News Briefs

SAN MATEO (06/23/2000) - Memory chip shortage arisesA predicted shortage has begun to push up the price tag of SDRAM (synchronous DRAM) as the number of devices -- cell phones, digital audio players, and PDAs (personal digital assistants) -- that require the memory chips is multiplying.

The spot price of a 66Mb SDRAM chip is about $8.50 per chip at present, up from a low of approximately $4.50 per chip in February, according to the American IC Exchange (AICE), an online marketplace for memory and other commodity chips.

Additional inventory from already overburdened SDRAM plants could be a year or more away.

AT&T wins on cable network front

In the battle over cable broadband access, AT&T Corp., in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, this week pulled off one victory but stopped short of another in its deal with ISP Excite@Home Inc., in Redwood City, California. A U.S. appellate court last week sided with AT&T, ruling that AT&T does not have to open its network to competing ISPs in Portland, Oregon. Overturning an earlier ruling, the court said AT&T is not a cable network but a telecommunications company and should therefore fall under federal, not local, jurisdiction. Meanwhile, AT&T and other investors in Excite postponed steps toward taking a majority control of Excite after Cablevision Systems Corp., in Bethpage, New York, earlier in the week filed a lawsuit to stop AT&T from executing that takeover.

Dell to use Exterprise sell-side platformDell Computer Corp., in Austin, Texas, will use the Exterprise Active Marketplace gateway for the sell-side portion of Dell's business-to-business e-commerce exchange, which will launch in the third quarter. The exchange will be utilized for selling computers and components to small and midsize businesses. For buy-side functions, Dell will use Ariba Inc. technology, as the company announced in March.

WorldCom-Sprint merger faces roadblock

WorldCom Inc. and Sprint Corp. ran into trouble this week trying to get their proposed merger plans past the European Union (EU), which can authorize, block, or amend all large mergers affecting the European market. Under the EU's merger control procedures, the EU must rule by July 12 on whether the merger threatens competition in the EU's single market. Early in the review process, WorldCom, in Clinton, Mississippi, indicated it was prepared to sell the Internet backbone of Kansas City, Missouri-based Sprint, but the EU said that might not be enough. Critics of the proposed merger have called for the sale of WorldCom's UUNet Technologies Inc. unit. But the company has resisted such a move, claiming it would be left with little interest in the merger.eHelp boosts customer assistanceSan Diego-based eHelp Corp., formerly Blue Sky Software, will unveil its DynaHelp customer assistance software this week, hoping to help companies avoid the problem of online customers abandoning their purchases. By adding proactive user assistance to Web sites, DynaHelp lets online customers solve their own questions and complete transactions. The software has a natural-language interface to answer customer queries and can track and report help requests across a Web site, identifying possible problem areas.

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