BT's knockers reject flat-rate plans

AOL, Energis, hit out at new tariff

BT's sparkling bid to slash the cost of dial-up Net access to service providers is rapidly losing its lustre. Energis, the telco behind Freeserve, claims that BT has not come clean about the true cost of the new service to ISPs. Not only will there be extra charges over and above what BT has already published, Energis claims BT will also force ISPs to pay additional connection costs. "All in all, ISPs will incur additional charges," said Andy Speller, a spokesman for Energis. He said the true cost to consumers of BT's new offering would most likely be in excess of £20 a month. "This might appeal to a niche group, but it's not going to fundamentally alter the dynamics of the ISP market in the same way as Freeserve did," said Speller. "At best, what BT has done is evolution -- it's certainly not a revolution," he said. Elsewhere, AOL UK maintained its pressure on the monster telco saying BT new wholesale offer to ISPs will not deliver flat-rate Internet telephone tariff. Nor will it meet consumer need for an end to metered access. "BT has recognised that the cost of Internet calls is currently too high and must fall dramatically," said the MD of AOL UK, Karen Thomson. "But the tariff proposed is clearly not a true trade flat-rate tariff. While it is a step forward, we are disappointed that BT has not grasped the tremendous opportunity to respond fully to consumer demand by opening up Internet access in the UK at affordable flat-rate prices." "While we will obviously evaluate BT's proposals once they are published in full, we are also concerned that the new tariffs do not remove any of the financial risk for ISPs wanting to offer flat-rate access. This could therefore force ISPs to levy a high monthly charge to consumers, potentially creating an Internet elite, furthering the digital divide and risking the creation of a true online mass medium," she said. ®

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