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Dreamcast Net access a ‘not access’ say users

BT creaks under the strain, fails to cope with demand

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Sega's European Dreamcast launch last week has been marred by the problems buyers of the next-generation games console have had using it to access the Internet. The Register has received a number of reports from Dreamcast users who have entirely failed to get online, including indications that no one at all has been able to get online since the weekend. Dreamcast ships with a built-in 56kbps modem, and Sega jumped into bed with BT and ICL earlier this year to bundle free Internet access with the console. Fine, and you'd have thought that if anyone can handle the necessary infrastructure to support all those Dreamcast users logging on the Net for nothing more than the price of a local phone call, BT could. But no. It's clear from numerous Register readers that from the launch on 14 October, the Dreamcast Net access server has been either down or so jammed that it may as well be down. Sega is currently claiming to have sold 185,000 units across Europe since the console's launch, 63,000 of them in the UK alone, so it's entirely possible that demand has outstripped BT's ability to connect everyone up. According to Sega, "25,000 users registered for internet use in the first hours of the launch weekend and BT registered 1.2 million Internet minutes over the launch weekend." Except the "unprecedented" demand should not have been unpredicted, so at the very least it looks like Sega and BT completely underestimated the number of buyers who would want to get online. Given the demand for other free Internet access services -- and, indeed, the demand Sega's PR machine was predicting -- this is surprising. Sega has at least recognised the problem. "I know that some people had difficulty in getting through to register," admitted J F Cecillo, CEO of Sega Europe, "but Internet on the TV is a first... Together with BT we have put the right measures in hand for everyone to be accommodated." Except it isn't a first -- WebTV has that honour. According to Sega, both it and BT "have dramatically increased both network and port capacities to ensure that all users can have the Dreamarena experience immediately." Fingers crossed... ®

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