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June 2, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

The comment emanating from British Telecommunications Plc’s Suffolk-based Martlesham Laboratories last week to the effect that the company had been forced to delay its video-on-demand commercial trial by four months – putting it back until next January – was an unofficial response, says a spokesman. The official line is that the company has never set a firm deadline for roll-out, although British Telecom visual and broadcast director Steve Maine said last February that the trial, which will connect 2,500 homes to the service, would start later this year. The British Telecom source acknowledged that autumn had been suggested as a possible start-date, but added that details had deliberately been left vague to account for potential delays with supplies of the new technology and equipment supplies. He suggested that the service may be ready for launch in December, but that this did not constitute a firm declaration. One reason for caution is a general shortage of set-top boxes, added the spokesman, which at the moment are being virtually hand-built. These are currently supplied by Apple Computer Inc for British Telecom’s technical trials, but the supplier for the commercial pilot trial has yet to be selected by tender. The company categorically denied that there was any problem with the technology itself.

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