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The BBC's Karen Bowerman
"BT claims these new deals offer unbeatable value for money"
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Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
BT confirms unmetered tariff

UK telecoms giant BT is preparing to offer consumers the opportunity to make unmetered calls during evenings and weekends.

The firm says it has designed four unmetered packages that will be formally launched on 1 December.

One package, called BT Talk Together will cost 14.99 a month and will cover line rental, unlimited local evening and weekend voice calls, and discounts on national and international calls.

A deal for net users called BT Surf Together offers, for the same price, unlimited internet connection to BT-affiliated internet service providers during evenings and weekends, as well as discounted national and international phone calls.

Unmetered offers

BT's announcement of the four unmetered packages builds on the BT Together offer that was launched last year. In return for paying slightly higher monthly line rental fees BT Together customers enjoyed reductions on local and international calls. Since BT Together was launched 7 million people have signed up for it.

Now BT is extending this unmetered offer, and adding some new ones, to suit different types of customer and the extent they use the phone.

From 1 December there will be four unmetered packages for customers.

  • BT Together - stays the same as the original deal but free call allowance is increased.
  • BT Talk Together - 14.99 per month buys line rental, cheaper national and international calls plus unlimited weekend and evening phone calls.
  • BT Surf Together - 14.99 per month buys line rental, discounted national and international calls plus unlimited weekend and evening internet calls to net providers using Surftime.
  • BT Talk and Surf Together - 17.99 per month buys line rental, discounted national and international calls, unlimited weekend and evening local calls, plus unlimited weekend and evening internet calls to net providers using Surftime.

BT will also be increasing its standard line rental from 9.25 a month (27.76 a quarter) to 9.99 a month, to include up to three hours of local calls at weekend rates.

To ensure that people don't abuse the system BT will charge people 1p per minute if customers of the unmetered packages stay on the phone for over an hour, said Angus Porter, managing director of BT's consumer division.

It will also monitor which numbers people are calling so that people do not connect to net service providers who are not part of Surftime.

Awaiting Oftel

Despite BT's announcement it has yet to get approval for the scheme from regulator Oftel.

Mr Porter said the company was confident that Oftel would approve its plans. Before giving approval Oftel needs reassuring on some technical issues, such as BT proving that it can bill people properly for the service, and that it can meet demand.

Mr Porter said he was sure BT could overcome the technical problems.

Last month, US-based ISP America Online announced that it would be offering unmetered internet access in the UK for 15 a month. AOL is one of the biggest ISPs in the UK.

Also in September, it emerged that American portal AltaVista - which announced the first UK unmetered service in March - had never actually launched the service as it was too expensive.

However, AOL said the difference now was that BT was introducing flat rates for rival telecoms companies to have access to its network.

Previously, rivals were charged by the minute, meaning that they had to subsidise any flat-rate unmetered servcies they offered to consumers.

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See also:

19 Sep 00 | Business
AOL to offer unmetered access in UK
16 Oct 00 | Business
BT opens up Openworld
22 Aug 00 | Business
Battle for the internet
22 Aug 00 | Business
Altavista blames BT for 'fiasco'
22 Aug 00 | Business
What next for unmetered access?
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