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BT Midband to cost £35 a month

Capped service disappoints

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Exclusive BT's "midband" service - a 128k Net access product based on ISDN and aimed at people who can't get broadband - is to cost significantly more and do even less than the telco's entry-level ADSL service.

When details of BT Midband were first raised in November last year it was suggested that the service would cost around £25-£30 a month - the same(ish) as existing BT's ADSL services.

But documents seen by The Register reveal that BT Midband is to cost £35 a month and limit users to up to 150 hours online a month.

The service goes live on June 1. BT is expected to make a formal announcement about BT Midband later this week.

BT Midband is based on the telco's Home Highway ISDN service and should be available to around 97 per cent of the UK population.

Ordinarily, BT Midband chugs along at speeds of up to 64k. However, when users need to download a large file, for example, it automatically ramps up to 128k.

But - and it's a big but - using the service at the quicker speed eats up users' allotted 150 hours online more quickly and means customers get less time on the Net.

So, in normal usage punters will get somewhere between 75 and 150 hours a month for their £35. Anyone exceeding this cap will be charged on a pay-as-you-go basis although unused hours can be carried over from month to month.

According to the monster telco, BT Midband is "an alternative flat rate (fixed monthly fee), high-speed Internet package" and is "not intended to be an 'always on' service".

The service has a two-hour session limit although punters will be able to sign on again immediately after they've been disconnected.

BT denies the service is a "poor substitute" for broadband insisting that it is a "significant improvement on standard dial-up connections" and will "meet the needs of a great many of our customers".

Earlier hopes that the service might be linked with an always-on email service have also been dashed due to "technical challenges along the way". ®

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