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Northern ISP to charge service abusers

GreatXscape wants to stop free call scalpers

Manchester-based ISP GreatXscape has denied it is planning to charge subscriptions for people who abuse its toll-free service -- for the moment at least. However, it is investigating how to deal with the small minority of people who abuse the service using it only to receive toll-free off-peak dial-up access to the Net. GreatXscape is only able to offer the 0800 service if people switch accounts to its telco Telnet. The voice calls they make, in effect, subsidise their time online. Some Net users, however, have been restricting their use just to dial-up access (most usually if they have a second phone line just for Net access) and this is undermining Telnet's business model. In many cases it is business users looking to cash in on toll-free access. Paul Dutton, GreatXscape's operations director, confirmed the ISP was looking into ways to remedy the situation. "It's like offering someone a fiver and them stealing the whole wallet," he said. "We're looking into it at the moment but we do need to make a commercial decision," he said. One of the options is to charge persistent offenders a subscription fee for the service although he hopes it won't come to that. GreatXscape -- which is partnered by ISP Planet online -- has signed up 30,000 users since it was launched in August. ®

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