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BT chops cost of UK Wi-Fi access

But it's still more expensive here than the US

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BT Openzone has slashed access charges to its network of public Wi-Fi hotspots, cutting the cost of fast wireless Internet connections by up to 70 per cent, the telco claimed today.

Gone are Openzone's four subscription packages, replaced by a single £25 ($46) a month deal that provides 4000 minutes (66.67 hours) of connectivity. Go beyond that duration and you're put on a 10p a minute rate. The bill is capped at £85 ($157) a month, which essentially means that you don't pay for access beyond the 4600-minute mark. Subscriptions run over a minimum 12-month period.

BT used to offer a £85 a month unlimited access deal, but a £20 a month package would include only 300 minutes. So mid-level users should find the deal cheaper, but very active users will be little better off.

Ditto ad hoc users. Anyone connecting to an Openzone hotspots on a pay-as-you-go tariff will continue to be charged at a rate of 20p (37c) a minute, and BT is still charging £6 ($11) for a voucher offering 60 minutes' total access in any 24-hour period.

However, a full 24 hours' connection time voucher now costs £10 ($18), down 33 per cent from £15. The company also introduced a new voucher that provides 4000 minutes' access in any given 30-day period, for which it's charging £40 ($74).

Whenever BT Openzone mentions users, it refers to businesspeople, and it's justifying its reduced-but-still-high charges on that basis. T-Mobile USA, for example, provides unlimited monthly access for $40 (£22) a month, or $30 (£16) a month if you commit to using the service for 12 months. ®

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