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 ANAHEIM, Calif., Dec. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Arizona State University, Digital Equipment Corporation (NYSE: DEC), and Times Mirror Cable Television announced today at the Western Cable Show they have entered into a strategic alliance to develop an interactive network that connects large manufacturing companies to their suppliers and subcontractors. The purpose of the network is to make American corporations more competitive, nationally and worldwide, by using real- time, bi-directional, broad-band communications to increase product quality and reduce time-to-market.
 "Everyone has heard about the information superhighway; this alliance makes it real," said Bob Griffin, managing director of the media business segment, Digital Equipment Corporation. "The information superhighway is the utility of the future, providing information anywhere, any time, in any format. With an electronic commerce network, we are demonstrating these benefits in manufacturing, yet the possibilities are unlimited for industries such as healthcare, education, retailing, and others."
 Network users will access a wide variety of interactive software applications and information repositories. Applications fall into two broad types. Text-based applications handle administrative functions, letting manufacturers bid jobs, execute purchase orders, revise product specifications, and perform scores of other tasks. Visual-based applications let users transmit images, the information format used most in manufacturing. Images transmitted include complex two- or three-dimensional computer aided design (CAD) drawings, white boarding, video-desktop applications, electronic mail, videoconferencing and multimedia presentations.
 Network Connects Primes to Subcontractors
 The network, which will begin testing this month in Phoenix, Ariz., will link the standalone computers and local area networks (LANs) of manufacturers, including prime contractors and a group of their first and second tier vendors. The first implementation will include McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems and two suppliers, Tempe Precision Instruments, Inc., and Modern Industries, Inc. Other participants will be connected to the network by early 1994.
 "The wealth of applications the partners will provide delivers the power of Times Mirror Cable's existing broadband network to the manufacturing community," said Paul Wedeking, Times Mirror Cable's vice president of interactive and multimedia services. "The partnership with Digital and ASU demonstrates Times Mirror Cable's commitment to form strategic alliances that expand our markets and supplement our resources."
 Helping Small and Medium Companies Compete
 The concept for this network was first conceived in 1992, in a graduate class taught by Dr. Dan Shunk, director of the Computer Integrated Manufacturing Systems Research Center at Arizona State University. "We found that prime contractors used three criteria to evaluate the competitiveness of their suppliers -- quality, cost, and rapid turn-around time," said Shunk. "In today's global marketplace, it is increasingly difficult for small and medium companies to compete on cost. A network that allows rapid communications among all levels of manufacturing could dramatically reduce the time-to-market and improve quality. These are significant competitive advantages for U.S. manufacturers."
 Participants Bring Expertise to Network
 The partners will divide development and operation of the network along functional lines. Digital will serve as the network operations manager, providing customer support, security and network traffic management, as well as the engineering, networking equipment, computer systems, and hardware support required to turn the existing cable television system into a bi-directional network. Arizona State University's Computer Integrated Manufacturing Systems Research Center will develop an Intelligent Graphic User Interface for workstations and personal computers and applications software to aid manufacturers with purchasing functions. Network operations and management functions will be run from the ASU campus in Tempe. Times Mirror Cable, which owns Dimension Cable Services of Phoenix, its largest cable operation, will provide the network infrastructure and manage business planning, marketing and regulatory affairs functions.
 Arizona State University's Computer Integrated Manufacturing Systems Research Center was established in 1984. The center is committed to addressing the manufacturing challenge of the 1990's. As part of the College of Engineering & Applied Sciences, the center is a world class academic environment capable of providing industry with the highly skilled, multi-disciplinary employees needed for the future.
 Digital Equipment Corporation, headquartered in Maynard, Mass., is the leading worldwide supplier of networked computer systems, software, and services. Digital pioneered and leads the industry in interactive, distributed, and multivendor computing. Digital and its business partners deliver the power to use the best integrated solutions in open information environments.
 Times Mirror Cable Television, a subsidiary of Times Mirror (NYSE: TMC), is the nation's tenth largest multiple system operator, serving 1.2 million customers in 13 states under the name Dimension Cable Services. Times Mirror is a Los Angeles-based information company, which publishes the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, New York Newsday, the Baltimore Sun newspapers, The Hartford Courant, and other newspapers. The company also has interest in book and magazine publishing.
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 /CONTACT: Ted Peck of Arizona State University, 602-965-2029, or Bob Berube of Digital Equipment Corp., 508-264-7806, or Susan Ritchie of Times Mirror Cable, 714-660-0500, ext. 609/

CO: Arizona State University; Digital Equipment Corp.; Times Mirror
 Cable; Times Mirror Corp. ST: California, Massachusetts, Arizona IN: CPR SU: PDT

DJ-JL -- NE013 -- 9930 12/02/93 15:46 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 2, 1993

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