UK Net access cheaper than in California

Oftel study finds the average cost of unlimited access undercuts both Silicon Valley and Europe

Internet access is cheaper in Britain than in Silicon Valley, if a new survey from telecoms watchdog Oftel is to be believed.

The study will be a boost to both British Telecommunications, which has struggled for credibility in its online efforts, and the government's initiative to make Britain a leader in the Internet age.

Oftel's six-country survey found that Britons spend an average of £18 a month on unlimited dailup Internet access, compared to £19 in California and £39 in Germany. France and Sweden, the other countries surveyed, did not have unlimited access available. Italy, the sixth country in the survey, was not included in the unmetered portion of the study.

Observers may well wonder how representative the figures are. Unlimited, or "unmetered", Net access is still a novelty in the UK, compared with the US, where it is the standard. What's more, many of the ISPs originally offering BT's unmetered access plan, Friaco, were driven out of business by the cost.

As many as 40 percent of the nation's ISPs still face closure in the next 18 months, with unmetered access provision cited as one of the main factors leading to bankruptcy.

A recent Oftel study found that 2.3 million British homes are now subscribing to unmetered Net access.

See the Internet News Section for full coverage.

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