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Oracle to build Philippine network

Philippines president Fidel Ramos and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison will meet in Silicon Valley when Oracle announces a joint project to build a national Philippine computing infastructure.

Oracle (ORCL) is set to announce a joint project to build a nationwide computing infastructure based on the network computing (NC) platform in the Philippines, CNET's NEWS.COM has learned.

On Thursday, Philippines president Fidel Ramos will visit Silicon Valley for the single purpose of visiting Oracle's flamboyant chief executive, Larry Ellison, at the signing of a deal between Oracle and the Philippines Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDTC).

Oracle and PLDTC have agreed to build a nationwide computing network as part of a major overhaul of the country's telecommunications infastructure, according to sources close to Oracle.

Roberto Romulo, chairman of PLDTC, and Ellison will sign a letter of intent to build a modern computing infrastructure using Oracle's server-based software, sources say. No financial terms have been disclosed. The deal is still pending final approval, and so far, no provider has been designated to supply NC hardware, said sources.

Oracle has defined an NC reference platform, but does not actually build NC hardware. The company last month announced 30 manufacturers and systems integrators including NEC and Akai Electric, that will build and support the systems.

But the deal could be a huge win for Oracle and a large-scale showcase for Ellison's NC scheme. NCs are loosely defined as computers that rely on a centrally located server computer to store and distribute software, such as Java applications. The platform has been touted as an alternative to traditional Intel-based PCs. In some cases, the server computer is also used to run the applications.

Ellison, speaking last month in Tokyo, said in a news conference that he expected sales of NCs to ramp up to more than 100 million units in 2000.

Oracle will be the main software provider on the project, which should get under way by year's end. Early next year, sources said, computing services will be rolled out to several Philippine schools. PLDTC will begin offering services for business and consumers later in the year, said sources.

Ramos is in part hoping the project will foster the growth of the country's economy by stimulating its software development market. His government has reduced trade and investment barriers in key areas, including telecommunications, in the past few years in the hope of strengthening the Philippines' economy. Other developing economies, such as India, have successfully turned to software development in recent years to spur growth.