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November 9, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Japan’s Softbank Corp and Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp unit NTT Data Communications System Corp will next month jointly launch a low-cost Internet access service through their Mediabank Corp joint venture owned 60% by Softbank and 40% by NTT Data: under the agreement, Mediabank will provide corporate and individual users with Internet access using NTT Data’s nationwide networks; pricing details were not revealed; Mediabank will also lease servers, provide content for Internet home pages and operate on-line malls for network shoppers and wants sales of $9.8m in the first year after the launch.

Koninklijke PTT Nederland NV predicts that the number of cable television firms offering services in the Netherlands will be slashed to three or four in a few years, having already fallen to 50 from 1,500 a few years ago: the company has not predicted who the major players will be, but said the future technology will need huge investment, not viable for a firm with only 100,000 subscribers; in the Netherlands, cable television, which sprang up partly because it was the best way to send signals into homes in a country where hills for television masts are in short supply, is a utility, often paid for along with energy bills; it has been traditionally provided by local authorities, energy firms, dedicated operators and the PTT, which owns 77% of Casema NV, a 25-year old cable company that reaches 12m Dutch households; Philips and Dutch PTT last month confirmed they were in talks to create a European firm with 3.5m connections and operators in the country are seen beefing up existing cable networks to offer a range of new interactive services.

According to Ira Goldstein, senior vice-president and chief scientist of Open Software Foundation’s Research Institute, the application porgramming initiative that some of its sponsors – IBM Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co, Hitachi Ltd and Digital Equipment Corp – are working on in order to bring their Mach microkernal initiatives into sync are up and running internally, with a spec due at the begining of December; a performance and conformance test suite is due to follow next year.

An underwater cable between Estonia and Sweden was opened last month: the cable, owned by Sweden’s Telia AB, the Estonian Telephone Co and Denmark’s Great Northern Telegraph Co, is part of a new link stretching from Estonia’s eastern border city of Narva to the western island of Hiiumaa and from there on to Stockholm; it is also used as back-up for a similar link between Copenhagen and St Petersburg, Russia.

Calgary, Alberta-based NovAtel Communications Ltd has sold its wireless access products business unit to Melbourne, Florida-based Harris Corp for an undisclosed sum: it said the move will enable it to focus on expanding its global positioning systems and its personal communications products groups.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Pilot Software Inc is integrating its LightShip performance planning software – used to be called an Executive Information System – with IBM Corp’s DB2, DataGuide and DataJoiner products under the IBM information warehouse initiative,

Louisville, Kentucky-based VideoLan Technologies Inc has signed a distribution agreement with Samsung Electronics Co under which the South Korean will have three-year exclusive rights to sell, service, and distribute VideoLan’s VL 2000 desktop multimedia products in its home market: over three years, Samsung will buy $50m to $70m of VL 2000 multimedia products and associated peripherals VideoLan plans to start shipping during the first quarter of 1996, and full scale marketing during the second quarter; VideoLan is also discussing with Samsung distribution agreements in other markets in the Pacific Rim, as well as the development and distribution of other products.

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Portable workstation outfit RDI Computer Corp, out of Carlsbad, California, has opened a European headquarters in Ascot, Berkshire: RDI vice-president Reg Broughton will head the operation; the company claims it has distributor agreements throughout Europe, with sales and service carried out via RDI offices in Aalen, Germany.

Representatives of Albania, Croatia, Germany, Greece and France have signed an accord to lay a 275-mile optical cable in the Adriatic, from Dubrovnik to the Albanian port of Durres and the island of Corfu: the project is aimed at improving telecommunication connections between southern European countries and other parts of the continent; the Adria 1 project will cost modest $14m and is expected to be completed within the next eight months.

Network Computing Devices Inc’s NCD Software Corp, Mountain View, California has upgraded PC-Xware 3.0, its X Window Enterprise desktop product: it includes an integrated TCP/IP suite and has been shipping since September 30 at from $545.

SCS/Compute Inc, St Louis, Missouri, has bought RAM Software Inc, a provider of tax software applications, based in Grants Pass, Oregon for an undisclosed sum: RAM generated about $400,000 of revenues last year and SCS/Compute said it expects it to contribute to profit figures in the current fiscal year.

Is Sony Corp quite sure those Lithium ion batteries are as safe as it has maintained up to now? Apple Computer Inc had to stop using the things in its PowerBook 5300 after some employees using them had their laptops catch fire on them, and now the only plant in which Sony makes the batteries has burned down…

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