Call waiting - interested in double glazing?

Would you be happy to listen to adverts while on the phone to your girlfriend or mum? BT thinks you might be and is launching such a service -- called BT Freetime -- in the summer.

Customers in Bristol and Newcastle will be able to register for the three month trial which begins in June. In return for an allocation of free call time users will agree to listen to advertisments when making calls. The amount of free calls and the money it will save has yet to be decided.

So how will the system work? "Customers will choose whether they want the service on a call by call basis," according to a BT spokesman. To use the service users will ring a freephone number and enter a PIN before making a call. "They will hear a 10 second advert at the start of the call, and both people will hear an advert every two minutes during the call," the spokesman says.

BT believes the advertising time will be taken up by consumer goods firms, both national and local. According to BT product manager Tony Benfield, a number of major companies have expressed interest in the scheme. Details were not available.

Benfield believes the service will prove popular among students and cost conscious households.

Has BT gone mad or is this a cunning plan to cut call costs?

Contact Jane Wakefield or the Mailroom