Megabeam's Wi-Fi service undercuts BT

Users who sign up for a two year contract with Megabeam soon will get Wi-Fi hot spot access for under £25 per month

Wi-Fi operator Megabeam is giving early adopters the chance to buy two years' worth of access to its hot spot network for less than £25 per month, which is significantly cheaper than BT's rival service.

Megabeam announced pricing details for its commercial Wi-Fi service on Wednesday. A 12-month contract bought directly from the company will cost around £587 (918 euros) if paid for up-front, or £650 (1,080 euros) if payment is spread over the year.

Customers who sign up for either option before 31 March 2003 will get a second year's subscription for free, which means that a user who pays in advance will get access to Megabeam's European hot spot network for just £24.50 per month.

In comparison, BT Openzone costs £85 per month for unlimited access, although subscriptions are half-price until the end of 2002. Some experts have claimed that BT Openzone's pricing is too expensive to appeal to many potential users.

Megabeam is also offering a 25 percent discount on its weekly and monthly packages until 31 March 2003, meaning they cost £31 and £55 respectively. The company will also sell unlimited access for one day for £19 -- slightly more expensive than Openzone -- and two hours access for around £4.80 -- much cheaper than Openzone.

Ryan Jarvis, Megabeam's chief executive, believes that these prices offer excellent value to consumers.

"With the Megabeam WLAN service, business travellers at key hotspots across Europe can have unmetered data access at fixed rates, faster and cheaper than GPRS, with no additional charge for roaming," said Jarvis.

"For just 7.5 euros a business traveller could spend two productive hours remotely accessing their company network -- this is less per minute than many mobile phone call tariffs," Jarvis added.

Megabeam also announced on Wednesday that it has signed a deal with the Queens Moat House hotel chain to set up Wi-Fi hot spots in many of the group's hotels, including ten in Britain.

So far, Megabeam only has three hot spots up and running in the UK, at Paddington Station, Reading Moat House hotel and the BP retail outlet at Hammersmith. In contrast, BT has 36 UK hot spots in operation following last week's deal with Costa Coffee.

BT Openzone customers can get one day's access for £15, or a single hour's use for £6. For £40 per month customers can get 900 minutes of access per month, while 300 minutes costs £20 per month.

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