Thousands of BT Anytime users face the axe

BT is to offer heavy users of its narrowband unmetered access service a month's subscription if they decide to leave. It is also to take action against service 'abusers'

BT is poised to axe over 1,000 subscribers to its Anytime Internet access service, and offer 30,000 others a month's subscription if they'll quit.

The company is sending out a letter this week explaining that it is taking action against users who have been breaking the terms and conditions of its unmetered narrowband offering. Anyone who uses the service for more than 16 hours in a 24-hour period, or allows other people to connect to the Net over their connection simultaneously, will find their Anytime subscription terminated.

"We've been monitoring the service to spot people who have been breaking the terms and conditions of the service, and we're about to take action against over 1,000 users," said Duncan Ingram, senior vice-president of BTopenworld. "In one case, 17 people were connecting through just one subscription," Ingram claimed.

BT recently identified at least 30,000 heavy users of Anytime, and asked them to use a new dial-up number. The company claims that they hoped to offer these users a better service than they had been getting before, while also improving the service for those left behind. According to Ingram, this service offered a ratio of three home users per modem, compared to the rest of Anytime which had a contention ratio of something less than 10 users to one modem.

However, this service does not appear to be up to the same standard. Many readers have complained to ZDNet that, since switching numbers, they have found it much harder to log onto Anytime, especially in the evening. "It hasn't worked in the way we hoped," admitted Ingram.

Having isolated these 30,000 heavy users, BT will now take action against at least 1,000 of this number that it claims are breaking its terms and conditions. The rest will receive the letter, signed by chief executive Ben Andradi, explaining this action and offering some options.

Any user who decides to move to broadband will get free ADSL installation. This is a saving of £150, according to BT -- who neglected to mention that BT Wholesale recently halved the cost of ADSL installation.

Those who aren't tempted by the idea of paying £40 per month for broadband will be allowed to continue on Anytime. "We cannot guarantee that the action we're taking against those who've been abusing Anytime will result in the level of service we want to offer," cautions Ingram.

There is a third option. Anyone who cancels their subscription will be credited with the cost of a month's subscription, and allowed to continue using their email access and service using BT's pay-as-you-go service.

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