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Voda eyes Tiscali, Bulldog

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Vodafone is looking to snap up a UK ISP as the giant mobile phone company seeks to move into fixed line telecoms. The Sunday Telegraph reported that Vodafone has already popped Tiscali UK (which has a million broadband punters) on its shopping list, alongside Cable & Wireless-owned Bulldog.

Vodafone's eagerness to expand its operation comes as the UK's major players embark on a strategy to provide bundled phone, internet, TV and mobile services.

To recap, cableco NTL has merged with Telewest and is buying Virgin Mobile; Carphone has launched "free" broadband as part of a cut-price phone combo; pay-TV outfit Sky is due to launch its broadband service later this year; Wanadoo is expected to take on the colour of its sister company Orange as a new enlarged group offers converged services; and BT has pencilled in the autumn for the launch of its broadband TV service.

In the face of such shifts, Vodafone is trying to ensure it doesn't get left behind. No one at Vodafone was available for comment at the time of writng because "they were all busy", apparently. However, follow-up reports suggest that Vodafone has played down links with Tiscali and Bulldog.

Indeed, the boss of Vodafone isn't convinced the cellco needs to buy an ISP. Four weeks ago Vodafone boss Arun Sarin said the giant cellco was looking to branch out into the fixed line world to offer voice and broadband products alongside its own mobile services. However, in a newspaper interview, he said there was no need to buy up telcos and ISPs since it was just as easy to resell wholesale services.

"The question is, as the world evolves with services like VoIP and Wi-Fi and all that, should we expand the services our company provides? I am not sure why one would want to buy a fixed-line asset when one can resell broadband DSL and other bits we may want to bundle," he said. ®

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