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Technology / AI and automation


Energis Communications Ltd, the telecommunications company owned by The National Grid Co Plc, yesterday officially launched its national telecommunications service to be marketed towards both business and residential customers. The company has been keeping a low profile for 18 months while putting up its 2,200 miles of fibre optic network along electricity pylons throughout the UK. Chairman Gordon Owen says that the firm does not view itself as being the third telephone company, but as a multimedia company, in that it will eventually provide telephone and data services for the operation of entertainment and interactive services. It is offering savings of a minimum of 10% on daytime rates and 15% on economy and weekend rates, compared with British Telecommunications Plc’s national rates. When asked what the company thought about being more expensive to residential users than Mecury Communications Ltd, the spokesman was not precise. We believe services we can offer to the residential customer will be a very attractive package, he said. Whether the tariffs are attractive, or not, connection to the Energis network is very straightforward and free of charge. Installation for residential customers typically takes only eight seconds. They can phone up to receive a free Energis Box by post generally within 24 hours, which they simply plug into their telephone socket and this automatically routes all national calls over the Energis network without the need to dial access codes or press special buttons. For businesses there is the Access and Multiline Box which will also provide a breakdown of the business’s telephone usage on a monthly basis. The London-based company has invested UKP250m in the network so far and plans to continue its investment, but at a slightly lower rate. It expects to see a positive cash flow in between four and five years. When questioned about the widely discussed alliance with AT&T Corp Gordon Owen explained that 18 months ago as a small company, it needed the knowledge and expert staff in telecommunications to build itself and had discussions with more than one international carrier, as for obvious reasons of competition it could take a UK partner. Time has moved on he said: It is not on the top of our priority list.

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