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November 24, 1995

MINIGRAMS EXTRA

By CBR Staff Writer

Pacific Telesys Group Inc’s Pacific Bell says its ability to maintain jobs, contribute to the California economy and provide new digital and video services across the state could be seriously affected by a proposal from a staff administrative law judge which, if adopted, will reduce the company’s capital investment options by more than $1,000m over the next three years and will affect thousands of jobs; the recommendation is that the Public Utilities Commission continues to impose a so-called productivity factor of 5% on Pacific Bell which has been in place since 1990 and limits the amount of money the company is able to invest in its operations by assuming that productivity improves by 5% every year and building that assumption into the rate caps on the company; Pacific Bell earlier asked for the productivity factor to be cut to 2%; the judge’s opinion is given to the California Public Utilities Commission which can accept it in full, in part or not at all; it is scheduled to vote on the new rate formula at a meeting on December 20.

Bell Atlantic Corp, Arlington, Virginia has abolished line extension surcharges paid by a quarter of its ISDN customers and also early disconnect penalty charges previously payable for cancellation within three years, back-dated to August 1: it previously charged an extra $35 to $75 a month to boost the ISDN signal if a customer lived more than three to four miles from a telephone company central office; it expects an overall increase of 400 to 500 lines a month as a result of the recent price reductions.

Still buying, Great Neck, New York distributor Avnet Inc signed a contract with Albert Koop Pty Ltd to acquire an 80% interest in Koop Electronics Ltd, a South African electronic components distributor; the terms have not been disclosed.

Storage Technology Corp announced that UK-based Reader’s Digest European Systems has made a substantial investment in a combined disk and tape storage subsystem that includes the 8,000th Nearline robotic library storage module manufactured: Reader’s Digest also has installed 36 TimberLine 9490 tape transports and has ordered some 600Gb of Iceberg 9200 Virtual Storage Facility disk storage capacity.

Sunnyvale, California-based provider of 32-bit software tools Pure Software Inc has completed its acquisition of Performix Inc, client-server load and performance testing company, which will become part of Pure Software: Pure paid 1.9m shares for Performix, which will remain at its Virginia base.

Every American should have a mailbox in cyberspace whether he or she owns a computer or not, concludes a report sponsored by The Markle Foundation, a non profit-making group, and conducted by Santa Monica, California-based research group Rand Corp: it said the ability for everyone to send and receive electronic mail holds important social, economic and political benefits, like making sure poor people are not left out of the information age, creating new business opportunities and producing more informed voters; it recognises that administering millions of electronic mail addresses wouldn’t be easy, but recommended using public funds either from general Treasury revenues or a tax on communications companies and information service providers to help people who otherwise could not afford electronic mail; as a way to reach people who don’t own computers, the study recommended that terminals be located in public places, street corners, community centres, libraries, hotels, just as pay phones are, so people can send and retrieve messages.

Market researcher Palo Alto Management Group Inc, Mountain View, California says the market for parallel processing systems will rise by 40% a year or more to $14,000m by 1999: three-quarters of this figure will be accounted for by commercial applications, including transaction processing, decision support and multimedia; it believes Tandem Computers Inc won 31% of the market in 1994, with AT&T Global Information Solutions and IBM Corp picking up 19% each, Cray Research Inc, Digital Equipment Corp and Fujitsu Lyd splitting around 17% with the remaining 14% divided up between the 20 or so other vendors.

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Dave Fowler, Gradient Technologies Inc vice-president of sales and marketing, told UK journalists last week just how few copies of the UnixWare version of its Distributed Computing Environment implementation had been shipped You could count them on the fingers of two hands – Novell just never pushed UnixWare he said; he has higher hopes now that Santa Cruz Operation Inc is pretty much in sole charge.

Its chief technology officer, Eric Schmidt, will run Mountain View, California-based Sun Microsystems Inc’s sixth business unit, the Java Products Division (or JavaSoft) until a president can be recruited.

Bulgaria and Greece have announced plans to establish the Balkans Telecommunications Pool, which is intended to link the activities of the telecommunications operators: under the plan, the members will jointly launch a shared satellite, exchange experts and know-how for the digital upgrading of the Bulgarian telephone network, and offer new telecomunications services.

Of course there’s no editorial intervention at Prodigy Services Co when it distributes items from sources such as the Dow Jones & Co news wire, but it did rather arouse suspicions on Wednesday when a piece on Netcom On-Line Communication Services Inc and Prodigy turned up totally garbled; we assumed that it was just Prodigy being silly and incompetent when the first half of a Dow piece, inspired by the Kaleida Labs Inc failure on how joint ventures in the computer industry simply don’t work, was missing while the second half appeared twice – then we saw the piece in the hard copy paper version of the Wall Street Journal Europe and found that the missing half contained the sentence Prodigy, the on-line service of IBM and Sears, Roebuck & Co, has run up losses for the past decade and fallen behind rivals as its two owners have clashed over direction – pure coincidence…

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