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BT puts the 'free' back into 'freephone'

Free calls to 0800 numbers, even from mobiles

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BT Mobile customers are to get free calls to 0800 numbers, just like fixed-line users, but in stark contrast to other operators' customers who are paying up to 25 pence a minute.

From this morning there is no charge for BT Mobile customers calling freephone numbers, so they can spend hours calling support to find out what happened to BT Fusion and trying to get a bill out of the telco after more than a year of use, without getting charged an arm and a leg for the privilege.

In the UK we pay for all phone calls one way or another (yes, even local ones), so many companies have freephone numbers beginning with 0800 that require the call receiver to pay for it. But when such a call comes from a mobile the recipient is unwilling to pay the higher rate, so the caller is usually charged - after being warned with a recorded announcement. It seems unlikely that all the operators of 0800 numbers have agreed to pay for the calls so BT are likely taking a hit on each one, albeit a small one given the low cost of calling these days.

According to moneysupermarket.com almost half of the UK population (41 per cent) have called an 0800 number from a mobile and the vast majority (69 per cent) have no idea how much it costs, so dropping the charge will be popular with users.

BT's mobile operation, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) piggybacked on Vodafone's infrastructure, was launched in concert with a VoIP capability dubbed "Fusion". The Fusion product was recently dropped entirely, and while the company has been involved in talks with T-Mobile and 3 lately, we are now hearing that these meetings are about a wireless broadband offering rather than mobile telephony. ®

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