No sooner did we point out that competition for Alta Vista's new completely free (with a few odd charges) Internet service would not hang about, then NTL decided to make us sound positively prophetic.
The cable operator's service hikes up the pace by offering a start-up price of only £10 (compared to Alta Vista's £30) and packaging it with cheap voice calls and one of those bizarre and confusing pricing policies similar to those offered by most standard cheap voice call companies. The scheme works by users plugging an adaptor into their phone sockets, which gives them free Internet calls and voice calls at 1p (weekends), 2p (evenings) and 3p (all other times) per minute. The catch is that users have to make at least £10 of voice calls per month.
The service will launch on 17 April, and users can pre-register at NTL's Web site. It is likely to be limited to a set number of users, but details of this have not been released yet.