Hongkong Telecom and Microsoft Announce Strategic Cooperation To Develop Broadband Online Services in Hong Kong

HONG KONG, March 9, 1999 — Hongkong Telecom and Microsoft Corp. today announced a strategic cooperation to develop high-speed broadband services that will allow Hong Kong to fully experience the convergence of low-cost personal computer and telecommunications technologies. The joint effort ushers in a new era in multimedia services for consumers and businesses in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) as they enjoy the convenience and broad array of choices offered by innovative customer-focused and application-based services automatically delivered to their desktops at home or at work.

The two companies will work closely together to develop a range of compelling multimedia applications to be delivered via Hongkong Telecom’s broadband network, the world’s largest asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) network, and the Microsoft® Windows® family of operating systems, a true multipurpose platform.

The service will converge two distinct media technologies – the information-centric and inexpensive personal computer and the image-based television – to benefit consumers, students and businesses dramatically.

Home PC users will be able to browse the latest movie titles on their PCs or their televisions, while at the same time having access to the wealth of information available on the Internet. Users will also be able to communicate with their friends via live videoconferencing, participate in voice or online chat rooms, send and receive e-mail, check the latest news, go shopping and conduct secure e-commerce transactions. Students in particular will be able to interact and learn in new and unique ways. Important lectures and a new class of interactive Internet and video applications could be available in real time or on demand islandwide, and students will be able to join interactive broadband communities of students with similar interests.

Businesses will benefit from new and advanced solutions and applications hosted and available through Hongkong Telecom’s broadband network, while also gaining access to an entirely new class of video-enabled applications including videoconferencing and training on demand.

The innovative services will run on a tightly integrated Microsoft platform based on the Windows NT® operating system and Microsoft Commercial Internet System (MCIS). This open platform will accommodate a wide spectrum of existing service components and capital assets, including servers, thus facilitating rapid development of new service offerings with a lower total cost of ownership. By allowing customers with any type of end-user device to log on through the use of a common password, the new service will also deliver a more enjoyable and consistent user experience.

Among the new applications scheduled to be implemented are video on demand, music on demand, voice-over IP, software on demand, up-to-the-minute news from MSNBC and the MSN
™
Gaming Zone. Hongkong Telecom and Microsoft will conduct comprehensive testing on these multimedia services before they are made available to the general public of Hong Kong.

“Hongkong Telecom and Microsoft share a common vision for the delivery of innovative customer-focused and application-based multimedia services to every home and business in the SAR,”
said Linus W. L. Cheung, chief executive of Hongkong Telecom.
“For consumers, this will mean enhanced lifestyles with more choices. For businesses, it will mean enhanced productivity and competitiveness, which in turn will uphold Hong Kong’s position as the region’s premier financial, business and information hub. These objectives will be delivered as part of our eVISION commitment.”

“We are confident that Hongkong Telecom’s advanced broadband resources and interactive capabilities and Microsoft’s world-leading software will be a great combination and will allow the rapid deployment of high-quality multimedia services in Hong Kong as we enter the next millennium.”

“Microsoft is fully committed to realizing the SAR’s drive to develop innovative technology that benefits the people and businesses of Hong Kong,”
said Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft.
“This cooperation will help create an environment that fosters the growth of advanced technology.”

“Microsoft is excited to expedite the convergence of PC, TV and telecommunications technologies with Hongkong Telecom – we value each other as long-term strategic partners. And the implementation of this ground-breaking service will once again demonstrate the scalability and reliability of the award-winning Microsoft technologies.”

About Hongkong Telecom’s Broadband Services

Hongkong Telecom launched the world’s first broadband interactive TV (iTV) service in March 1998, marking the company’s first commercial deployment of multimedia services. Hongkong Telecom’s Internet access service, NETVIGATOR, also introduced a high-speed access service, NETVIGATOR 1.5M Ultra Line, in May 1998.

About Microsoft Commercial Internet System (MCIS)

Based on the Windows NT operating system platform, Microsoft Commercial Internet System is a comprehensive platform designed specifically for commercial service providers (CSPs) and network operators. Selected by leading telephone, cable and satellite operators worldwide, MCIS provides a highly scalable and reliable service platform based on Internet standards for Web hosting, commerce, community, personalization, streaming services (video and audio) and managed network services. The seamless-integration service components enable rapid development and deployment of services with exceptionally low administrative and support costs. More information on MCIS is available from Microsoft at http://www.microsoft.com/mcis/ .

About Hongkong Telecom

Hongkong Telecom, a Cable & Wireless company, is Hong Kong’s major full-service communications provider, marketing a full array of quality voice and data telecommunication services backed by a state-of-the-art, fully digital fibre-optic network. Services include basic telephony, mobile telephony, international calls, specialized fax and data products, value-added services, Internet access, multimedia services, satellite links, and telecommunications equipment and systems.

Apart from owning and operating Asia’s largest commercial teleport, Hongkong Telecom is a pioneer in a wide range of communications solutions, such as launching the world’s first fully digitized urban network and the world’s first fibre-optic cable linking China. Its broadband network now covers more than 70 percent of the homes in Hong Kong.

Hongkong Telecom is committed to providing and developing a range of interactive multimedia services and broadband applications. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Hongkong Telecom Interactive Multimedia Services, was the first company to be awarded the Video on Demand Program Services license in Hong Kong. It officially launched the world’s first broadband Interactive TV (iTV) service in March 1998. Hongkong Telecom also offers an Internet access service, NETVIGATOR, which is currently the largest Internet service provider (ISP) in Hong Kong. It is the first ISP to provide local content, online ticketing and cyber-shopping in Hong Kong. NETVIGATOR also offers the first broadband Internet access service in Hong Kong, NETVIGATOR 1.5M Ultra Line, which provides fast access speeds up to 1.5 Mbps.

About Cable & Wireless

Cable & Wireless is the world’s leading provider of integrated communications and a major global carrier of communications traffic: Internet, data, voice and video. Its businesses around the world offer a range of services spanning interactive entertainment and information, broadband data, Internet access and broadcast television, as well as fixed and mobile voice. With 17 million customers in 70 countries, Cable & Wireless is one of the world’s largest carriers of international traffic, provides mobile communications in more than 30 countries and operates the world’s largest, most advanced cableship fleet.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day. The Microsoft Hong Kong office was established in 1991.

Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT and MSN are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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