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A new telecommunications network using the National Grid's electricity carrying system is offering law firms and chambers reductions of at least 10 per cent on British Telecom rates for their national non-local calls.
On average, 60 to 70 per cent of the legal profession's calls by value are long-distance - over 30 miles - and qualify for the savings, which can be up to 40 per cent, says ENERGIS, the National Grid owned company providing the new service from this month.
The service is provided to firms with at least three lines, with a quarterly telephone bill of a minimum of u250 per line, and make a large number of long-distance calls.
Firms in any part of the country can install the ENERGIS system without any subscription or installation charge.
All customers have a "box" which automatically identifies long-distance calls to be routed via the network of fibre-optic cable attached to the electricity pylon and other transmission systems. International calls can be put through the system and receive a discount of at least five per cent.
The service also provides practices with a series of monthly management reports, analysing calls between local, national and international, and showing the average costs of calls and details of most frequently dialled numbers.
Other reports show the pattern of calls, including those not answered, throughout the course of the day. Switchboard performance is also analysed, showing the numbers of calls answered within periods of seconds, including those not answered at all.
By the end of the year, the National Grid estimates it will have spent u250 million on the ENERGIS system. In the capital use is made of London Underground's cabling network.