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Telewest SurfUnlimited buckles under over-demand

It's not easy being popular, as Telewest buckles under demand for its tenner-a-month offering

SurfUnlimited, the unmetered Internet service for £10 from cable firm Telewest, is buckling under demand.

Launched last month, the service has been inaccessible to many because of the sheer number of users queuing up to subscribe. In what looks like a rerun of the CallNet fiasco, Telewest has underestimated demand.

Telewest has refused to disclose how many subscriptions it has accepted or how many users are trying to access the service but has said it does not expect to fix the problem for weeks to come. The company is so embarrassed by the situation that it will be writing to customers individually to apologise for the disruption making an undisclosed financial atonement.

A spokesman for Telewest admitted to ZDNet that the service began experiencing outages "very soon" after it was launched on February 14 and has been suffering difficulties ever since. Despite CallNet's experience, the spokesman said Telewest simply never counted on so much interest. "The extent of demand was amazing. We expected it to be popular, but not that popular. It caused a phenomenal amount of usage that caused congestion to the service."

Bizarrely, Telewest is still accepting subscriptions although customers are being warned of the problems.