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A Basingstoke-based ISP is claiming a victory for small service providers following BT's decision to launch a wholesale unmetered Internet access service geared specifically to meet their needs.

Available next month, WebPort24 is a "fully managed dial-up unmetered Internet access service that enables service providers to connect their customers directly to the Internet over BT’s network infrastructure".

It has been specifically tailored for small and medium-sized ISPs and can be ordered in small volumes - as few as 10 ports.

Emeric Miszti, MD of Cloud Nine, told El Reg: "WebPort24 is here as a result of the pressure we put on BT.

"It is a victory for smaller ISPs," he said.

While there are some question marks hanging over the quality of the product and bandwidth provisions, Miszti insists that WebPort24 is competitively priced leaving ISPs free to offer 24/7 unmetered Net access for between £12.99 and £14.99 a month.

In January, Basingstoke-based Cloud-Nine complained to the telecoms regulator, Oftel, that BT had hiked the price of its wholesale unmetered Net access product (SurfPort24) making it all but impossible for small and medium-sized ISPs to compete with large providers.

It insisted that the minimum up-front payment of £720,000 a quarter was simply out of reach for anything but the large ISPs.

Minnow ISPs were dealt a blow in March when Oftel ruled that BT's SurfPort24 product was not anti-competitive.

Today's announcement by BT appears to address some - if not all - the issues contained in Cloud Nine's original complaint. ®

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