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There's confusion about the future of BT's mass market ISP after internal sources told customers that it has plans to ditch its BTopenworld domain.

Not only would such a move spell upheaval for the tens of thousands of BTopenworld customers who have a BTopenworld email address, it also throws up questions about the very future of BT's ISP business.

The revelations about the future of the BTopenworld domain were contained in a series of emails between a customer and the ISP.

The customer, who has asked not to be named, currently subscribes to BTopenworld's dial-up service but is looking to upgrade to broadband. Part of the reason for subscribing to BTopenworld was that he was told that he could hang on to his @btopenworld.com email address.

Last week, though, he was told that this wasn't the case and that if he subscribed to BTopenworld's ADSL service he would have to change his email address to one ending @btinternet.com.

When he wrote to BTopenworld for clarification he was told that the BTopenworld domain would be discontinued. When he wrote back again just to make sure there had been no mistake he was told that the domain "will be discontinued at some point in time" although no date had been set for its termination.

Other customers would be told nears the time, the BTopenworld employee said.

However, a spokesman for BTopenworld denied that the domain was under threat and was adamant that there were no plans to discontinue the domain.

"If this has caused any confusion then we apologise," he said.

Last week, BT's top brass were unable to say whether BTopenworld would still be around this time next year.

Asked about the future of the ISP, BT's newly-appointed chief broadband officer (CBO), Alison Ritchie, said: "Who knows?" ®

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