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Virgin counting by the minute

Change comes to ex-NTL customers

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Virgin Media are to start rounding up fixed-line calls to the nearest minute: something they've been doing for ex-Telewest customers since May, and something BT, Sky and Talk Talk have been doing for a while.

From the 6th October all calls made by Virgin Media customers will be rounded up to the nearest minute, and they'll be billed for that number of minutes. So a call lasting a 1 minute and 1 second will cost you 2 minutes.

The change came to ex-NTL customers first, back in May, and is now spreading to the rest of Virgin Media's fixed-line customers, who should have received a letter to that effect.

Per-minute billing used to be a technical necessity: it was easier to count minutes than muck about with seconds. In the UK an advertising war necessitated the rapid introduction of per-second billing amongst mobile operators, with fixed-line providers quick to follow suit, but that trend has been steadily reversing in recent years.

With BT, Sky and Talk Talk already charging by the minute it's surprising the mobile operators aren't following the trend: or perhaps they're just slow to catch up.

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