The market for hand-held personal digital assistants such as Apple's Newton could begin to take off this year, thanks to a ruling expected from the Federal Communications Commission on Feb. 7. That's when the agency will set aside a chunk of the airwaves for these gadgets, which now have to be tethered to wires to transmit data. Companies such as IBM plan to use the spectrum to eliminate cumbersome cables that lash together computers in local-area networks.

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