BT axes call charges for Web access

48 hours of free Web calls for BTInternet customers

Updated As revealed exclusively by The Register earlier today, BT is to offer toll-free access to the Internet. News of the decision leaked out ahead of an official announcement although there is no indication when that is due to take place. Staff at BT were caught on the hop by today's story and have not returned any calls all day although a spokesman did say: "We haven't made a formal announcement about it yet." Starting Saturday 5 June anyone with a BTInternet account will not have to pay a penny during the weekend for Internet access. An operator at BT's Internet Services help desk told The Register today: "Weekend calls for BTInternet customers will be free from 5 June. "Each weekend it will start at midnight Friday night/Saturday morning and run until midnight Sunday night/Monday morning. "We were just told yesterday about it," he said. He also asked whether we would like to receive information about the new service and software to subscribe. Apparently, it's in the post and we should be getting our copy within four days. So watch this space for more details. It's not all good news though. BTInternet customers still have to pay £11.75 a month for the subscription-based service. But this will entitle them to 48 hours of free calls every week. The change in BT's pricing structure has already stirred up a frenzy of activity in the UK Internet industry. A spokesman for the Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications (CUT) which lobbies for the introduction of fairer telecom tariffs said: "We welcome anything BT does to bring us closer to our goal of unmetered access for Net users. "But I'd like to know why they're only offering free calls during the weekend and not during all off-peak times. "Surely, BT has now conceded the argument that unmetered Internet access is a viable working model," he said. Competition from the launch of screaming.net -- the subscription-free service from Tempo and LocalTel which gives people toll-free off-peak calls to the Net -- is thought to be one of the factors behind BT's decision. No one was available from BT to comment before going to press. Only this week BT's Internet spokesman told The Register that BT was not trialling 0800 number access calling newspaper reports that it was as "pure speculation". ®

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