In the Region Comcast to invest $700 million in...


May 10, 2000

In the Region

Comcast to invest $700 million in mid-Atlantic region

Comcast Corp., the No. 3 U.S. cable television company, said it will spend $700 million to upgrade systems serving the mid-Atlantic region so it can add features such as fast Internet access and telephone service.

The systems, Suburban Cable and Garden State Cable, were renamed Comcast Cable. They cover 1.3 million customers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Comcast acquired the businesses when it bought Lenfest Communications Inc. in January for $7.5 billion.

Comcast said it will upgrade 23,000 miles of lines to fiber-optic cable, enabling Comcast to sell high-speed Web access, telephone service and digital TV to its new customers. Comcast's digital TV service has about 200 TV channels, 45 channels of CD-quality music, interactive program guides and clearer pictures and sound than traditional cable TV.

Aether teams with UMBC on wireless curriculum

Aether Systems Inc. said yesterday that it is investing $510,000 in a wireless education partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Aether, a wireless data systems company based in Owings Mills, will work with the university's engineering faculty to develop a wireless curriculum. The research grant also will sponsor computing seminars for students and the business community.

University spokesman Charles Rose called the Aether grant "the first leg in a long collaboration." He said Aether chose the school because of its entrepreneurial bent. It also helps to have a well-placed alumnus; Aether Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David Oros is a graduate of the school.

WorldCare, American Life form partnership

WorldCare Inc., a Boston-based company that directs telemedicine consultations to Johns Hopkins and other prestigious medical centers, announced a partnership yesterday with a multinational insurer that WorldCare said could double its business in the first year.

The contract, with American Life Insurance Co., a subsidiary of American International Group, will cover 750,000 insured people in 16 countries in Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Working with physicians and hospitals around the world, WorldCare sends, electronically, patient records, lab results, X-rays and other data to Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, Duke University Health System and a group of Boston-area hospitals including Massachusetts General.

WorldCare handles about 2,500 consultations a year. Hopkins receives about 130 of those cases.

Retired Bethlehem chief joins Skadden law firm

Curtis H. "Hank" Barnette, who retired as chairman and chief executive of Bethlehem Steel Corp. last month at age 65, is joining the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

Barnette will begin June 1 at the New York firm's Washington office, where he will focus on corporate law, corporate governance, international trade and public policy.

Barnette received his law degree from Yale Law School and later attended Harvard University Business School. He joined Bethlehem as an attorney in 1967.


FCC chief calls action very near on AT&T, MediaOne cable deal

The Federal Communications Commission is nearing a decision on a merger that would position telephone giant AT&T Corp. as the nation's top cable TV company, officials said yesterday.

The proposed deal between AT&T and MediaOne Group Inc. has raised concerns at the agency about how much control over programming the combined entity would be able to exercise. For that reason, FCC staff have proposed actions the companies could take to complete the deal, while complying with federal limits on how many cable households one entity can reach.

The recommendations are before the five commissioners, who could decide the matter in the near future, the agency's chief said.

Cisco says SEC probing ArrowPoint stock jump

Cisco Systems Inc. said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating possible insider trading in ArrowPoint Communications Inc. shares, which rose 27 percent the day before Cisco unveiled plans to buy the company.

Cisco, the largest maker of computer-networking equipment, and Internet switch maker ArrowPoint announced the acquisition Friday about 8 a.m. Messages on Yahoo! Inc.'s Internet chat boards Thursday night indicate word may have been leaked about the purchase, now valued at $5.55 billion.

J.P. Morgan Securities Inc.'s Greg Geiling, who was named a top telecommunications-equipment analyst last year by Institutional Investor magazine, said in a note Thursday morning that ArrowPoint's revenue will quintuple this year and more than double in 2001. Many attributed Arrow-Point's rise to Geiling's forecast. Geiling said yesterday that he was not aware of Cisco's plans to buy ArrowPoint.

Continental Airlines ranks No. 1 in poll

Readers of Frequent Flyer magazine ranked Continental No. 1 for long-haul and short-haul flights, leading second-place TWA in the poll conducted by the magazine and the survey firm JD Power and Associates.

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