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World CallNet to push sub-£200 sets

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World CallNet -- the company that brought toll-free dial-up Net access to Britain last month -- wants to bring email to the masses with the launch of an interactive text-based service using TVs. M@ilTV is cheap, low tech, and can be used on both digital and analogue TVs -- which is exactly why its makers reckon it will take off in countries where PC penetration remains stubbornly low. Described as an interactive teletext service, M@ilTV will be available in Britain in January. A small set-top box will be available for under £50. TV's fitted with the M@ilTV box internally, complete with a wireless keyboard, could retail from around £180. The service is also being rolled out in Europe, Australia and Far East next year as part of a global push. M@ilTV has also been licensed by Zi Corporation to introduce a character-based service for China. In Britain, World CallNet will make part of its cash from the interconnect charge of subscription-free email service. In countries where M@ilTV can't take a cut of the cost of the phone call, it said will levy a small subscription. As well as email, M@ilTV will also provide interactive text-based services such as home shopping and banking. "M@ilTV will bring email and an expanding choice of interactive information services to the global mass consumer market at the fraction of the cost of a computer or other existing set-top boxes," said Paul Goodman-Simpson, CEO of World CallNet. Part of the reason why M@ilTV is so affordable is that it uses a chip developed by ZiLog which costs just 50 pence. ®

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