While the rest of the world watches the Olympics, Australia's IT industry has been busy courting some of the biggest names in the business.
Executives such as Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, Sun chairman and CEO Scott McNealy, IBM CEO Louis Gerstner, Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and David Moore, chairman and CEO of internet advertising monitoring company 24/7 Media, are believed to be in town or arriving shortly for the Sydney 2000 Games and some overdue meetings with local offices.
Making the most of the influx of business executives and influential technologists, the local IT industry has made several key announcements over the last week.
On Thursday, WorldCom announced it will build a 62,000 kilometre broadband fibre-optic cable link between Australia, Japan, Southeast Asia and the US. NEC has been awarded the contract for the construction of the cable, which has a capacity of 2.56 terabytes.
The executive director of the NSW government's investment division, Warwick Glenn, said WorldCom's announcement was timed for the Olympics to capitalise on the 100,000 business visitors currently in Sydney.
Wednesday saw US-based Global Switch announce that Sydney will host a $160 million technology centre to house and manage computer and fibre-optic cable equipment for local companies.
The co-location centre is scheduled to open in early 2001 and will offer a range of facilities such as linked telecom fibres to other networks, hosted websites and managed internet services.
The opening of the centre is part of a NSW-government initiative to transform Sydney suburb Pyrmont into Sydney's first IT-specific precinct. Officials said it is expected the precinct will eventually spread as far as Mascot.
In other news announced on Wednesday, Merrill Lynch's global ranking system report ranked Australia the number three country in the technology category. The report confirmed that Australia is a world leader in the uptake of computer, internet and mobile phone usage.
Earlier in the week, Fujitsu, BAE Systems and the Commonwealth Industry, Science and Resources Department launched an IT business strategy called Invest Australia, designed to attract international investment dollars.