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Indonesian Mobile Phone Providers Found Guilty of Price Fixing

Six Indonesian telecommunications companies have been found guilty of price fixing and Singapore's information and communications industry saw profits soar. Claudia Blume in Hong Kong has more on these and other stories in our weekly summary of business news from the Asia-Pacific region.

Indonesia' competition watchdog found six mobile phone providers guilty of price fixing, which may have cost consumers more than $300 million in additional rates. The Business Competition Supervisory Commission says the companies formed a cartel to keep tariffs for text messaging artificially high.

The companies include Telkomsel, Telkom and Smart Telecom. They were given fines totaling more than eight million dollars.

Revenue in Singapore's information-communications industry went up nearly 14 percent last year, to more than $37 million, driven by higher demand for information technology services and hardware. Most of the revenue - 65 percent - came from exports. Singapore plans to become an Asian hub for the digital economy.

Lee Boon Yang is Singapore's minister for information, communication and the arts. He says the government plans to build a national computer network to handle very large computing tasks, to help businesses tap into next-generation broadband services.

"We are planning a grid market hub to offer on-demand computing services from the national grid," he said. "The grid market hub will offer services to anyone, anytime and anywhere on a pay-per-use basis."

In other news from the IT sector, Vietnam's government has given the green light to a Taiwanese consortium to build a software park near Ho Chi Minh City. The $1.2 billion project is a joint venture involving three Taiwan companies, headed by TECO group, and Vietnam's Saigon Telecom. The high-tech park will house software, hardware and human resources companies and is scheduled to be completed in 2012. The project is expected to create about 70,000 jobs.

And Japan's leading mobile phone operator, NTT DoCoMo, will buy a 30 percent stake in Bangladeshi cell phone company TM International. The deal is worth about $350 million. It will give the Japanese company a foothold in one of Asia's fastest growing mobile markets.