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News Briefs

United Nations Tightens Security For Terrorism Conference

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- NEW YORK

The tightest security in the 56-year history of the United Nations will be in place Saturday when President Bush and world leaders meet to discuss terrorism in the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center.

Fueled by fears of anthrax and statements by Osama bin Laden denouncing the international organization, an ambitious security perimeter is being erected.

Precautions include garbage trucks filled with sand at street corners to block car bombs, a flotilla of vessels in the East River protecting against possible waterborne attacks and special SWAT teams of police officers and Secret Service agents to guard the highest-profile dignitaries. Airspace above the buildings will be cleared, and bomb-sniffing dogs will be stationed underground.

“Security will be much tighter than you have ever experienced before, because the threat is high,” says Fred Eckhard, spokesman for U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan.

The annual General Assembly debate, which is expected to draw delegates from all 189 member countries, was postponed after the Sept. 11 attacks. It will run from Saturday morning through next Friday.

FCC Agrees to Broaden Spectrum Available for Mobile Phones

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

In a move likely to accelerate consolidation in the wireless industry, federal regulators Thursday agreed to eliminate airwave ownership limits on mobile phone companies by 2003.

In a first step toward eliminating ownership caps, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-1 on Thursday to allow wireless carriers to control 55 megahertz of radio spectrum in a local market instead of a maximum of 45 megahertz.

Commissioners also agreed to eliminate spectrum limits altogether in January 2003 after the FCC sets up procedures to weigh an expected increase in wireless industry mergers.

The decision represents a victory for Cingular Wireless, AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and other large mobile carriers. They want to add more wireless spectrum in order to improve call quality for the nation’s 123 million cell phone subscribers and introduce airwave taxing services such as higher speed wireless Internet access.

The vote also marks the most sweeping effort yet by FCC chairman Michael K. Powell to overhaul communications ownership rules.

With spectrum ownership limits relaxed, financial analysts say that AT&T and Cingular Wireless are the most desperately in need of additional airwaves to satisfy customer demand.