Business & Finance

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AT&T was to announce Thursday that it's joining the rush to embrace Internet-based phone service next year. The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times said the telecommunications giant expects to make the service available in the 100 largest US markets, beginning in the first quarter. Time Warner Cable said earlier this week that it and two partners - Sprint and MCI - will offer the same service nationally. The service uses a technology known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP), in which calls travel digitally as packets of data along the web or other high-speed network rather than as electrical impulses that pass through a system of switches, as in a traditional phone call. The data are reassembled into sound at the listener's end. VOIP allows carriers such as AT&T to sell their services without having to rent local phone lines from regional "Baby Bell" companies. One of the latter, Qwest Communications Inc. of Denver, announced Wednesday that it has begun offering Internet phone service to residential customers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. again delayed the filing of its quarterly financial report until it reviews "possible improper accounting issues" in its European operations. But the world's largest tiremaker said it has yet to determine whether the matter would have "a material impact" on that report. Goodyear first postponed the reporting of its third-quarter results in October, informing the Securities and Exchange Commission that errors in accounting were responsible for overstating earnings over the past five years by as much as $100 million.

Airbus Industrie, Boeing's major rival in commercial aircraft-building, won a $2.2 billion contract to supply Malaysia Airlines with six new 555-passenger A380 superjumbo jets. The plane, which will be the world's largest, is scheduled for its inaugural flight in 2006.

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