A friend of mine is advertising your site, and I decided to have a look for some perverse reason.
I'd like to comment on the 'American problem'. First of all, we are on free local calls and it is a jealously guarded privilege: Bell Atlantic (back when they were NYNEX) tried limiting them and got killed. There are two plans: either about
10 cents per call, untimed (known as message rate service), or a flat rate charge, unlimited usage, for your immediate area only. Message rate
applies to a fairly large area - for example, in New York City, all five boroughs, in 3 area codes, are local, although this is a special case, as
NYNEX was forced to promise a continuation of free local service when the area code was split.
ISPs have had to cope with the fact that when an American dials in, he will not log out until he is done. If we need to go make something to eat,
we'll leave the modem on. Some people never log out. Some ISPs do price differently based on time, but those that have attempted to lay a ceiling
and then charge by the hour for overage have discovered that customers leave. There is (almost) always another ISP. For example, I pay $23.95/month
for unlimited usage of the Internet. I don't get engaged signals when I dial in, either.
The AOL issue was a special case. AOL has something like a million customers. They switched from a metered policy
to a flat rate one without having the equipment to support it, then tried to act surprised when the inevitable happened. Most ISPs do have the
proper modem ratio. If unmetered local calls were started all over the UK, ISPs might have to raise their charges somewhat - £10/month plus
VAT is pretty low - in order to improve their user:modem ratio to the recommended 10:1. Still, the difference in ISP charges would be more than
offset by the reduction in telephone bills.
Excellent site overall, very informative as well as well-designed.