Telewest looks to mobile phones for expansion

Telewest, the UK's largest cable operator, is exploring ways of expanding its recently formed partnership with the pounds 5bn merged cable group planned by Cable & Wireless into mobile telephony in a move which could cut across alliances in the industry.

The discussions, which are understood to be at an early stage, are also thought to have taken place with all four mobile networks aimed at launching a mobile phone product which the two cable groups could market together as the distinction between fixed and mobile phones becomes increasingly blurred.

The talks are sensitive: C&W already partners one of Telewest's main shareholders, the American phone group US West, in One 2 One, the fourth- largest mobile company.

C&W has already pledged to include mobile telephony in its new cable company, C&W Communications (CWC), formed out of the merger of its Mercury subsidiary with two cable operators, Nynex CableComms and Bell Cablemedia. So far C&W has kept investors guessing about whether One 2 One would be brought into the company. However the latest talks suggest both CWC and Telewest may choose to work with a rival mobile company instead, with the possibility that Orange may emerge as the preferred candidate. A source close to the two partners explained: "It has to be the best product. One 2 One would have to demonstrate that it fulfils that role."

The collaboration between Telewest and CWC already involves a digital cable television service, due to be launched towards the end of this year. They have already leapfrogged plans by BSkyB for a digital satellite channel by announcing the first firm hardware contract with a US electronics group to make the set-top boxes which will enable viewers to access more than 100 channels.

Stephen Davidson, Telewest's chief executive, declined to give details of the latest exploratory talks, but said: "We are looking at a raft of individual matters on which it makes sense to co-operate. It provides a platform for a more cohesive approach which has sometimes been lacking in the cable industry in the past."

Telewest yesterday revealed a 52 per cent rise in revenues last year to pounds 290.3m and disclosed that it broke even for the first time in 1996 before including the heavy depreciation and interest costs associated with building the network.

Investment during 1996 was pounds 515.6m, taking the total outlay so far to pounds 1.7bn with 65 per cent of the network built. Mr Davidson predicted Telewest would spend a similar amount this year.

The extra spending pushed overall pre-tax losses to pounds 249.9m, compared with pounds 114.7m in 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower