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Monday, 28 January, 2002, 10:49 GMT
Boost for unmetered web access
British Telecom graphic
UK telecoms regulator Oftel has set out measures designed to secure the future of unmetered internet access services.

Under proposals published on Monday, the former telecoms monopoly British Telecom would no longer be allowed to make rival operators using its network pay in advance for unmetered internet access.


The proposals announced today further support the development of unmetered internet access in the UK by clarifying the obligations on BT

Oftel director general David Edmonds

At present, independent telecoms operators pay for metered access in arrears, but are obliged to pay up-front for popular unmetered internet services.

The easier payment terms are designed to encourage smaller telecoms service providers to continue offering unmetered internet packages.

"The proposals announced today further support the development of unmetered internet access in the UK by clarifying the obligations on BT," said Oftel director general David Edmonds.

Deadline

Oftel has given BT and its smaller rivals until 25 February to comment on the plans, and will publish final proposals later in the year.

BT, which owns the bulk of the UK's telecoms infrastructure, has previously faced criticism for imposing unfavourable payment terms on rival operators wishing to offer telecoms services via its network.

Some internet service providers found it difficult to make money from their unmetered access packages when these first became available two years ago.

The high cost of unmetered internet packages - under which consumers pay their service providers a monthly flat fee rather than paying per minute - is blamed by some for holding back internet use in the UK.

BT, however, argues that the UK already has more regular internet users than other European Union countries.

Oftel said on Monday that more than four million UK homes now have unmetered internet access.


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