A Year Ago: ISPA moves against BT

First published: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 17:48:57 GMT

BT's efforts to launch a pay-as-you-go Internet service are about to be flattened by a missive to Oftel from the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA). The ISPA is concerned BT will abuse its monopoly position with the service, announced last week.

Using the project name ‘Click', BT intends to attract new people to the Internet with cheaper, simpler billing. But its plans to do away with "complex relationships" with other ISPs by offering a penny-a-minute Internet access were last week slammed as a ploy to seduce new users using advantages unique to the telecommunications giant.

Adam Daum, senior consultant at industry analyst Inteco claimed that not only would BT be able to offer cheaper Internet access to nearly 40 percent of UK users but would be able to track its customers' Net use and target the heaviest users with 'BT Internet'. Daum welcomes the ISPA's action. "When you have a highly dominant player it makes sense to study it carefully," he says.

David Kennedy chief executive of the ISPA says the letter of complaint is in draught and expected to be with Oftel by the end of this week. "We are concerned enough (about the proposed service) to write a letter to Oftel", says Kennedy. "It's important that all competitors in this industry play on a level field."

Some readers of ZDNet News suggested BT's penny-a-minute plan would be good news for consumers; making calls cheaper and thus encouraging users to go online. But Daum sees this as a short term benefit with the potential to do a lot of damage. "If BT was to launch this service competition would be severely damaged in the long term and that makes very little sense. BT could destroy a whole section of the industry with this," he says.

Neither BT or Oftel would comment.

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