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Pipe lines

* If you want to know whether your area has been reached by a cable operator, or need details of how to have your school connected, there is a free phone number, 0800 300750, which will give you the name of your local operator and where to get information about the services on offer.

The country has been divided into hundreds of franchises, with companies such as Videotron, Nynex and Bell running cable services in different areas through local operators. Prices, facilities and channels on offer vary from region to region.

The telephone services on offer also vary, with some operators offering free local calls to other subscribers, reduced rates for calls or other discounts designed to encourage consumers to subscribe.

* In Bradford the local cable operator, Yorkshire Cable, is working with the city's education authority to provide 250 schools in the region with a cable-based data link.

The intention is to allow schools and the local authority to be able to transfer quickly large amounts of data, such as exam results, and to encourage electronic ordering for supplies and equipment. At present work is taking place in 40 schools in Bradford to lay the necessary lines. Yorkshire Cable and the education authority are looking into other ways of using the capacity of the fibre-optic cable a single fibre-optic strand, the circumference of a human hair, can carry 32,000 simultaneous telephone calls.

* This week pupils in Lancashire have taken part in a live cable television link-up with schools in the United States. Shevington school in Wigan took part in a joint broadcast with pupils in California, Nebraska and Rhode Island. The 90-minute programme, commemorating VE Day, mixed video-conferencing with information about the anniversary.

* In Newcastle, United Artists and local teachers have produced a resource pack designed to show the developments in communications technology, including cable. Information about The Wonderful World of Communications is available from Philip Gregory on 0191 420 2000.

* Swindon Cable is exploring a scheme to allow students at home to be connected to the local college's computer network, so that information and essays could be exchanged from home computers to tutors.

* In Bristol, United Artists (Avon) is a partner with the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England in a project designed to use cable telephone and television to provide access to high-speed data transmission lines, for images, information or text, to any schools, colleges or individuals in the area.

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