• United States

In brief: FCC shoots down AT&T VoIP proposal

Apr 26, 20045 mins
AT&TCisco SystemsCitrix Systems

Also: NextWave pays $1 billion for spectrum licenses; CA says customers won’t notice management shakeup; scientists issue warning on data speeds; and more

  • The FCC last week rejected a petition from AT&T that would have let the company avoid paying its telecom competitors access charges on telephone calls partly carried on IP networks. The FCC said traditional telephone calls that start and end on the public switched telephone network, but are carried part of the time on AT&T’s Internet backbone, are classified as telecom service. Those calls are subject to the access charges that are exchanged when a telephone call made through one carrier ends on another carrier’s network. AT&T had asked the FCC for clarification on whether these phone calls should be classified as information services, like most other Internet-based traffic, and free from most FCC regulation. The FCC recently decided that the free, VoIP service, Free World Dialup, was exempt from most telecom regulations. Free World Dialup lets members talk to each other through software installed on their computers. The service does not let members place voice calls to non-members. But the FCC said AT&T’s service fit squarely into the definitions of a telecom service because the phone calls start and end on the PSTN.

  • NextWave Telecom, which has battled the FCC for eight years over spectrum ownership, is walking away with some valuable licenses. The FCC said last week that NextWave will be allowed to retain ownership of some of the most lucrative licenses for $1.1 billion. NextWave originally agreed to pay $4.74 billion for Personal Communication Services’ spectrum in 1996 when the company bid and won hundreds of spectrum licenses in an FCC auction. But when NextWave defaulted on its payments and filed for bankruptcy protection, the government tried to repossess these licenses. A protracted court battle ensued, and the Supreme Court ruled in NextWave’s favor last year. Under terms of the new deal NextWave keeps most of the licenses in prime markets such as Baltimore, Boston and New York. The deal is subject to the approval of a federal bankruptcy court in New York, where NextWave hopes to emerge from Chapter 11 protection by year-end.

  • Citrix Systems plans to make several product and business announcements this week as part of its annual Analysts Day in New York. Some resellers and users expect the release of Version 3.0 of MetaFrame Presentation Server, code-named Hudson. Changes include streaming video improvements; dynamic session reconfiguration, which lets users disconnect from a session and reconnect with different screen resolution and colors; and a Web interface that supports Independent Computing Architecture and Remote Desktop Protocol clients. The company also might announce a new version of Password Manager, which is software for creating a single sign-on for users from any device.

  • Computer Associates’ management shake-up is unlikely to affect customers or dramatically change the company’s products plans and strategy, customers and analysts said last week. By removing Sanjay Kumar as the company’s CEO, CA defused mounting pressure to clean house and clear its executive ranks of all involved in its past accounting violations. More than a dozen employees have been pushed out of CA in the past six months as the company tries to put behind it years of questions and investigations into bookkeeping practices. In his three years as CEO Kumar expanded CA’s management team and improved customer support, says analyst Michael Dortch of the Robert Frances Group. Paul Francis, senior manager of systems security for Shaw’s Supermarkets, says he’s sad to see Kumar go but doesn’t expect any negative repercussions. The West Bridgewater, Mass., grocery chain uses CA’s eTrust security software. “Things have been pretty smooth with CA in spite of what’s happened,” he says. “There’s a good management team in place. I don’t expect any disruption.”

  • Scientists say that if vendors were to speed up their storage devices 1,000 times, data integrity would come to a screeching halt. Researchers at Stanford University, a scientist from the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics in Moscow and engineers at Seagate Technologies reported this fact in the journal Nature. By using a particle accelerator that shot electrons at a piece of magnetic material, the test showed the high energy involved makes some of the magnetic changes happen randomly rather than predictably and reliably. In the real world, though, this isn’t a problem. Makers of magnetic disks, which can store and retrieve data at speeds of up to several billion bits per second, are nowhere near this theoretical limitation.

  • New industry group Part I: Juniper keeps out Cisco. It’s common knowledge that the popular success of the Internet has not led to a corresponding success among service providers. Juniper wants to change that. The company last week announced the formation of a group that endorses the company’s goal of creating a profitable public IP network. The so-called Infranet Initiative Council combines large companies from various facets of the computer and communications industries, including IBM; Oracle; Juniper channel partners Lucent, Ericsson and Siemens; and service providers BT and Orange. Sources say the IIC will also include a large U.S. carrier – which some speculate might be MCI – as well as international service provider Deutsche Telekom and an unidentified carrier in the Asia Pacific region. Cisco was conspicuous by its absence, leading some experts to wonder how ultimately successful the group might be.

  • EMC, Network Appliance, Oracle and others have formed a consortium to promote grid computing in corporations. The Enterprise Grid Alliance is concerned with computing in the data center, including databases, servers, storage and other applications. EGA will look at two classes of grid computing: enterprise applications and technical grid applications. Some of the enterprise applications EGA will focus on are ERP and CRM. The consortium will cooperate with other organizations such as the Desktop Management Task Force and the Global Grid Forum. EGA will differ from the GGF in that GGF has a very broad focus, while EGA is more narrowly focused on the corporate business.