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3 offers free access to The Times, don't all rush at once

Rupert Murdoch has pulled all of his Times content from prying search engines and hidden it behind a paywall. If you sign up with 3, you'll have a free pass to peer into the walled garden.

Ever since Rupert Murdoch decided to put some of his News International publications behind an Internet paywall, we've suffered terrible withdrawal symptoms. Having no access to The Times and Sunday Times websites has been a complete tragedy. Let's not even mention the News of the World. It's just too traumatic for words.

Three cheers then to 3, which is giving away access to the Times websites for free! Well, for three months anyway, and only if you're a new customer. If you sign up on pay as you go or on a monthly contract, you'll receive content from The Times and The Sunday Times, as well as access to The Times iPad app.

After three months, you have to decide what to do next. If you're on pay as you go and top up every 30 days, you'll retain free access to both sites. If you're on contract, you can continue subscribing to the websites for £2 a week, or £8 a month. This is exactly the same as any other punter would pay, so it's rather redundant.

The free subscription offer will save you the princely sum of £24. Despite the undoubted excellence of the journalism on offer, we wouldn't say this is enough to persuade you that 3 is the place to go for a new phone. But if you were going to use 3 anyway, there's no harm in trying it. It may have been quite a while since you've read anything in The Times, unless you're an old fogie and buy the dead-tree edition.

It's certainly a bold experiment by News Corp, and so far a (very) qualified success, so far as anyone can tell. Apart from its columnists, much of the Times' content isn't exclusive -- just news -- and even if it is, you can easily pick up the follow-up stories almost instantly from other news outlets. If you don't want to grab a 3 contract you can simply pay £1 for 24 hours access and see for yourself if it's worth it.