The French minister of Posts and Telecommunications M Gerard Longuet has announced that the French telecommunications industry is being rationalised for greater efficiency and a more logical organisation of customer services. The Direction Generale de Telecommunications is understood to be planning a further distancing of the Transac company that runs the public X25 packet-switched service, in which major users have been able to hold a small stake. The idea is to set up a state-controlled but independent company to accelerate investment in value added network services, without the handicap of PTT red tape. M Longuet also says that charges will be adjusted for public telephone services, resulting in both increases and decreases in current charges. The DGT will protect Transpac by dropping its charges or by keeping dhem static, while as previously announced by the DGT, charges for leased lines will increase. Sources within Geisco in France, which claims to be one of Transpac’s biggest users, say that charges for leased lines are likely to increase by as much as four times. This will dramatically affect the banks and financial institutions, which rely heavily on leased lines. It also has implications for the consortia planning to enter the French network services arena – IBM teamed with Paribas and Sema-Metra; Olivetti with database operator Tlystmes SA; and Compagnie Financire de Suez with Groupe Bull, which is using General Electric’s Geisco as a carrier but not for joint service offerings as originally intended. The DGT also plans to make the Mintel electronic phone book and viewdata system available throughout metrolpolitan France. The DGT gives away the sets, made by Alcatel and Matra – but users have to pay each time they look up a number, where use of the old paper directories was free. M Longuet says that more services are on the way for specialised vertical markets, and is looking at interconnected central servers to make services from small firms as easily accessed as majors.
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