BT offers broadband users software to rent

While critics argue the connection cost is high enough, BT is hoping consumers will pay even more for easy access to software and games

Broadband users will be able to rent software over the Internet in a new deal announced by BTopenworld on Thursday.

The service -- dubbed Software to Go -- is, according to BT, the first of its kind in the UK and will allow users to rent games and other software on a pay-per-hour or pay-per-weekend basis.

Initially the service will be offered on a trial basis starting from the end of July. ISPs that offer ADSL in the UK are few and far between and so far only around 100,000 home users are connected. The UK has been criticised in a series of international surveys for the appallingly low take-up of broadband.

Industry has blamed BT for the paucity of numbers, but the telco insists there is still a lack of consumer demand. This has led BTopenworld to focus more on its business customers in recent months. BTopenworld currently has 34,000 users of which two thirds are consumers

Critics argue that while broadband via ADSL remains at current price levels it will never be a mass market product. BTopenworld charges £39.99 per month for an ADSL connection, while Freeserve recently pushed its ADSL service up to £49.99 a month, blaming the price charged by BT to use wholesale services for the hike.

Despite the high price of ADSL, BT believes people will be willing to pay extra to be able to rent software. Such schemes will be standard as ISPs look to maximise profits from high-speed services, said a BTopenworld spokesman.

The idea of renting software online is one that has been caught the imagination of software giant Microsoft. It is currently concentrating its software-to-rent strategy in the corporate arena and it is pouring huge amounts of money into it.

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