A little later than expected, AOL UK is at last moving to an unmetered offering with a flat-rate monthly fee of £14.99. The deal includes all subscription and Internet telephone costs, together with unlimited freephone member support, according to a press release.
Dubbed 'AOL Flat Rate' the ISP is expecting heavy demand for the service as consumers flee from collapsing unmetered models throughout the industry. To ensure its infrastructure can cope the service will be rolled out in stages, starting with AOL's longest-standing members.
Long-standing customers can switch immediately to the new service "effective from their next monthly billing date", according to the release. Remaining customers will be followed in subsequent weeks by others who have joined the service prior to 19 September. Customers who join after 19 September will have to wait for an unspecified time.
The timing of AOL's unmetered announcement signifies the return to normality predicted by analysts since the first unmetered services announced their offerings at the beginning of the year. AOL has been a long campaigner for unmetered and reckons its new service will set the precedent for sensible, sustainable service.
An AOL spokesman said: "This is a very realistic price. It includes everything you need to get online. What we can do is get you online for no hidden costs because we are using Friaco. The consumer will no longer have to go through these bizarre routines like installing little boxes, changing telecoms providers and so on. You pay £14.99 and that's it."
The spokesman says the company is expecting "enormous" demand and predicts exponential growth month on month. It has been testing unmetered offering for the past eighteen months to gauge demand and usage patterns. "Armed with the knowledge we've gleaned from this trial you can be sure that we will not compromise on the quality that the consumer experiences."
Asked if that meant no engaged tones, the spokesman said: "No, that would not be the user experience we want for our customers."
- AOL Flat Rate launched 19 September
- £14.99 for 24/7 Internet access
- Flat Rate will be offered to existing customers initially
- New customers will get 24 hour of free usage in the first month, followed by £9.99 per month and 1p per minute, until the new service is available
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