The European Commission, DG XIII/B, has notched up a first in Europe, by launching a call for proposals for research and demonstrations in Advanced Communications Technologies and Services (ACTS), which requested the submission of proposals by secure electronic file transfer over public networks. The call for proposals for ACTS was published on 15 September 1994 and closed on 15 March 1995. A first analysis of the submissions has shown promising results. Of the 333 proposals submitted, 75% were made electronically, with only 25% made by conventional use of paper and postal services, otherwise known as "snail mail". In financial terms, the call has been oversubscribed by a ratio of almost 4:1. Bidding consortia were issued with a sealing tool (under licence) for the specific purpose of encrypting their proposal prior to transmission. This ensured its "commercial in confidence" status. Proposals were uploaded by the bidders to FTP servers established in 13 different countries which acted as collection points. Connections to these servers were established via the Internet, or via direct modem links using the ordinary telephone network. The Commission then used the European ATM pilot to download the proposals from ten national collection points directly to their offices in Brussels. The remainder were downloaded to Brussels via ISDN. Roland Hüber, the Director responsible for the ACTS programme commented: "This was a very satisfactory demonstration of the performance of the ATM pilot. Ten countries out of the 13 having servers for the call used it. These experienced no problem whatsoever. Congratulations are due to the national hosts, their FTP servers and to the operators supporting the ATM pilot itself". It is another first for the Commission that such a Community research action has been opened for the first time to worldwide participation. By using trans-European high-speed networks under conditions of commercial confidentiality, ACTS has already demonstrated the viability of electronic tendering in the EU, at least for work to be supported by the Commission. From these small beginnings, one may see that Europe's ambition of establishing sustained economic growth based on an advanced communications infrastructure is indeed almost within the grasp of commercial enterprise.