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Tiscali UK is stepping up its assault on the UK's discount telephony market and is introducing a new package offering free weekend calls and no minimum contract.

Like all fixed-line telco services, Tiscali UK claims its calls are cheaper than BT's with punters able to shave off up to 5 per cent on calls to mobiles and up to 85 per cent on international calls.

Said Steve Horley, Tiscali UK's head of Access and Voice: "The service is so easy to set up and use, with no ties or minimum contract. Our aim is to give the lowest tariffs and a simple, understandable offer so customers can save money whilst keeping in touch with friends and family."

Of course, Tiscali UK isn't the only outfit offering free calls to tempt punters away from BT. In April, for example, One.Tel announced free weekend voice calls and also cut prices so that punters could enjoy "truly jaw-dropping prices across all their fixed line packages". A month earlier, The Carphone Warehouse - Europe's biggest mobile phone retailer - also announced its plans to offer free calls to its residential customers .

But why would Tiscali - which has around 2m dial-up and broadband users in the UK - be interested in the voice business? Well, in September last year, Tiscali UK bought the consumer telephony business of UK energy supplier, npower, for a price somewhere between £6m and £7m. As a result Tiscali has some 200,000 phone punters and forecast that its voice business could help generate more than £25 million a year.

And with so many ISP punters, it has a cracking opprtunity to flog its voice service to its existing ISP customer base.

Last week Tiscali vowed to cut overheads by 15 per cent over the next year after posting increased losses for the three months to June. The pan-European ISP announced that pre-tax losses swelled to €65.5m (£43.5m)in Q2, compared to €8352;56.3m (£37m) in the same period last year even though Q2 revenues jumped 26 per cent to €272.6m (£181m). ®

Related stories

One.Tel in free calls offer
Carphone Warehouse declares war on BT
Tiscali acquires npower phone business
Tiscali to squeeze overheads as losses swell
BT's DSL market share carries on falling
Ofcom bungles Tiscali broadband ad ruling
Tiscali to flog four country ops

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