Romanian cable operator UPC Broadband has agreed to buy larger rival cableco Astral Telecom for USD404.5 million, increasing its customer base by 890,000 to 1,250,000. Astral offers a bundled package of cable TV, internet access and voice telephony, and also has around 15,000 corporate broadband internet clients. Over 50% of its network has been upgraded to provide advanced broadband voice and data services. It launched fixed telephony services under its Telefix trademark in December 2003, signing up around 30,000 users in the first year. UPC’s American parent Liberty Global sealed the deal as part of its strategy to expand its presence in central and eastern Europe. It has over 14 million cable customers in Europe, Asia and Latin America.