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March 3, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Alphameric Plc’s Bishopsgate Terminals Ltd unit has agreed a deal with the British Broadcasting Corporation’S BBC Datacast unit to provide data broadcasting services, a move which could thrust it into direct competition with its sister company IGG industries. Alphameric, parent of Bishopsgate last month bought IGG which is also in the data broadcast busimess but leases bandwidth from the Independent Broadcasting Authority (CI No 871). Bishopsgate’s agreement signals the first commercial deal undertaken by the BBC to supply data broadcasting through an umbrella company. Bishopsgate will reserve a 4,800 baud chunk of bandwidth with responsibility to field the needs of smaller users. At present only the Stock Exchange and Coral, the racing results outlet, rent bandwidth from the BBC and technical director of Bishopsgate Ian Prince hopes to attract a broad span of new customers including travel agents, automative distributors and retail chains. Prince envisages a booming market in data broadcasting, particularly where a business needs to send a set piece of information to a vast number of outlets, which can be achieved via a TV aerial at just UKP1 a message, he claims. Broadcasting eliminates the need to install landlines, although communication is only one way, limiting the scope of applications – although some novel uses are on the horizon: changing motorway warning signs is one example. No agreement has yet been drawn up between Bishopsgate and IGG to prevent head-on competition but Prince says the companies’ interests are focussed on different sectors for the time being with Bishopsgate concentrating on the equipment side. The acquisition of IGG was part of Alphameric’s expansionist drive, and confirms the growing importance of data broadcasting.

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