Businessweek Archives

The Baby Bells Want Some Breathing Room In The Country


Bits & Bytes

THE BABY BELLS WANT SOME BREATHING ROOM IN THE COUNTRY

The charming isolation gf rural life isn't always charming to the people who live with it year-round. Some 8% of rural households have no phone service, and 70% make do with party lines, according to a new, nationwide study by the Sunbelt Institute, a bipartisan research organization for 17 Southern states. Many rural phone lines can't carry data or facsimiles as reliably as the fiber-optic lines in urban areas can. And according to the study, one reason rural jobless rates are a third above urban rates is that many businesses shy away from areas with poor phone systems.

What to do? The seven Baby Bell holding companies, which are primarily urban and suburban, have told Congress that they could provide new products and services to rural areas if they were freed from antitrust rules. But non-Bell rural phone companies want safeguards: They fear that if deregulated, the multibillion-dollar holding companies will use their clout to steal business from their country cousins.Edited by Paul M. EngReturn to top

THE BABY BELLS WANT SOME BREATHING ROOM IN THE COUNTRY

Some call it advertising overload: Between TV, cable, print media, and direct marketing, consumers are bombarded with ads and promotional material. To cut through the clutter, advertisers are narrowing their focus to concentrate on the most likely buyers. A. C. Nielsen Co., Arbitron Co., and others collect and sell reams of data about consumers, but it can take teams of experts days to make sense of it all. A new software package from Marketing Resources Plus, a unit of U. S. West Inc., is aimed at automating this work.

Called CaliberPlus, the package for IBM PCs and compatibles can scan all major media data bases, selecting information by various criteria. So, if you plan to launch, say, a lottery in the Washington (D. C.) area, the package can tell you that a certain category of blue-collar families buys 10% of all lottery tickets there, even though they make up only 4% of the population.Edited by Paul M. EngReturn to top

THE BABY BELLS WANT SOME BREATHING ROOM IN THE COUNTRY

Are you handy with a calculator, looking for some extra pocket money, and willing to work long hours? Grab a pencil, and read on. Software maker RSA Data Security in Redwood City, Calif., will pay you $1,750 just to factor a single number. In case you've forgotten your high school math, factoring simply means finding the prime numbers that divide into a given number evenly, leaving no remainder. And prime numbers, you'll recall, are those that have no factors except 1 and themselves--17, for instance.

There's a catch to RSA's challenge, of course. The numbers it wants factored range from 100 to 500 digits long, so even gangs of supercomputers will take months to solve the smallest one. But that's RSA's point: Factoring big numbers takes big bucks and oodles of time. And the software maker's patented program, supplied to many computer companies and other corporations, relies on large numbers as password keys to protect computer network messages from being read or doctored by unauthorized persons. The public factoring contest is intended to help cryptographers "measure progress in factoring methods and choose key sizes accordingly," says Ronald L. Rivest, RSA co-founder and lead inventor. He notes that a 128-digit number offered up for factoring in 1977 has yet to be cracked. So don't quit your day job.Edited by Paul M. EngReturn to top


Tim Cook's Reboot
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW
 
blog comments powered by Disqus