Intranet is the technology buzzword today as more and more companies use the Internet for internal and external communications. An intranet allows companies to put as much information on their systems as possible. Users can access databases using web browsers. This could eliminate the problems associated with maintaining different databases that needed constant upgrading, said William Yeung, senior manager of Internet and intranet services for Hongkong Telecom. The company uses intranets internally and externally. Directory inquiries are available on the Internet and the billing system is scheduled to go on-line soon. 'We have all this information on our databases. We can decide what to make available to the public and what to circulate internally,' Mr Yeung said. Intranets can also use multimedia in company memos so that an address by the president can be seen on video, rather than in the text and picture format. In addition, the system saves time and money through the use of computer-based training programs. Companies that want to allow their customers access to certain aspects of their database can extend their intranet to clients and suppliers while controlling entry. 'Financial institutions can put their company profiles on-line. Customers can fill in application forms on-line, and a bank can come back to them with a typical investment or mortgage plan that fits their needs,' Mr Yeung said. Telecom offers a one-stop-shop solution to clients wanting to use intranet applications. Companies can either set up their own intranet with assistance from Telecom, or they can use a network-based intranet that comes with a complete range of ready-made services. Using a network-based intranet saves companies the need to build up the operational and technical skills needed to maintain the system. 'Managed Public IntraNetwork (MPIN) is Telecom's plug-and-play solution to intranet needs. There is a trend in the market to out-source skills. Many companies don't want to buy and manage the hardware, so we do it for them. It is not, however, a one-man race. We work with vendors including HP and Microsoft, and are able to offer a wide range of technology,' Mr Yeung said. 'Securing intranets is a major concern of companies. With MPIN, clients can choose which parts of the database others can have access to. This goes to the Telecom network where it is provided with fire wall security,' he said.