New subscribers to Telewest's broadband package will, for a limited period, get the service for less than the cost of most unmetered narrowband products.
The cable company announced on Tuesday that it was launching a "broadband taster" in an attempt to get more people to sign up for a high-speed Internet connection. Customers will get a three-month trial of Telewest's 512 kilobits per second (kbps) service for £13.48 (inc. VAT) per month, plus an installation fee of up to £50.
This is the same price as Virgin.net charges for its unmetered 56kbps Internet package and is £2.50 per month cheaper than unmetered 56kbps services from AOL and BTopenworld.
It is also around half the monthly cost of many broadband services. After three months, users will then pay £29.99 per month, or £25 per month if they also pay for digital TV and phone services from Telewest. Those who decide not to carry on with the product will get their installation fee refunded.
The downside, though, is that consumers will only be able to sign up for the trial if their home is covered by Telewest's cable network, so many rural computer users will once again be frustrated. Details of available areas are on Telewest's Web site.
BT's broadband nerve questioned
Some analysts were concerned that BT's recent wholesale broadband price cuts would threaten the cable industry, which had previously been offering high-speed Internet access for much less than the ISPs who resold BT's ADSL products. Telewest, though, seems determined to make a fight of it. "We are removing all barriers to broadband because we are confident that once consumers have experienced the thrill they'll never look back," said David Hobday, sales and marketing director at Telewest Broadband, in a statement. "BT has made a big fuss over its belated wholesale ADSL price cuts recently, but we don't think they would have the broadband-nerve to offer customers such good value with an optional installation refund. It's confidence in our service that enables us to launch such a ground-breaking offer," added Hobday. Telewest also recently announced plans to launch a 1 megabit per second broadband product.