BT to offer unmetred Net access

BT is to offer US-style unmetred Internet access for the first time with the launch of “BT surftime” in the spring.

UK Net enthusiasts have long been pressing for unmetred access instead of having to pay per minute charges to surf the Web.

“BT surftime” – to be backed by an ad campaign – will comprise four packages charged at a monthly rate, plus a pay-as-you-go option. It will be aimed at heavy and infrequent consumers and businesses users.

The packages will cost &£6.99 a month for unlimited access at the weekend or evening and night-time-only access; &£26.99 for daytime access and &£34.99 for the anytime package.

However, these packages will only be available for calls to Net service providers (ISPs) that have agreed to a new revenue-sharing deal with BT, subject to the agreement of telecoms industry watchdog Oftel.

At present, ISPs do not charge a monthly fee but share call revenue with the network from which the call originates – usually BT. Customers will also have to pay for any fee their ISP charges for content.

BT head of Net Dave Hughes says the company has bolstered its data network to allow for the increase in traffic it believes unlimited access will drive.

“ISPs have been asking for this, so we will be actively working with them to batten this down by the spring,” Hughes says.

He says BT will withdraw existing Net products if customers dessert it in favour of “surftime”, although no decision has been taken to consolidate Net services.

Oftel yesterday (Tuesday) announced a new Net call pricing arrangement that allows ISPs to charge less than local calls.

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