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Intel buys another communications company

Intel buys Parity Software Development and makes other investments as part of its strategy to colonize the communications industry.

LAS VEGAS--Intel has bought Parity Software Development, a developer of computer telephony software, and has made other investments as part of its strategy to colonize the communications industry.

Terms of the Parity deal weren't disclosed. Sausalito, California-based Parity will be integrated into Intel's Dialogic subsidiary, which focuses on computer telephony hardware and software. The deal was announced this morning, the first full day of the Comdex trade show here.

Telecommunications has become obsession No. 1 for Intel these days. The company has made a variety of acquisitions in this area during the past year, announced a line of network processors and set up a venture fund targeted at communications. Intel, Dell and others have stated that they plan to move into the computer-telephony market.

Privately held Parity develops "object-oriented" telephony software for other developers. Computer telephony essentially is the art of using technology from the PC arena to carry and manage telephone traffic. Parity's flagship product is called CT Media and is used in computer telephony server computers.

In a related move, Intel placed investments in MediaSoft Telecom and Prima to further development on the CT Media platform. The investments come from the $200 million Intel Communications Fund created in September.

MediaSoft provides software for managing medium to large computer telephony solutions and PC-based PBX boxes. A PBX is a corporate phone system.

Prima develops software that allows organizations to integrate telephony technologies with e-commerce customer-service applications. Both companies are based in Montreal.

Finally, Intel signed a letter of intent with Artisoft to acquire rights to its Visual Voice, a tool for developing CT Media applications.

Comdex: Closing the millennium Communications has become a dominant theme for Intel this year. The company has announced plans to diversify from providing microprocessors for PCs into providing silicon, and even finished products, to a wide variety of markets. The company also set up two different communications divisions, one focused on network and communications processors and the other targeted at equipment.

The acquisition of Parity represents the tenth deal signed or closed in a year. Most of the acquired companies focus on communications.

The communications server market has been of particular interest as well. Most telephone equipment, PC executives say, is both expensive and based around proprietary standards. The plan is to essentially invade this market with cheaper, PC-based technology that can handle both data and voice networks.