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January 19, 1988

15 EUROPEAN PTTs MOVE FOR CO-OPERATION IN INTERNATIONAL MANAGED DATA NETWORKS

By CBR Staff Writer

The European public telecommunications authorities, PTTs, are pushing hard to offer managed data network services on a pan European basis in competition with existing on-line network services operators such as General Electric’s Geisco and IBM’s evolving network services. CEPT, the Conference on European Posts and Telecommunications, has initiated two projects, one in management of private international data networks and another to examine the technical procedures necessary to upgrade the speeds on the PTT’s public X25 packet switching networks to a common transmission speed. The idea is that the PTTs are in a prime position if they co-operate together to capitalise on the growing market for electronic data interchange. British Telecom in the UK has made two attempts already to set up joint ventures for international data interchange with private companies.

The first was a project code-named Jove, which was planned in conjunction with IBM and subsequently quashed by the UK regulatory authorities. The second, called Edinet, was set up with McDonnell-Douglas, and was abandoned in mutual dissatisfaction in December 1986. British Telecom also now manages Trans World Airlines’ international data network. The PTTs involved in the CEPT projects are in France, West Germany, the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Austria and Portugal. The PTTs in these countries want to get an international electronic data interchange service underway by the third quarter 1989. Accountants The first project comes in two parts. The first, which is due to begin in May 1988, is intended to determine the response of multi-national customers to the idea and the second part will look at the technical implications of the plan. It may be necessary for the 15 authorities and firms involved in the project to set up a joint venture body to co-ordinate the system. The companies that have capitalised on the market for managed data network operators have typcally come from the data processing rather than the telecommunications world. But with the gradual breakdown of distinctions between the two markets as convergence of equipment from each world becomes increasingly necessary. Cenelec, the co-ordinating committee for standards across Europe, set up a workshop in mid-1987 whose task is to co ordinate standards in the information technology field, looked after by the International Standards Organisation, whith those in the telecommunications field overseen by CCITT, the Consultative Committee on International Telephony & Telegraphy.

The PTTs are well placed to take a share of a market, which is expected to grow significantly over the next five years. It is an area into which many of the big consultancies are jumping accountants Arthur Anderson set up a division last year, for example, to offer facilities management and the Price Waterhouses and Pete Marwick Mitchells of the world are expected to follow suit. The market for managed data networks is likely to pick up the smaller companies at first rather than the large multi nationals, says Eosys consultant David Walpole. Many of the large companies have already created their own networks and until their technology becomes outdated they are unlikely to need hands-off data transfer between companies.

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