Network start date set

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The Independent Online
FRANKFURT - The state-owned telephone companies of France and Germany yesterday announced that the merger of their business communications and data service networks would begin operating in 1995 and have sales of 1.5bn ecus ( pounds 1.1bn) a year, writes John Eisenhammer.

The joint venture, to be based in Brussels, is trying to create a global data services network with AT&T, the US telecoms giant.

Marcel Roulet, chairman of France Telecom, said the pooling of the French and German companies' voice and data activities could be extended as Europe moved towards full liberalisation of the telecommunications market in 1998.

Cross-shareholdings are also under consideration but Helmut Ricke, the head of Deutsche Telekon Bundespost, said this was not envisaged before 1998.

Iain Vallance, chairman of BT, attacked the deal, saying: 'The apparent combination of the two monopolies would be a sad step for Europe. However we are not afraid of it.'

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