C&W to sell off Bulldog customer database

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Cable & Wireless has decided to sell its broadband internet customer base just weeks after it pledged to continue supporting about 118,000 Bulldog users.

C&W pulled the plug on its Bulldog consumer broadband unit after failing to build significant market share. The company decided it could not compete in the consumer broadband market against the likes of Carphone Warehouse, Orange and BSkyB, as it does not have the high-street presence or the customer service muscle of such well-known brands.

"We are now looking for a provider to buy our 118,000 strong Bulldog retail customer base," a C&W spokeswoman said. "It will simplify our relationship with wholesale customers by making it clear that we will not compete with them."

C&W's UK chief John Pluthero said last month that its retail customers could be passed on to a wholesale customer when an agreement has been struck. At that stage, he said the company was prepared to support those customers until its retail base atrophied.

C&W bought Bulldog for £18m in 2004 and subsequently poured around £175m into the broadband company, both upgrading the network and marketing the service. Yet the division did not keep pace with broadband rivals such as BT and NTL and was slapped on the wrist by the regulator Ofcom last year for poor customer service.

C&W will use Bulldog's broadband infrastructure to service its multinational and medium-sized business customers with internet and telephony services. The company also wants to sign wholesale agreements with companies that want to offer broadband services to customers. By signing up such agreements, C&W can focus on its network assets and pass customer service and marketing responsibilities on to other companies.