Surf 's down during Internet boycott

The biggest Internet strike ever organised has been a success with traffic in one country down nearly 90 percent, according to the Campaign for Unmetered Calls (CUT).

CUT, which co-ordinated the 24-hour strike across eight European countries, is campaigning for flat-rate monthly charges for calls to an ISP. Currently calls are charged on a per-minute basis. CUT is also calling for the abolition of minimum call charges so that metered calls are charged solely by the time spent connected. Ultimately, the organisation wants to see Net access removed from telephone lines altogether.

Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland partipated.Initial results show traffic was significantly affected as surfers across Europe downed modems on Sunday in protest at call charges for Internet access. The French organisers, the Association of Dissatisfied Netsurfers, claimed traffic was down by 65 percent while across the border in Spain, the Association of Internauts reported that visits to some sites fell by 87 percent.

Although the strike was co-ordinated in the UK, Cool Britannia was one of the few nations to cross the virtual picket line. Alistair Scott, who heads up CUT, believes cultural attitudes to striking are very different in the UK compared to other European countries. "Strikes are a dead loss here," he said. Nevertheless, CUT is planning events for the summer to raise awareness of the issue in the UK. No details have yet been arranged.

Despite British apathy, Scott believes Internet strikes can have a real effect on telcos. Last year's strike in Germany resulted in Mobilcom introducing a flat monthly fee of DM77 (£27). "Although the company would never admit it was a direct result of the strike, there must be some cause and effect," Scott said.