24th > June > 2000 Archive

FCC balks at AOL/Time Warner wedding

On Friday, just after AOL and Time Warner shareholders gave their overwhelming final blessing to the proposed $123 billion merger, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spoiled the party by demanding additional information from both companies in its investigation into issues related to competition, Reuters reports. The FCC is asking pointed questions about AOL's new television service, wondering what services AOL-TV subscribers will get, and what deals the company has made with cable operators. The Agency also requested information about AOL's investment in TiVo, a personal television service which allows viewers to schedule programming, the wire service says. The FCC also wants to look into Time Warner's cable system and will examine documents related to plans for Road Runner, a joint venture owned by Time Warner, Microsoft and Compaq. The Agency also asked for a list of all companies in which either AOL or Time Warner holds a stake of five per cent or more, as well as the price to be asked of ISPs to gain access to the merged company's cable systems. And if that wasn't enough, US watchdog organisation Consumers Union announced Friday that it will challenge the ownership links between AT&T and the proposed AOL/Time Warner mono.... em, very large corporation. Together, the companies would control more than half of the cable lines in the US, Consumers Union reckons. They would also control access to over half of the Internet subscribers who connect through standard modems and three-quarters of broadband customers. "These transactions could allow AT&T and AOL/Time Warner to undercut competition and inflate cable and Internet charges," Consumers Union stated on Friday. Precisely what the FCC seems to have in the back of its mind too, though few analysts expect it to reject the proposal outright. What we're seeing here is probably more of a 'close read' of the two companies' various projections and rosy promises, with an eye to closing the loopholes. ®
Thomas C Greene, 24 Jun 2000

Intel: an apology

Last week the Register published a story headlined Intel's Barrett: I will retire. The story contained factual inaccuracies for which we would like to unreservedly apologise. The story alleged that CEO Craig Barrett was known internally as "The Ice Man". We now accept that this is entirely wrong and wish to apologise for any distress caused to Mr Barrett and his family. Had our reporter not been talking to one of his degenerate drinking companions on his mobile phone at the time, Mr Barrett would, of course, been correctly referred to as "That Nice Man", the title used by all 80,000 Intel employees when referring to their esteemed leader. Reports that - following an unfortunate, misinterpreted off the cuff remark made before several hundred journalists in Moscow - an unnamed large software company now refers to Mr Barrett as "That backstabbing ratbag who'll be first (nah, second after that Penfield Jackson schmuck) against the wall when we take over the World", remain largely unsubstantiated. ®
Our correspondent, 24 Jun 2000

Intel: an apology

Last week the Register published a story headlined Intel's Barrett: I will retire. The story contained factual inaccuracies for which we would like to unreservedly apologise. The story alleged that CEO Craig Barrett was known internally as "The Ice Man". We now accept that this is entirely wrong and wish to apologise for any distress caused to Mr Barrett and his family. Had our reporter not been talking to one of his degenerate drinking companions on his mobile phone at the time, Mr Barrett would, of course, been correctly referred to as "That Nice Man", the title used by all 80,000 Intel employees when referring to their esteemed leader. Reports that - following an unfortunate, misinterpreted off the cuff remark made before several hundred journalists in Moscow - an unnamed large software company now refers to Mr Barrett as "That backstabbing ratbag who'll be first (nah, second after that Penfield Jackson schmuck) against the wall when we take over the World", remain largely unsubstantiated. ®
Andrew Thomas, 24 Jun 2000

Quantum debuts cheaper Fireball

Following the discovery that the consumer will sacrifice hard drive speeds for cash, Quantum is adding another low-budget, low-speed drive to its Fireball family. The Fireball lct20 follows the fairly recent addition of the Fireball lct15. Where the lct15 has 30GB of storage, the lct20 has 20GB per platter, and runs slightly faster at 4500rpm rather than 4400rpm. The company has published a white paper where it announces its discovery that what Joe and Joanna Public really want from a hard drive is reliability, not too much noise and low ownership costs. The lct20 generates a mouse-like 27 decibels when running on idle - that is the equivalent of a person whispering, and is still under 30 decibels when working flat out. Recommended retail price is $259. Initial OEM shipments of the 3.5in drive are scheduled to begin in August. The drive is available in optimum capacities of 10GB, 20GB, 30GB and 40GB. The drive is scheduled for European launch on Monday. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Jun 2000

Micron holds out in Rambus patent game

Hitachi may have come out of the patent trenches with its hands up, Toshiba may have surrended to Rambus, the Great Satan of IP, but Micron has not yet given up the ghost, it emerged late yesterday. Responding to a question as to whether Micron would now license DDR (double data rate) and SDRAM (synchronous memory) patents, from Rambus, a representative late last night showed that her company, at least, was not a crumbly Dramurai. As we reported early yesterday, Hitachi gave in fighting Rambus and struck a deal to license these patents, also agreeing to end different legal battles it had with the firm across the world. But a Micron representative agreed with Intel CEO Craig Barrett that the memory IP game is not all done and dusted. She told The Register: "Micron is aware of the recent agreements Rambus has made with Toshiba and Hitachi. Although we do not know the circumstances of these agreements and cannot comment on this issue, it is important that parallels not be drawn between what these two companies have done and what other semiconductor manufacturers will do. It is also important to understand that resolution of intellectual property issues is ongoing in this industry." Yesterday, Rambus share price managed to reach the dizzy post-split heights of $127 during the trading day, finally closing at over $114, a rise of $17 compared to the night before. Earlier in the week, Intel's "Ice Man", Craig Barrett, told us that the Toshiba settlement did not mean the game was over. Related Stories Hitachi capitulates to Rambus Intel says Rambus-Tosh deal not the final word
Mike Magee, 24 Jun 2000