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Following this week's free PC bun-fight, a US telecomms firm has hit upon the idea of giving subscribers free international calls. The catch? Yes, you guessed it, the user must withstand a barrage of advertising interrupting their calls. Start up telco, Cortex, will let callers place free overseas calls, in exchange for the listening to a 15 second burst of adverts every three minutes. The service is available between New York and London, from Miami to Brussels and Paris. Cortex plans to reach out to Los Angeles and Boston as well as Spain, Puerto Rico and Ecuador. Cortex asks subscribers to complete a 20-question survey on personal income, interests and spending habits. It then tailors its advertising according to match consumer profiles. Current advertisers include a hotel chain, music label and Cortex itself. Cortex's scheme follows a growing number of free home computer deals aimed at giving advertisers better access to consumers' spending habits. A similar free telephone calls scheme already exists in the US for the domestic long-distance market. The company, BroadPoint, does not offer free international calls. ®

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