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UUNET alleges tariff will stunt market growth

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UUNET has hit out at BT's method of charging competitors for business-based DSL services adding to criticism about the telco's handling of the roll-out of broadband technology. The business ISP said BT's approach means it will make it too expensive for many service providers to offer broadband services, which in turn will inhibit the take-up of the technology. UUNET said it that BT's charges for purchasing the value-added Datastream product are priced so that it will be "prohibitively expensive for anyone to offer a competitive service". In a statement issued on Friday, it claimed that anyone looking to introduce a nation-wide wide service would have to invest at least £10 million. This makes it extremely difficult for UUNET to offer the cost effective alternative service that it wishes to provide to customers, the company said. Richard Heyes, UK MD of UUNET, said: "We are currently pressing BT to confirm our interpretation of the charging structure they are imposing and intend to urgently lodge a formal complaint with OFTEL should our worst fears be correct. "It is vital that access is priced fairly if we are to unlock the benefits of commerce for smaller enterprises and consumers and drive the e-conomy forward. In fact, heavy-handed control of the market runs utterly against the wishes of the government to make Britain a world class platform for the Internet e-conomy," he said. Elsewhere, Freeserve said it had no idea when it would be able to announce pricing arrangements for its trial of consumer-based ADSL trial which starts on 22 November. Predictably, the trial has proved very popular with Freeserve users even though the UK's number one ISP cannot yet say how much the service will cost. It can't even say when it will be able to publish its tariff because BT refuses to be more specific. A spokesman for BT said that an announcement would be made on consumer ADSL pricing before year-end. "We're keen to make it a mass market product," he said. ®

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