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Tuesday, 29 February, 2000, 17:26 GMT
BT trims surfing cost
BT logo and computer
BT is responding to rivals' competitive packages


British Telecommunications is to offer unlimited internet access every evening and at weekends for a flat rate of 9.99 a month.

The new charges come into effect on Wednesday.

The former state monopoly is responding to the growing number of rivals it faces, including cable firm Telewest which now offers totally unlimited access for 10-a-month.

Telewest has been inundated with people wanting to sign up to its package, which is subject only to customers making at least 10 worth of other calls a month.

Such has been the interest that Telewest is currently struggling to meet the surging demand.

A spokesman for the cable firm said BT's response would be welcomed by people who did not live in areas serviced by Telewest.

Chancellor keen on cuts

There has been mounting criticism of BT for the higher call charges in general paid by internet users in the UK.

Chancellor Gordon Brown is among many involved in a growing campaign for cheaper unmetered access to the internet.

The belief is that the current system of paying by the minute while online discourages the growth of internet use.

There are a number of smaller Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which offer totally free access and free call charges, or some variation of the two.

The new package means BT Internet customers get free internet access each evening between 1800 to midnight and from Friday midnight to Sunday midnight for a monthly fee of 9.99.

Leading ISP goal

The previous BT package cost 11.75 and included unlimited calls at the weekend only.

Outside the unlimited surfing times, users will pay local call rates.

Ben Andradi, managing director of BT Internet and e-Business, said the new offering "demonstrates our commitment to get everyone in the UK on the internet".

He added: "It supports our strategy to become the leading consumer ISP and portal, and is the first in a series of internet initiatives building the net generation."

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See also:

18 Feb 00 |  Business
BT fears foreign takeover
11 Nov 99 |  The Company File
BT's 'flawed' internet deal
07 Dec 99 |  Business
Q&A: Unmetered internet access
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