Tuesday, March 29, 2011

香港為何對中國互聯網自由問題冷感

上週日,筆者參與了香港記者協會主辦的金堯如新聞自由獎頒獎禮兼研討會,題目為「如何利用互聯網突破新聞封鎖」。不知道為什麼,近年來這題目無論什麼時間討論,都是合時的...

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

電訊業也有話要說!

兩周前本欄《無限數據計劃壽終正寢?》一文,在網上獲得不少正面回應,不過,也有一位筆者非常敬重的電訊業前輩,找了筆者出來詳談,他對筆者說:「別人不明白,你也應該知道業界的情況吧!」

筆者當然明白業界所面對的難處,也了解業者聽到有人說他們「賺到盡」時的感受。前輩解釋,電訊業者無法控制生產商推出越來越強的終端裝置,這些智能電話和平板電腦的速度和通訊量,真的是前所未有;當然他們也藉這些電話和電腦的銷售賺取利潤,越來越多的高用量用戶的壓力是存在的,而且非用者自付形式的收費模式,對其他用戶並不公平;在英美等國家,流動電訊商已開始引進無限數據以外的其他收費計劃。

開放競爭 行業挑戰大

筆者認為,「誤會」都是由缺乏了解和溝通引起。用戶在無限數據收費計劃上,並非想佔電訊商「着數」,他們只是不想失去無限數據計劃,若然訊息只被簡化為一刀切地「取消」無限數據收費計劃,不難令用戶聯想為變相加價。如果電訊商提出較清楚的數據支持,引進新的分層收費計劃,會否對用戶們更公平呢?而且,在電訊業存在有效競爭情況下,消費者選擇較有保障,筆者也不太相信所有電訊商能夠聯手取消某類型收費計劃。

電訊的開放競爭令用戶有更多選擇,筆者相信在過去近 20年間亦有助服務多元化,餅也變得更大。不過,行業的可持續發展亦面臨挑戰。電訊行業投資大、回報低,除不易吸引投資者,作為香港重要產業之一,也不容易吸引年輕人入行,這才是最嚴重的危機!

前輩告訴筆者,他近年已透過各式各樣的渠道,向業界內外尤其年輕人介紹我們電訊業的實況和機會;電訊業界有他這些有心人,是業界和香港的福氣。

2011年3月26日 刋載於《蘋果日報》

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

資訊科技界看財政預算案:「唔收貨」

香港政府的二零一一至二零一二年財政預算案,由於政府又再錄得巨額盈餘,但社會對如何處理這些屬於香港人的財產,政府應該如何對香港的未來作適當的規劃,政府和市民之間意...

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

電訊商通報機制欠透明

日本發生 9級大地震,互聯網發揮重要正面作用。在 3月 11日地震發生的下午起,日本不少市民,甚至在日本的香港旅客都報告,無線和固網電話都不能打通,很多人都要依賴手機的數據互聯網服務,向家人報平安。

近年每次在東亞地區發生嚴重地震後,海底電纜都受損,影響亞洲甚至全世界的互聯網服務,這次的大地震也不例外。在地震後的一兩日開始,香港的網民也留意到部份互聯網服務供應商接駁海外網站的速度,受到不同程度的影響,有些用戶還以為 facebook和 MSN這些服務都停止了。

港監管機構曾捱轟

根據香港網民報道,香港兩家主要互聯網服務供應商,正是一度受最大影響的公司,但亦有不少供應商似乎未受影響。不過,香港的互聯網服務供應商,實在也沒有向用戶提供任何具體的電纜損壞和服務受影響的資料,令用戶只能在網上論壇和社交媒體上七嘴八舌,但完全缺乏事實資料。

事實上,數年前兩次台灣大地震令海底電纜受損事故後,香港的相關監管當局曾受到批判,指電訊商都未能快速向用戶甚至監管當局提供相關資訊,事後香港的電訊管理局與業界訂出新守則,要求電訊商就事故作通報。那麼,這次事故後發生了甚麼事?電訊商有否即時向電管局通報?

也許因為缺乏資料,坊間甚至部份業界人士,都曾經流傳一些未必準確的訊息和建議。例如,有人在網上傳言,最好不要進入日本的網站,以免令日本網絡擠塞,影響救援;然後也有網民反駁,指這說法沒有根據。事實上,這次地震損毀了的日本東岸以外的電纜,主要是連接日本和美國之間,日本本土電訊基建,除了災區外其實問題不大,所以日本本土的互聯網連繫沒有太大擠塞問題。

若說影響日本對外互聯網接駁的速度,除非是大量上下載網絡遊戲或觀看網上影片等,否則不會有甚麼影響,而且,若真的要節約日本對外的頻寬,最好連美國等海外網絡服務也別去了,因為都要經過日本。

由此可見,當局最好能將正確訊息發放,以免其他人好心但亂猜,小則以訛傳訛,大則引起不必要恐慌。問題始終是,我們有從以前的事故中學習和吸取教訓嗎?

2011年3月19日 刋載於《蘋果日報》

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

臨時撥款議案小事化大是無知定有意?

特區政府在上週三向立法會提交臨時撥款議案,「意外」不獲通過,以致令政府有可能在四月一日至來年度財政預算案通過前無法運作。泛民把對財政預算案的不滿,「發洩」於這個...

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Who can change Stephen Lam's mind...誰能改變林瑞麟?

林瑞麟肯定不聽建制派議員要求他擴大功能組別了,但最後他還是在IT加了些「東西」(卻不是別的東西),究竟只有誰能改變林瑞麟?

The following is from the Hon Raymond Ho Chung-tai, Legislative Councilor for the Engineering Functional Constituency, in the LegCo news part of the newsletter of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers (HKIE).

Evident from the following, Stephen Lam, Secretary of Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, has told every other associations asking to broaden or rationalize the electorate base of functional constituencies to "go home." So, this only makes his proposal (now passed into law!) to include certain association in the IT FC even more glaringly unorthodox in the way it was handled.

Who can possibly interfere and tell Mr Lam what to do, despite his insistence that there be no "substantial changes?" You tell me.


Proposal on broadening the electorate base of Engineering and Information Technology Functional Constituencies

In 2005, with the endorsement of the Council of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE), I made a proposal on including Graduate Members and Associate Members of the HKIE in the Engineering Functional Constituency electorate and Associate Members in the IT Functional Constituency electorate respectively. Unfortunately, it did not fit in with the scope of the amendments proposed by the government at that time. Recently, I wrote to Mr Stephen Lam, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, asking him to revisit the subject. Without adopting my proposal, Mr Lam indicated in his reply that there should be no substantial changes to the traditional functional constituencies, which is the government's general policy position in the light of the new election arrangement in 2012 LegCo election. Without giving up, I wrote to the Chairmen of both Associate Members Committee and Young Members Committee of the HKIE to bring their attention to the forthcoming meeting of the Bills Committee on Chief Executive Election (Amendment) Bill 2010 and Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2010, of which I am a member. The meeting on 15 January 2011 was to receive views from deputations and individuals on the Bill.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

無限數據計劃壽終正寢?

流動網絡供應商數碼通和 CSL先後「放風」,指因為數據流量大幅提升,增加網絡負荷,可能將要取消無限數據收費計劃,網上有些智能手機和平板電腦的用戶便開始擔心,無憂地上網的日子無多了!

然而,香港的 3G無線資料網絡,真的已經這麼擠壓嗎?筆者相信,網絡商要提供更多數據資料支持這個說法,而非「想當然」地要用戶相信。有些網絡商指,有些高用量用戶使用其賬戶不斷「睇片」,拖慢其他用戶的使用速度,並不公平,不過,即使如此,最公平的解決方法,也非「一刀切」地取消無限數據計劃。

影響與客戶和諧關係

事實上,要處理少數用戶大量下載而可能引致的問題,尚有很多可以解決的方法,包括限制他們使用的應用程式、連續使用的時間等,不少網絡商其實已經這樣做(雖然有些人士認為這其實是對高用量用戶不公平),網絡商不一定要以取消無限數據計劃為主要考慮。

反而,如果無限數據計劃真的被取消了,可以肯定的,是用戶誤用數據服務而被收取高昂費用,因而引發的投訴個案,必定大量增加,影響網絡商與客戶之間的「和諧」關係,增加網絡商的客戶服務成本,網絡商隨時得不償失。網絡商近年在數據服務上獲利甚豐,幾家公司都創出盈利新高,若因這樣改變來趕走客戶,實在非常短視。

不過,在一個真正自由公平競爭的環境,有人辭官歸故里,也自然有人漏夜趕科場,一兩家公司說不,應會有其他公司說,讓我來提供無限數據計劃吧。如果所有的公司都一同取消,就很有問題了,身為監管者的電訊管理局必須留意事態發展。

那麼為甚麼流動網絡商要這時提出這些考慮呢?因為他們看到用戶對智能手機和平板電腦的鍾愛,可能已經令他們不能自拔,最後無論網絡商真的取消無限數據計劃,或只不過找個理由加價,都只可接受。

但是更可能的背後原因,應該是因為 3G轉 4G的日子不遠了,網絡商想在現時的 3G網絡「賺到盡」,和企圖預先抵銷轉向 4G網絡初期的投資成本,換句話說,在速度更快、數據上下載成本也便宜得多的 4G來臨前,先加價再製造減價感覺的手法,都是可以估計得到的。

2011年3月12日 刋載於《蘋果日報》

IT360 #23: 2011-2012 Budget Survey 財政預算案問卷調查


2011-2012 Budget Survey 財政預算案問卷調查

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Internet gurus gather in Hong Kong

For two weeks in February, the best and brightest of the Internet world gathered in Hong Kong for what turned out to be the largest Internet community gathering in the Asia Pacific region -- APRICOT-APAN 2011.

APRICOT stands for Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies, and APAN means Asia Pacific Advanced Network. The former (APRICOT) is the annual conference of the Asia Pacific Internet Association (APIA), and has since 1996 become the biggest event for Internet service providers, public network builders and technologists, while the latter (APAN) is made up of national laboratories and universities researchers who need to build and maintain high-speed networks for their research and development activities in all kinds of different applications, including medicine and other scientific research.

APRICOT was first held in Hong Kong back in 1997, attended by no more than a few hundred people, who gathered to share knowledge in the early days of commercial Internet services in Asia. Obviously, Hong Kong and Asia have come a long way since then -- back in 1996, we had more Internet users in Hong Kong than all of mainland China. Today, there are an estimated 500 million Netizens on the mainland.

This is the first time APRICOT-APAN was held concurrently, and the event was successful beyond our wildest imaginations -- over 1,500 participants from more than 60 countries around the world, including not only Asia Pacific but Europe, the Americas and Africa. It's especially important for us to showcase Hong kong to the world for our unique presence in this region in terms of network deployment, service excellence and regulatory openness, and with APRICOT-APAN, I believe we have done just that.

We were also fortunate to have Dr Vint Cerf -- one of the founders of the Internet and Google's Chief Internet Evangelist -- and Dr Ya-Qin Zhang, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Head of Microsoft's Asia Pacific Research Lab, as our opening keynote speakers. I've had the privilege of knowing Vint for many years, and he has always been like a kind father to all of us in the global Internet community, working on common forums such as the Internet Society (Vint was the founding chairperson) and ICANN (where he served as Chairman).

Quality guests

During his APRICOT keynote, Dr Cerf told us about his interplanetary Internet project: he has been working with NASA for years to develop a next-generation protocol to handle the delays and interruptions brought by long-distance and hostile environments. Nobody knew where the Internet was headed back in the late 1960s when it was conceived by Vint and others in a US Department of Defense R&D project, and Vint humbly said that it was the team effort of many to make the Internet like what it is now. And it will be users and developers like us who will take the Internet to its next phase -- especially for us in Asia -- the continent now with the biggest chunk of users.

While we as the organizers -- Internet Society Hong Kong and DotAsia Organization -- were glad with a turnout that exceeded our goal, we hoped that local attendance would be higher. Neither APRICOT and APAN are primarily commercial in nature -- it isn't another Consumer Electronic Show or some IT trade fair or Computer Festival. This unfortunately reinforces our concern that our industry in Hong Kong is rather short-sighted -- so how do we tell our own government to be more visionary than ourselves?

We as the organizers can only set the forums for Vint and other technology visionaries to meet with young people under the Asia Pacific Next Generation (APNG) program, and hope that our post-90s youngsters can be inspired to new heights of innovation and creativity.

Published in Computerworld Hong Kong, March 2011 Issue

「十二‧五」金榜提名莫沾沾自喜

溫家寶總理在全國人大會議上,公布了「十二‧五」規劃綱要草案。香港各界注意的重點,自然落於香港和澳門首次以獨立篇章被納入於這次的規劃綱要中,表明國家將在哪些方向支...

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Saturday, March 05, 2011

請特首學習 Grace Under Fire

先旨聲明,筆者不支持在一般社會情況下,為求達致目的而使用暴力。當然,如何界定暴力或衝擊,也要小心,否則便成為了阻礙表達的藉口。例如,在合理程度內以騷擾方式表達(即英文所謂的 heckle,以問題、口號、叫囂等方式令講者感到煩擾或尷尬),這些都是民主社會一般程度上接受的行為。

前幾晚,在新聞看到行政長官「被襲受傷」,筆者就不禁在 facebook( fb)寫了以下的話:「真正的領袖不會逃避面對難題,解決分歧和消除不滿,不會轉移視線,跑了去急症室。」(原文為英文)這話總結了我的即時反應,不少朋友都 like了。

面對難題 領袖不會逃避

的確,我們從行政長官和高級政府官員那裏一直聽到的,只有他們如何譴責暴力,但他們也更有責任面對這些抗爭背後的成因。他們從來有沒有反省過,為甚麼社會變得這樣?

事實上,這政府蓄意製造社會矛盾,無意建立社會共識;即使要派糖,也銳意要部份政團得益「成功爭取」,強化親疏有別,威迫利誘市民歸邊。難道政府自己沒有看到,特首「被襲擊」,但反而有這麼多人相信或支持「施暴者」?就如派了糖還有這麼多人上街示威一樣,政府曾否反思己過,「點解搞成咁」?

筆者亦想起了已故美國總統列根在 1981年遇刺後,他在急症室向妻子說過的一句話:「親愛的,我忘記了閃避。」一句話的幽默就把緊張氣氛鬆弛,團結國家,把受傷的國家和國民帶向痊癒,這才是領袖。把特首與列根相比,難為了雙方,但真的不願見到特首把小事化大。

英文有一句話叫 Grace under fire,是指在困難環境下表現出的優雅、善意、恩典、仁慈、寬恕,請特首和高官參考。

當晚筆者在 fb另外的留言是:「做個男子漢,一笑置之,就可團結我們。做個窩囊,小題大做,便會分化社會。」(原文為英文)特首怎樣選擇?

2011年3月5日 刋載於《蘋果日報》

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Forgiveness, Even If You Don't Love Me Anymore

First of all, let me say that I object the use of violence as a means for practically any purpose in society. But of course, it is important to distinguish between violence with hooliganism or just plain old heckling. Moreover, I am of the opinion that the use of physical confrontation as a tactic for achieving political goal is generally counter-productive.

However, having said that, a couple nights ago, after hearing about the alleged attack on the Chief Executive from the late news, I couldn't help but put this on my Facebook page: “A true leader does not divert attention from facing the issues, resolving the conflict, and overcoming the discontent, by going to the emergency room.”

All we have been hearing from the Chief Executive and other senior government officials has been how they conthe violence, and how the Chief Secretary is looking for ways to stop the confrontation and throwing of objects in the legislative council chamber by LSD legislators. OK, but did our senior government officials stop and think about why are people resorting to such behaviors? They have the right to criticize the use of violence or physical confrontation as tactics, but at the same time they must also step up and deal with the problem.

For example, when I heard Secretary of Development Carrie Lam saying on a radio program last weekend that she believed the use of such physical confrontation was not conducive to monitoring and improving governance, I really wanted to ask her, so, what would be conducive? What would it take for those you shun to get your attention? Or are you trying to say, you behave yourselves first, stop criticizing, and only then, maybe I will give you a few candies.

Sadly, I have to conclude that our Government strives on divisiveness as its means to govern, and has no interest in building real consensus.

When I saw the reactions on Facebook the night of the alleged attack on our Chief Executive, I cannot help but notice and wonder, when was the last time a “victim of violence” actually received more ridicule and criticism than sympathies? The writings are indeed on the wall. When will our Government wake up?

I also cannot help but think of the late US President Ronald Reagan, who survived an assassination attempt in 1981. When he was in the emergency room after being shot in the chest, he actually joked to his wife Nancy, “Honey, I forgot to duck.” A simple sense of humor that lightened up the matter and helped his loved one and indeed the whole country get on with the healing.

But not only that our Chief Executive lacks the intelligence to laugh at himself, he has chosen to play the role of the victim of violence, make a small matter bigger than it ought to be, instead of rising to the occasion to bring unity and harmony to society, like a leader should. I would hope so much that our Chief Executive would have the grace to stand up and say, “I forgive this young man, and I don't want to see his future tarnished by a criminal offense, and so I will urge against pressing charges. In fact, I will call this young man myself and invite him to my house, and let's talk over our difference. I will not promise that I can do everything he asks, but I want to start by listening first.”

Unfortunately we all know that this will not happen here. Or else, Hong Kong would not be in the dire straits we are already in.

So I couldn't help but put this second status update on my Facebook page that night: “Be a man, shrug it off, and you unite us. Be a wimp, make a big fuss, and you divide society.”

And, finally, I like to dedicate this song by Don Henley, “The Heart Of The Matter” (1990), to our Chief Executive, and ask him to listen closely to the lyrics that goes,

Forgiveness,
Forgiveness,
Even if, even if, you don't love me anymore.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

官僚文化令香港停滯倒退

因為中東局勢動盪關係,ICANN決定更換六月全球大會地點,由約旦改到另一亞洲地點,新加坡政府積極地即時行動,成功爭取。這個消息在互聯網業內傳了數週,ICANN在...

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