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SurfSurf for 'free' with TalkTalk broadband

It had to happen sooner or later, but that still hasn't diminished the shock of Carphone Warehouse's free 8Mbps broadband service

P2P file hoarders and pornography enthusiasts rejoice: Carphone Warehouse has sent a shockwave through the world of Internet service providers by announcing a 'free' 8Mbps broadband package through its TalkTalk landline service.

Obviously it's not completely free -- that would be financial suicide. Customers will need to pay a one-off signup fee of £29.99, as well as their standard, BT-equivalent line rental of £11 per month. On top of that, you'll need to pay £9.99 per month for TalkTalk's Talk 3 International call plan, which gives you free calls to UK landlines and to 28 countries worldwide, including the US, Canada and even Lithuania. That's a total of £20.99 per month, or a first year total of £281.87 -- or 'free' if you speak TalkTalkese.

It's still excellent value, though. For your money you get an 'up to' 8Mbps ADSL line with a huge monthly download cap of 40GB, and try as we might, we couldn't find fault with it. Even TalkTalk's technical support line is a mere 10p per minute. Currently, BT's cheapest 'free calls at any time' package is £25.50 including line rental, and its 8Mbps broadband package costs an additional £26.99 -- a yearly total of £629.88. Which is a lot less 'free'.

The only slight damper on the TalkTalk deal is the fact that you'll be charged an excess for international calls lasting longer than 70 minutes, but you can get around this by hanging up and redialling. If you don't want to pay for the free calls part of the bundle, you can pay £35 per month for the broadband service on its own. But you'd be an idiot to do so.

Okay, so it's not 'free broadband' as such, but whichever way you look at it, Carphone Warehouse is essentially giving it away. Before you get your hopes up, the offer is only available to 70 per cent of the UK market. You can check availability at the TalkTalk Web site. -RR