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AOL UK urges Government to turn off Internet clock

Full text of open letter from David Phillips, president and managing director, AOL UK

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Full text of open letter from David Phillips, president and managing director, AOL UK Turn OFF The Clock Imagine buying a season ticket for your local train service then having to pay the full fare on top of that for every train you caught? Or how about paying by the minute every time you watched TV - whatever the channel - on top of the license fee? The idea seems preposterous and yet as Internet users, that's what per minute billing of online telephone time really means. We believe this is wrong - wrong that Internet users continue paying artificially high call charges and wrong that the development of e-commerce is being held back in Europe. We're publicly calling for change - for the Government to do its part to help 'turn off the clock' for Internet users and make the promise of the Internet a reality for everyone. We're not alone it seems. This weekend (Sunday 6 June), Internet users in 15 European countries are being asked to take part in a European telecomms boycott to campaign for fairer telecommunications charges. Co-ordinated by the organisation telecom.eu.org, the UK campaign is led by the Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications (CUT). An excellent, informative Web site gives you lots of great background. On Sunday, all telephone users in the 15 countries are being asked to unplug their phones for 24 hours and Internet users asked to disconnect their modems. One of the main aims of the campaign is to see the introduction of flat-rate charges for local calls, meaning an end to clock watching and unexpected phone bills. A Europe wide telecommunications boycott is a high profile way of generating awareness. But affirmative, educative action is the way to get results in the long term. We suggest that you show your support by lobbying your local MP and MEP, becoming a supporter of CUT or getting your company involved in the campaign. Despite the hype, free access is not the solution – free services are simply the result of the whole problem of high phone rates. In a report just out, the well respected independent analyst, Jupiter Communications states "Metered charges, not total cost, is the culprit. Low use appears to have more to do with the cost of metered calls than with the total cost of metered access." AOL's own experience supports this view - when we introduced flat rate pricing in the US, usage increased dramatically and significantly accelerated the widespread adoption of the Internet. We'll be using this online area to tell you what we're doing to help turn off the clock for all online users. We're already speaking to regulators and governments across the EU and we are working on a commercial solution as well. So now you know our views, what about yours? We've created this online survey to find out what you think about metered calls and Internet use. We'll be using the results of the survey in our lobbying efforts so please do take a minute to tell us what you think about the issues. Of course, we will keep you posted on the results so check back on this area at a later date. We look forward to your views! David Phillips President and Managing Director

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