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NTL customers could soon be able to chose between different broadband ISPs, following a wholesale deal with Freeserve.

This is the first time that a broadband cable network operator and UK ISP have worked together in this way.

The agreement means that Freeserve can offer a 512kbps broadband cable modem service to around six million household in NTL's cable areas.

As part of the deals it looks like punters will take NTL Home's telephony service and will also have the opportunity to subscribe to its digital cable TV service.

NTL's decision to open up its cable network to rival ISPs could lead to a rush of operators keen to gain access to the cableco's customers.

For now, the UK's biggest ISP, Freeserve, is looking ahead to the autumn when it plans to offer a broadband service to NTL customers.

The price of Freeserve Broadband has yet to be determined although in a statement the ISP said, rather vaguely, that it would be "competitive with other products in the marketplace".

NTL declined to reveal the wholesale cost of the service.

Freeserve - which calls itself "platform agnostic" - is also likely to be keen to strike a similar deal with the UK's second biggest cable operator Telewest.

In a statement John Pluthero, chief exec of Freeserve, said: "This agreement gives Freeserve unrivalled options for the distribution and availability of Freeserve Broadband, complementing what we already have in place for DSL.

"Consumers in NTL's broadband cable franchises are now free to choose Freeserve Broadband as part of bundles with cable telephony and TV packages.

"Plus, we now have a way of capturing existing Freeserve customers in NTL broadband areas with our own fast-speed cable offer."

Separately, Freeserve is launching a multi-million pound marketing campaign to drive take-up of its DSL broadband service. ®

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