Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 8/04/2002It's not really fair. There I am, struggling to come to terms with the world on a certain sort of Monday morning that invariably follows a certain sort of weekend, when Radio 5 Live starts talking about broadband access.

Monday 8/04/2002

It's not really fair. There I am, struggling to come to terms with the world on a certain sort of Monday morning that invariably follows a certain sort of weekend, when Radio 5 Live starts talking about broadband access. Through the slowly clearing black veils of unconsciousness, I grapple manfully with what I hear: BT says new broadband service for the masses doesn't need an ISP, direct connection to the Internet means joy for all.

It was like a scene from a 60s sci-fi telly series: various lights flashed on and off inside my head, there was a long pause filled with the sound of grinding gears and bleeping, and then a metallic voice said "Does not compute! DOES NOT COMPUTE!"

You can't connect directly to the Internet. It's a network of networks, each of which is owned by an ISP. BT's claim is like a shopping centre saying that it's better than the rest because it doesn't have any shops -- you can just buy the goods from people in special rooms. After much coffee and phone-calling by the noble Graeme Wearden, newshound extraordinaire, the truth transpires: BT Retail (an ISP) has bought connections from BT Wholesale (also an ISP) and is selling them on without Web space, mail services or anything else. Other ISPs were offered this deal, but they all turned it down as not being worth the candle.

Of course, BT isn't going to release these details until Wednesday, after it's had the benefit of people parroting whatever distorted picture the press office is happy to let them believe - if parrots can indeed paint pictures - and you can't blame it from taking advantage. Bit shoddy, though., especially for a Monday.

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