News Roundup: BT's unmetered Net access plan

Surftime has the potential to revolutionise Internet use in the UK, with implications for the industry, regulators and most of all, consumers

This week BT finally bowed to pressure from the government, industry, Oftel and users and offered unmetered access . The move follows a new tariff system for Internet service providers announced two weeks ago, which was universally criticised by the industry. While there has been a cautious welcome for the latest unmetered package, users are concerned that £34.99 is far too high for wide adoption. BT is offering a series of alternatives for users who do not want to pay £34.99 for 24 hour, seven day a week. For £6.99 -- the offer BT believes will prove most popular with consumers -- users can enjoy unlimited weekend use. While the Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications (CUT) welcomes the move from the telecoms giant, it believes the price for always-on Internet access will have to fall to around £25 before it becomes popular with the average consumer. Surftime, as the package is called, is only available to consumers via an ISP and for ISPs, many of whom currently rely on telephone charges for revenue, the benefits are not necessarily obvious . If they offer Surftime to users they will have to rely on advertising or e-commerce, or introduce a subscription fee. This could inflict serious damage on the free access model and Freeserve has already seen its share price waver in the light of the announcement. ISPs expressed caution about the deal Tuesday -- with the general opinion that it was expensive and unclear on details. The deal has yet to be fine tuned. BT intends to sit down with Oftel and other operators to work out how Surftime can be made available via operators other than BT. The government, late to join the unmetered bandwagon, believes the offer is a positive first move with e-Minister Patricia Hewitt welcoming the deal as part of the plan to make the UK the best place for e-commerce by 2002. BT offers unmetered access - finally - Tue, 07th Dec 1999
Unmetered access for dial-up users arrives in Britain next spring Unmetered access to shake up free ISPs - Wed, 08th Dec 1999
BT's new offer of flat-rate Internet calls could leave free ISPs searching for a new source of revenue Oftel clears way for cheaper online access - Tue, 07th Dec 1999
As BT unveils unmetered access, Oftel proposes its own arrangements for reduced Net charges Unmetered access to benefit techno-phobes most - Tue, 07th Dec 1999
Too good to be true... Consumers give mixed response to unmetered access announcement Industry says unmetered access too expensive - Tue, 07th Dec 1999
Unmetered dial-up access good first step, now let's see the price drop says industry See also: Exclusive: BT announces ADSL prices - Thu, 02nd Dec 1999
BT claims its ADSL prices are highly competitive with consumers paying around £50 per month Unbundling timetable too slow say experts - Wed, 01st Dec 1999
Experts say July 2001 is not soon enough Chairman admits BT is an endangered species - Tue, 30th Nov 1999
Iain Vallance admits BT has lost the war on Internet prices BT's new Net tariff gets the thumbs down - Wed, 10th Nov 1999
While the press fell for the hype, users and ISPs are not impressed BT crawls towards 'unmetered access' - Tue, 09th Nov 1999
BT buckles under pressure and grants UK its own interpretation of unmetered access What do you think? Tell the Mailroom . And read what others have said.