British Telecommunications Plc is still battling with the problem of how to market the concept of Centrex – PABX services on a public switch, three months after it promised to reveal its marketing and technical strategy for the product. A spokesman for the phone company would say only that our evaluation of a number of technical options should be completed by the end of the year – we should then be in a position to begin roll-out of the service. Although popular in the US, Centrex has not taken off in Europe where a majority of corporate customers have already installed PABX-based networks and will require additional facilities from Centrex in order to cost-justify the service. Bonnie Ralph, Telecom’s marketing manager for Centrex also said that there are a number of security issues to be resolved before the service will be viable. Bell Atlantic’s two year contract to advise Telecom on how to market Centrex has now finished although the company still does not have the blueprint formula it needs to launch Centrex. Users outside central London will not have a service until the early 1990s, because Telecom rejected AT&T’s 5ESS switch for these areas and software is now being developed for the GEC Plessey System X exchange. One industry source said that Telecom is still experiencing problems with the basic System X exchanges and is not in a position to run additional services such as Centrex on top, until these are resolved. Telecom delayed its launch of basic rate ISDN, which is also due to run on these exchanges, for the third time earlier this year. Difficulties in standardisation were blamed on that occasion. Mercury Communications last week expanded capacity on its 2110 Centrex service based on Northern Telecom exchanges, claiming a boost in customer demand.
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