ISPs give thumbs-up to BT ad bonanza

Internet service providers say they'll also benefit from BT's forthcoming £33m broadband advertising blitz, but Thus sounds a note of caution
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

UK Internet service providers have hailed BT's plans to spend £33m on broadband advertising over the coming months, and said they believe it will benefit the whole sector.

Both PlusNet and Thus have welcomed the news that BT will launch a £10m advertising campaign next week that will aim to boost broadband awareness, followed by a £23m marketing blitz for the "no-frills" broadband product recently launched by BT Retail.

Thus, though, claims that BT Retail's "no-frills" broadband product doesn't give value for money, and has urged customers to consider signing up with ISPs whose broadband packages offer a wider range of services instead.

BT's £10m "broadband awareness" TV advertising campaign will start on 22 September and run until 2 October. Called "Possibilities", the campaign is likely to involve near-blanket coverage over the ten days, and BT has claimed that it will benefit everyone in the broadband industry.

PlusNet and Thus agree.

"We are nothing but delighted with the news of BT's advertising plans," Peter Jackson of PlusNet told ZDNet UK News.

Jackson believes that PlusNet will benefit if BT Retail makes a success of its "no-frills" product, called BT Broadband. Unlike other broadband services, BT Broadband only gives a high-speed connection and does not include services such as email or Web space -- and this is where PlusNet can look to win more business.

"PlusNet already offers a range of Web-based services that will appeal to BT Broadband users, such as Web hosting, email services and antivirus products. Users can log on to our site from whatever ISP they use and run our services," Jackson explained.

Jackson added that PlusNet is already in discussions with BT Retail about placing a link to PlusNet's services on the portal page that BT Broadband users first see when they go online.

Thus agrees with PlusNet that BT's advertising push will benefit the industry, but suggested that BT Broadband customers aren't going to get a great deal.

"A £33m campaign designed to kick-start the broadband market is likely to benefit all operators offering ADSL services, but it's important that consumers ensure they are getting value for money. BT is promoting a no-frills service providing little more than access to Web pages for £27 per month," said Bill Allan, chief executive of Thus.

"Thus, under its Demon brand, will provide that same Web access, as well as Web space for customer home pages, unlimited email addresses, a static IP address, an electronic fax service and comprehensive online and telephone support. All of this comes for £24.99, which we believe represents significantly better value for money," Allan added.

By planning two advertising campaigns so close together, BT runs the risk of being accused of using £10m of BT Group money to increase broadband awareness in time to give an extra push to the BT Retail campaign.

"We will be looking very closely at any linkage with the BT Retail campaign and addressing any potential abuses of dominance with the industry regulator," Thus told ZDNet UK News.

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