Kingston Communications, the UK's only local authority owned telephone company, will be partially floated off in a bid to raise cash for the company's expansion.
After 96 years of independence, officials at Hull City Council voted late Wednesday to float off part of the organisation, but to retain a majority stake. Kingston's operates mainly in and around Kingston upon Hull, but the operator has plans to expand its reach further.
Hull Council wants as many local people as possible to buy the shares, but Kingston's forward thinking attitude to technology is likely to be attractive to all comers. Local investors will be offered special deals on their phone connections.
Kingston was the first established UK operator to offer a service using cutting edge ADSL technology, providing users with very high speed data transfer over normal phone lines. Reading based start-up Edge Technologies is the only other UK operator so far to use ADSL commercially.
Hull was for many years the only place in the UK where BT did not operate, making Kingston the monopoly operator in the region. But last year telecoms watchdog Oftel opened up the Hull market to competition, forcing Kingston to defend its market share.
Kingston's decision to raise public cash will help it safeguard its local business, but also enable it to compete elsewhere in the UK - something it was given permission to do as part of last year's Oftel decision.
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