Energis wins pounds 100m BBC contract: Breakthrough for National Grid's telecommunications arm

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The Independent Online
ENERGIS, the telecommunications operator owned by the National Grid Company, has won a contract from the BBC, thought to be worth around pounds 100m, for the distribution of television and radio services in the UK.

The deal is a significant breakthrough for the company which is spending pounds 100m on the launch of a public telephone service planned for early next year.

The BBC currently uses BT to operate a managed broadcast network on its behalf, linking facilities including studios and programme production centres to its transmitters.

Energis, which declined to comment on the value of the contract, expects to take over the operation of the BBC's broadcast network in about 18 months with the agreement running for 10 years.

David Dey, chief executive, said: 'This is a significant milestone in our plans to become a full service telecommunications supplier to businesses and homes throughout the country.'

Energis is basing its telephone network on the National Grid Company's power transmission system, using a technique in which the communications wires are wrapped around existing electricity wires. The company, which is chaired by Gordon Owen, the former group managing director of Cable & Wireless, won a public telephone operator's licence three weeks ago. It aims to cover 70 per cent of the population within a year of starting the service.

Energis wants to link up with cable television companies offering local telephone services and with regional electricity supply firms. Some of the regional companies, which own the Energis parent, NGC, already have plans to enter the telecommunications market in their supply areas.