BTopenworld drops broadband activation charge

BTopenworld's broadband won't be the cheapest on the market, but early subscribers can save £65 on their start-up costs
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

BTopenworld has become the latest Internet Service Provider (ISP) to react to BT Wholesale's price cuts. At £29.99 (inc. VAT) per month, BTopenworld's self-installation broadband won't be the cheapest available, but customers who sign up within the next three months will be able to save £65 in start-up costs.

BTopenworld's Plug & Go product will be available for order from 5 March, and is expected to ship a few days later. This is the first time that the ISP has offered a product based on self-installation -- or DIY -- ADSL, which was launched by BT Wholesale in January.

Even though BT Wholesale's price cuts will not come into effect until 1 April, customers who get the product before then will be on the £29.99 rate immediately, said a BTopenworld spokesman. "I'm sure people will be able to use Plug & Go broadband before 1 April," he added. Existing broadband customers will have to wait until 1 April for the saving to kick in.

Unlike earlier versions of ADSL, with self-install broadband customers can install the equipment themselves. This saves them the cost of an engineer's visit, but means they must also pay for an ADSL modem. BTopenworld plans to charge customers £85 for an Alacatel modem.

Customers who sign up for Plug & Go before 31 May will avoid being charged a £65 activation charge. This is a fee levied by BT Wholesale for work that must be carried out at the local exchange.

On Tuesday BT announced it was cutting the cost of its wholesale consumer broadband products to £14.75 per month, and also slashing £20 off the monthly cost of its business packages.

Around 200 ISPs buy broadband products from BT Wholesale, and many have already reacted to this news. Freedom2Surf is planning to drop its price to £22.50 per month from 1 April, in the cheapest deal announced yet. Pipex is close behind with £23.44 per month.

BTopenworld's price point of £29.99 is the same as that announced by Freeserve yesterday.

Freeserve, however, hasn't revealed how much it will charge for its ADSL modem. "We are in negotiation on the price point for our modem pack," a Freeserve spokeswoman told ZDNet UK News on Wednesday. "We'll announce it in good time for the 1 April launch of our broadband service," she promised.

Many in the telecoms industry have been looking for the larger ISPs, such as BTopenworld and Freeserve, to embrace broadband in a big way. These companies invest heavily in advertising, so their involvement could help to boost the profile of broadband.

Freeserve, which is part of European telecoms giant Wanadoo, is keeping its marketing cards close to its chest at this stage though. "Broadband is a central plank in the Freeserve strategy and the strategy in Europe for Wanadoo. Because it is so important, naturally we're not going to divulge the commercial plans that lie behind our retail offer," a Freeserve spokeswoman said. "Needless to say, we've got the most comprehensive and appropriate distribution channel in Dixons Group stores for this product."

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