WT PLAYING WITH TECHNOLOGY AT THE INAUGURATION

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PLAYING WITH TECHNOLOGY
AT THE INAUGURATION

The 53rd Presidential Inaugural festivities featured a technology playground as part of "An American Journey," a celebration on the National Mall Jan. 18-19. The event was slated as a hands-on, interactive experience with tomorrow's technology.

Visitors could get on the Internet by way of Digital World, an interactive display of the best of the World Wide Web. AT&T, Basking Ridge, N.J., provided connection to the inaugural Web site over its WorldNet system. The site broadcast the inaugural ceremony live on Jan. 20 using 5,000 simultaneous video feeds set up by Sun Microsystems Inc., Mountain View, Calif.

NCR Corp., Dayton, Ohio, set up a resource center where disabled visitors used special tools to enjoy the playground's technologies. The center included braille terminals, audible Web browsers and voice recognition tools, and was graced by visits from Vice-President Al Gore and Attorney General Janet Reno.

Officials estimate that roughly 1,500 people came through the playground each hour it was open, making for a total of 25,000 people over the weekend. It also offered visitors a chance to e-mail messages to the president and view a regularly updated "Web-u-mentary" that documented the ongoing celebration. Other attractions were a Classroom of the 21st Century and a display of telemedicine.

FEDERAL DEADBEATS
THREATEN CONTRACTING

The government-published Commerce Business Daily is using its monopoly over government contract announcements to squeeze overdue fees from an impressive list of bureaucratic deadbeats.

The warning came Jan. 11 in an electronic notice from the CBD, where all new contract announcements worth more than $100,000 must be published, according to Federal Acquisition Regulations. Somehow the various agencies - which are responsible for almost all of the $150 billion spent on goods and services by the federal government each year - forgot to pay the $5 to $16 charge for past contract announcements. Among the agencies being dunned by the CBD are the General Services Administration, the U.S. Courts, the Small Business Administration and the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, State, Transportation and the Treasury.

The same notice also tagged as deadbeats Princeton University, Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton, N.J.; Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M.; Concurrent Technologies Corp., Johnstown, Pa.; The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, New York; and McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, Huntington Beach, Calif.

DIGITAL WIRELESS COMPETITION
COMES TO D.C.

Bell Atlantic/Nynex Mobile has launched a digital wireless phone service that will finally compete with Sprint Spectrum, which until now has had a monopoly on the service in the Washington-Baltimore area.

The main difference between the two is that Sprint Spectrum, which was launched in 1995 by American Personal Communications in Bethesda, has only digital capability and currently can't be used outside the Washington area because the rest of the nation is not yet set up for the digital technology known as personal communications services, or PCS.

The Bell Atlantic/Nynex offering, which will be called DigitalChoice, can switch between digital and analog, and can therefore be used around the country. AT&T and Cellular One are expected to follow soon with digital products.

NORTHROP LOSES BID, CLOSES PLANTS

Just days apart this month, Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles, lost its bid to buy the defense business of Hughes Electronics, also in Los Angeles, and announced four plant closings.

Raytheon Co., Lexington, Mass., bought the Hughes defense works for $9.5 billion. Analysts still expect Northrop to be an important defense player even if it is not as large as some of the others.

The plant closings and layoffs involve Northrop's Electronics & Systems Integration and Commercial Aircraft divisions. The moves reflect the company's efforts to adjust to a leaner defense market that the whole industry is going through, said Wolfgang Demisch, BT Securities, New York. "If anything, Northrop is ahead of the curve," he said.

INTERNET OVERLOAD SCARE IS
BOGUS, SAYS LOBBYING GROUP

Fast-growing Internet traffic doesn't threaten the telephone network. Instead it generates fat profits for the Baby Bells, according to a new study by a group of hardware and online companies.

The companies, united as the Internet Access Coalition,. include Intel Corp., Santa Clara, Calif., and America Online, Dulles, Va. Their study claims to rebut an earlier study released by the Bells and concludes that any Internet-caused overloads are local glitches in the phone network that can be fixed with only a small fraction of the revenue earned by the Bells from increased data throughput.

The study is one salvo in a larger battle between the online, long distance, and local phone companies over reform of the Universal Service scheme, which forces the long distance companies to pay billions per year to the Bells, which then use the money to subsidize their customers and - unwillingly - subsidize the online industry's subscribers.

EDS POSTAL SERVICE CONTRACT TO DELIVER JOBS A U.S. Postal Service contract won by Electronic Data Systems Corp., Herndon, Va., should create about 400 jobs in Raleigh, N.C., by the last year of the three-year, $42 million contract. EDS will help manage and monitor computer technology in 7,000 Postal Service offices.

The Distributed Systems Operational Support contract also has four two-year options, and could be worth $200 million over 11 years.

CAPITALIZING ON THE INTERNET

Digital City Washington, a division of America Online, Dulles, Va., and Advantage Consulting Inc., Annandale, Va., have teamed up to develop "Finance Wizard," a financial online service that shows small- and medium-sized businesses where to find sources of capital on the Internet. Available free of charge, the listing can be viewed by more than 500,000 AOL subscribers in the Washington/Baltimore region. The site currently can be accessed through AOL's main menu or keyword: D C Marketplace.


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