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Exclusive: BT caves in to criticism of Surftime

Prices could drop in what looks like a complete U-turn for BT's Surftime offering
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

It looks as if British Telecom has caved in to industry and consumer criticism of its unlimited Net access service, Surftime. The company revealed Tuesday that it is likely to drop the cost of the offering.

The news comes a day after Telewest announced its SurfUnlimited service.

Speaking at the ISP conference, ISPCON, in London, BT Internet manager Simon Brooks claimed that prices for Surftime, reported as £35 a month, were "ballpark figures". SurfUnlimited will cost £10 per month.

Brooks said in an address: "If it becomes apparent that [Surftime] prices are not sustainable, we will reduce them." He refused to give further details, referring ZDNet instead to BT's ISP group at the show. The ISP group refused to answer any questions, claiming "We are not allowed to discuss Surftime with the press."

However, a BT press officer confirmed that the communications giant could reduce unlimited access charges: "If we wanted to trim those prices, we could. Fine details are worked out closer to the release of this product." But when he was asked if the prices would be slashed significantly in response to Telewest's SurfUnlimited, he refused to comment.

Neither Brooks nor the press office would reveal how many ISPs had signed up to Surftime, but both claimed "very strong industry interest".

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