BT is expected to offer toll free access to the Internet from next month, but only for its subscription based service.
From 5 June all BT Internet customers will get free calls at weekends from midnight Friday to midnight Sunday, according to information provided by the BT Internet helpdesk.
BT has consistently refused to comment on whether it would offer a toll free service. Just this morning, a BT spokesperson told VNU Newswire: "It is just speculation at the moment and though we are is reviewing our position all the time, now is not different to any other time."
However, a call this afternoon to the BT Internet helpdesk told a different story: "It is supposed to start on 5 June, and it will run all weekend," said the operator.
Armed with this information VNU Newswire immediately pressed BT for a confirmation, but all calls went unanswered at the company's press office.
Later in the day, the shutters came down across the company as further calls to the helpdesk prompted no response other than "we have no information," - in contrast to the freely flowing information earlier in the day.
Toll free Internet access is seen as the next weapon in the Internet access battle following the slashing of many subscription fees this year. Electronics store Tempo launched its screaming.net service last month offering free off peak calls, while AOL was widely tipped to switch to a toll free service but instead reduced its monthly subscription to under £10.
At £11.79 a month, BT Internet is the company's last remaining paid-for dial-up access product and the addition of toll-free weekend access would be its latest attempt to prevent customers from deflecting to one of the many free services.
Last month the company added voice over IP to BT Internet, enabling users to make and receive calls with other customers of the service, while simultaneously surfing the Internet.
The scrapping of call charges to BT Internet however goes against the common argument from providers of subscription based access who say that their customers are not interested in switching to a free service, preferring to pay in return for a high quality and full featured service.
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