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Palestine wins .ps domain

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Palestine now has its own .PS domain following more than two years of battling with the IRA (the Internet Registration Authority), as well as with the UN. It required a resolution of the UN General Assembly to get the suffix approved. There are around 34,000 PCs (mostly in the West Bank and in 7 per cent of Palestinian households) in the West Bank and the Gaza strip, about 8,000 online accounts with nine ISPs, and some 250,000 connected telephone lines. The Palestinian ISPs go through the Israeli Internet backbone. Cybercafés are proliferating because the average wage is only $300/month, making PCs too expensive for most people. The Carma Cyber Club in Ramallah reserves two of its 13 machines "for girls/women only". Birzeit University, 20 km south of Jerusalem, is Netscape-enhanced, although it says it plans to make the site IE-friendly as well. Substantial investment is anticipated, with estimates ranging from $350 million to $500 million over the next five years. There is a long way to go, since the largest software house in Palestine, Arab Technology Systems, only has 24 employees. Oracle and Siemens have established models for trilateral investments that involve Palestinians, Israelis and foreign investors. ®

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