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News Briefs (January 01, 2003)

CANADIAN FIRM JOINS NETWORKING OFFENSIVE AS WAR-TORN AFGHANS START REBUILDING PROCESSA Canadian IT specialist recently spent two weeks in Kabul training 42 public servants as part of a massive campaig...

January 1, 2003  

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A Canadian IT specialist recently spent two weeks in Kabul training 42 public servants as part of a massive campaign by the United Nations to repair Afghanistan’s heavily damaged telecommunications and structured cabling infrastructure.

Catherine Paquet, director of technical resources for IT training firm Global Knowledge Network (Canada) Inc., says that after 23 years of war, the need is so great that everything has to be rebuilt. Paquet volunteered for the assignment after Cisco Systems Corp. donated equipment to the Afghan government through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the UN’s provider of advice and grant support for nations in need. Global Knowledge donated course materials and training time.

While in Kabul, the Cisco-certified instructor oversaw the installation and configuration of a range of equipment including five 2900-series switches, a telco patch panel, perimeter router, two telephone gateways, a firewall and three routers.

As part of the 10-day workshop, Afghan public servants were taught about the technology during the day and performed installations at night. According to Paquet, there is a need for further donations of time, equipment and money to the war-torn country.

At press time, she was scheduled to return in February to deliver a second workshop.

“The Internet is the great equalizer,” says Paquet. “The country can only benefit by having the government, institutions, universities and its general population join the Internet community. Its recovery can be sped up by access to information by its business leaders, engineers, scientists, medical staff, teachers and students.”

In December, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) announced that it will provide emergency support to the government as part of a two-year project document signed between Masoom Stanekzai, Afghanistan’s minister of communications, and Hamadoun Toure, director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau.

“Afghanistan has moved backwards toward the Stone Age at a time when we need to enter the digital age,” the minister said. “We need the assistance of an impartial international organization like ITU to ensure we again move forward in telecommunications development.”

In readiness for a large-scale deployment of wireless communication services, ITU will also play a role in the planning and management of a national frequency spectrum, develop a national frequency plan and install a spectrum management system.

Further information on both agencies is available at and


Global IT spending will grow modestly this year and WiFi will be a rare bright spot for the telecom industry, according to the Aberdeen Group’s 2003 IT Outlook.

The Boston, Mass. consulting firm is predicting an overall IT growth rate of four to five per cent annually through 2006. “We simply do not see the compelling reasons for user organizations to spend heavily on technology — whether on new hardware or software or on upgrades to existing technology — that had existed during the years of hyper growth,” it said.

“Moreover, IT spending at 3.5-4.25 per cent of a developed nation’s economy can no longer outstrip the growth rate of the economy itself over the long term.”

In terms of WiFi, Abderdeen sees three distinct markets: WiFi to enterprises; to and in residences; and in public hot spots such as airports.

The globalization of outsourcing will be another important trend this year since “more an more corporations are realizing significant cost savings by outsourcing their IT infrastructure and application lifecycle functions,” Aberdeen said.


Optical Ethernet is riding high in municipalities around the world, states a new report from the Yankee Group.

New services being offered include geographical information services to provide sky-view property photos, land gradings, and more accurate real estate evaluations; enhancement to 911 services and online video training for municipal employees.

From Milwaukee, Wis. to Ste. Hyacinthe, Que., the decision to build an optical Ethernet network is being aided by a number of factors, the first of which is cost. As an example, Milwaukee estimates it will save at least US$15 million over the next 10 years by building its own network.


The compelling need to protect modem communication networks in data centres, base stations and co-location sites from power disturbances is driving the demand for power quality (PQ) equipment and services in North America

New analysis from research firm Frost & Sullivan reveals that a market, which generated revenues valued at US$4.95 billion last year is expected to reach US$6.26 billion by 2006.

The San Jose, Calif. research firm concludes that the economic slowdown has strengthened the PQ services market, despite curtailed capital expenditure. Vendors are offering preventive maintenance programs and value add-ons such as double battery life and shorter changing times to counter intense price competition.

Inconsistent power quality is also raising investment in back-up facilities such as uninterruptible power supplies, direct current power systems and transient voltage surge suppressors.

“The wherewithal to offer total power quality solution for specific end-users, development of customized products with zero tolerance for downtime and real-time remote monitoring facilities are likely to drive future growth,” said Vishal Sapru, an analyst and co-author of the report.


An Ottawa firm is now offering a Web-based cable management service that allows organizations to manage and control their structured cabling infrastructure without having to purchase and install expensive software tools and hire qualified personnel.

According to Geoff Oakes, chief operating officer of TracNet Services, the recent launch of its Managed Service Provider (MSP) model eliminates the need and hassle of updating cable management system tools.

“Managing networks and cable plant tends to happen when staff can get to it,” he says. “Most of their time is spent putting out fires.”

TracNet Cable Management is a mapping and database tool that the company says, will enhance the coordination and management of cabling assets; moves, adds and changes (MACs) to the infrastructure; and network infrastructure design, connectivity and configuration.

A reporting module also allows authorized users to track and manage an infrastructure’s assets by location, type, vintage and capacity in real-time. The service is designed for organizations with multiple buildings or facilities, sites in different locations and those with a campus environment.

Pricing is based on the number of managed ports within an organization. As an example, the monthly fee for a 5,000 port infrastructure would be an estimated $2,500.


Communications network service provider Cygnal Technologies Corp. has sold an Avaya Inc. converged infrastructure and Internet Protocol (IP) telephony system to Vantis Credit Union of Winnipeg, Man.

The $250,000 offering, which will be installed and supported by Cygnal’s telecom networks group, will form the basis of Vantis Credit Union’s new communications network infrastructure. The network will help the company integrate disparate systems acquired through the October 2002 merger of Hy-line Credit Union and Decibel Credit Union.

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