction in the policy making or implementation of the NIE as the latter is strictly a private endeavor. But as an expression of the government’s sincere efforts to ensure the long-term existence of the NIE, the CICT, DOTC and the NITC can assign officers or offices to support the needs of the NIE if assistance is so desired.

  • The NIE may be non-profit corporation fashioned after the United Nations organization to give the telcos comfort. Like the UN security council, there may be a council/board comprising of about 12 members wherein the major telcos will be permanent members such that a veto vote from any of them on any measure will immediately cause the rejection of that measure. The chairman of the council/board does not vote and may be determined by rotation and better if he is not representing a major telco. Other members of the council/board composed of the smaller telcos and ISPs, who incidentally are also members in the bigger general assembly (to be discussed later below) can be rotated to seat in the council/board. But all the members of the council/board must be members of said bigger general assembly akin to the UN General Assembly. All major and minor telcos and ISPs of the general assembly will have one vote each. The measures voted upon in the general assembly may be expressions of ideas translated into resolutions of the industries represented and like activities. These measures are recommendatory in nature but in relevant cases, may be elevated to the council/board if said measures are of a character that will need the cooperation and implementation of the major telcos who are permanent members of said council/board. Working committees can be established with their outputs sent to the council/board or the general assembly.

  • The NIE can also be the institution that will unify the IT industry. The NIE as a whole will become the most persuasive organization that will work hand in hand with government to ensure maximum growth and a healthy and harmonious business environment of our domestic IT industry, which, steadily with the BPO industry, is becoming a major contribution to the nation’s GDP. To include the BPO and computer industries including non-profit organizations representing them as members of the general assembly (not as permanent members of the council/board) may be worth considering.

  • Quarterly financial contribution of the members of the general assembly (and council/board) should be based on their estimated usage of the exchange gauged by their bandwidth access requirements. Failing to pay the quarterly financial contributions will mean losing temporarily voting rights in the general assembly and the council/board as the cases may be. This should even apply to the major telcos who are permanent members of the council/board. Otherwise other parameters of cost sharing can be explored. But for the initial set-up, physical works and electronics, etc. the telcos inasmuch as they are more capable, should contribute more, either in cash or in kind. In exchange the telcos get permanent seats in the council/board and veto rights.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Social Networking most important Internet activity for Filipinos


According to TNS Digital Life, social networking is the most important activity among Filipino Internet users at 44%. This is followed by:

  • emailing 36%
  • gaming 24%
  • knowledge & planning 19%
  • multimedia 6%
  • organizing 1%
  • news, weather, and sports 5%
  • personal interest 3%
  • shopping 2%
  • browing 2%
  • admin 0%

TNS just launched its Digital Life site showing Internet statistics and social media habits as of September 2010. Out of almost 100 million population, it is estimated that the country has 29.7 million Internet users. Average age of the Filipino Internet user is 22.7 years old spending an average of 10 hours online per week with 171 e-friends.

TNS also observed that majority of Filipino Internet users Digital Lifestyle is that of the "aspirers" at 83%. Newbies accessing the Internet from home using the personal computer and mobile phone who are learning to do more of everything online. This is followed by:
  • communicators 11% (active talking to people online via email, instant messaging, social networking, etc.)
  • influencers - 3% (can be an active blogger, passionate social network user, online shopper, and has many social network friends.)
  • knowledge seekers 2% (interested in the latest things and use social network or related platforms to pursue such)
  • networkers 1% (likes to use social networks and open talking to brands. Does not voice opinion online.)
Related research:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stickiest websites for Filipino Internet Users

Using estimates generated by Double Click Ad Planner by Google, the following sites have high page views or stickiness among Filipino Internet users. (data covers September 2010)


Some thoughts to ponder on the image:

  1. Facebook active users count is at 10 million for the Philippines generating 3.9 billion page views.
  2. Google and YouTube traffic data not available for the Philippines which is a bit ironic. Am expecting Google to share their own data too as much as it encourages others to do so.
  3. Friendster still has an active user community that can't be counted out.
  4. Tagged users are very active in checking out profiles (which I assume includes photos). Its visitors also drops by dating sites.
  5. Sulit and AyosDito are top 2 Pinoy sites most visited by Filipinos.
  6. Habits of Filipino online gamers are changing as they focused more on games that are integrated in social networks.
  7. Noting Multiply, Blogger, and Tumblr as popular blog sites for Pinoys.
  8. Growing number of Pinoys spending their time in online service marketplace oDesk to get freelance projects.
  9. When counter-checking the list with Alexa, a lot of the sites listed in Alexa have low count in Double Click Ad Planner.
  10. There are 1.5 million active Twitter users in the Philippines.
Look forward to your thoughts.

Dataset:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Winners of free delegate pass: The Digital Ripple: 4th Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit 2010

Many thanks to those who joined our free delegate pass contest for the The Digital Ripple: 4th Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit 2010 organized by the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines. This will be on August 19 and 20 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City.

Search Profile Index by 4th Media Internet Technology Corporation is an exhibitor in this conference.

The winners are:
  1. JayL of Blog-PH.com
  2. Leah Valle
Note that this slot is not transferable. Congratulations to the winners!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Get a free delegate pass: The Digital Ripple: 4th Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit 2010



The Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP) is organizing The Digital Ripple 4th Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit 2010 at SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City this August 19 and 20, 2010. They are giving away two (2) delegate passes to this event.

Should you like to participate and hope to get one of the passes, this is what you have to do:
  1. Make a blog entry about the The Digital Ripple 4th Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit 2010 and cite why you like to attend this two-day event.
  2. Your blog post must have a link to the following:
    link 1: The Digital Ripple 4th Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit 2010 at http://www.immapsummit.com/speakers.php
    link 2: Follow IMMAP on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/immapPH
    link 3: Monitor #immap summit discussions via Twitter at http://twitter.com/immapPH
  3. Add a Facebook "like" button to your blog post to enable your readers to give a thumbs up.
  4. Post a comment to this blog entry and give me the url link where your entry can be found.
Deadline for submission of entries is on August 7, 2010. We will list and link to all entries that get submitted here.

Two winners will be chosen based on:
  • First winner shall be based on most number of Facebook likes or thumbs up from readers. Deadline for counting of likes will be on August 9 (before 12 midnight).
  • Second winner will be based on the blog post story - why do you want to attend the summit.
The 2 winners who will get one delegate pass each shall be posted here on or before August 10.
I hope you can join and see you at the 
The Digital Ripple 4th Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit 2010!


Search Profile Index by 4th Media I.T. Corp. is an exhibitor in this conference. Chilline Tagaytay will also raffle an overnight weekday stay for delegates who will check in via Foursquare in the said event.



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chowking, Jollibee, Greenwich, Red Ribbon to Launch Integrated E-Commerce Fast Food Chain Site and Delivery Service



Just got word from Manolo Almagro, Head of the Digital Team at Jollibee Foods Corporation that the company is launching the e-commerce initiative of the 4 brands in coming months. It will start with Chowking (soft launch on March 31) and Jollibee (soft launch on April 19). Followed by Greenwich and finally Red Ribbon (both will have soft launch schedule sometime this May).

The initial delivery area is limited to Metro Manila and shall be expanded to other delivery areas over time.

However, what will make this effort different is the integration, Almagro explained, "There will be a site that will allow for cross brand ordering. You can order from any of the 4 brands and mix and match a meal."

I was able to take a sneak peak at one of them and like the easy to use interface. Gave some suggestions on how can it be improved further after trying out to pick my favorite food order online.

Like in the case of Jollibee, a sample order would comprise of 2-piece burger steak, macaroni soup, chocolate sundae, and pineapple juice (plus a champ or yum burger with cheese take out). Their coffee is one of the best too.

For Chowking, a sample order would either be Spicy Chaofan / siomai, Kings Congee, or Beef Wanton Noodles (Mami). Then buchi and pineapple juice. I am also a big fan of their Kings Special breakfast and hope that can also be ordered online. However, since Chowking has a wide variety of individual and group food menus, I'm sure this site will be an exciting one to watch.

I consider the soups, desert and drinks as add-ons and I think they should appear on the side-bar as options after one picks a main meal order.

Although I think it is possible that there are two types of customers: (which of the two are you?)
  1. Shop and choose. Those who want to look at the menu and pick.
  2. Just give an order right away. Where a form with drop down menu option would suit best for fast transaction. (Well it is fast food to begin with.)
It is interesting when Manolo said that the 4 sites will have similar user experience (design) and ordering interfaces -- but each shall have unique branding. This uniformity will make it easier for users to shop from one brand site to the other without having to take much effort in re-learning the interface.

"The concept is that if we design each site to have similar ordering building experience, we will be able to leverage on the institutional knowledge that will be built up over time. It is much like how ATMs work, if you use one- then you can pretty much use them all – regardless of what network they are on.

We’ve integrated these directly into our delivery call-centers. It will allow people that have ordered online to already be registered as customers for phone in orders."

Special features of the upcoming e-commerce sites also include:
  • “Share-this” - a widget that will allow people to post recommendations of their favorite meals on their social media networks,
  • The ability for registered users to save their previous orders. This way, they can place an order in seconds – as their “usual” order.
The sites shall be built on Magento - an open source e-commerce engine. It is the same platform used by companies like The North Face, GAP, Old Navy, and Stussy.

The Digital Team of Jollibee Food Corporation is a new group that was created in June 2009 (when Manolo moved to the Philippines from the US). It is a cross discipline group of marketing, digital, and software development skill sets. It is part of Jollibee Corporate and work across all of its brands.

To monitor the launch developments, follow the brands at Twitter @iwantjollibee @ilovechowking @greenwich @iwantredribbon

I recall that my first time in doing online ordering was around 1999-2001 and have done so several times. The funny thing then was that we were using dial-up Internet connection. So after ordering, we have to hang-up the Internet connection and wait for the phone call for our food order to be confirmed. But these days, with more advanced Internet connectivity, things should be easier.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sulit.com.ph shall adopt Sure Seal & Sure Pass Trustmark for its Sellers and Buyers

RJ David, CEO of Sulit.com.ph, announced that they will give higher importance to advertisements posted by authenticated sellers in their site. The authentication shall be carried out through their partnership with Qartas Corporation, a company offering Trustmark certification service for Philippine-based websites to ensure a safe and responsible environment for the conduct of online trade and business transactions.

Sulit.com.ph is one of the most popular classified ads posting forum site in the Philippines. It has more than half a million members with 800 to 900 new members signing up daily. As of to date, the site has accommodated up to 2 million ads posted on the site. Around 2000 to 3000 ads get posted on a daily basis.

Its popularity made the site attractive also to those committing fraud, scam, and identity theft. As a result, due to feelings of uncertainty by both buyers and sellers, a lot of transactions happen offline.

Moving forward, Sulit.com.ph shall be giving priority to authenticated sellers in listing of ads and will have the utility to control the personal information one desires to share on an as-per-request basis.

Sulit.com.ph partners with Qartas Corporation to validate legitimacy of sellers and buyers by authenticating the details they post about themselves. This in turn, RJ David hopes will also increase overall trust to products and services marketed through the site.

Qartas offers three types of certification:

  • The Sure Pass Personal is the verification service for independent entrepreneurs or individual sellers. This is applicable for professional service providers like programmers, copywriters, graphic artists, or micro entrepreneurs. The fee for this is two thousand five hundred pesos (P2500).
  • The Sure Pass Business is the verification service for BIR, DTI or SEC registered small enterprises (Sole Proprietor, company below 2 yrs tenure) looking to have their business credentials verified. The verification process includes verifying all legal documentations of your business. The fee for this service is five thousand pesos per year (P5000).
  • The Sure Seal Premium verification service is for established businesses (at least 2 yrs. tenure) registered with the BIR, DTI and SEC. This also includes claims, ocular, and privacy policy verification consistent with International APEC Data Privacy Standards. The fee for this service is sixteen thousand eight hundred pesos (P16,800) per year.


I first heard about the new service, Sure Pass, when Jovel Cipriano shared this in the last E-Commerce Summit. It is meant for individual sellers to assert themselves as credible individuals to deal with. (I will be personally getting this)

The Sulit.com.ph and Qartas Corporation announced their partnership as part of the Philippines 1st Data Privacy Celebration event earlier today (January 28) at EDSA Shangri-la Hotel, Mandaluyong City. Top sellers of Sulit.com.ph community and other industry players were invited to discuss the importance of data privacy, how integrating trustmarks in websites help in increasing conversion rates, and the growing concern on internet fraud.

Data Privacy Day, an international event that is celebrated on January 28th in the United States, Canada, and 27 European countries in an effort to raise awareness and generate discussion about data privacy and protection.

The event is graced by speakers Dir. Maria Lourdes Yaptichay (DTI E-Commerce Office), Jun Malacaman (representing Usec. Vertus Gil, National Cyber Security Awareness Coordination Office, NCC) , Atty. JJ Disini, and Jovel Cipriano of Qartas Corporation.

My take on data privacy is that it is a personal Internet user responsibility. Companies and other parties getting information from you can only abuse the data you shared will depend if you will allow them to do so. However, when you exercise your right not to give information that you feel is unnecessary (and this I do whenever I get asked to fill up forms offline), you'll realize that they can't force you to give details that you refuse - especially when data privacy is used as an argument. Here are other examples where you can assert your right to data privacy:

  • Person calls your home claiming to be from a credit card company and wanting to get the contact information of a relative who is not home. Best to ask the person's number and tell that you'll have your relative return the call. I have experience in this area where the person who called can't give such information and be contacted back, I argue "how do I know that you are indeed from that credit card company".
  • Be wary when your personal information is being asked through e-mail. This is most true to passwords.
  • Be wary when a site asks too much information that is no longer related to become part of the service.

JJ Disini gave a lot of insight about data privacy, specifically informational privacy. Here is what he presented during the Social Networking Conference 2009 that also tackles the topic with focus on privacy in social networks.


Find more videos like this on DigitalFilipino Club Community

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Friendster focuses on Youth, Security, Online Shopping, & Advertising in 2010


Last month, I got the chance to exchange e-mails with Ian Stewart, Head of Asia of Friendster. We first met during the Social Networking and eBusiness Conference 2009 and it was a thrill listening to all the insights he shared about the youth and why he thinks this segment is exciting.
After 8 months with Friendster, I thought this will already be a good time to ask about developments forthcoming and here it goes:

Janette Toral: You mentioned in the last Social Networking and e-Business Conference the acceptance of the fact that Friendster will always cater to the young. This in Philippines context is nearly 50% of the Internet user population. What activities or features will you be anchoring on to keep that segment loyal to the social network?

Ian Stewart: 80% of our users are under 24, and most of them belong to 3-4 social networking site (SNS). We have the opportunity to be the best site for them and their friends to hang out on. Key drivers for youth online are gaming and music, and these will be key areas of focus for us moving forward. Expect to see a lot more from us in these areas early 2010.

Janette: There has been a lot of talk about cyber bullying that occurs in social networks like Friendster and this includes accounts being hacked, fake profiles created, anonymous profiles created bashing teachers, classmates, school, etc. What is Friendster's point of view or stand on cyber bullying? What is the social network doing about it and fast turn around policy or process in place to ensure that Friendster won't be taken advantage of for such purpose?

Ian: We take site safety and security very seriously, and have both internal service teams and external partners working to ensure that Friendster remains a good environment to be in. Complaints are dealt with on the spot, and our rules of engagement are clearly spelt out. This will only grow in importance moving forward, as those online demand more and more privacy and safety features from their favorite sites.

Janette: Multiply has taken steps to carve its niche in the area of e-commerce. With the young being encouraged to become entrepreneurial, is that a direction that Friendster aims to explore too? If yes, how? If not, why not and what would be the main focus?

Ian: We believe that the inherent trust of friendship communities is perfect for social shopping. Knowing you are selling your goods to a friend, a friend of a friend, or a friend of a friend of a friend (!) will encourage more people to transact, buy and sell online. Other sites are exploring this too. For Friendster our recent partnership and then acquisition by online payment provider Money Online (MOL) is a clear sign of our intent in this space moving forward.

Janette: I have tried Friendster self-service advertising for 2 to 3 campaigns and apparently disappointed on the reporting tools and lack of control once the campaign is rolled out. What areas of growth can we expect in this area happening this 2010?

Ian: We dived into self-service ads in 2009 to offer more advertising solutions to our users and to advertisers. We have received a lot of feedback on where we are to date with this feature and are working on strengthening the backend as we speak. This is also a revenue growth area for us to get right moving forward.
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