News Briefs

BOSTON (06/02/2000) - Lucent grabs optical start-upLucent Technologies Inc. this week ponied up $4.5 billion worth of its shares to purchase Chromatis Networks, a start-up provider of metropolitan-area optical networking switches. Lucent already has optical switching systems for carrier trunking between local and long-distance central offices. But it needed a family of optical switches that service providers could place at customer locations to multiplex voice, data and video streams onto high-speed local fiber. Chromatis' products, which are just hitting the market, feature technology called selective wave division multiplexing (SWDM), which lets service providers turn on additional optical wavelengths only when and where needed. Lucent officials say they chose Chromatis over several other start-ups because its SWDM and other money-saving features are attractive to new service providers with limited capital that hope to bring broadband services to the enterprise network market.

State law targets virus makers

Pennsylvania lawmakers apparently have had their fill of computer viruses.

Governor Tom Ridge recently signed into law a bill that calls for prison terms of up to seven years and a $15,000 fine for those convicted of intentionally spreading a computer virus. In addition, those convicted will also be required to pay restitution. The bill was written last year at about the time the Melissa virus was causing problems, but the measure's sponsors say it wasn't a direct response to that episode. The law is scheduled to take effect next month.

Trade negotiators find "safe harbor"

The European privacy laws of 1998 that put stringent requirements on protection of personal data have been a bone of contention between the U.S. and Europe, threatening to disrupt trade relations as Europe demanded that the U.S. adopt equivalent privacy laws for data. This week, however, the European Commission took a major step toward easing the tension by voting to approve the "safe harbor agreement" negotiated by U.S. and European officials more than a year ago. That agreement would give U.S. multinational firms a voluntary set of guidelines on how to manage data about European citizens stored in databases here. The European Parliament is expected to vote later this month on the safe-harbor agreement.

Kapor lauds "retreat" from "euphoria"

The early hype surrounding the Internet and dot-com mania is giving way to a more moderate view that ultimately will be a change for the better, according to Mitch Kapor, who founded Lotus and the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation. "I think we're at a particularly important moment now in the evolution of the Internet," Kapor said during the opening keynote speech at the biannual Harvard Internet & Society conference this week. The "retreat from a kind of giddy euphoria" is occurring as a consequence of the recent correction on the technology-heavy Nasdaq stock market, Kapor said. One effect has been that the free flow of funding for start-up technologyrelated companies has slowed. But Kapor thinks the current state of affairs is an improvement on the 'Net's heady past because businesses that have actual business models and can "make money rather than just chase dreams" will now be the ones that obtain funding from venture capitalists.

A win for Transmeta, Linux

Fledgling processor maker Transmeta Corp. said this week that Gateway 2000 Inc. will use its Crusoe chips and Mobile Linux operating system in Internet appliances the company is developing with America Online Inc. Gateway and AOL will put Crusoe processors and Mobile Linux in two appliances that are designed to give customers convenient access to the Internet. The first is expected to ship before the holiday shopping season, with the other following early next year. The appliances are expected to cost less than $500.

IBM forms e-comm alliance

IBM Corp. this week linked up with eight Internet services companies to create a global, mobile e-commerce alliance designed to help businesses develop wireless content and services for mobile phones, personal digital assistants and Internet appliances. The eight vendors are Ltd., answerthink, Luminant Worldwide Corp., Organic Inc., Rare Medium Inc., Razorfish Inc., R/GA Interactive and US Interactive Inc.

In exchange for support from IBM, the companies will create a percentage of their wireless Web software and services on IBM middleware. The percentage was not specified in a written statement from IBM. The companies will also conduct training, joint marketing and business development programs. The initiative is part of IBM's ongoing effort to work with other vendors that agree to use IBM technology.

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More about America OnlineanswerthinkAOLChromatis NetworksEuropean CommissionEuropean ParliamentGatewayIBM AustraliaLucentLuminant WorldwideMultiplexRare MediumRazorfishTransmetaUS Interactive

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