Following successful trials in Ipswich and Colchester, British Telecom is planning to invest #5 billion to revolutionise the telecommunications system, making it possible to transmit television programs down the line. High speed access to the Internet would rival that based on cable modems, providing a serious challenge to current service providers.
BT is negotiating with BSkyB to supply its programming - subject, of course, to approval from regulator Oftel, which currently blocks BT supplying many non-telephony services. The cable companies, which are struggling to compete with BSkyB, have invested billions laying underground fibre optic cables amd developing cable modems, only to find that BT can provide a comparable system through its existing wires.
BT proposes to lease equipment from Alacatel of France, Fujutsu of Japan and Northern Telecom of Canada, in return for revenue-related payments. Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Loops, as the technology is known, once installed on each of our 22.5 million phone lines, will allow the transfer of up to two megabytes of data.
The telecommunications watchdog Oftel is expected to oppose any proposed agreement between BSkyB and BT. If not, we are likely to see the cable companies fighting for survival.
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