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February 16, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

British Telecom plans in April to unveil a revolutionary approach to Centrex facilities, offering not only virtual voice PABX services from public exchanges, but also supporting nationwide high speed data networks, right down to virtual local area networks, complete with transparent virtual gateways to wide area traffic and public services. These extensions were relayed in a specification passed to the developers of both the System X and System Y exchanges, and are being incorporated into new Centrex software for the digital exchanges. GEC Plc and Plessey Co have both confirmed that they have orders for Centrex capability on the System X switch and are mutually working towards the software that will allow this – but it will take two years to complete. Plessey confirmed that there were a host of new facilities to do with managing large corporation data networks – and you won’t find these facilities in any Centrex systems available at the moment. The System Y supplier, Thorn-Ericsson Ltd, is believed to be further along its development route. The only supplier offering facilities that come anywhere near what British Telecom is seeking is Northern Telecom Inc – whose exchanges will now be marketed in the UK by STC Plc (CI No 868 and page three, inside) but embarassingly for British Telecom, Northern Telecom already supplies switches – and Centrex – to British Telecom’s arch rival, Mercury Communications Ltd.

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