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    20.1 Background

    British Telecommunications (BT) is a leading provider of telecommunications services. Its main products and services are providing local, long distance, and international calls; providing telephone lines, equipment, and private circuits for homes and businesses, providing and managing private networks, and supplying mobile communications services.

    BT's library is organisationally located in a unit called Advanced Communications Engineering (ACE). ACE's 3,500 people mainly work in software and telecoms engineering. ACE develops advanced communication technologies for the companies across the BT Group and for selected other businesses.

    ACE is headquartered at Adastral Park, Martlesham, in the East of England. It's the centre of technical expertise for the BT Group and works with the company's businesses worldwide to help them to deliver new products and services to their customers and to build infrastructure for their future. Its reputation was established with BT's pioneering work in the field of optical communications.

    While the majority of ACE's people are based at Adastral Park, significant numbers are located in offices worldwide, including locations in Asia, continental Europe, and North America. They include many who are in the forefront of their specialist fields, leading the development of standards and new technologies in areas including multimedia, IP and data networks, mobile communications, network design and management, and business applications.

    Like other companies in high-tech sectors, BT experiences major pressures on costs and products, requiring a challenging combination of cost-cutting and innovation to maintain competitiveness. These pressures have led to a change of direction in BT's research focus, moving from research in the optics area towards software and internet engineering.