Home EuropeEurope 2005 The star pupil wants to be better

The star pupil wants to be better

by david.nunes
Gabriel BerdárIssue:Europe 2005
Article no.:4
Topic:The star pupil wants to be better
Author:Gabriel Berdár
Title:Chairman of the Board, President and CEO
Organisation:Cesky Telecom
PDF size:252KB

About author

Gabriel Berdár is the Chairman of the Board, the President and the CEO of Cesky Telecom. Prior to joining Cesky Telecom, Mr Berdár served as the General Director of Dell Computer and was responsible for Dell in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Finland and Greece. Previously, Mr Berdár was the General Director and a member of the Board of Directors at IDOM. Earlier in his career he worked for Strojimport, IBM and for Digital Equipment. Gabriel Berdár is a graduate of the Technical University of Kosice.

Article abstract

The Czech Republic is an information and communication technology leader in Central and Eastern Europe. Twenty-four per cent of all Czech households had computers and 15 per cent had Internet connections by 2003. Ninety-six per cent of Czech companies with more than ten employees now have computers–90 per cent connected to the Internet. The country has more mobile telephones than inhabitants and broadband connections quadrupled in 2004. Business usage, initially driven by access to official government registries, is increasing rapidly and electronic banking is heavily used.

Full Article

In Central and Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic is at the head of its class in many aspects of information and communication technology. A large number of documents and studies corroborate this claim. One of the most recent is an analyst’s report published in The Economist, according to which the Czech Republic ranks first in the areas of connectivity and technological infrastructure. Based on a comparison of several different parameters that analysts used to rank countries en route to the eGovernment concept, the Czech Republic was placed second only to Estonia, receiving a score of 5.67 out of 10. Statistics based on the growth of the number of broadband Internet connections, which is related to the increasing number of households with computers and Internet connections, also look very optimistic. According to the Czech Statistical Office, 24 per cent of all Czech households had computers at the end of 2003; in the nation’s capital, during the same period, this number stood at 38 per cent. Roughly 15 per cent of all Czech households had Internet connections at that time. All of these numbers experienced a pronounced change for the better in 2004. While households still have a way to go in comparison with the general averages in western European countries, the numbers are comparable when it comes to firms. Ninety-six per cent of all Czech companies with more than 10 employees now have computers and just about 90 per cent of these are connected to the Internet. The country also has a notably high penetration of mobile telephones, which, according to year-end statistics, actually outnumber its inhabitants. The number of fixed telephone lines has dropped slightly over the last few years and at the end of the third quarter of 2004 totalled 3.41 million. However, the number of digital telephone lines is experiencing relatively brisk growth; not only firms, but also households, are switching from older analogue lines to more modern ISDN lines. Fast data transfer for every home When it comes to Internet access, it is quite obvious that Czech users are showing the greatest interest in broadband data connections. At the moment, the focus in the Czech Republic is on broadband data. Over the course of this year, it has expanded the number of regions where clients can enjoy the benefits of this technology. In just the last eight months of 2004, the number of ADSL connections in the Czech Republic quadrupled; at the beginning of December, the number of broadband connections exceeded 80 thousand. Thanks to an investment in new technologies and infrastructure, approximately 3 million households and entrepreneurs gained access to ADSL technology over the course of this year. Those who do not have the opportunity to obtain ‘always on’ high-speed Internet connections through this technology can subscribe to services provided by Czech mobile network operators. One operator has built a network based on CDMA technology; the network that operates in the 450 MHz frequency band is used only for data connections. Considering the great interest in this service, which over 19 thousand people were using at the beginning of December, the operator is continuing to increase the number of its transmitters and antennas in order to ensure the service has good, widespread, coverage as well as ample capacity. First services, then connections As a whole, it is the range of services that people find on the Internet that is, perhaps, the most important single factor directly influencing Internet penetration. Today, the general public is aware that the Internet serves not only for email and that the web is more than just a somewhat different and slightly faster way of reading and watching the news. People are gradually learning how to use the Internet to search for information, do their banking, shop for and buy a variety of products, amuse themselves, play games, listen to music, watch videos and much more. The Internet’s capabilities as an instrument of communication have certainly played a key role in persuading firms to use the network as a tool for their business. Instead of sending letters through the mail or using faxes, most corporate correspondence, nowadays, is transferred as data and sent through the Internet. The growth in the usage of electronic signatures to guarantee the authenticity of the correspondence will be a very significant factor in the expanded usage of the Internet for business and official purposes of all sorts. In the Czech Republic, The Business Registry has been playing a significant role when it comes to popularising the utilisation of services through the web. It was the first tool of extreme local importance to be accessible on the Internet. Entrepreneurs and others can use the Registry’s web site to search, free of charge, for basic information about all Czech firms that are registered with the business courts. In many surveys, Czech firms regularly rank this instrument as one of the services that they use and value most–of course, with the exception of communications services and the web itself. Making different registries held by the state available to the public is of extreme importance to Czech society. Access to the land registry, which the Internet also makes possible, is of equal significance; however, unlike access to the business registry, the land registry is a paid service. The above mentioned electronic signature will play a very important role in expanding the use of the Internet for business purposes; however, its use is spreading relatively slowly. As soon as a greater number of state institutions accept these signatures, their use and acceptance will grow rapidly. Electronic banking, which currently is heavily used, provides support for this prediction. Practically every banking house offers several different variants of remote account management; of these, account administration by means of the Internet is among the most widely used. An e-Europe+ survey from June 2003 showed interesting results; according to the data, 32 per cent of all Czech firms used electronic shops or markets to make company purchases. This number is the highest in the entire Central and Eastern European region. Big investments are not over It is obvious that the demand for Internet connections will not drop in the coming years, so the biggest players on the market will continue to invest in their network and in upgrading their technologies. In addition to providing services for end clients, the telecom companies play an important role as wholesalers. This is especially true for international transmission and data services, where there is an extraordinarily competitive environment. The incumbent Czech operator has also made the so-called ‘last mile’ accessible. This sort of access means that competing telecom operators can, within pre-established conditions, offer their services using the incumbent’s last mile access infrastructure. In the same way, the competition has the opportunity to offer end clients ADSL service through Cesky Telecom’s telephone lines. Investments are not focussed solely on access technologies, although they are still of high importance. An entertainment portal, for example, the first of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe, was launched earlier this year. Clients can download films and music through the portal. At the same time, the operator is endeavouring to make fixed lines attractive as well. For instance, they have started to offer electronic security systems for homes and businesses in cooperation with firms in the security industry. The systems are connected to a central security office for a fee that is included in the customer’s monthly phone bill. Another service, the transmission of text messages within the fixed line network, as well as to the mobile communications network, has already existed for some time now. An optimistic outlook for the future The Czech Republic is indeed playing first fiddle among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe; however, in comparison with European Union averages prior to expansion, there is much that it must do–is doing–to bring services gradually up to par with the EU. Nowadays it is not necessary to explain what the Internet can do for firms and the public because its benefits are obvious to all. Education has had a share in bringing this about and in turn, the telecommunications sector has taken part in supporting education within the scope of the Internet to Schools project. The increased purchasing power of the country’s inhabitants is enabling an ever-larger number of homes and offices to be equipped with computers; with this, a growing number of households are looking forward to high-quality connections. As the quantity and quality of value-added services grow, interest will also rise in truly high-speed connections through technologies such as ADSL.

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