Maybe mobile phones aren't such a bad business after all. Having bailed out of the crowded, pricey wireless sector in 2001, both BT and AT&T last week made it clear they want back in. Britain's largest residential telecom announced a deal with longtime rival Vodafone to offer the world's first fully converged handset that acts both as a mobile and as a fixed-line phone. BT's U.S. counterpart, AT&T, similarly announced an agreement with a big rival to offer AT&T-branded mobile services via the Sprint network. Why the rush back to wireless? That's where the growth is. AT&T's long-distance business is hurting, while a 1% rise in overall BT revenue for the most recent quarter hid a 7% drop in its core fixed-line business.
BT re-entered the consumer mobile market last year via T-Mobile's network, and now hopes the Vodafone hookup will generate $1.8 billion in annual sales in five years. Not all agree. Joel Cooper, analyst for the London-based World
The Ultimate To-Do List
With limited funds to tackle the globe's most pressing challenges, how would you best divvy up the cash? That's the question leveled at this week's Copenhagen Consensus, a roundtable of nine leading economists who aim to draw up a global to-do list ranking, by return on investment, 36 proposed solutions to earth's 10 biggest challenges. Would reducing greenhouse gases or communicable diseases benefit us more than better education or sanitation? It would be good to know, since organizer Bjorn Lomborg, director of Denmark's Environmental Assessment Institute, claims that taking up all 10 tasks would cost $1 trillion, while global overseas aid registers at under $60 billion each year.
"As long as we're not spending more, we have to prioritize," he says. So will the developed world tick off the items on his list? Maybe but as Lomborg notes, the West tends to "overworry about the problems that look good on TV."
A Song For Europe
Online music store Napster opened up in Britain, beating Apple's iTunes in the race to launch in Europe. But success isn't certain: U.K. rival OD2 promptly cut its download prices in half. Napster hopes to roll out elsewhere in Europe by year end.
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