LEGISLATION

Bill Would Reduce Telecom Regulation

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), chairman of a technology task force, plans to propose an overhaul of telecommunications law in July to encourage competition and reduce regulation in the $302 billion industry. Ensign's bill could shape a broader Senate Commerce Committee rewrite of telecommunications legislation.

BIOTECHNOLOGY

Venture Fund Wins Gates Foundation Grant

The foundation formed by Bill Gates, left, and his wife, Melinda Gates, awarded $5.4 million to a nonprofit biotechnology venture fund created by the industry's chief lobbying and trade association. BIO Ventures for Global Health will use the four-year grant to develop drugs to combat diseases currently neglected because of uncertainty about doing business in the Third World. The Biotechnology Industry Organization launched BIO Ventures last year with funding from the Gates and Rockefeller foundations.

CONTRACTS

NiSource Outsources Services to IBM

International Business Machines signed a $1.6 billion, 10-year agreement with NiSource, the nation's third-largest natural gas utility, in the largest services contract IBM said it has won. NiSource will outsource technology consulting, human resources, procurement, customer service, billing, finance and accounting operations to IBM. It expects to save more than $530 million over the contract's term, as it cuts 445 jobs and moves 572 to IBM.

RETAIL

Laser Printer First to Sell for Less Than $100

Dell began to sell the first laser printer retailing for under $100. The Dell Laser Printer 1100 can print up to 15 pages per minute, the Round Rock, Tex.-based computer manufacturer said. The move may increase pressure on other printer manufacturers to reduce prices. Average prices fell as much as 20 percent in the first quarter as Lexmark International matched discounting by Hewlett-Packard.

INTErnET

EBay Starts Forum for Outside Developers

EBay opened an online forum where outside software developers can collaborate on projects for the company's Web site and PayPal unit. The forum is open to those enrolled in eBay's Developers Program and gives them access to some of the company's software code.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.