The ACTS programme (Advanced Communications Technologies and Services) represents the European Commission's major effort to support pre-competitive RTD in the context of trials in the field of telecommunications. It will take place during the period of the Fourth Framework Programme of scientific research and development (1994-1998). Following comprehensive consultations with industry, it has been determined that the work in ACTS should aim to consolidate European technological strength in digital broadband communications (IBCs) and enable effective network management and service deployment in a diverse and competitive communications environment. The programme foresees the co-financing of pre-competitive, pre-normative and pre-regulatory R&D in the areas of: - Interactive digital multimedia services; - Photonic technologies; - High-speed networking; - Mobility and personal communications networks; - Intelligence in networks and service engineering; - Quality, security and safety of communication services and systems; - Horizontal actions. In particular, the work should stimulate and coordinate the emergence of digital multimedia services and integrated photonic systems with a view to their widespread introduction in Europe from 2000, including development of the technological basis for deployment of "transparent highways" (all-optical networks). The work should ensure mobility on fixed networks and through advanced wireless, radio and satellite systems across Europe, with particular emphasis on user access in both public and private networks, and develop and demonstrate technologies for the integrity, confidentiality and availability of information in integrated systems. Horizontal actions will address the challenge of the information society and ensure that there is as wide an access as possible to the new information and communication infrastructure. In all areas, a leading role will be played by user groups with common requirements, both to ensure that the RTD activities are relevant to their needs, and to focus the technology developments in key areas for Europe's economic and social development. The lead given by users will ensure that the technology development activities respond quickly to changes in economic and social conditions and to new scientific discoveries and breakthroughs. An important component of the ACTS programme will be the National Host concept. Areas where national, as opposed to Community, action would be most appropriate will be covered by a National Host, designated by the Member State, which will provide a platform or testbed for operational trials, thereby facilitating the execution of ACTS projects. A key role will be given to system integration, service integration and demonstration of advanced services, and a close link will be maintained with trans-European network developments. The programme will serve to demonstrate the capabilities of advanced communications in a variety of business and public service sectors, and will allow the advantages in terms of efficiency, reliability, and environmental impact reduction to be evaluated. It will enable common interest groups to experiment with emerging technologies, to address structural and regulatory constraints to better use of advanced communications, to identify "best practice" and to evaluate the impact of social evolution to an "information economy", with decentralized collaborative working and small business networking.