Archive for September, 2006

Online banking is convenient, but make sure you also play it safe

Despite this being the age of identity theft and online scams, more brick-and-mortar banks are offering their customers products and services for banking on the Web.

Plus, Internet banks, which have no physical branches, are gaining popularity, since they often pass along their lower overhead costs to consumers in the form of high interest rates on deposits.

The number of Americans banking online grew to 40 million in the fourth quarter of 2005, a 27% increase over the previous year, according to comScore Networks, a research organization that studies consumer Internet behavior.
Consumers have good reason to bank online — online transactions can often save you money, and their convenience can’t be beat. But it’s wise to be extra cautious when handling your money over the Web. Follow these tips to ensure online safety:

  • When handling money online, make sure you only deal with secure Web sites. You’ll know a site is secure if you can see the padlock symbol in the bottom right corner of your Web browser. Click the padlock for security details.
  • Ensure that your computer is secure–always use the “password protect” feature to make sure only you can access the information stored there.
  • Many banks and shopping sites offer to “remember your password”–ignore those offers to prevent other computer users from accessing your information.
  • Avoid accessing your account from a public computer, but if you must, when you’re done banking clear the computer’s “history” and delete its “temporary Internet files” (usually available under “Internet options” in Internet Explorer), to prevent the next computer user from possibly seeing your sensitive data.
  • Change your passwords regularly.
  • Never send credit card or account details by e-mail. Be aware of “phishing” scams, as well: If you receive an e-mail asking you to follow a link to a Web site where you must input your information, it’s probably a scam. Banks will not ask you via e-mail to update your account information.
  • Always print your transaction receipts and file them with your bank records until you receive confirmation in your bank statement.
  • Be aware that not all virtual banks are insured by the FDIC — some may be chartered overseas. To check whether your Internet bank is insured, visit the FDIC’s Bank Find Web site.

From MarketWatch.

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Broadband use in China to overtake the US within a year

China will overtake the US as the world’s biggest broadband market in less than a year, according to new research released today from analyst firm Ovum.

China’s broadband sector has been growing dramatically at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 79 percent over the last three years. The strong growth will continue to boost the broadband market, which will reach 79 million subscribers by 2007, the Ovum report said.

Ovum’s senior analyst Kevin Lee said with a penetration rate of only 3.4 percent of the population now, the potential for growth is huge.

“Broadband penetration in China is well behind many countries in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. “We believe China’s broadband development will continue to benefit from a booming economy, growing incomes, expanding PC penetration and new applications such as VoIP and IPTV. The Olympics will provide another boost.”

Ovum forecasts for China’s broadband will grow by a CAGR of 75 percent to reach 139 million subscribers by 2010.

China Telecom and China Netcom are the dominant providers of broadband access services in China, with a combined broadband market share of 87 percent of subscribers. China Tietong, China Unicom, cable and miscellaneous other operators account for the remainder.

Lee said DSL dominates with a growing market share of 71 percent and 32 million subscribers by June 2006.

It is followed by Ethernet-based LAN access in high-density areas, which has a substantial market share of 26 percent.

“DSL technology will be the key force for broadband growth; operators are progressively upgrading the network using higher speed technology such as ADSL2+ and VDSL to meet increasing bandwidth demands,” Lee said, adding that cable modem, wireless technologies and others will make a much smaller contribution.

DSL speed and prices vary widely across China and between the two main DSL providers. Broadband prices (where China Telecom offers higher rates) are normally highest in major cities, but are more affordable in second- and third-tier cities.

Despite widespread cable coverage and 128 million cable TV service subscribers in China, Lee said cable operators have made few inroads into the growing broadband market.

Ovum believes that regulatory barriers, fragmented ownership structure and a lack of expertise have seriously undermined cable operators’ competitiveness against DSL providers. This is in stark contrast to the North American market.

As for wireless broadband, Lee says that it is still at an immature stage, but the emergence of VoIP is giving operators new hope for seeing returns on their WLANs.

He said growing IPTV deployment is expected to encourage broadband uptake in China.

“The two DSL operators rolled out extensive IPTV trials over 2005 in collaboration with the IPTV licensees Shanghai Media Group and CCTV. Following Harbin, Shanghai will be the second city to begin commercial service by the end of September 2006,” Lee said.

Ovum forecasts that prospects for further broadband development in China are bright, but significant uncertainties remain.

“China needs to restructure the telecomms industry and it needs to reform the regulatory policy for broadband and IPTV; there is also the possible entry of foreign players in line with world trade commitments,” Lee said.

From ComputerWorld

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