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BT's witch doctors of spin fail to cast a spell on the UK

PR juju disappears in a cloud of its own steam

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Opinion BT's latest pricing offer for cheap rate Net access in Britain has been exposed as little more than a sham. But you have to hand it to the telco -- the press release issued on Tuesday is spellbinding. A sprinkling of key words and phrases such as "slash the cost", "reduce dramatically", and "unlimited dial-up calls to the Internet for a single monthly fee" and you have the makings of a potent hex. Indeed, this announcement from BT must have been conjured by someone exceedingly well practised in the arcane art of PR. The question remains, why did BT set out to mislead so many people with its talk of slashing the cost of Net access? There is a view that BT was responding to the clamour for unmetered Net access in the UK. With so much pressure being exerted from the government, business, Net users, campaign groups et al, this was simply a valve to release some of that pent-up steam. BT had to be seen to do something -- anything -- just so long as it made it look like it was finally going to do something positive for Internet use. In fact, some people are even thinking that this is such a poor, uncompetitive offer that BT doesn't really want anyone to take it up. And with glib remarks from BT spokesmen that ISPs can take it or leave it, there may be some truth in it. After all, that's hardly the response of someone talking-up a new product, is it? Well, BT's wish to recast themselves as market innovators may have worked -- fleetingly -- but the pressure's back on. What's more, this episode has shone a light on some of BT's activities, and it appears some people may not have liked what they have seen. ® Related Stories ISPs lash out at BT BT's knockers reject flat-rate plans BT's Bonfield: No free local calls BT's U-turn could drive competitors off the road BT U-turns on unmetered Net access Oftel calls for cheaper Net access

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