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BT targets cablecos with voice over IP

Rivals dismiss offer as 'hype'

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BT is having a pop at NTL and Telewest by offering their punters the chance to make discounted voice calls over the Internet.

Lauded as the first significant move from a major UK telco into the consumer VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) market, BT reckons this is one way it can hit back at the cablecos in a bid to reverse its decline in its fixed-line business.

People signing up to Broadband Voice will have to buy a £60 adaptor (it's free until the end of March), which connects their phone and broadband line, and cough up £7.50 a month to subscribe to the service.

Once they've done that, BT reckons that Broadband Voice will save punters up to 57 per cent on calls to mobiles and up to 25 per cent on UK daytime calls.

All in all, the monster telco reckons it could save punters more than £100 a year in cheaper phone calls.

BT admits that this won't be for everyone and that consumers will have to work out whether this offer makes sesne for them.

However, Telwest was quick to dismiss BT's offer as little more than "hype", insisting that Broadband Voice has its "limitations".

While a spokesman for NTL questioned BT's figures. He insisted that the new VoIP service would only save punters a measly 50p a month.

"While we're flattered at how seriously BT is taking the threat from cable, their new service is extremely limited and, as usual, they have cherry-picked figures across the cable sector to try and make their case," said an NTL spokesman.

It's understood that BT is likely to announce further VoIP products early next year. ®

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