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Speed and security dominate Internet Expo

Some 45,000 visitors are expected to attend this year's Internet Expo in Zurich

(Keystone)

Switzerland's only trade fair devoted exclusively to the Internet is taking place in Zurich. Some 560 firms, including heavyweights like Microsoft and IBM, are jostling for floor space to promote their virtual goods.

Speed and security are this year's themes. "We know that people don't want to send credit card numbers over the Internet," said Hans-Werner Grotemeyer, head of New Business Development at yellowworld, a daughter company of Swiss Post.

"We offer retailers the opportunity to install our checkout system so that the moment clients decide to buy something, they can use the secure Swiss Post server for paying and they only have to send their credit card number to Swiss Post."

Safety concerns have also been raised over digital signatures but these have been largely addressed, said Urs Grimm, marketing director of Swisskey.

Grimm said the benefits of digital signatures could not be over-estimated: "If you take tax declaration, for example, a company is calculating everything on the computer, printing it out, the director is signing it, then the government is again typing it into their systems so they can work on it on computers again. If we can avoid this all over the economy, we can save a lot of money."

The rapid transfer of information is also preoccupying the minds of service providers. One key development is the Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line.

"ADSL is a broadband Internet access much faster than the narrow band for ISDN or analogue so you can go faster to the Internet for downloading files and movies and also get better quality," said Thomas Schnider, product manager at Bluewin.

Five years ago, just 160 exhibitors displayed their wares, last year 390 were represented and this year, there are 560 stands. Some of Switzerland's biggest corporate names are present, including Swisscom and Credit Suisse, along with global giants like IBM and Microsoft.

Many of the anticipated 45,000 visitors to the trade fair are probably already Internet devotees but yellowworld's e-mail service offers advantages for those who have not already been converted, said Hans Werner Grotemeyer.

"In this e-mail service, you also have the opportunity to send e-mails to people who don't have an e-mail. You can just type in the normal address of the recipient and we will print it out and sent it to anybody in the world."

Meanwhile, if you thought that no more uses could be discovered for the mobile phone, think again. It could soon serve as a train ticket.

A pilot project is underway to process your ticket details as a text message on your mobile phone, which can be checked by the ticket collector aboard the train.

by Vincent Landon


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