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The Air Up There

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Cloud computing is shaping up to be one of the hottest industries in China these days. The annual growth rate for the Chinese cloud computing industry is 40%, which should make its measly 3% share of the global cloud but a memory in a few years.

The global cloud computing market is valued at US$90 billion as of 2011, per Gartner. The Chinese market, which posted revenues of US$2.62 billion in 2010 is expected to reach US$18.6 billion by 2013, says China’s largest IT research firm CCID Consulting. In 2015, that number will have hit US$1 trillion, according to the Internet Society of China.

The number is no surprise given that China actually has a National Cloud Computing Industry Development Plan, which covers strategies and a road map for 2011–2015, the years earmarked by the government for China’s 12th Five-year Development Plan.

Meanwhile, people in the Philippines complain about not being able to get a phone signal in the middle of the day. Some offices even spend precious work hours in that ancient wasteland called ‘offline.’

And yet, at telco press conferences around Metro Manila, you will hear nary a peep out of the local media about bad Internet service. They relentlessly complain on their Facebook pages, but in front of telco execs, they smile and pay the host compliments during the open forum.

Are Filipinos simply too polite? Or do press people just seem obliged to play nice at press cons as they enjoy the free lunch, raffle prizes, and take home gifts?

At the China Business office, we simply got two Internet service providers— one kicks in when the other is on the fritz. If both work fine, every workstation benefits from the faster service. We could get only a single ISP and then bug the hell out of them when service is down.

But if you do a cost-benefit analysis on that scenario, you will realize that paying for a backup ISP each month is cheaper than hiring a person to stalk the single ISP on the phone until you get the service you paid for, sans interruptions. And even if you pay an ISP stalker, there is no guarantee that your service will improve.

We could all rally in front of the telco office, but people are too busy, apathetic, stranded because of the floods, or hardly able to make ends meet to be bothered. That’s what happens when you have a shrinking middle class. That’s something foreign pundits do not understand.

The rich are too comfortable to bother, the poor, too hungry to care about bad telco service, much less demanding that any President of theirs draft something as comprehensive as China’s Five-year Development Plan for as nascent an industry as cloud computing.

Print ed: 10/11


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