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HP, British Telecom Create Services Alliance

Hewlett-Packard and British Telecom are teaming up to sell combined IT-network and digital-telephony support services in an effort to cash in on the convergence of corporate voice and data networks.

HP and BT will jointly sell information- and communications-technology services to big and small businesses in Europe. If the venture succeeds, the pair could expand to North America, execs from HP and BT said at a press conference Tuesday in New York.

HP CEO Carly Fiorina said there's growing demand for services that support digital-communications initiatives--such as voice over IP. Conversely, BT CEO Ben Verwaayen said his company's telecom-service customers are asking for more IT-related support. "This is not coming out of the strategy departments of our two companies. It's a direct answer for customers who need to deal with ever-increasing demand for agility," Verwaayen said. More details of the alliance were promised for coming weeks.

Also Tuesday, HP and BT said they will sell each other outsourcing services valued at a total of $1.5 billion over the next seven years. BT will manage HP's voice and data systems and run its call centers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. At the same time, HP will manage the desktop and server infrastructures of BT's operations in the United Kingdom.