WiMax cleared for takeoff

Sprint Nextel said it’s merging its proposed high-speed WiMax wireless broadband network with Clearwire, with a $3.2 billion investment from tech companies, to create a $14.6 billion wireless communications company. The investors include Intel, Google, Time Warner, and Comcast; they will get a combined 22 percent stake in the venture. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) WiMax promises to cover entire cities with wireless access up to five times faster than current wireless networks. (Reuters) The two companies, which are both struggling, scrapped an earlier WiMax alliance last November. The new deal is “a positive for Sprint, but potentially transformational for Clearwire,” said Stanford Group analyst Michael Nelson. (Bloomberg)

Cisco weathers economic turbulence

Networking heavyweight Cisco Systems reported a 5 percent drop in quarterly profit, to $1.17 billion, beating analysts’ forecasts. The earnings were weighed down by a $246 million charge related to the acquisition of Nuova Systems. (MarketWatch) Revenue grew 10.4 percent, and Cisco cautiously forecast 9 percent to 10 percent growth for the current quarter. Cisco’s routers and switches can cost millions of dollars, and are therefore vulnerable to a slowdown in corporate spending. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) “It’s a good solid report relative to expectations and relative to the macro environment going in,” said analyst Mark McKechnie at American Technology Research. (Reuters)

Disney beats the slump

Walt Disney Co. reported a better-than-expected 22 percent rise in quarterly profits, to $1.13 billion, as its theme parks did well in the sluggish economy and its studio division thrived. (MarketWatch) Revenue at Disney’s network division, which includes ABC, rose 5 percent, despite the writers’ strike. Sales at the parks unit grew 11 percent, and movie studio revenue jumped 18 percent. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) Disney was able to outperform its competitors in part by taking advantage of its diverse portfolio and cross-marketing its successful franchises, like “Hannah Montana.” “They seem to have integrated better than a lot of their competitors,” said Argus Research analyst Joseph Bonner. (

The decline of airplane civility

Airplane passengers are increasingly behaving more inappropriately on flights, according to flight attendants and frequent fliers. The behavior ranges from sex acts to public grooming to handing stewardesses dirty diapers while they are serving food. A common complaint is finding foul surprises in seat-back pockets. Psychologists suggest that people view flying as a time of suspended reality. Others blame declining airline service standards. “Increasingly, passengers are certain that the airlines are not on their side and actually don’t care anything about them,” said University of Washington psychologist Irwin Sarason. “It isn’t too surprising that people will not exercise the restraints they normally would.” (The Wall Street Journal)