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In brief: AT&T, Sprint sound retreat

Jul 26, 20044 mins

Plus: Microsoft to put teeth in Sender ID; Verizon offers consumer VoIP service; Majority of SCO suit against DaimlerChrysler dismissed; Florida man indicted for hacking; and, Sun may port Solaris to new processors.

AT&T and Sprint both said last week that they will no longer seek new consumer customers. The carriers say they are not pulling out of any markets, and each vows to continue to support their existing customers. Both made these statements during their second-quarter earnings calls. The interexchange carriers have lamented current local access rates, which they say are too high, and are expected to go up because the incumbent local exchange carriers essentially were told they no longer have to offer local lines to the IXCs at discounted rates. In a report issued last week one financial analyst called AT&T’s move a likely “bid for regulatory sympathy.” But AT&T says it will save $1 billion per year by not going after new consumers. Sprint says its move will have little effect on the company because it only has just more than 300,000 local customers.

Microsoft will soon put some teeth in its Sender ID anti-spam plans by checking e-mail messages sent to its Hotmail, MSN and mail accounts to see if they come from valid e-mail servers, as identified by Sender ID. The company last week said it is strongly urging e-mail providers and ISPs to publish Sender Policy Framework records that identify their e-mail servers in the DNS by mid-September. Microsoft will begin matching the source of inbound e-mail to the IP addresses of e-mail servers listed in that sending domain’s SPF record by Oct. 1. Messages that fail the check will not be rejected, but will be further scrutinized and filtered, says Craig Spiezle, director of Microsoft’s Safety Technology and Strategy Group. Sender ID is a proposed technology standard, backed by Microsoft, for verifying an e-mail message’s source. It combines two previous standards: the Microsoft-developed Caller ID, and the Meng Weng Wong-developed SPF. (Columnists Mark Gibbs and Paul McNamara weigh in on the spam issue this week.)

Verizon last week unveiled VoiceWing, a nationwide consumer VoIP service for DSL and cable modem users. Verizon intends to release an enterprise VoIP offering later this year. VoiceWing lets consumers make unlimited local and long-distance phone calls within the U.S. for $40 per month. Subscribers to Verizon Online DSL can get VoiceWing for $35 per month. Users of other broadband services will get an introductory price of $35 for the first six months of service if they order VoiceWing by Oct. 31. VoiceWing lets customers choose their own area code in 139 markets in 33 states and Washington, D.C.

A Michigan judge has dismissed all but one count in the lawsuit The SCO Group filed against DaimlerChrysler earlier this year. SCO sued the automaker in March, saying it had refused to provide a certification of compliance to show that it was abiding by a 1990 Unix licensing agreement. In April, DaimlerChrysler asked the court to dismiss the suit, saying that it no longer used the software in question. The judge dismissed all counts except for the claim that DaimlerChrysler delayed responding to the request for certification. SCO executives wouldn’t say whether they planned to pursue the case. But they did say that the ruling would have no bearing on ongoing litigation with IBM, Novell or AutoZone.

A federal grand jury has indicted Scott Levine, the 45-year-old manager of a company called in Boca Raton, Fla., for allegedly breaking into the network of Acxiom in Arkansas, which provides software and services for managing customer-related data. Six individuals associated with Snipermail have agreed to cooperate in the investigation, said the U.S. Department of Justice. The indictment charges Levine with 139 counts of illegal access, representing 8.2G bytes of data downloaded from the Acxiom server. The stolen data contained personal information about a great number of individuals, but there is no evidence that any of the data has been used in a fraud scheme.

Sun is considering porting Solaris to two new processor architectures designed by chip rivals IBM and Intel, a company executive said last week. The comments came during Sun’s quarterly earnings conference call, when Sun COO Jonathan Schwartz mentioned IBM’s Power and Intel’s Itanium processors while contrasting Sun’s Unix strategy to that of other Unix vendors. “Unlike IBM, who obviously is really narrowly deploying AIX onto one of their system families, we’ve also begun looking at delivering Solaris on Power, as well as Solaris on Itanium, as ways of really driving incremental volume,” Schwartz said. Schwartz was quickly cut off by CEO Scott McNealy, who said, “That’s not a product announcement,” and Sun representatives declined to comment on when, if ever, such products might be released.