Agencies line up as Conduit challenges BT's enquiry service

Agencies are preparing to pitch for the UK launch of Conduit Europe, the directory enquiries services company looking to compete with BT after the forthcoming deregulation of the lucrative directory enquiries market.

Bates UK, Leo Burnett, McCann-Erickson and Partners BDDH are pitching for the multimillion-pound Conduit account, which already has a strong presence in Ireland, Switzerland and Austria.

Activity is hotting up in the directory enquiries market following the British telecoms regulator Oftel's declaration that it is to scrap the 192 number and allocate new six-digit directory enquiry numbers, beginning with the digits 118, to telecommunications companies by the end of May.

The move is aimed at opening the service to competition and ending BT's near-monopoly of the huge directory enquiries market.

Conduit Europe operates its directory service under the number 1850.

Other companies wanting to compete with BT after deregulation include the German directory company Telegate AG. Telegate is reported to have appointed Grey Worldwide to a £15 million launch account.

Conduit provides directory assistance for Orange and Telewest in the UK. It was unavailable for comment as Campaign went to press.

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