In a bid to help web users hit by the credit crunch, TalkTalk is offering to waiver the £6.49 charge its customers pay for broadband access.

Under the Emergency Plan, customers of the ISP, which is owned by the Carphone Warehouse, will be given a six-month grace period during which they will only pay a £10.50 line rental charge but will still receive basic broadband access. According to CEO Charles Dunstone, six months should be enough time for consumers to sort out their finances.

"We want to help our customers as much as we can as we know many face financial difficulties this year. If they are worried about their household finances or their ability to pay for whatever reason, we encourage them to call us," said Dunstone.

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The Emergency Plan offers speeds of 512Kbps and a 1GB download limit alongside the usual free weekend calls to UK landlines and free anytime calls to other TalkTalk numbers. Premium, international and mobile calls will be barred, which TalkTalk said would help customers limit expenditure. Any consumer that has been with the ISP for six months or longer are eligible to switch to the plan.

When the six-month period expires, consumer will be automatically be switched from the Emergency Plan to the standard myTalkTalk package. They will not be required to 'payback' the outstanding balance and their contract will not be extended.

Jessica McArdle, marketing manager of broadband comparison site Top 10 Broadband said: "TalkTalk's Charles Dunstone has become the consumer's knight in shining armour by extending a period of 6 months payment free broadband to customers experiencing economic hardship. TalkTalk's broadband bailout scheme is an extremely responsible answer to the problems facing broadband users as well as UK consumers as a whole - for once the consumers rather than big businesses are being bailed out".

See also: Carphone Warehouse offers free broadband