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Freeserve claims phone charges are irrelevant

Has the UK's No 1 ISP gone mad?

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With just days to go until Freeserve closes the door on applications for its partial sell-off, worrying news has reached The Register about the ISP's understanding of the issues facing Net users in the UK. It seems Freeserve's grasp of what Net users think is important is horribly misplaced. In fact, it's so way out you have to question how the "guys" who lead the monster ISP can do anything with their heads stuck so firmly in the clouds. In an article today in The Times Freeserve's Leslie Smith was asked to comment about a new money-saving initiative due to be launched by 4thenet.co.uk. The Brighton-based ISP is planning to pay back part of the interconnect fee to its users. The more they stay on line, the more cash they get back -- a backside-about-breast way of reducing the cost of hooking up to the Net. Well, that's the theory at least. Yet Smith doesn't seem to think the scheme will work because, as she puts it so eloquently, "the phone call charge is not much of an issue for that many people." The phone call charge is not much of an issue for that many people? Did she really say that? Yes she did. Oh dear, oh dear. So Oftel's pronouncement on the unbundling of the local loop yesterday needn't have happened. The Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications (CUT) may as well pack its bags and go home. And the US' supremacy in all things wired obviously has nothing do with the fact that those Net users across the pond can sit online and surf to their heart's content without having to decide whether spending an extra hour online means the kids won't get fed this week. It's nice to know that the UK's premier Net company is so in tune with the needs of its million or so users. ®

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