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July 27, 1987

BRITISH TELECOM PURSUES COMPUTER-COMMUNIVERGENCE

By CBR Staff Writer

British Telecom Plc will be showing a new computer-based telephone sales system – expected to be built around DEC VAX minis – at the Telecom 87 show in Geneva in October. Undaunted by the disaster AT&T Co’s attempts to capitalise on the convergence of computers and telecommunications have turned out to be, British Telecom plans to follow a similar strategy, with the key difference that it does not intend to manufacture its own computers. The company sees the move into systems integration as a vital step to protect its communications business by increasing its computer-related activity – otherwise its involvement will stop at a small junction box in the wall. Up until now, Telecom has commissioned others to manufacture almost all its hardware, or bought it in from third parties. It commissioned Rathdown Industries Ltd to make it Qwertyphone, and bought in ICL’s One-Per-Desk and Zenith Data Systems’ Z-148 Personalike. While it is looking for further partners like DEC with which to attack specialist markets, it is now ready to start serious manufacturing with the aim of doubling turnover of its UKP500m-a-year Fulcrum communications products unit by 1993. The company intends to fund growth out of working capital.

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