THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
The telecom boom is back
Level 3's $163 million deal for ICG shows that fiber-optic networks are in demand again. Plus: Videogamers get a league of their own on TV.
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor and Oliver Ryan, Fortune reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - Is the telecom boom back? Following rumors of a deal, Level 3 (Research) has acquired ICG, an operator of Colorado and Ohio fiber networks, for $163 million. The Rocky Mountain News says one driver of the acquisition is the continuing growth of the wireless business, since wireless calls and data are carried from cell towers to wired networks. Telcos are also considering expanding international fiber links, after years with a glut of capacity on the market. After overbuilding in the 1990s led to a telecom boom and bust, says Business 2.0 senior writer Om Malik, we may be heading into a period of balance between telecom supply and demand --a situation which will be good for both telecom suppliers and consumers.

In a league of their own

Google gets a new Chinese name
The search engine wants to make sure its brand name isn't lost in translation. Plus: Calling on Skype's office in London proves a challenge. (more)

Here's one way to try and get young men to turn off the Xbox and tune back in to TV: Broadcast professional videogaming tournaments. This fall, the privately held outfit Major League Gaming will begin airing virtual competitions on NBC Universal's USA Network, complete with live color commentary and "up close and personal" segments devoted to top players, like 15-year-old Halo 2 champ Bonnie Burton. The Joystiq gaming blog views this development with some trepidation, hoping the debut comes without the "standard super-macho guy who wears sunglasses or stupidly gorgeous woman who knows nothing about games," as one poster put it.

Glitchy Origami handheld coming to the U.S.

After a colorful debut at the CeBit trade show in Germany, Microsoft's Origami handheld - also known as the ultra-mobile PC, or UMPC - is coming to the U.S. on May 1, according to MobileMag. Samsung, one of the UMPC makers, had better hope the U.S. debut goes better than a recent demo did in Seoul. Executives from Samsung, Microsoft (Research), and Intel (Research) all experienced problems with their UMPCs, from a rapidly dying battery, to PowerPoint slides that wouldn't stop fast-forwarding. Mobile-computing aficionado James Kendrick has a suggestion for Samsung's next demo: a canned video demo.

Academic website hopes for high ratings from VCs

Brilliant new Web concept, or a sure sign of a boom turning into a bubble? Maryland startup, which does exactly what it says, is seeking VC funding or a buyout deal. With only 2 million unique visitors a month, the website is hardly the next Facebook, a social-networking website for college students which is rumored to be seeking a $2 billion buyout. RateMyProfessors' posts can be amusing: "Bring a pillow," says one student of a boring prof. "Your pillow will need a pillow," riposted another. But the site's real purpose is to drive traffic to the company's Swooks website, which sells textbooks. Top of page

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