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Freeserve Puts $19 Million Into Telepost

Leading UK ISP Freeserve has invested $19 million in unified messaging services provider TelePost.

The investment, bringing an undisclosed amount of equity in TelePost, potentially broadens Freeserve's business which has recently been coming under increasing scrutiny because of its reliance on the UK's turbulent domestic Internet industry.

"The unified messaging market is set to grow exponentially as consumers demand a solution that simplifies and manages the retrieval of their messages from a growing variety of sources," said John Pluthero, chief executive officer of Freeserve.

"Through TelePost, Freeserve is participating in the development of the nascent UMS market both in the United States and the United Kingdom."

TelePost's products are targeted at small businesses, enabling users to have a single phone number for all their messaging requirements. Users can retrieve voicemail, fax and email messages by phone or email, make conference calls and give PowerPoint presentations on the Internet.

As many as 25 million individuals could be using unified messaging services in the United States by 2003, according to industry analyst firm IDC.

"The need for our products is increasing rapidly and we believe this investment, with our award-winning applications, will allow us to capitalise on the growing demand for UMS and Web communication services both in the USA and UK markets," said Bruce Runyan, president and chief operating officer of TelePost.

Freeserve is expected to launch a free UMS product in the UK shortly, via Telserve, which will give users a single, unified mailbox with no monthly subscription.