Operator No. 9: April 30, 2001
Cox Business Services is not standing idly by, hoping consumers will decide to sign up for its broadband cable services. No sirree. As part of a new campaign to help "unplugged" DSL customers get back online, the commercial broadband division of Cox Communications is running print ads "in key markets" to attract out-of-luck customers of DSL companies that imploded. "Given the many bankrupt or downsized DSL providers in the market, many businesses have been disconnected from their high-speed Internet connection," says Paul Golden, vice president of marketing at Cox. "Our new campaign offers to reconnect these business to the online world . . . with the reliability of a stable service provider." Says one longtime industrywatcher: "The broadband competitors sniffing at the blood of fallen competitors and seizing the moment. Its the first thing like it Ive seen in the DSL/cable wars." Im sure it wont be the last.
Calling for a Fix
If passing legislation written by the Bells biggest fan on Capitol Hill, Rep. W. J. "Billy" Tauzin, R-La., isnt the way to fix whats broke in broadband and the 1996 Telecomm-
unications Act, what is? John Windhausen, president of the Association for Local Telecommunications Services, says: Change the economics by passing tax breaks for deploying broadband. And lest you think this is a self-serving pitch, consider his plea at a Washington news conference last week: "Tax credits only help companies that pay taxes, and right now its not like CLECs are making any money."
In what he says is a "symbolic gesture" to empathize with suffering shareholders and employees, Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers cut his salary to $1 for the year. Chambers reportedly raked in more than $150 million in salary and stock last year, so unless he blew it in Vegas, he can continue to afford his current lifestyle. This gesture was prompted by setbacks at Cisco layoffs of up to 8,500 and a stock slide from a 52-week high of nearly $72 to $16.26 in midweek trading last week. According to reports, Chambers still has about $779 million in exercisable options and $346 million in options that have yet to vest. Those laid-off employees and suffering shareholders might be making gestures of their own. By the way, rumors abound that Chambers will resign.
"Sunglasses are far more than a Hollywood fashion rage. They are a critical component of todays eye care."
CHERYL SHUMAN, self-described "Optician to the Stars" and founder of STARRYEYES.COM VIRTUAL OPTIQUE, a new Web service that helps consumers find the same styles of shades worn by their favorite movie stars. The newest company with dreams of dot-com dollars in its eyes says it also makes "house calls with Webcams." No word on an IPO yet.
The Popes on Their Side
The Catholic Church is using the power of God and the Web to fight a new Goliath: the Federal Communications Commission. The Catholic Television Network launched a Web site www.saveeducationspectrum.org last week to help in its battle against a proposal under review by the FCC to reallocate spectrum used by the CTN and other educational institutions. The spectrum would go to the wireless industry for third-generation technology and services. The CTN uses the spectrum to beam educational, instructional and spiritual programming to 600,000 students across the country. The site charges that reallocation of this spectrum would have a "devastating impact on schools, colleges and universities." The group also says the proposal would derail its plans to use the spectrum for a variety of new services, such as distance learning, video-on-demand and high-speed Internet access. Stay tuned to see who has more clout in this battle: the influential wireless industry, which argues that its growth is dependent on new spectrum for 3G licenses, or the nations 62 million Catholics.
You Know Where That Can Lead . . .
Maybe you think that illegally copying a few digital songs from Napster wont lead to a more serious life of crime? Think again, says the Recording Industry Association of America. In a news release, the association cited the case of Randy Lee Williamson, a Plainview, Texas, man who was sentenced this month to 17 1/2 years in federal prison. In addition to selling pirated copies of Beatles CDs on his Web site, Williamson pled guilty to possessing child pornography and images of bestiality, according to prosecutors. "The conviction of Randy Williamson is a reminder that many music pirates are often engaged in other significant criminal activities," said Frank Creighton, director of the RIAAs anti-piracy efforts.
1 0 1
The number of days as of April 30 that President George W. Bush has been in office and without a technology adviser.
Microsoft is an incorrigible marketer and everyone knows it. The latest Microsoft moment came at Commerce Ones eLink show in New Orleans. Commerce One CEO Mark Hoffman introduced his companys new partnership with Microsoft and up popped Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on a video link. Hoffman and Ballmer went through a staged conversation, making certain to hit all their talking points about how they will work together to advance e-commerce. Did I mention they were shameless embarrassingly so as they gushed about their partnership? Anyway, as he wrapped up, Ballmer was unable to resist one final plug: "Theres no better place to enter the Internet than through Commerce One on Microsoft applications," he said seriously, as the audience laughed in amicable disbelief. Subtlety just isnt your middle name, is it Steve?
Geeks Take to the Skies
Tenzing Communications, a Seattle company that provides air travelers in-flight Internet and e-mail, strutted its stuff with what it said was the worlds first "aircraft-to-aircraft e-mail." Last week, Singapore Airlines initiated its mile-high e-mail and Web service with Tenzing. To commemorate the event, a Tenzing business development executive flying on Singapore Airlines from Taipei, Taiwan, to Los Angeles sent an e-mail to a Tenzing engineer on an Air Canada flight to Toronto. The message was copied to reporters. A Tenzing spokeswoman assures me both employees were actually in the air when the exchange took place. The company, which competes mainly with Boeing to outfit planes with Net access, says its in discussions with the major U.S. carriers.
How Green Is My Valley?
Those "key markets" Cox is going after include New Orleans; Omaha, Neb.; Orange County, Calif.; and San Diego. Meanwhile, those of us in the heart of Silicon Valley continue to live in the dial-up zone. Doesn?t anyone want a monthly revenue stream from the thousands of high-tech employees here who really want to spend $30 to $50 per month for high-speed access? Pacific Bell DSL Services continues its slow rollout of DSL services, while the broadband cable companies are nowhere to be seen. Is everyone afraid of us, or what? Id really like to know, but it might take me a while to return your e-mail, given that Im logged on at 38.4 kilobits per second.