Tesco has joined many other companies in getting into web telephony. The company has unveiled a phone that plugs directly into a computer with broadband access. This phone can allow users to make cheap phone calls, and (unlike rival services from Skype, Vonage and Freetalk from Dixons), this phone is a pay-as-you-go service.

The Tesco offer is yet another challenge to the dominance of BT, which is planning a spring relaunch of its own internet telephone service. It comes as AOL today announces a multimillion-pound investment in Britain's residential market, putting its kit into hundreds of telephone exchanges to offer bundled broadband, entertainment and telephone services.