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Eircom has launched a new 'time-based' product offering high-speed internet access for €1 per hour as part of its drive to get more people to switch to broadband.

The "Eircom Broadband Time" service is aimed at dial-up users who have yet to be persuaded that broadband is for them. The product, which will be normally priced at €24.99 per month for 20 hours usage, is initially available for a reduced cost of €19.99 per month for first time customers who sign up to a six month contract between July and September.

The telecom said in a statement that customers availing of the new product would be charged €0.04 per minute for additional usage after the 20-hour allowance.

Though the service does represent one of the lowest priced broadband options in Ireland, it's worth noting that the price of Eircom's entry level residential broadband service - which has no time restriction - will sell for just €29.99 per month for customers that sign up between July and September 2005, or just €10 more per month than the new time-based product. Even when the promotional prices end, Eircom's time sensitive service will cost only €15 less per month than the company's standard service.

An Eircom spokesperson argued that the service was not aimed at existing broadband customers seeking a lower-priced option. Instead, Eircom hopes to lure reluctant dial-up users to broadband, who in time are expected to migrate to a product with no time restrictions.

"Our research indicates that there is a demand for a more flexible entry level broadband product," added Eircom's commercial director, David McRedmond. "Eircom's Broadband Time product will attract lighter internet users who have yet to experience Broadband. Eircom's wholesale price reductions and promotional subsidies for other operators will further increase competition and growth in the Broadband market."

Importantly, Eircom Broadband Time also eliminates the often-touted 'always-on' benefit of broadband, since customers will be required to activate and deactivate their broadband connection as needed. Another feature of the service is an automatic shutdown of the high-speed link to the web after 10 minutes of inactivity, to ensure that customers don't accidentally stay online longer than planned. What's more, a service on the Eircom homepage will alert users to how long they have been on-line in a given month.

"This is the fifth major initiative Eircom has announced on Broadband in the past seven months, keeping our commitment of making broadband available to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible and as affordably as possible," added Redmond.

Eircom also announced that it is introducing price reductions for other operators wishing to support the new services. A wholesale price of €12.55 will be offered for up to 20 hours usage for the time-based service and promotional subsidies of for €115 per customer, payable to other operators.

The new services follow in the wake of a number of broadband initiatives announced by the firm in 2005. Earlier this year the company announced that it was extending broadband rollout to 200 more exchanges in Ireland and it also set a new target of 500,000 high-speed Internet users by the end of December 2007.

Copyright © 2005, ENN

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