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May 24, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

At the same time that France Telecom has added the Siriel international directory service to its Minitel viewdata network, it has abandoned its Community Link Minitel experiment with US West Inc, Englewood, Colorado, which was intended to develop a Minitel-like service in the US. Luc Guillet, president of Intelmatique, the wholly-owned France Telecom subsidiary responsible for managing Minitel, told reporters at the launch of its new Siriel service that the two operators decided to close Community Link Minitel in its current form in June. An Intelmatique spokeswoman explained that potential service providers were being bombarded by a wide variety of new technologies that caused them to wait rather than sign up, so we got found ourselves with the problem of too few service providers and, thus, few subscribers. In the course of its several-month trial in Minneapolis, the Community Link Minitel pilot project attracted only 2,000 users to its 50-odd services, which could be accessed via either a Minitel terminal or personal computer. One of the big differences between the Community Link Minitel project and the Minitel, and a possible reason for its failure, was that the terminals were not supplied free of charge. As a result, the cost of the Minitel made it impossible to build up a subscriber base that would then attract service providers. Guillet said the two companies would reorient their operations together and that, despite the abandonment of Community Link, they were negotiating ways to develop multimedia services, such as tele-shopping, together. Nobody from US West was available for comment.

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