Cyber Ramblings - May 15, 2001

15 May 2001
Compiled by Kevin Smith

Gaming Companies Nearly Shutout at IBAN Awards

The winners of the first annual IBAN (Internet Business Alliance of Nevada) eNevada Awards were announced on Saturday and although a host of gaming-related sites and companies were nominated as finalists, only Harrah's Entertain took home a prize. As you would expect, Harrah's was once again acknowledged for it's multiple-award-winning "Total Rewards" players club database.

Several additional gaming interests earned acknowledgement. Harrah's, Sam's Town and the Hard Rock were finalists in the "10 Most Innovative Web Sites in Nevada" category. Nevada State Assemblyman Merle Berman, instrumental in driving the effort to legalize online gambling in Nevada, was a finalist for the "Outstanding State Public Official of the Year" award. Additionally, Gaming attorney Anthony Cabot was a finalist for "Service Provider of the Year."

Spamming Through Cell Phones Could Get Out of Hand

Few cell phone companies send advertisements to their users, but some industry officials feel that spamming through cell phones could become a major problem within the year if steps aren't taken to curtail it. To that end a Phoenix resident, Rodney Joffe, is filing a class-action lawsuit against Acacia National Mortgage for allegedly sending two advertisements to him through his cell phone. According to Joffe, a consumer protection act passed in the early '90s outlaws the practice because the messages were unsolicited and he has to pay for them. Industry insiders say that spamming could cost companies with 3,000 or more employees a great deal of money. If each employee gets one spam per day and each spam costs 10 cents, the company could end up paying more than $100,000 per year for the messages. Cost per message varies from $0.02 to $0.25, depending on the service provider, and often several hundred messages are included in monthly pricing packages. While providers don't condone the sending of unsolicited messages, there's little they can do to control it. Anyone can send text messages using open gateways. One thing operators can do is set up rules that block senders issuing bulk messages.

Trademark Holders Get a Leg up on New TLDs

Companies in charge of the newest top-level domains on Monday gave a glimpse of their plans for handling the online land grab that's expected to follow the launch of new Internet addresses. Speaking before an audience of attorneys at the International Trademark Association's annual meeting, companies administering the ".info," ".pro," ".name" and ".biz" domains vowed to protect the rights of intellectual property holders as they introduce the new addresses. Kent Jordan, who represented ".info" registry Afilias, said the process has been challenged by people who believe that trademark holders should not have first crack at domain names containing their names. "We reject that," he told the audience.

Last November, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved seven new top-level domains—".info," ".pro," ".name,"". biz," ".aero," ".coop" and ".museum"--to be added to the current offerings of ".com," ".net" and ".org." The additions mark the largest change to the Internet address system since it was started. When the new domains become available--which in some cases will happen early this summer--citizens, companies, protesters and families are expected to flood registrars in an attempt to score a prime piece of Internet real estate.

C&W Buys Digital Island

Cable & Wireless, as it looks to break into the U.S. business market for Internet services, is buying loss-making Digital Island for $340 million in cash. C&W has spent months scouring North America for companies with Web-hosting or services expertise that could use the Internet backbone network it bought from MCI after the U.S. telco merged with WorldCom. Digital Island offers Internet services, such as managed hosting and content delivery, for business customers. Revenues from large corporate customers account for about 70 percent of the group's revenues with the balance coming from small and medium-sized enterprises. But the company has not been immune to the slowdown in corporate spending on Internet and IT services. Having bought a number of companies, including Sandpiper Networks, Live On Line and SoftAware Networks, the group was recently forced to cut 10 percent of its workforce in the face of increasing losses.

High-Speed Internet Measure Passes in House Committee

A measure that would make it easier for the United States' largest phone companies--the regional Bells--to offer high-speed Internet access won approval from a House committee. By a 32-23 vote, the House Commerce Committee passed the bill sponsored by the chairman, Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., and Ranking Member John Dingell, D-Mich. They say the legislation will bring the next generation of Web services to more Americans, especially those in rural and underserved areas. The bill would free the Bell companies--SBC, Verizon, Qwest and BellSouth--to carry Internet traffic in their calling region without first having to meet strict government requirements that they open their local phone markets to competition. The measure also covers important parts of the Bells' network that provide new online services. The Bells would not have to make them available for lease to rivals. Instead, competing businesses would have to build their own equipment.

Lucent Spin-off Cutting Jobs

Agere Systems Inc., a microelectronics spin-off of Lucent Technologies, says it will distribute layoff notices Monday to 1,025 workers. The cuts, the majority of which involve manufacturing jobs, are expected to be completed this month at three plants in eastern Pennsylvania. Agere also plans to cut about 300 management jobs at those plants next month. The layoffs were announced April 24. Agere makes semiconductors used in devices such as cellular phones and satellite systems as well as components used in fiber-optic communications. Both markets are experiencing a downturn, and the company lost $148 million in the quarter ended March 31.

Priceline Ditches CEO

Priceline.com's board of directors voted to oust its President and chief executive officer, Daniel H. Schulman, and has replaced him with former CEO Richard Braddock, who will also continue in his role as chairman. Jeffery Boyd, the chief operating officer of the company, has assumed the president title. The board of directors met during the weekend to decide on the action.

Dell, EDS Form Alliance

Dell Computer Corp. and Electronic Data Systems Corp. announced Monday that they have formed an alliance expected to generate more than $500 million in sales over the next five years. Company officials say the alliance enables the companies to jointly market their products in the United States as a "one-stop shopping" source for computer systems and technology services. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Under the agreement, Round Rock, Texas-based Dell will sell its client computer systems combined with EDS services. EDS, based in Plano, Texas, will expand its use of Dell PowerEdge servers and client products in all Dell-based Web hosting opportunities and desktop management service offerings.

Aussie Parliament House E-mail Hit by Porn Virus

A virus hit computers in Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra last week. The electrically transmitted disease opened a random selection of pornographic websites on its victims' screens. International anti-virus research company Trend Micro says the virus was detected in the United States and had spread to more than 50 Australian businesses by the afternoon. The virus had an attachment labeled "home page" and the text of the e-mail reads: "Hi! You've got to see this page! It's really cool." Users who opened the e-mail inadvertently sent copies of the message to everyone in their address books, flooding e-mail systems.