01 June 1999

AT FIRST SIGHT, one of the unlikeliest internet love matches yet – BT and photobooth operator Photo-Me International - have formed a strategic partnership. The duo plan to convert 1,000 of Photo-Me's 4,300 UK photobooths (sited mainly in airports rail termini, shopping centres and supermarkets) into mini-multimedia kiosks for e-mail and full internet access. They will target people on the move, as well as those without other access to the Net. Serge Crasnianski, Photo-Me's chief executive says the booths will use smartcard technology to access the web: 'This will be a unique network, easily accessible and simple to operate.' The first new booths will be operational by December and users will not be charged more than 10p a minute. If the trial is successful, the company will extend the service to the remainder of its UK booths and, possibly, to its 20,000 booths worldwide. Photo-Me shares surged 22% to 700p at the news.