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  1. Technology
September 14, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Those two dinosaurs, simpering like ageing queens and trying to pretend that it’s quite impossible for a successful telecommunications privatisation to go ahead by 1998 when in the UK, privatisation was successfully achieved to the enormous benefit of the economy over a decade ago, are causing Sprint Corp real problems, because it really needs the money that Deutsche Telekom AG and France Telecom have agreed to pay for their combined 20% stake, and if they and their governments – effectively still one and the same – don’t stop prevaricating, they are going to lose the deal altogether because Sprint will have to look elsewhere for the money to pursue its multimedia and cable television dreams; the company is looking at spinning off its cellular operations to shareholders but that only benefits the company to the extent that Sprint can spin it off loaded down with debt – and if debt is too high, it will fail to get a spin-off approved at all.

Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA says a key element in its efforts to turn around its bleeding personal computer business will be to abandon development and manufacture of its own notebook computers and contracting of the work out to an unidentified Taiwanese manufacturer: the move harks back to the company’s very beginnings in portable computers when it took a version of the machine developed and manufactured by Kyocera Corp that was sold by Tandy Corp as the Tandy Model 100 – Olivetti called it the Olivetti M10.

AT&T Corp’s AT&T Wireless has teamed with Brazilian bank Bradesco Ltda and media giant Organizacoes Globo Ltda to develop cellular communications in Brazil: the joint venture plans to invest $1,000m over five years to build and run cellular telephone services in Brazil.

The European Commission, criticising Italy for being a major offender, said yesterday it was determined to ensure that national governments did not discriminate against new cellular operators: Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert said the Commission was close to stepping up legal action against Italy over the procedures it used to license a second digital mobile operator, Omnitel-Pronto Italia.

The Mitsubishi Semiconductor America Inc chip-making unit of Mitsubishi Electric Corp is to add 40,000 square feet to its Durham, North Carolina plant for more evaluation labs and space for chip designers.

Privately-owned news and information vendor Bloomberg Financial Markets Inc says its clients can now access its data via their own systems rather than exclusively via Bloomberg’s stand-alone terminals, the first time the company has offered open access to its news and financial data system, and an increase in the competition it poses to Reuters Holdings Plc: the switch to an open system requires clients to use a Bloomberg keyboard attached to any networked workstations that are approved for Bloomberg information and it also requires them to install a Bloomberg board.

Magnum Power Plc reports that it has concluded heads of agreement on a first partnership programme with a major manufacturer of power supplies for computers and related products, Golden Systems Inc, a Simi Valley, California volume manufacturer of OEM power supplies: the outline pact envisages supply of BI-UPS-compatible power supplies – the uninterruptible supplies that go inside personal computers – jointly by Magnum Power and Golden Systems to the OEM market; the company is still looking for its first deal with a computer maker.

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Developing Asian nations must liberalise their telecommunications sectors faster or they will not be able to compete in the world economy, Richard Li, son of Hong Kong property mogul Li Ka-shing and owner of satellite communications operator Pacific Century Group Ltd told the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong; he also said that unless China opens to competition, it too would take a long time to build its telecommunications infrastructure to a world standard; he pointed out that many countries in Asia, with the exception of Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, h

ad low densities of phone lines – while Japan had 46 telephone lines per 100 people and Hong Kong 50, China had 1.5 lines, India 0.9 and Vietnam 0.4 lines, and televisions often came before telephone lines.

L M Ericsson Telefon AB, Stockholm, has won a contract from China’s posts and telecommunications ministry to install 2.6m AXE telephone lines in 1996 and 1997: the company said that it had also signed an agreement for the ministry’s Wuhan Research Institute to design, market and distribute Ericsson’s Synchronous Digital Hierarchy data transmission products in China; No value was put on the new AXE order.

Former Walt Disney Studios president Richard Frank has joined forces with Comcast Corp to create a major media company that will produce and distribute its own programmes: the new C3 Inc will be based in Los Angeles, and plans to develop and produce programming, create new outlets to distribute programmes and acquire media-related companies; a production division will produce cable, network and first-run syndicated programmes, and also do programming for interactive technologies such as video games.

Compaq Computer Corp introduced the Compaq Presario 7100 Series desktop, its lower-priced end, the Compaq Presario 5500 all-in-one, and the Compaq Presario 9500 Series minitower, priced between $1,700 to $3,000: the new line of home personal computers have multimedia features , with a US-wide television commercial campaign for November.

Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc says that over 100,000 PlayStation games consoles were sold in its first weekend with retailers.

Apple Computer Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co said they plan to develop two Macintosh-based products for markets in Japan: the products, MAE, Macintosh Application Environment, 2.0 with Japanese Language Kit and Nihongo MAE 2.0, will enable users to run some Macintosh applications on Unix systems; Hewlett-Packard Japan will sell and support both products in Japan and other international markets; the first product is set for availability by the end of September with subsequent products out in October and also in the first half of 1996.

Motorola Inc has reduced its stake in display maker In Focus Systems Inc to 3.8% or 411,543 shares by selling 200,000 shares of In Focus between August 15 and August 23 for $28.00 to $30.38 a share: Motorola says it may sell additional shares of the company from time to time.

Counterfeit Nintendo Co Ltd video games machines and controller pads have been seized from a factory in the southern Chinese special economic zone of Shenzhen, the company said: Nintendo said Shenzhen Belsonic Electronics Co admitted producing the pirated products and agreed to pay damages of $2.4m to the Japanese company and issue a public apology; the Shenzhen Patent & Administration Office conducted the raid following a complaint by Nintendo; it was the company’s first anti-piracy action in China.

Regina, Saskatchewan-based SaskTel said it has agreed to sell its British cable holdings to Diamond Cable Communications Plc for more than $93m: SaskTel, which is wholly owned by the Saskatchewan provincial government, said it expects a profit of more than $75m from the transaction, about triple its original investment; it will divest its interest in cable franchises for Leicester, Shepshed, Loughborough, Hinckley and Burton-Upon-Trent in Britain; the transaction is expected to close shortly after regulatory approvals come through.

Taiwan personal computer maker Acer Inc reported turnover for August soared 75% to the equivalent of $176.3m from $100.7m a year ago due to strong sales in high-end models, the Wall Street Journal reported: turnover for the first eight months this year totalled $1,221m, up 77% from a year earlier; turnover for the Acer Group, which includes TI-Acer Inc, Acer Peripheral Inc and Acer Sertek Inc, was also up by 61% to $41m in August, Acer announced.

The director general of the UK’s Office of Telecommunications watchdog said the agency’s re

gulatory powers had been watered down and called for a rebalancing to enable it to protect the interests of the consumer: he reiterated Oftel’s objective to create a sweeping new ruling on anticompetitive behaviour that would sharply increase the regulator’s control over British Telecommunications Plc, rebuffing British Telecom’s argument that there should be an appeals procedure attached to the catch-all ruling; the issue is a crucial sticking point between the two and if they fail to reach agreement, it could trigger a referral of the regulatory issue to the Monopolies & Mergers Commission ; on the question of accountability, the director said it was crucial for Oftel to retain its independence and not come under pressure from government ministers seeking to influence decisions; Oftel said it hopes the issue will be resolved by October.

Microsoft Corp’s speech software development kit, which enables software developers to provide native speech-recognition and text-to-speech capabilities in their software for the Windows95 and Windows NT operating systems, is in beta testing: it includes all the necessary tools for independent software vendors to develop speech-enabled applications, and can enhance existing computer environments, such as remote telephone access or hands-free communication; it will also enhance applications for people with disabilities when a hands-free interface is required, and can make Windows-based applications accessible world-wide to users with visual or mobility impairments, the company said; Microsoft Speech is due to be available in early 1996.

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