However the company tries to dress it up, the decision by British Telecom Plc to drop ICL mainframes from its ambitious, controversial and delayed Customer Services Support project (see front) is a disappointment for the company. The multi-million pound project finally got under way in May 1984 when British Telecom decided to play off rival systems from IBM and ICL, starting out with 30 mainframes – six ICL top-end Series 39s and 24 IBM and plug-compatible mainframes. But, according to British Telecom, CSS software developed under IBM’s MVS operating system has proved next to impossible to transfer to ICL’s VME environment. As a result, CSS will now be developed solely on 370-type machines – but Telecom is giving ICL a pat on the back and a consolation prize by saying that it will use the initial 13 Series 39 model 80s ordered so far as the basis of a new financial system, and possibly for other applications as well. ICL remains confident that the switch will lead to future business. A CSS pilot was started last year in the Guildford district of the Reading-based Thamesway region and further preliminary installations have taken place in Liverpool and South Wales, but the whole project is not now scheduled to be comp-leted until the early 1990s. When finished, CSS is meant to revolutionise the service to customers. To some extent, the announcement, coming now, is an oblique tribute to ICL’s lusty state of health these days: there were always political overtones in the choice of ICL for part of the contract.