The unmetered fiasco illustrates two things perfectly: BT's incredible ability to get away with murder and Oftel's inability to prevent it. When BT finally decided to offer unmetered it was required by law to offer a wholesale product, so what does BT do?
It delivers a wholesale version of the service so complicated that it would take a 1st degree in telecoms engineering to understand it.
When deciphered it becomes clear that any ISP taking the deal up will lose money: a classic Catch 22 situation. While the ISP must offer Internet access to consumers at a flat-rate monthly fee it must pay BT for the privilege on a per minute basis.
This has resulted in several companies going bust with a loss of jobs not to mention the ludicrously complex challenge the consumer faces when trying to decide which ISP to opt for.
As soon as a reasonable alternative was offered all the ISPs jumped off the SurfTime boat and on to Friaco. And while Oftel was keen to take credit for this vastly improved system it forgot to mention that BT had gained massive market advantage.
It is Oftel's job to prevent BT gaining market advantage.
In 2001, I hope that BT's Internet customers desert the beleaguered telco in the same huge numbers its voice customers deserted it as soon as the monopoly in voice calls was ended. If it ends up with just a few thousand Internet customers it will be more than it deserves for serving the industry and the consumer so badly this year.
Read my comments on BT and Oftel over the year
How can you get online for less? Find out in the Unmetered Access Special.
Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet News forum.