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December 20, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

Telematica Foundation in Holland is planning to establish a public videotex service along the same lines as the French Minitel service over the next five years in competition with the Dutch PTT’s Citidel service. Alcatel, one of the three manufacturers of the Minitel terminal, stands to win the $25m order for 100,000 terminals if the project comes off. Diversified defence and electronics company Matra SA and Philips NV subsidiary TRT SA are the other Minitel manufacturers. Telematica is talking to publishing company Vereenidge Nederlandse Uitgeversbedrijven NV, VNU, to Ahold – the largest grocery store chain in Holland, and Dutch retail group Vendex about investing in the project.It is looking at total investment of UKP30m over five years. The Dutch public telecommunications authority runs the Citidel public videotext service, which is based on the same system as Prestel in the UK and the Bildschirmtext service run by the Bundespost in West Germany. The service has attracted only 26,000 subscribers since its launch in 1980. The Minitel-based viewdata service, Te’le’tel, has been a phenomenal success in France because the Direction Ge’ne’rale de Te’le’communications has adopted a policy, backed by the French government, of giving away the terminals in exchange for printed telephone directories. The DGT saves money on the cost of printing the directories and it expects the service to pay for itself by 1990. The Minitels have also generated something like an additional 12m telephone calls a week. Volume production has brought the cost of making the Minitel set down to around UKP120 and over 3m have now been installed with French customers. Frost & Sullivan estimates that the DGT will install 10 million terminals by 1990. British Telecom has considered following the French viewdata example in the past, but it would not get financial backing from the UK government. Meantime, it seems that we won’t have to wrestle with the mouthful Direction Ge’ne’rale de Te’le’commun.UJ ON ications much longer: the Financial Times Men & Matters column reports that after more than a year of soulsearching well if you don’t spend time on this things, you end up with crude vulgarities like Britoil it is to change its name to France Telecom. A $4.5m advertising campaign is set to tell the French people the wonders of France Telecom.

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