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Xbox names broadband partners for Live gig

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Telewest, NTL and BTOpenworld are to provide the broadband connections in the UK for Xbox Live - the online gaming service from Microsoft.

BTo is currently Microsoft's only partner in the UK that is providing an ADSL connection for the service.

Microsoft is looking to sign up other service providers before Xbox Live is made available commercially next year.

Cablecos Telewest and NTL are also teaming up with Microsoft to enable gamers to play each other online, talk to other players during the action and download new levels, characters and statistics.

Some 3,000 people from the UK, France and Germany will take part in a closed beta test during November to iron out any glitches in the service.

From November 30 the service will be available to any Xbox owners hooked up to a signed-up broadband service provider.

The full commercial launch is set for March 14 2003 when gamers in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden will be able to buy a starter pack before plugging in and paying.

The starter pack includes the Xbox Communicator headset (used for chatting to your mates online), a 12-month subscription to the Xbox Live service and special versions of two Xbox games, MotoGP and Whacked!.

The pack is expected to cost around £40 (E60). ®

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