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Thursday, May 13, 1999 Published at 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK

Business: The Company File

Game, Net - and match

Is this a dream deal for BT?

BT is linking up with computer games maker Sega to provide Internet access through a games console.

It will be the latest shot in an increasingly bitter battle between the world's leading video games groups.

The deal means Sega's long-awaited Dreamcast machine will have a built-in modem and Internet browser and free subscription Internet access.

Dreamcast is due to be launched in September at a price of £199.

Shares in BT perked on the London stock market on news of the deal, rising 28p to 1068p.

Switching on to the Internet

"One of our key objectives is to enable more and more people to get online and by working with Sega to introduce simple, low-cost access on games consoles we will take another step towards achieving this," said BT's John Swingewood,

Access will be charged at local call rates, a system common in the UK but which has not yet caught on in other parts of Europe.

The Dreamcast Internet link will intially be available in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, with other countries following later.

Sega had said it would not include a modem in Dreamcast, but the company seems to have changed its mind after mixed reviews when the machine was launched in Japan.

Sega has managed to get in ahead of its rivals. The Sony Playstation II is also rumoured to have an Internet capability, but is not expected to be available for many months.

Sega's announcement comes just a day after Nintendo revealed it will launch a powerful new games console by the end of 2000.

It has agreements with electronics giant Matsushita to provide DVD players and IBM to provide microchips for its new machine.

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