Sprint Allies With Content King: Sprint Corp., Kansas City, Mo., has formed a deal with Viacom Inc., a giant entertainment and publishing company, to offer Internet access products.

Viacom owns Blockbuster Entertainment Group, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan Publishing USA, MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures and Television. The alliance gives Sprint a big leg up as Internet service providers add more content to their offerings.

Although Sprint has been quiet so far about its Internet work, it currently carries 40 percent of all domestic Internet traffic and 60 percent of international traffic. In addition, Sprint sells access to about 1,000 Internet service providers.

Bells Enlist Alcatel to Offer ADSL: A group of Baby Bells that calls itself the Joint Procurement Consortium has hired Alcatel Telecom, Richardson, Texas, to supply asymmetrical digital subscriber line equipment.

The Bells -- Ameritech Corp., BellSouth Corp., Pacific Bell and SBC Communications Inc. -- plan to use the lines to sell high-speed Internet access using the current telephone infrastructure.

Telecom companies are moving ahead to offer ADSL before cable modems, which are sold mostly by cable companies, take hold in the market.

Both telcos and cable companies hope to attract and retain Internet users by offering them faster access. The consortium predicts thousands of customers will use ADSL in the next year to 18 months, reaching one million customers by 2001.

Hundt Calls for Telco Competition in Asia: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt recently encouraged all countries to support telecommunications competition in a speech to the Asia Society in Hong Kong.

"A principal purpose of my trip to Hong Kong is to urge Asian countries to improve their offers in the [World Trade Organization] telecom talks that are scheduled to end next February," said Hundt in his speech. "If these talks are to succeed, Asian countries must make better offers."

Hundt said both developed and undeveloped countries must support competition in telecommunications to preserve economic stability. Monopoly infrastructures are less reliable, he said.

In addition, "a competitive market will generate far more in taxable revenues than a monopoly market," Hundt said.

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