Cable & Wireless Communications launched its transatlantic ATM service last week. BT has already had such a link as part of its UK ATM service Cellstream, launched in March.
The service, which will enable customers in the UK to send voice, video and data traffic to the US, is the first phase of the company's plans to develop a global ATM service. The UK-US link will be followed by links across Europe and the Far East in the next few years, depending on demand.
The ATM link will allow data transfer rates of between 34 and 35 Mbps.
BT was offering a 12.5 Mbps service, which was upgraded in June to allow a peak rate of 139 Mbps.
"Demand has surged for a reliable, scalable, high-speed technology like ATM which can carry multimedia, voice and other data traffic," explained Lance Spencer, director of business solutions at Cable & Wireless. "This is the first step in transforming the way in which companies do business globally."
Full pricing for the Cable & Wireless service is not yet available, though Spencer confirmed that a link will cost less than #500,000. A private network across the Atlantic now costs around #2.5 million, according to Spencer. Cable & Wireless can offer an end-to-end link through its partnership in the US with WorldCom as an ATM carrier. BT uses the ATM infrastructure of its US partner, MCI.
Cable & Wireless has already signed up four customers to its service, at though only one, Tandem Computers, would consent to be named. The company has identified two main sectors of industry which require ATM: media companies who need to send large image files, and manufacturers who need to transfer information between research and development and engineering plants.
One of Cable & Wireless's other current customers for the US ATM service is a Soho film post-production house, which needs to send video to Hollywood.
Previously, video clips had to be made into tapes and sent to California by plane. With the new service, transmitting a 12-second video clip over the ATM link takes around 12 minutes.
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