LONDON (AP) _ British Telecommunications PLC plans to gradually shut down its traditional "circuit-switched" telephone network in favor of technologies that route calls over the Internet at a lower cost, with more features.

The new system _ to cost an estimated 10 billion pounds ($18.2 billion) _ is expected to be operational for most of BT's 28 million customers by 2008, the company said Wednesday. The change will involve electronic & computer-system changes, not construction work such as digging up roads or pulling down phone lines, BT said.

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