Tesco has signed a £100m deal with Cable & Wireless to beef up its IT and telecommunication systems.

Under the five-year contract, C&W will create a single network that will connect more than 1,800 Tesco sites including stores, regional offices and distribution centres in more than 14 countries.

The network would enable voice and data to be transmitted down one wire, rather than two, dramatically reducing operating costs, said Nick Folkes, Tesco's IT director of UK infrastructure and operations. "Under this network we will pay just the once for the physical wire, so the voice comes free," he said. "You are not paying per minute because it becomes effectively a private network."

The network would allow enhanced video conferencing and include in-store interactive kiosks.