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Telewest has increased the cost of connecting to its Blueyonder dial-up Internet service from non-Telewest lines, while falsely claiming that users will not incur extra charges from the change.

Instead of using local phone numbers for its access points, the company is giving subscribers two numbers. The first is a shortcode for use from Telewest phone lines, and the second is an 0845 number for use from other phone lines.

The change will particularly impact customers who use their mobile phones to connect while travelling, as many mobile tariffs only allow inclusive or free minutes to be used to call geographic numbers, and charge extra for calls to non-geographic numbers such as 0845.

However, even fixed-line callers will see increased charges when using the 0845 number, as most tariffs now differentiate between those and real local calls. For example, even on Telewest's own residential tariff a ten-minute daytime geographic call costs 36p, but a ten-minute call to 0845 is 45.5p.

This is despite the claim made on Telewest's Onenumber page, where in reply to the question, "Will this cost me any extra?", it answers, "Not at all. The only change on your phone bill will be the phone number that is dialled to access the Internet." *

When queried about this claim and the extra costs the change would bring for mobile users, a Telewest spokeswoman refused to acknowledge there was a problem, adding that the 0845 number is meant for occasional use only.

For the moment, the geographic numbers are still in service, and users posting to Blueyonder's support newsgroups are pushing for at least some of them to stay that way, as other ISPs taking the 0845 route have done in the past. ®

*Update
Shortly after this article was first published, Telewest amended its FAQ:

It now reads:

Will it cost me any extra to use the Internet using my mobile phone or when not using my Telewest phone line?

In this scenario, you would have to use the 0845 number we supply. Call charges vary dependent on the network you are using.

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