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Telewest, Andersen Consulting Form Broadband Venture

Following up on its unmetered access triumph in the U.K., Telewest Communications Monday agreed to co-create broadband services with U.S. consulting firm Andersen Consulting.

The new jointly-owned company is charged with developing and licensing for the up-and-coming sector. Video on demand is scheduled to be the first product to hit the launch pad, with its release expected next month. Interactive television and advertising, wireless services, games and online banking are a few of the other product categories.

The venture's sights are set on a market of 50.8 million Western European digital television-enabled households, an statistic which Jupiter projects will materialize in 2003. Andersen's own research tallies the European broadband market as a sector worth £7 billion ($11 billion).

In respect to Europe's crowded tech IPO trail, the new company says that a flotation would be a "medium term option."

The London-based joint venture, which has yet to be named, will be led by Andersen Consulting's Arjang Zadeh as the acting chief executive officer and the staff will also be drawn from the consulting firm.

"This is an explosive growth market, in which CEOs of major network companies know that broadband interactive services are crucial for their future," Zadeh said.

Telewest (TWSTY) will also act as the new company's first client, which the company boasts will solidify its leadership in bringing broadband to U.K. consumers. The telecom jump-started the U.K.'s Internet market with the recent introduction of Surfunlimited, an unmetered Net access program which was flooded by consumer demand.

The two partners previously worked together to create Telewest's digital interactive platform. Telewest is partially owned by industry major Microsoft (MSFT).

Andersen Consulting also said that the venture will deliver broadband to North America and the Far East in its longer term goals.



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