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October 18, 1995

MINIGRAMS

By CBR Staff Writer

At the beginning of the year, a US Telecommunications Reform bill would be an act of Congress by the end of May, remember? We scoffed at that one, but we did sort of expect that something would be in place by the end of this year – now even that may prove optimistic: since bills were passed in the House and the Senate, progress on forming a harmonisation committee has been so dilatory that doubt is cast on the promise made by House telecommunications subcommmittee Chairman Jack Fields two weeks ago to deliver a complete package to the White House by Thanksgiving, and some pessimists are betting that the push for telecommunications reform this year will meet the same fate as it did in 1994 – last-minute demise as the time runs out, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Racal Electronics Plc says its Rampart consortium has made it to the shortlist of the UK Ministry of Defence for the contract to create and run a new national military telecommunications network: other members of Rampart are Logica Plc and consultant engineer W S Atkins; the project will integrate 50 disparate Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force and ministry networks, which cost ú160m a year to run, to create a single voice and data communications system providing a tariff-based service, Racal said.

IBM Credit Corp’s third quarter profits plunged 31% to $53.5m, but that was against a period that included a one-time gain resulting from the Comdisco Inc litigation settlement, and excluding that, third quarter earnings rose by 7%.

The French government is contemplating privatisation of Thomson SA in the spring of 1996, according to documents submitted to the National Assembly, Les Echos reported.

The 4,060-mile TAT-12 fibre optic transatlantic cable began transmitting telecommunications traffic among points in the US, the UK and France yesterday, AT&T Corp said: TAT-12 runs from Shirley, Long Island, to Greenhill, Rhode Island, across the Atlantic to Lands End and from there to Penmarch, France; the final link, TAT-13, will recross the Atlantic between Penmarch and Shirley, completing a loop network at a total cost of $740m.

3Com Corp now owns Chipcom Corp, having completed the takeover last week: it paid 18.2m shares worth $839m, and options on 2.4m more for all shares and options of Chipcom.

GTE Corp’s Irving, Texas-based GTE Telephone Operations says it expects to cut 4,700 jobs by the end of the year as part of its three-year plan to streamline operatons and reduce costs, which calls for the loss of 17,000 jobs all told.

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Digital Equipment Corp, which has now largely ceded its destiny to third parties, says it expects its new service agreement with Compaq Computer Corp to bring in $250m to $1,000m revenue over the next three years, vice-president John Rando told Reuters writer Lori Valigra.

Sand Technology Systems International Inc, Hitachi Data Systems Inc’s Canadian reseller, has transferred its US-based printer maintenance business to the Printing Systems Co of IBM Corp as part of a move to direct its resources more firmly on the development of new products: Sand will receive payments based on the transferred maintenance contracts and it will continue to supply IBM with technical support, spare parts and supplies for the term of seven years.

What’s in a name? When it comes to personal computer brands, it depends what the name is, and business customers are far less willing to pay as much of a premium for the computers from Apple Computer Inc, AST Research Inc and Digital Equipment Corp than they were two years ago, while they are ready to pay more for machines from Compaq Computer Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell Computer Corp, researcher IntelliQuest Inc, Austin, Texas found – the Hewlett name is worth $260 on the price compared with a no-name clone, up from $145 in the poll in 1993 – but the AST franchise is a wasting asset and is worth only $17 more, down from $176 two years ago; the IBM Corp brand is still worth $339, down from $364, Compaq is worth $318, up from $301, Apple’s value among corporate buyers has slumped to $182 from $264, despite all the noise about its personal computer business, the DEC name is worth a mere $10, down from $178 two years ago, but Dell is on the up and up, $230 now, $161 in 1993.

Fairfield, Connecticut-based DCI Telecommunications Inc has a letter of intent to buy all the assets of StapleVision Inc and expects to sign definitive agreement on November 30: DCI said StapleVision has two inventions of interest, thin film display technology and omnispectramammography; no terms given.

Chinese officials have confiscated more than 15,000 pirate CD-ROM disks, including pornographic ones, and arrested 500 illegal dealers, most of whom were farmers from northern Hebei and Henan provinces and from the central provinces of Anhui and Sichuan hired by Peking dealers to sell the pirated disks, in the last three months, the Xinhua Daily Telegraph said: the arrests were part of a crackdown launched by China after signing an agreement with the US last March to halt piracy of intellectual property, thereby averting trade sanctions and a Pacific trade war; US officials said Chinese authorities were getting tough but were targeting the dealers rather than the factories, only one of which has been closed, and piracy is still a serious problem; last Friday, farmers hailing from outside Peking stood on the main street in Zhongguancun offering pirate copies of Windows95 for just five dollars…

You pays your money and you takes your choice: suggested prices paid for Probe Entertainment Ltd of London by Glen Cove, New York-based Acclaim Entertainment Inc – in Acclaim shares – range from ú12m all the way up to ú60m: according to the Financial Times, games developed by the Mortal Kombat originator have generated sales totalling ú900m at retail, yet Probe’s annual turnover is running at only ú4m.

German printing supplies group Linotype Hell AG, Eschborn, duly warned it expected a loss in the second half of this year because of currency-driven pressure on sales, and thus would not achieve its goal of reporting profit for the full 1995 year; it said said in it would cut up to 300 jobs in Germany by the middle of 1996, dissapointing analysts and investors; Linotype said however that its balance sheet was healthy and strongly denied rumours that was planning a rights issue.

Clarification: the 500 a year sales number over four years that Hitachi Ltd has been forecasting for its top-end Skyline ECL mainframe (CI No 2,764) is for processors or engines, not for multiprocessor systems – the things will typically go out as six- or eight-way systems.

Correction: Ameritech Inc is bidding alone for the stake on offer in Belgacom NV, not as part of the Dutch and Swiss team (CI No 2,772).

Young and foolish, the folks at Demon Internet Ltd laugh at the risks it is taking of suffering the same fate as Procter & Gamble Inc from demented anti-Devil worshippers – it asked its providers for a new suffix for its numbers and they concurred on 666: should prompt a few calls from those that are a few dial-ups short of a connection.

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