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RedTen snags lifeboat after being cut adrift by BT

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Customers of RedTen Internet could have their connections restored next week after being left high and dry when the ISP had its connection cut by BT.

Customers trying to log onto Docklands-based RedTen on Monday were redirected to a BT website carrying the message:

BT Wholesale has stopped providing a service to RedTen Communications Ltd either because of repeated non-payment of invoices or because RedTen Communications Ltd has stopped trading. This means you will no longer be able to access your broadband service from RedTen Communications Ltd.

BT offered customers a MAC (migration authorisation code), which would enable them to transfer their connection to another provider.

BT told The Register today that RedTen had been cut-off "as a result of its failure to meet its financial commitments with one of BT Wholesale's broadband customers."

A spokesperson in RedTen's technical department told The Register the firm was "upgrading the servers from 8 megabytes to 24 megabytes".

He refused to comment on whether RedTen had failed to pay its invoices, and urged customers not to use the MAC code offered by BT.

He said that the service would return on either Thursday or Friday.

But Steve Kaye, director of NJP Services, a company which sells wholesale ISP services based on BT's network, confirmed to The Register on Thursday that his company would reconnect RedTen Internet's customers on 18 March.

He said customers would continue to receive the same service as before: 8Mbps downstream bandwidth with no maximum limit on data.

RedTen Internet had made its name by offering free laptops to its customers. It offered up to two PCs per customer as a reward for signing up to its broadband service, which carries a hefty three-year contract.

Customers remained divided over whether they are legally entitled to cease their payments to RedTen. Payments are made to a separate finance company based in Cardiff.

One Reg reader, who was among several who brought the issue to our attention said: "Yes I know that you're thinking, why the hell did he sign up with that bunch of cowboys, but two laptops at 30 quid a month is/was a bargain."

Indeed, it seemed like one hell of a bargain. For just £17.99 per month, RedTen offers an 8Mbps service with a free modem and a free Toshiba Satellite Pro notebook. Users who pay £28.99 a month are offered two free laptops. Some customers have received their free laptops while some are still waiting.

"They'll not be getting back their free PC that they supplied!" another reader told us.

In a email sent to customers on 26 February, RedTen said it had received "numerous" complaints about the quality of BT's service and that it was searching for another provider. It said at the time it was speaking to Opal Telecom, owned by Carphone Warehouse, which has its own broadband deal in which it gives free laptops to customers.

On 6 March RedTen sent another email, warning customers that an upgrade to a 24Mbps platform would cause a total loss of email stored on its servers. Just four days later, the service was disconnected.

For a young company, RedTen has a complicated past. It was set up in 2006 under the umbrella of retailer Watford Electronics, which went into administration in February 2007. Many of Watford Electronics'assets were bought out, but RedTen continued to trade as a separate company.

Kaye, as RedTen's new supplier, said he was not concerned by BT's statement that RedTen had not paid its bills.

He said: "Our contract is a new one. The dispute with BT is down to them. We have already run a risk assessment on that business. They are having no financial problems to my knowledge. We will work with customers as best as we can."

Thanks to Reg readers including Alex, Andy and Jamie for tipping us off.

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