Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications

Unmetered campaigns in Ireland (31 May 2001)

BTís Irish ISP subsidiary Esat Fusion sparked off protests after it imposed a monthly usage limit of 75 hours on its IOL NoLimit service which originally provided unmetered access between 6pm and 8am seven days a week. (Irish Times article). Esat Fusion sent letters to two thousand of its customers in late April advising them that, as they were using the service too much, they would be cut off as of today. No other unmetered alternatives were given, only a metered option.

All this has led to at least two campaign groups being created in Éire. First to get off the ground is Ireland Offline. It campaigns for unmetered, affordable access to the Internet in Éire for home users and small businesses, and grew out of discussions on the ie.comp newsgroup. A second campaign group is being formed by Urban Weigl to involve those cut off by Esat Fusion, but it has neither name nor Web site at the moment.

Given that Éire is selling itself as the 'e-commerce hub of Europe', and that the United Kingdom already enjoys unmetered telecommunications, we believe that the unmetered campaigns in Éire will ultimately succeed. However, success will only come after FRIACO-based wholesale unmetered tariffs, similar to those offered by BT here, are implemented in Éire. Esat Fusion has stated that its interconnect costs are metered and that, with a flat-rate Internet service, it cannot afford to subsidise heavy users whose interconnect costs exceed the monthly subscription fee of IR£20.

This is all very reminiscent of the United Kingdom situation nine months ago; it is sad but true that the global battle for unmetered telecommunications has to be fought and won country by country.

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© CUT 2001. Last updated 31 May 2001.