Sega, BT to offerf free Internet via Dreamcast console

Sega Europe will team up with British Telecom to offer European users of the Sega Dreamcast free Internet access via the game console. The service will begin in September in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, BT says. The British carrier will provide the dial-up service via its pan-European network. The Dreamcast will include a 33.6Kbit/s modem and a browser that always starts at the Sega.com portal.

Sega's European division, Sega Europe, will team up with British Telecom to offer European users of the Sega Dreamcast game console free Internet access via the console.

The subscription-free Internet access service will begin in September in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, BT said in a statement issued today. The British carrier will provide the dial-up service via its pan-European network. BT expects to roll the service out to more European countries at a later date.

The Dreamcast console, which will sell for about 199 pounds (US$322), will include a 33.6Kbit/s modem and a browser to enable customers to access e-mail, the Web, chat services and online gaming services, BT said.

Customers will pay per-minute telephone charges to their local telecom provider for calls to access the service. This type of subscription-free Internet service is widespread in the UK, but is only now blossoming in Continental Europe.

Users of the service will always start at the Sega portal, which will have electronic commerce, advertising and online gaming services on it, said Simon Gordon, a spokesman for BT. Britain's ICL Ltd. will provide the servers that host the portal site, added Gordon.

Sega said in February of this year that it would develop its game console into an Internet access device. Dreamcast is a powerful, 128-bit game machine that runs on Hitachi.'s SH RISC (reduced instruction set computer) processor and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE operating system.

Sega, in Tokyo, can be reached at +81-3-5736-7111 or at http://www.sega.com/. BT can be reached in London at +44-171-356-5000 or on the World Wide Web at http://www.bt.com/.

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