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Unmetered access: what you said...

What a week so far! Unmetered access is here whether BT likes it or not, and ZDNet readers had plenty to say. Here are some of your comments that didn't make it to the Mailroom.

SurfUnlimited, cable company Telewest's unmetered Net access offering went live on Monday and, as usual, BT got it in the ear for doing far too little, too late.

Your response to our Mailroom was unprecedented, so in true Internet style, we decided to publish some of the letters in the main News section. Keep them coming, we know they're listening...


BT's Surftime -- yet to arrive -- will set you back £35 a month. Telewest's SurfUnlimited is £10 a month... Here's what you had to say about that.

ZDNet readers respond:

I, like, most home Internet users would welcome something like this. It's already been said that it would free us from the worry of big phone bills, and I, for one, would use the Web much more because I have to restrict myself to a limited time online at the moment. As it is, I am a Telewest customer, and we are waving the flags for what it has brought about. Other ISP should take note, this is what the public wants -- freedom, at last, from restrictive bills and worry. m.fynn@cableinet.co.uk

I'm a Telewest customer and have paid £20 to have SurfUnlimited on two separate telephone lines I have, as my partner and I both have PC's with Net access. In a nutshell, SurfUnlimited has saved me a fortune, as my monthly bills, because of the Internet, used to be around £80 to £120 per month for one line alone... Compare that to today's figures: I now pay £13.99 a month for Telewest's Millennium package (basic analogue cable package/rental and first telephone line rental included). I then pay only £3.94 for the second line rental, because it is only new customers of a second line from 1 February that pay the full £9 (this situation will change within six months, I have been forewarned). Then I pay £10 twice for SurfUnlimited on each line, so that's £20 (for fast, reliable Internet service with 5MB of Web space and 15 email addresses -- two separate accounts to if you wish). I also have to agree to spend at least £10 on voice calls, but this is across the entire account, not each line, so I already do this (if I didn't, Telewest would charge me the difference to bring it up to £10).

Adding up these figures, I pay a total of £23.97 per line each month for what amounts to cable TV, two phone lines, unlimited Internet access of good quality on both lines, as well as the equivalent of £5 of inclusive calls as long as you use them up. All in all, an unbelievable offer. BT? Who are they? On the downside, though, there have been problems with the new SurfUnlimited offer. These are as follows... Despite pre-registering, this was a waste of time, as Telewest was hopeless in its foreplanning of how many customers it would have to deal with. In the end, I merely rang up sales on the launch date and had the service activated for the next day myself. I've also experienced one or two random disconnections from the service at times, when the line was not idle, but in use. On Tuesday evening (15 February), various bandwidth problems were encountered at certain POP numbers -- also email sending was down. However, as I have a bit more knowledge, I already have alternative dial-up connections for POPs elsewhere in the country for Telewest, and gained access using a different POP (Telewest has loads, and all are free as part of SurfUnlimited. Finally, it should be added that even standard Telewest customers not subscribed to SurfUnlimited gain from its offer of free Internet access with cable Internet, as long as they're a telephone customer. This is now offered at a flat rate of 1p per minute at all times, for no subscription fee. Patrick Rice Gateshead, Telewest customer Shadamehr@bigfoot.com

I think £35 a month is a very high price to pay for narrowband unmetered access. The question is, for so-called broadband access, perhaps there should be a tariff rate depending on what the user wants to pay for. It depends how one defines "broadband" access. At what speed does it start? 128kB/sec? 256kB/sec? 512kB/sec per second? I think in the end, if high speed, high use Internet access does take off, then people will have to junk their phone lines, or just use them for voice calls. People will have to pay to have a 512k, or 2MB speed line installed separately in their homes. Let's face it, it's amazing that we can get 56kB/sec out of a common or garden phone wire. rogermarks@cableinet.co.uk

This is what we've all been waiting for, and it's not before time. Let's face it, it takes a company like Telewest to have the foresight to dream up such a fantastic offer. I'm moving from Demon to SurfUnlimited. monty@normandy1.demon.co.uk

Yes, unmetered access would be good... if it worked! until to last week, it was getting extremely difficult to get a line to Telewest's POPs, but now that SurfUnlimited has started, it's nearly impossible. The Telewest Cableinet Support Newsgroup shows that many users are experiencing difficulties in connecting now -- the system just can't cope. At least if BT ever offers the same, it will have the resources to make it work. Telewest users are now considering a return to BT. Free is no good if the system is unuseable! michael.j.kent@cableinet.co.uk

SurfUnlimited won't be available across the whole of UK. Telewest cable passes around four and a half million homes in the South East, Bristol and the Midlands. Customers will need a Telewest phone line (£9.99), pay an additional £9 per month line rental and spend a minimum of £10 in that time on non-Internet calls. That sounds more like around £29.99 to me. And what happens if you don't spend £10 on non-Internet calls? jsmith01@cork.cig.mot.com