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The hunting season for stray ducks is officially over after Cheshire-based telco, Telinco, finally let fly the details behind its ornithological ISP. What's more, it's not so bird-brained as it seems. For although Strayduck.com does not offer 24/7 0800 access to the Net, it does promise to cut access bills by around a third. Strayduck.com offers free, unmetered calls every third week based on the average amount of time users spend on line during the previous fortnight. If someone uses the service for 10 hours during the first week, and eight hours during the second, they can expect to get nine hours of free time online during the third week. In the future it's also planned that Beenz can be traded for 0800 access, which would make it by the best commodity available to those who deal in this Web currency. According to Simon Preston, marketing director at Telinco, it doesn't matter how much people use the Net, they will all benefit from reduced Net access costs. Telinco's model and equation might seem tortuously difficult to grasp at first but Strayduck.com maintains the maths behind this is all done automatically so strayduckers don't have to worry about it. That, at least, is reassuring. Pluck the feathers from Strayduck.com, go beyond the inventive marketing and consumer-friendly packaging, and Telinco has simply come up with a different way of handing out cheaper Net access to its consumers. It could have charged a subscription in return for 0800 access, such as the struggling 08004U; it could have given away free time in return for users switching telco, such as Screaming.net. Instead, it's taken this cleverly disguised option in the hope to attract users. Since there's little doubt that it can deliver cheaper Net access, the real question lies in whether it can deliver a quality service that lets users access the Net first time, with uninterrupted sessions and good download speeds. For that, time will only tell. But if it gets this wrong, Strayduck might just become a dead duck. ®

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