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Carphone Warehouse mounts US invasion

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Carphone Warehouse will crash into the US mobile market this year, with a big expansion of its Best Buy Mobile joint venture.

The firm has been taking tentative steps in mobile stateside with a five month trial in a few of the retail behemoth's outlets. Up to 200 Best Buy stores will now play host to Carphone Warehouse-run "stores within a store" in the next 18 months.

In the UK, Carphone plans to unleash Best Buy-pioneered Geek Squad tech support visitors, which it has been trialing in London, across the country.

CEO Charles Dunstone made the announcements in a strategy update to investors. He said: "In broadband, we are targeting 3.5 million residential customers by March 2010. Provisioning times are falling as the unbundling process becomes more streamlined, and we are confident that our increased investment in customer service will deliver a much improved customer experience."

In the UK, the firm already leads the way in local loop unbundling of BT exchanges and plans to cover 1,650 exchanges by March next year, which should include more than 50 per cent of the million-plus AOL subscribers it acquired last year, and more than 80 per cent of the TalkTalk "free" broadband base.

Carphone is hoping to shift AOL punters over to the "free" broadband package, since it will boost the average revenue per user by driving them onto its home phone package. Investors should get a 30 per cent bigger annual dividend.

Potentially of concern to customers, given British Gas' recent system update woes, Carphone said it will be launching a new customer relationship management and billing platform this year.

The full update is here. ®

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