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German Net boycott goes ahead

But Deutsche Telekom cut prices anyway

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Yesterday's boycott of the Internet by users in Germany may well have had its desired effect -- before it even took place. A Frankfurt-based Internet club called Dark Breed had been calling for fellow German users to avoid using the Internet on 31 October for the last five weeks. The group's complaint was that the German telecoms monopoly, Deutsche Telekom, was charging far too much for dial-up Internet access. The boycott was designed to make a small but clear dent in DK's revenue. In the event, DK announced days before the boycott that it intends to bring in new, cheaper tarriffs for phone calls, in turn making dial-up Internet access less expensive. DK would not say whether its moves were a result of the threatened boycott -- presumably it's waiting to see how wide the boycott really was. It's not hard to imagine a pair of press releases sitting on the DK public relations manager's desk, one claiming the company magnanimously responded to widespread public demand, the other highlighting price cuts on the basis of the general downward trend of call costs because DK is a lovable kind of company. Certainly, a spokesman for the telco said the company's prices were in line with many other countries' phone operators and that they would continue to shrink. He even admitted the considerable disparity between German and US phone and Internet charges which provoked the protest in the first place. Dark Breed claimed they received over 12,000 emails pledging support for the widely-publicised boycott. However, the figure represents only a small percentage of Germany's online population. The group's plan followed a similar scheme by Spanish Internet users which led that country's monopoly Telco, Telefonica, to pledge to reduce call charges. In Switzerland, Internet users are also believed to be organising their own protest. ® Click for more stories Click for story index

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