British Satellite Broadcasting Ltd, BSB, has awarded the UK’s first satellite television customer services contract to British Satellite Systems Ltd, in a five year deal worth around UKP50m. The system provided by British Satellite Systems, jointly owned by retailing giants Next Plc and Sacramento, California company CableData Inc, will deal with complaints and enquiries from subscribers to BSB’s service, and allows payment by phone and connection to the satellite service within minutes. Via Next’s own Amdahl 580 mainframes in Bradford, West Yorkshire, information will be transferred from the service centre in nearby Leeds to BSB’s computer centre at its Earth Station in Chilworth, Hampshire; here it goes through a conditional access system, which takes authorisation messages from the service centre and converts them into messages for satellite transmission, determining which service a customer will receive. BSB’s satellite is due to be launched on August 10, and the service should start in September, eventually providing five UK-regu.cw 8 lated channels. Next also holds an equity stake in British Satellite Broadcasting, and the use of the retailer’s existing customer database, acquired through its mail order operations for instance, has not been ruled out as a source of possible commercial information for the satellite service.
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