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Thursday, October 1, 1998 Published at 01:43 GMT 02:43 UK


BT clicks into Net access

BT Click+ offers easy to understand and pay for Net access

By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall

British Telecom has launched a penny-a-minute Internet access service aimed at boosting the online audience and increasing its own market share among Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Watch Chris Nuttall's report on how Net access is getting easier
BT Click+ is being described as an invisible ISP. There is no need to sign up for a monthly subscription with a credit card. Users will instead pay 1p a minute on top of the cost of a local call when they access the service. The charges will show up on their regular quarterly phone bill.

Will digital TV tame the Net? - Radio 4's Today programme
Click is being introduced on 1 October, the same day that digital television is launched in the UK, which also promises cheap if not immediate Internet access.

But BT's offering already looks a little dated given the shift in the ISP sector since Click+ was announced some months ago:

  • Cable & Wireless announced a similar service to Click+ last month called Internet Lite, with a pay-as-you-surf system.

  • The Dixons electrical group announced free Internet access, apart from the cost of a local call, last week. Freeserve is proving enormously popular, although calls to its technical support line cost £1 a minute.

Dixons was not the first free ISP, Connect Free is claiming that distinction. But both aim to make money by taking a cut of the phone traffic generated.

BT is offering free e-mail, known as Talk21, which users will also be able to access from multimedia phones being introduced. It expects high-use members of Click+ to move on to its subscription-based BT Internet service.

BT was ticked off by the telecommunications watchdog Oftel last month after complaints were made that its sales staff were using billing information to lure users to the Click+ service.

It was alleged they were finding the telephone numbers of ISPs on customers' bills and then calling them to offer its own service instead.

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