The investment will begin in the UK, where Mercury Communications, C&W's subsidiary, will spend pounds 200m on intelligent networking. The project will then be rolled out over the next five years to cover other C&W operations including Hongkong Telecom and the group's North American arm, C&W Inc.
The group is working with a US company, DSC Communications, which will supply the computer technology and software that provides the intelligence. Although the target is business customers, C&W and DSC have also had talks on the potential of delivering video on demand and other entertainment services to the home.
James Ross, chief executive of C&W, said: 'The plain old telephone service is rapidly becoming a commodity. To get longer-term profit growth we need to move up the value-added chain.'
The first of the interactive services will be available to businesses later this year and will be customised to meet individual needs. Mr Ross said: 'We are turning a dumb network into a programmable machine.'Reuse content