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Internet, wireless drive top themes for CeBIT

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(IDG) -- Visitors to the massive IT and telecommunications trade fair CeBIT, which opens next week in Germany, are particularly interested in Internet and wireless telecommunications technologies, according to one survey. But if they're expecting major breakthroughs, they might be disappointed, observers say.

Nonetheless, as they do every year, companies are highlighting their flashiest new gadgets at the show.

"It's the trade show to be at in Europe," said analyst Ben Donnelly of market research firm Frost & Sullivan Inc. "But I'm not sure any major news is going to happen this year."

He added that the mood in the IT industry is generally subdued, in part due to bad economic times, but that companies feel obligated to have a presence at the fair.

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Analyst Carsten Schmidt of Forrester Research BV agreed. "I don't think there will be many surprises ... I think that mobile will be a hot topic; I assume that with the dot-com bust, you'll probably have a shift more toward the mobile market."

Among prospective visitors to the fair, high-speed Internet access topped the list of hot topics; it was cited by 61 percent of people surveyed by the German consulting firm Mummert + Partner AG. Next came online security, named by 59 percent of respondents; followed by UMTS (universal mobile telecommunications system), at 54 percent; mobile commerce at 49 percent; and wireless networks at 40 percent.

The German city of Hanover is hunkering down for the annual swarm of hundreds of thousands of IT professionals and technology buffs to CeBIT, which takes place this year from March 22 to 28. The event is the world's largest trade fair, according to its organizer Deutsche Messe AG.

It's the 15th year that CeBIT -- officially "Welt-Centrum fur Buro-, Informations- und Kommunikationstechnik," or World Center for Office, Information and Communication Technology -- is taking place as an independent fair. The expo grew out of the hundreds of IT and telecommunications exhibitors that were taking up an increasingly large chunk of the annual Hanover Trade Fair, and was launched as a separate event in March 1986.

This year a total of 8,015 exhibitors -- up from 7,892 last year -- will fill over 420,000 square meters of floor space.

A random sampling of new and recent products that exhibitors will be plugging at CeBIT:

  • Fuji Magnetics GmbH's DVD (digital versatile disc) RAM, which can store 4.7G bytes of data on a single-sided and 9.4G bytes on a double-sided version

  • Lucent Technologies' WaveStar high-capacity, all-optical router, which the company says offers more than 10T bps (bits per second) of total switching capacity, or ten times the world's total Internet traffic

  • Reima-Tutta Oy's Smart Shout, a wearable belt that integrates an adaptor, processor, speaker and microphone, for hands-free mobile communication

  • Sanyo Electric's IDC-1000Z iDshot digital disc camera, capable of 730MB of recording capacity; its 50mm magneto-optical disc can capture 120 minutes of movies or about 11,000 still images, the manufacturer says

  • Spectronic's multimedia mobile phone, with built-in digital camera, Web browser, e-mail and fax functions

  • Via Technologies' enhanced 750MHz Cyrix III processor, aimed at low-cost PCs

  • Xircom's GPRS (general packet radio service) wireless modems, offering wireless data download speeds of 53.6K bps (bits per second) and transmit speeds of 26K bps to 28K bps

CeBIT has grown so much in recent years that the organizers plan to expand the fair by a day next year. CeBIT 2002 will run eight days, from Wednesday to Wednesday, Deutsche Messe said.



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