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Telewest to tackle BT, NTL with broadband launch

Microsoft investment forms key part of next phase for cable co

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Cable operator Telewest has thrown its hat into the broadband arena following hard on the heels of BT and NTL. The well-flagged announcement confirms that Telewest will launch its broadband Internet service -- 100 times faster than conventional dial-up access -- early next year. Before then it will launch a co-branded Web portal with Microsoft which has agreed to buy a 29.9 per cent stake in the cable operator. "The alliance between Telewest and Microsoft clearly exploits a massive synergy, combining Telewest's broadband networks and its extensive customer base, with Microsoft's leading role in Internet technologies and its strong content experience with the MSN portal," said Tony Illsley CEO of Telewest. But a spokesman for the cable company said that while the MSN content was important, it would not drown out Telewest's own branding. It was not simply a case of Telewest providing the infrastructure and MSN providing the content, he said. Four million homes in the UK have access to Telewest cable services. It currently boasts 1.4 million subscribers. ®

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