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BT's double act with gov't is more of a double whammy

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Opinion They're like two old soaks staggering down the road, arm in arm, telling each other how great they are. But the sight of the government and BT reeling from side to side, all pally-pally with each other won't wash with British business or consumers. BT's extension of its Schools Internet Caller scheme offering cut-price flat-fee access to the Net may impress the government, but anyone with the sobriety to understand the challenges faced by the punitive telecomms tariff structure in Britain will know that BT is playing gesture politics. And like any old lush who's been out on the tiles all night, it stinks. If schools, colleges and other worthy institutions can be offered flat-fee access, why not small businesses, consumers -- or anyone else, come to think of it? But it's not an argument that's likely to hold any sway with either of these two boozers -- certainly not in their state anyway. At the moment, it's enough just to watch these party revellers make a fool of themselves in public. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, said last week that the Internet was invented in Britain. BT's "cost-cutting" announcement today means that bog-standard dial-up access for these worthy public organisations will cost more than broadband ADSL access. With gags like this, they've got to be the life and soul of any party. ®

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