BT to offer limited unmetered access

BT is to offer unmetered access for libraries, citizen advice bureaux and colleges.

Prime minister Tony Blair told delegates at the CBI conference in Birmingham Tuesday that BT, along with other telecoms operators including NTL and Telewest, will give 500 colleges, 4,000 libraries and 700 citizen advice bureaux in the UK fixed charge, unlimited access to the Internet.

BT will offer these organisations unlimited Internet access via a PSDN line for £600 per year or ISDN for £12,000 per year. A BT spokesman claimed it was a "socially desirable function" for the telco but denied the scheme could be extended to the rest of the population. "These are special cases. This is not about mainstream commercial deals," he said.

In the past BT has claimed its licensing agreement prevents it from discriminating between voice and data customers but a spokesman denied special tariffs for public organisations was discrimination. "We are doing it because we have agreed with government that they should have special deals. These colleges, libraries and citizen advice bureaux are getting a special tariff, up to 50 percent off. I don't think anyone is suggesting we should half our tariff across the board," he said.