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November 3, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Shareholders of US West Inc have turned out in force to back the company’s proposal to split its shares into two classes, one for the regulated telecommunications arm, the other for the multimedia interests: when the vote is completed, holders will get one new media share for each US West they currently hold, with the latter shares becoming the phone company class, and it will be left to the market to decide what each should be worth; the idea that people only interested in a – these days only relatively – safe but boring phone company can sell their US West media shares and put the proceeds into phone company ones, and vice versa.

AT&T Corp and Cycom International Inc will jointly develop and market digital speech encryption attachments for Motorola Inc’s Micro-Tac cellular phones, adding AT&T’s Surity encryption technology to Cycom’s Slice cellular security device: AT&T will sell to government, and Cycom to the commercial sector.

Motorola Inc’s Boynton Beach, Florida-based Paging Products Group has licensed Hewlett-Packard Co as the first company to build test equipment for devices and infrastructure hardware based on its Flex technology protocol for operating two-way paging devices: licensing the protocols to the test equipment maker is a necessary step to building the next generation wireless paging systems, Motorola said; it’s been working to make Flex the de facto standard for high speed paging; it has been adopted by 16 of the top 20 US paging service providers and others in Canada, Japan and Asia.

Austria’s government will carve up its once-protected telecommunications sector next month and six international consortia have lodged bids for its second Groupe Special Mobile network, with United Telecom Austria AG one of the front runners: the Ministry for State Industry and consultants Deloitte & Touche are currently weighing bids with an announcement expected before the December 17 general election, to enable a July 1996 start date; United Telecom Austria includes nine Austrian regional utilities, Bank Austria, Raiffeisen Zentralbank and AirTouch Communications Inc; the other bids are from Austrocom, Montacom, Hallo Telecom, Oe-Call and Connect Austria which include Austrian banks, industrial interests and international telephone companies including Vodafone Group Plc and Bell Atlantic Corp; the winner of the 20-year licence can expect sales of $1,000m by the year 2000, will pay $100m to the treasury next year and invest up to $604m in what is a small but very fast-growing market sector.

Digital Equipment Corp has a $30m four-year contract for systems integration services for Bank Przemyslowo-Handlowy in Cracow, Poland: DEC will provide hardware, software and installation services for a new system at the bank’s head office in Cracow and in 100 branches around Poland; about 90% of the project will be financed by the World Bank.

Following its promise earlier this month to cut the charges its rivals pay for using its local phone networks (CI No 2,769), Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp says it has agreed to a 16% cut in the charges paid by DDI Corp, Japan Telecom Co Ltd and Teleway Japan Corp, bringing basic access fees down to $0.10 per three minutes from $0.12, backdated to April 1995: the cut will bring the three long-distance firms windfall profits of $493m in the year to the end of March 1996, they said; Nippon Telegraph also agreed to change the way of calculating access charges for local calls and to introduce a system based on charging by the second from 1996-7.

Hewlett-Packard Co, Palo Alto, California, has reduced prices on its HP DeskJet 850 series small office printers, effective November 1: with the $50 reduction, the printers should go for about $500.

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ITT Corp chairman Rand Araskog says that the leisure and information group he will run after ITT completes its pending break-up may sell its $800m equity stake in Alcatel Alsthom SA: Alcatel NV combines the old Compagnie Generale d’Electricite SA telephone equipment business with ITT’s former continental telecommunications arm.

Siemens AG has won a $40m contract to supply Personal Communications Services hand-sets to GO Communications Inc, which is to bid for more US licenses in the forthcoming entrepreneurs round, marking the German’s entry into the $2,000m a year US cellular telephone handset market; Siemens, one of the four largest suppliers of hand-sets in Europe, said it will make the PCS 1900 standard hand-sets at its plant in Austin, Texas and has recruited Robert Hunsberger from Northern Telecom Ltd to head the new unit, called Siemens Wireless Terminals.

NEC Corp has agreed to transfer its Digital Radio Multiple Access Subscriber System technology, which enables telephone, facsimile, telex and data transmission over wide areas at low cost to South African telecommunications manufacturer Plessey South Africa Ltd: NEC will supply equipment and train engineers at Plessey, which will make DRMASS equipment and begin shipping it under NEC’s brand name in March 1996, the Japanese company said. NEC said it expects to win telecommunications business worth $197m inSouth Africa in the next five years.

And it only took 20 years: back in 1975, Thinking Machines Corp founder and genius Danny Hillis predicted in a speech at the New York City Hilton that computers would be so cheap that they would be everywhere – in numbers exceeding the world’s population, only to be heckled with What are you going to do with all those computers? It’s not as if you want one in every doorknob… what did the smart guy know? Back at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab after his Thinking Machines odyssey, Hillis returned to the hotel the other day and noticed the new keyless room entry systems, and hey, know what? he says – There is a computer in every doorknob.

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