Kingston Communications has launched untimed local call access to the Internet in a bid to offer local customers a viable alternative to the growing number of free services.
Residential customers in the company's core area, Hull, will be able to access the Internet for a flat rate fee of 5.5p, the cost of an untimed local call within the Kingston Communications local area network.
Potential customers should pay close attention to the small print however, as PC Week discovered Kingston plans to cut off users who stay online for too long.
A spokesman for the company said: "People may find they are cut off between the hours of two and five in the morning, our lowest usage hours. We can't have them plugged in 24 hours a day 7 days a week."
Ian Keene, senior telecoms analyst at Gartner, said: "This is not unlimited untimed access if people are going to be cut off. None of the other providers in the country have adopted this model, but it might work for Kingston Communications, which has an extremely loyal customer base."
The bizarrely named Karoo Xtra service is provided by the company's Internet service provider Kingston Internet and costs #12.77 per month, with helpline calls also charged at the untimed local call rate from within the Hull area network.
"We are delivering the service our Hull area customers want - untimed access via a local point of presence supported by quality customer care," said Anita Pace, managing director of Kingston Internet. "We believe our package is very competitive, and a real alternative to the growing free access market."
"It removes Internet users' fear of escalating phone bills and high helpline costs. Karoo Xtra is similar to services offered in the US and we believe this kind of package will become the standard offering in the UK over time," she added.
Last December Kingston Communications became the first established UK operator to offer a business service using cutting edge ADSL technology, giving very high-speed data transfer over normal phone lines.
Following weeks of consultation with the local council, Kingston Commmunications Group is expected to float this year generating funds to expand Kingston services further afield. The company refused to comment on any plans for expansion.
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