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RealTime IT News

BT Offers Toll-Free Weekend Internet Access

BT Internet Wednesday sent a shockwave through the UK's ISP industry by offering weekend access to the Internet via a toll-free 0800 number.

The service, which until now BT had repeatedly denied it had any intention of introducing, will begin at midnight on Friday, June 4.

The toll-free Internet service will be available only to BT's Plan Unlimited customers who pay a monthly subscription of £11.75 ($19).

Users will need to download special "dialler" software which places an icon named "BT Internet Free Weekend" on the desktop. Clicking the icon will only work on weekends between midnight Friday and midnight Sunday.

For the benefit of users, BT provides a set of Frequently Asked Questions on its BT Internet registration page, including the highly pertinent: "Can I stay connected all weekend long?" The answer is "not quite."

There will be a time-out facility on the connection that drops the line after 20 minutes of inactivity or two hours of usage.

Customers will be able to redial immediately to re-establish the connection, but the time-out should effectively prevent people from running Web servers on their dial-up connections.

It is widely expected that LineOne and other leading ISPs will have to follow BT in offering a similar, or perhaps more extensive, toll-free service.