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4/16/2004
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Letters To The Editor

Unwritten Rules Of The Net

"Virtual Detective Tracks Scammers" is a highly interesting and important article (April 5, 2004).

The Internet is free, it's a public resource, and it's open to anyone. But just like our public parks, there are unwritten rules that must be followed. You don't see people stealing, harassing, and bugging you constantly as you sit on a park bench. So why isn't that the case on our Internet?

Kevin C. Desouza
Owner, KCD & Associates, Chicago


China Plays The Game

Bradford C. Brown accuses China of cultural myopia in trying to push foreign firms to adopt its wireless standard ("Joining WTO Means Playing By Global Rules," April 5, 2004). In fact, China is just following the example of American and European companies that use proprietary technical standards to obtain exorbitant royalties out of nonstandard holders. China just wants a piece of this lucrative action.

But Brown shouldn't worry too much. None of the dozen or so high-tech standards China has issued in the last decade has succeeded internationally or resulted in foreign firms paying royalties to enter the Chinese market.

China has been stymied by several factors, including lack of some key technologies, incumbent standard holders' typical advantages (such as large installed user bases that face high costs of switching technology), and globalization that has led many Chinese firms to side with their foreign partners.

China is increasingly playing the game, but it's rarely winning.

Scott Kennedy
Assistant Professor, Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.


Size Matters

Mr. Brown writes that "China is trying to use the size of its market and a proprietary standard to leverage control of the wireless sector." Of course it is. Given the financial stakes, why wouldn't it?

China will be a player because of its potential 1 billion-plus wireless customers. Like it or not, China wants a large share of the profits. Creating a Chinese wireless standard is a way to avoid paying royalties to foreign companies and at the same time getting foreign companies that want to do business in China to pay it royalties. I imagine the Chinese wireless standard will apply to both Chinese and foreign companies. How can it violate World Trade Organization rules?

This is similar to the development of television broadcast standards such as NTSC in the United States, SECAM in France, and PAL in Germany in the 1950s and '60s. Today, TVs are made to use different standards for different markets, and the world has survived. I predict a similar outcome in China's plan to come up with its own wireless standard.

Tony Chan
Associate Physicist, Brookhaven National Lab, Upton, N.Y.


Look At The Real Issues

I'm no student of the European Union and the various rules and policies it has developed over the years ("Do The Right Thing, And Reap The Benefits," March 29, 2004). However, I'm pretty sure some combination of good and bad ideas has come out of the organization along the way.

Bob Evans chose to paint the entire EU with a single (negative) stroke, inserting a derogatory adjective with nearly every reference he made. Obviously, he doesn't like the actions it's taking against Microsoft, but his column did absolutely nothing to illuminate me on what he believes are the issues in the case.

The only attempt to support his opinion of the EU was to mention some totally irrelevant example. Does he think the United States has no equally inane policies?

Doug Meddaugh
Development Manager, ADP, Portland Ore.

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