British Telecom buys stake in Excite

British Telecommunications will buy a 50 percent share in Excite's UK subsidiary for $US10 million, the companies announced earlier this week.

According to a spokesman for London-based BT, this partnership is the first of its kind between a UK company and a major US Internet portal -- and it's a strategic move for BT to complete its Internet services map.

"We already offer Internet access, e-mail packages and strong Internet content coverage," said Simon Gordon of BT. "Now we have a portal company, which allows us to close the loop in our Internet and multimedia services portfolio."

In addition to Excite's notable success with its Web search engines, excite.com and webcrawler.com, BT is most attracted to the Excite UK's expertise in Internet advertising and transactions, which will help BT expand its electronic commerce initiatives here, said Gordon.

BT presently offers a range of Internet services to U.K. customers with its BT Internet product, free e-mail through Talk21 and the recently launched BT Click Plus, a pay-per-minute 'Net surfing plan which costs 1 pence ($0.017) per minute plus local call rates.

Under the new agreement with Excite UK, BT Click will power Excite's own Excite Click, a combined pay-as-you-go Internet access service and Web guide for the U.K.

At the beginning of November, BT forged an alliance with Yahoo to provide a similar kind of pay-as-you-surf Internet service to customers in the UK. That service is due to start on November 30 through Yahoo's UK and Ireland Web site (http://www.yahoo.co.uk).

Simon insists that neither BT Click Plus nor Yahoo Click will interfere or compete with Excite Click or any of the initiatives BT and Excite will develop in the future.

"Each service is complementary to the other," he said.

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