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February 27, 1989


By CBR Staff Writer

Windsor Television Plc is aiming to be the first cable TV company to offer a telecommunications service to rival British Telecommunications Plc and Mercury Communications Ltd by the end of this year. The Office of Telecommunications has given the company permission to expand its experimental system on the Slough Industrial Estate – a UKP1m project which covers around 100 premises – into a local phone network: the system will operate in the Maidenhead, Slough, Langley and Windsor areas of Berkshire. Windsor Television, set up in 1983, was given a public telephone operator’s licence as part of its cable TV franchise. Its Cable Telecom company will operate the system, pitching to business users; as well as laying its own private cables, it will buy lines from Mercury Communications Ltd at a discount, then offer them with its own tariff sructure. Calls will be directed via Mercury’s national and international network though in the long term, the cable company wants to switch calls itself. The company will also offer point-to-point private circuits and handle all customer services. In a separate project, North London’s Cable Camden Ltd is testing technical options by operating a pilot scheme in a block of 105 flats. It will begin laying cables throughout the Boroegh of Camden, carrying both TV and telephone transmissions, in the summer. The cable company will then look for both domestic and business customers, though it predicts that it will take at least three years for it to construct a complete service. A third similar trial is being carried out by another cable operator, East London Television. With Oftel’s permission, all UK cable companies can carry voice telephony in the area covered by their licences. For its part Mercury Communications welcomes the experiments, and is looking for more agreements with cable television companies in the future.

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