BT to trial pay-as-you-go broadband

Two-month market test

Net users in the UK could be given the choice of paying for broadband access by the minute if a mini-trial later this summer proves successful.

Instead of users paying a flat fee for their broadband access, BT is giving punters the chance to pay 5p a minute for the time they spend online. BT Wholesale is recruiting 50 people from within the company to take part in an eight-week trial due to begin within the next month or so.

As part of the market test, the UK's dominant fixed line telco wants to establish whether it's commercially viable to offer a broadband service paid for by the minute. At the moment, many ISPs offer flat-fee broadband access. Others offer a flat-fee/PAYG hybrid, which enables punters to acquire additional time online if they need it.

But according to internal documents seen by The Register: "BT is very aware that not all people want to pay a monthly fee for Broadband access and many only want to pay for the time they are using the service. As part of BT Group's commitment to Broadband Britain, BT Wholesale are looking to trial a Pay as You Go Broadband offering which will enable customers to have up to 10 times faster internet service and only pay for the time they are online.

"This is a limited two month market test by BT Wholesale Markets to establish usage patterns and the triallists' existing connections will be restored at the end of the test. The only cost to triallists will be a 5 pence per minute usage charge for the time triallists are connected to the Internet."

A spokesman for BT Wholesale confirmed that the trial was going ahead but that it was still "very early days". BT doesn't intend to launch a PAYG broadband service at this time, he said. ®

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