BT woos Wi-Fi virgins

BT woos Wi-Fi virgins

Summary: BT is making it cheaper for new users to use its wireless hot spots; will slashing prices boost demand?

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TOPICS: Networking
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BT announced on Wednesday it is cutting the cost of its Openzone Wi-Fi service for new users, effective from 1 September.

New subscribers will pay the reduced rate of £5 for 250 minutes per month or £15 for 4,000 minutes, for the first three months. After this initial period the tariff will return to the normal rate.

Currently users can expect to pay £10 per month for 250 minutes, whilst a 4,000 minute subscription costs £25.

Users will have to sign up before 30 November in order to get the promotional discount.

BT is seeking to encourage Wi-Fi take up, and is aiming the promotion at users who have not previously used any broadband wireless services. It is also targeting those who have been using pay-as-you-go vouchers. These vouchers currently cost £6 for one hour, £10 for 24 hours, or £40 for 30 days.

Lars Godell, principal analyst for Forrester, said the price reduction was "great news" for wireless broadband users. However, he thought that it would not encourage new users to take up wireless broadband in the short term, as price is not the only consideration. Businesses are concerned with security issues, and individual users are also concerned with privacy, Godell said.

"This dramatic price reduction is an important move within the Wi-Fi market and will probably trigger other price reductions," Godell said. He did not think that the net effect on broadband take up in the short term would be great, however, as there is a current lack of demand from consumers.

"The market for laptops is relatively small when compared with mobile and desktop markets. Only 15 percent of Europeans have a laptop," Godell said.

In a survey of UK consumers conducted in May 2005, only 7 percent used Wi-Fi at home, and only 4 percent used it at work. Twenty-two percent said they thought that they would use it in the future.

Godell thought that business users would continue to pay high prices, while general consumers would increasingly look for free broadband wireless access offered by businesses such as coffee shops and hotels.

Topic: Networking

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • Yet again BT balances lack of effort with maximum return and succeeds in hobbling with high pricing technology that should be welcomed with open arms by the majority of mobile professionals and students. How long is OFTEL going to be allowed its complicity in the telecoms scam that typifies every aspect of BT operations? DAXED lines that surrepticiously deliver only half the expected dial-up speed; 'Managed' ADSL lines that charge twice the going rate and result in a maximum of inconvenience when the user upgrades to anyone else's service; tied 'local loops' that mean by the time the math is complete BT gets pretty well exactly the same amount of income from any of the so-called 'independents' with the added capability of additional inconvenience to users who are sufficiently aggravated with BT's foot-dragging performance that they move their phone/internet/ADSL account elsewhere and everlasting voice-mail if you contact the company for anything other thann a new sales call. This attitude continues to impair UK competiveness in the global marketplace just to bolster BT's profits and share price. Perhaps the government is prepared to turn a blind eye just so that it can gain access to look in on the traffic in the vague hope of trapping the next band of insurgents. Not all of them need to bomb the underground - some cost our country just as much money and inconvenience by impeding legitimate business every second of every minute of every day of every year.
    anonymous