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The Post Office is joining the growing list of companies looking to offer telecoms services to residential customers. Twenty years after the Post Office's former telephone business (now BT) was privatised, it's hooking up with Cable & Wireless to provide a fixed-line service.

The "HomePhone" service is due to be trialled at the end of the year before a full commercial launch at the beginning of 2005. The service is based on Carrier Pre Selection (CPS), enabling punters to switch telco provider without the need for number prefixes or dialler boxes.

The Post Office claims that its "trusted" brand and network of 16,000 branches will help it attract at least a million punters by 2010. Post Office chief exec David Mills said: "We have one of the most trusted, credible and recognised brands in the country. We'll be building on this to launch our Post Office HomePhone service which will be amongst the most competitive in the marketplace."

A BT spokesman said the company had no plans to start up a letter and parcel delivery service, although he conceded that it did handle email. ®

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