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BT is bribing customers with free VoIP calls for a year if they sign up to one of its broadband services. The deal, the latest in a string of sign-up promo offers, runs until the end of December.

Using BT's Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) product - BT Communicator with Yahoo! Messenger - punters can make free PC-to-PC calls as well as free UK calls for a year. BT said the offer is aimed at encouraging people to use converged communications.

Said BT bigwig Gavin Patterson: "BT has led the way in taking VoIP technology into the mainstream with the launch of the first mass market product BT Communicator with Yahoo! Messenger. Now we plan to encourage as many of our customers as possible to properly experience this new converged world of communications through this fantastic offer."

However, as with most things from the UK's monster telco, there are plenty of strings attached. Not only do you have to sign-up for the package online, you'll also need to be an existing customer of a BT Together fixed-line package.

Also, the free calls do not include non-geographic numbers such as those beginning with 0870 and 0845, premium rate services, mobile and International calls. Oh, and the offer is only available to the first 50,000 BT residential punters who sign up for one of BT's broadband packages before December 31.

A spokesman for BT denied that this latest offer - on top of its free flight promo - smacked of desperation. "This is not a desperate measure," he told us.

BT's insistence that all is well comes as the telco's own figures revealed that its share of DSL sign-ups has fallen to 38.9 per cent - down from the "40 per cent plus" share it promised to command. ®

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