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  1. Technology
October 20, 1995

MINIGRAMS

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft Corp has an agreement giving it a role in the development of China’s first interactive television project in Shanghai, where a consortium of local companies led by Sunjoy Information Industries plans to invest $7.2m in a pilot project, to which Microsoft will provide technical and software aid.

The Alcatel Bell Belgian subsidiary of Alcatel NV is shedding 340 jobs, partly through early retirement: about 115 of the jobs to go will be at Alcatel Bell’s Colfontaine plant near Mons, and workers at the plant began a strike on Wednesday in protest; the company is expected to cut many more jobs across Europe.

The UK Director General of Telecommunications Don Cruickshank announced that he will be holding a public hearing on proposals to deal more effectively with anti-competitive behaviour, on November 23 in the Great Hall at Centre for European Studies, Kings College London.

Commenting on its second quarter figures (page seven) Computer Associates International Inc says that revenues from its software for mid-range systems grew 66% and are now 24% of total revenues, up from 18%, and that so far, the assimilation of the Legent operation is progressing amazingly well; the operating profits were better than the consensus forecast on Wall Street.

Reporting third quarter profits of $0.30 a share, up from $0.29 a year ago, Keane Inc said the figures were hurt by lower profit margins on its new national contractor pact with IBM Corp and by start-up costs associated with its support of the Microsoft Corp Windows95.

Intel Corp has now received government approval to build a $1,600m semiconductor plant in Israel, the largest foreign investment in country so far, the Treasury said: the facility, to be in the developing area of Kiryat Gat, in the Negev desert, is expected to have annual revenues of $1,000m; Intel already has a production plant in Jerusalem and a research and development facility in Haifa, and will receive a 38% grant from the Industry & Trade Ministry’s Investment Centre under Israel’s law for the encouragement of investment in developing areas.

Siemens AG ended up investing ú80m for the ú100m-a-year Telephone Rentals equipment marketing business of Mercury Communications Ltd, ú50m for a 75% stake and ú30m new capital: the unit employs 900 people.

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Wilmington, Massachusetts-based Datawatch Corp has bought Pole Position GmbH, a German personal computer software developer, for 300,000 new shares: Pole Position’s main product is netOctopus, a network and system administration product, and it also offers LaserPlot to convert AutoCAD HPGL-format files to Encapsulated PostScript format and there’s also a soon-to-be released MPEG video compression and decompression software product.

AT&T Corp says Paradyne, the Largo, Florida network access products manufacturer it just put on the block has annual sales of $300m and a workforce of about 1,300 people.

Sega Enterprises Ltd has come out with its add-on for the Saturn video games system tailored for Internet access, and looks to sell 300,000 of the things in the first year of marketing – it will be launched in Japan next spring: the product results from a joint venture with Nissan Motor Co Ltd (CI No 2,757); it costs the equivalent of $200.

Kokusai Denshin Denwa Co Ltd announced it would cut international call rates by an average 6.7%, effective from November 1 to redress a price gap with its foreign competitors following the yen’s appreciation, and will set aside $135m to pay for the rate cuts in the year ending March 1996, the company said: ongoing deregulation in the international telecommunications market also forced the rate cuts and tariffs on daytime calls of three minutes to the US, where deregulation is taking place more rapidly, will be cut by 20% $4.76 the company said; Kokusai last cut its tariffs on December 1, 1994, when it reduced its rates by an average 4.1% at a cost of $76.5m found in the 1994/95 business year.

A consortium headed by Alcatel-Alsthom SA’s Submarine Networks and including Italy’s Maristel has won a $39m contract for a fibre optic cable between Barcelona, Spain and Savona, Italy, Alcatel said: Alcatel Submarine Networks will produce the equipment for the terminal station and relays in France and the UK, and will manufacture the cable with Maristel in France and Italy; the 480-mile underwater link is due to start operating commercially in December 1996, the company added.

The Seiko Epson Corp arm of Seiko Corp says it is to set up a full-blown sales subsidiary in Taiwan.

Off with their hands! Novell Inc says that 96% of software in use in the Middle East is pirated, the Associated Press reports from Dubai.

The UK Office of Telecommunications is commissioning a study into the area code telephone numbers to get a more accurate picture of the level of demand over the next five to 10 years and beyond, taking account of new developments and technological trends: the study is due to be completed early next year.

Fujitsu Ltd says it has a new fibre optic telecommunications technology, Virtually Imaged Phased Array, and says it is superior to existing methods, which decompose light into multiple wavelengths since it achieves angular dispersion 10 to 20 times larger than conventional diffraction methods – tests have achieved angular dispersion of 0.4 to 0.8 degrees per nanometre and 10 wavelengths with 0.8 nanometre spacing, it said; it plans to present the new technology at a micro optics conference today in Hiroshima,

IPC Corp Pte Ltd, Singapore reports orders for 80,000 units of its new home station, the MY.G.NiE, which combines television set, personal computer, video and audio compact disk player, radio, karoake system, telephone answering system and facsimile machine in a single station.

AST Research Inc has announced its autumn line-up of Advantage! multimedia personal computers, with estimated prices ranging from $1,900 for an Advantage! P/100 to $3,000 for a fully loaded Advantage! P/133: there are only two processors, 100MHz and 133MHz Pentiums, and the machines come with 8Mb or 16Mb of upgradable memory, pre-installed start-up kits for on-line services and the electronic version of the Wall Street Journal.

Aiming at the Macintosh company’s educational heartland, Dell Computer Corp named former Apple Computer Inc executive Tom Fitzgerald as director of education, state and local government sales: he had been the natonal markets sales manager in the education division at Apple.

Mexican telecommunications operator Grupo Iusacell SA de CV has been awarded a concession to operate long-distance telephone service in Mexico as of 1997, and two other firms, MarcaTel SA and Tricom SA, will also win concessions later this week Reforma said: Iusacell told the newspaper that it planned to invest up to $1,560m in its cellular telephone infrastructure to help prepare for the long-distance market; Telefonos de Mexico SA’s monopoly expires in 1997 and several companies, including US firms like MCI Communications Corp and Sprint Corp have already signed up with Mexican partners to compete in the lucrative long-distance market.

Eagan, Minnesota-based Cray Research Inc has received a third quarter order for two Cray J916 supercomputers from the US Department of Energy, to be installed in the fourth quarter at Allied Signal Inc’s Kansas City Division which operates a defence manufacturing plant for the Department of Energy: the supercomputer systems were procured under competitive bid and will replace older systems, Cray said; the terms were not disclosed.

Motorola Inc said its International Cellular Infrastructure Division won a contract worth more than $17m to deploy a fixed wireless telephone system in Zambia which will interface directly with any related telephone exchange: Mercury Communications Ltd has been considering the idea in the UK because the Wireless Local Loop system provides fixed telephony service to remote areas quickly and cost-effectively by using radio as a substitute for wire and the first phase of the installation system will begin immediately, providing land-line phone service to about 2,000 subscribers in and around the capital city of Lusaka, the city of Ndola and surrounding rural and urban areas known as the Copper Belt.

Microsoft Corp agreed to use Menlo Park, California-based CyberSource Corp’s software.net, which it calls the first Internet-based software superstore, as the first service to market, sell and deliver Microsoft software titles electronically over the Internet: software.net enables customers to browse through the latest software products and buy what they want instantly, around the clock; CyberSource said it will add most of Microsoft’s software products to its existing service which already includes Excel, Word, Flight Simulator and others; the Web address is http://software.net.

Digital Equipment Corp, Oracle Corp, Consilium Inc, Mountain View, and Avnet Computer Inc, Tempe, Arizona joined forces in a marketing alliance to pitch the VMS version of Consilium’s WorkStream manufacturing software to semiconductor and electronic manufacturers.

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