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Posted at 4:37 PM ET, 06/16/2008

iPods Take Flight, At A Cost

Travelers heading to Europe are getting a new tech goody -- well, some of them are.

United Airlines today said it would offer first and business class travelers cords to connect their iPods to seats equipped with video screens.The service will be unveiled today on the daily 5:40 pm nonstop flight from Dulles International Airport to Zurich.

We priced a roundtrip ticket to Zurich from Dulles -- $3,487 for biz class and a whopping $13,747 for first class.

A United spokesman said the airline will offer the service on other international flights over the next two years. But there are no similar plans for domestic flights, she said.

-- Sholnn Freeman

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Posted at 12:12 PM ET, 01/31/2008

Minimum Price for FCC's Airwaves Met

A bid this morning on a coveted portion of the wireless airwaves up for auction by the Federal Communications Commission met the agency's minimum target price, which could mean success for a drive to create a nationwide network that would be open to any device or software to work on that spectrum.

The so-called C block, one of several on the block in the 700-mHz frequency, has been eyed by Verizon Wireless, Google, and AT&T. In the first round of bidding on its sixth day of the auction, a bid for $4.7 billion met the commission's reserve price of $4.64 billion.

Bidding is anonymous and the winner won't revealed until the end of the entire auction, which could run through the end of February, some analysts say. But speculation has been rife that Verizon Wireless or Google have the most interest in the block of airwaves and are among the only companies that have the cash to buy the spectrum and build it out.

Their objectives, however, may differ. In just one of several possible scenarios, some analysts speculate that Google, which has been pushing for an "open network" that would give consumers more control over the kinds of devices and software they choose to use, may have pushed Verizon Wireless to place the final bid so that the Internet-search company doesn't have to build out the network. Another theory is that Verizon Wireless placed the $4.7 billion bid so that it could wrest control over what would be the only nationwide open network and making sure that the network was built out in an a way that doesn't compete with their DSL and cable operations.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is speaking to press at 1 p.m. EST. The auction, which in total has exceeded so far its minimum reserve target of $10 billion, has been a mixed bag in terms of success. While price targets may be met, a public safety block looks unlikely.

---Cecilia Kang

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Posted at 2:46 PM ET, 07/19/2007

Wal-Mart Expands Online Features

Starting today, Wal-Mart is allowing users to enter customer reviews and ratings on its Web site following strong shopper demand.

The company began testing the program in June in several categories, including electronics, home and garden, media and baby. The site received double the user response it expected, Wal-Mart officials said. The world's largest retailer estimates that 75 percent of its 130 million customers are active online.

Competitiors such as Amazon.com and Target have already implemented customer review and ratings systems. Wal-Mart said it will use a five-star rating system, with five being the highest, and monitor reviews for inappropriate language, copyrighted material or content unrelated to the product before they are published. Reviews will take about five to seven days to post.

--Ylan Mui
Ylan Mui is the retail reporter at The Washington Post. She can be reached at muiy@washpost.com

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