Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications
 
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Another momentous announcement (7 December 1999)

BT has announced a range of unmetered Internet access plans. It intends to make them available in Spring 2000, following OFTEL approval.

We knew that BT was considering a 'millennium present' - there were hints in our meetings with BT - but we never expected such an early announcement.

As BT press releases can't be linked to we reproduce the whole thing here and beg BT's indulgence:

BT is set to cut the cost of dial-up calls to the Internet with the introduction of BT SurfTime - the widest choice of retail pricing options for unlimited Internet access. BT SurfTime will apply both to consumers and small businesses in the UK. In a significant breakthrough, BT SurfTime will change radically the way Internet access is charged, encouraging more people to get on-line. It will also provide a further boost to businesses looking to take advantage of e- commerce.

BT SurfTime, subject to satisfactory agreement with OFTEL, will be available from Spring next year - and will consist of a range of unlimited usage packages for a single monthly fee. They will be aimed at both heavy and infrequent users of the Internet.

Customers of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offering subscription-based and/or 'pay-as-you- go' free access services will be able to choose the pricing package that best suits their surfing needs. Designed to expand the market overall - now growing at more than 100 per cent a year - the BT SurfTime options will be:

Weekend Internet option - a 6.99 per month charge for unlimited access at the weekend plus any applicable ISP subscription charge. On weekdays, customers will be charged at only one penny per minute evening and night-time and two pence per minute during the day.

Evening and night-time Internet option - a 6.99 per month charge for unlimited access during the evening and night-time, Monday to Friday, plus any applicable ISP subscription charge. At weekends, customers will be charged at only one penny per minute and two pence per minute on weekdays.

Daytime Internet option - a 26.99 per month charge for unlimited access during the day, Monday to Friday, plus any applicable ISP subscription charge. Outside this period customers will be charged at only one penny per minute.

Anytime Internet option - a 34.99 per month charge for unlimited access at anytime, day, evening and night-time, and weekends, plus any applicable ISP subscription charge.

'pay-as-you-go' Internet option - Internet calls charge at one penny per minute evening, night- time and weekend as well as two pence per minute during the day, plus any applicable ISP subscription charge. In addition, ISPs charging a monthly fee can bill BT customers through their BT account. This will be of particular benefit to new and existing ISPs, which do not have the resource to create and run their own billing systems.

Bill Cockburn, group managing director of BT UK, said: 'BT SurfTime is the most significant development for the Internet in the UK. It has been made possible through a major new network investment in addition to the hundreds of millions of pounds we have already invested.'

'It is the first time we have been able to tailor packages and we believe it is a huge step towards Internet for everyone while at the same time not disadvantaging those that use the telephone in the traditional way.'

'Customers can be in full control of how much they spend on-line and use whichever ISP they prefer. Existing users can save money, and new customers should no longer feel inhibited from using the Internet for reasons of cost'. BT SurfTime will also be available to customers on Home Highway and ISDN lines.

All prices include VAT.

Comments:
  • We swear we didn't write it.

  • There is nothing, at the moment, for voice calls.

  • The proposed services run on a new number range (0808) which will be offered to ISPs.

  • They apply even to single lines; we had suspicions that any eventual BT unmetered tariff would be linked to second or subsequent lines.

  • There is not even a tie-in to a specific Internet Service Provider, such tie-ins being a serious problem in the past. Provided that your ISP signs up to an 0808 number you will be able to continue with it. The only difference is that, instead of being billed by the minute by BT and by the month if your ISP is a subscription ISP, you will be billed by the month by BT or by your ISP.
We believe there is no requirement for significant additional charges by an ISP taking up the new services; after all, it is evident that the proposed wholesale rates cover BT's costs in providing the service ... and then some.

The press release is clearly written - we always said unmetered access simplified things! - but, obviously, there are many questions to ask. We will be asking them.

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