Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications
The Issues

  • Why Metering is Wrong
  • Metering People's Lives
  • Two Countries, Two Approaches
  • Metering Democracy
  • Battling a Switched-Off Westminster
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  • Government Stance
  • OFTEL Stance
  • ISP Stance
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  • ISP Stance

    Until very recently Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were rather reluctant to comment on metered tariffs or even charging issues in general. Two or three years ago magazines frequently carried statements from them that they could not support unmetered calls.

    The United Kingdom trade body, the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), is in a difficult position: two of its largest (and most influential) members are BT and Freeserve, whose vested interests include maintaining the status quo!

    Several of their members, though, disagree. "Tenner a month" ISPs are having their customer base wittled away by Freeserve and its ilk, and are beginning to fight back.

    That said, we got an email at the start of 1999 from CIntraNet, a small ISP which supports Cable and Wireless Communications customers with unmetered tariffs:

    I have over 300 customers who get great pleasure from using the Internet. Taking the 'free' calls from them would have a great effect not only on their pleasure, but I would be in great danger of losing my business and family income. Several customers have complained to me already about the CWC dirty tricks to change their contracts.

    If they can survive with a few hundred customers and unmetered tariffs, what's the problem?

    More recently AOL Europe have launched an offensive and now openly support our aims. We also understand that they are in the process of negotiating a "deal" with BT.

    The EU organisation, EuroISPA, has fewer qualms than their UK-only organisation: look at its second and third aims for a start. In the main there's less emphasis on what it can do for its members and more on what it can do for its members' subscribers. You'll see this from Good Intentions, which is an incisive commentary on European telecommunications policies.

    Text by Richard Sliwa

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