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Northern Telecom’s 27.8% stake in STC and STC’s reciprocal 40% of Northern Telecom’s Plc is packed with hope and promise, writes Telegram editor Dawn Hayes. Very much behind Northern Telecom’s action is the hope that it may finally get a share of the UK public switching market with its DMS switch, particularly for British Telecom’s enhanced service needs. The DMS has proved its colours as a switch for enhanced services such as centrex in the US which are far ahead of the European market in this area, and Mercury is currently running a centrex trial in the UK using the DMS. Telecom is keen to prove to its customers that it is working for the best value for money and service that it can get for its customers. Retiring chairman Sir George Jefferson emphasised at the inauguration of Thorn-Ericsson’s Scunthorpe factory this summer that Telecom is not necessarily going to be bound to a two-supplier or even three-supplier system for public exchanges if its needs should go beyond that. Certainly STC was looking at the possibility of a similar deal with British Telecom in conjunction with Nokia of Finland around two years ago, when it looked as if Telecom might need a small rural exchange. That deal did not come off. The benefits of the link up with Northern Telecom for the UK company are potentially enormous. Transmission products are STC’s big strength and it has been working hard through its Stantel unit in the US to promote its products in this area. It believes that it is now quite close to announcing orders in the transmission area, and these are likely to be strengthened by its link up with the second largest public switch supplier to the US market after AT&T. On the PABX front, reports are that Northern Telecom is none too happy with GEC’s handling of its SLX PABXs in the UK, and may want to transfer the contract to STC, which may well in turn want ICL to get rid of the Mitel technology, given that British Telecom now owns 51% of Mitel.

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