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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 March, 2004, 10:53 GMT
Pay-as-you-go tempts surfers
Computer users can choose tariff to suit them
Internet users put off broadband by fixed monthly fees could try a more flexible pay-as-you go service.

London-based provider Metronet is attracting up to 250 new customers each week with the UK's only pay-as-you go high-speed internet service.

Launched last April, the service offers users the option of paying between 10 and 23.99 a month for a standard 512 kilobits per second service.

Experts think such a service will help convince people to swap to broadband.

Converting dial-up users

10 buys users up to 200 megabytes of data with every megabyte thereafter charged at a quarter of a penny, with a maximum charge of 23.99.

With this you are getting the best of both worlds. If you don't use the service much then you don't pay that much but if you do then you aren't writing a blank cheque
Ian Fogg, Jupiter Research
Users wanting a higher speed one megabit service will pay between 23 and 29.79 depending on usage.

There is also a one-off activation fee of 59.

Ian Fogg, an analyst with research firm Jupiter, thinks pay-as-you-go broadband services are the perfect solution for customers currently stuck with a dial-up connection.

"It helps consumers uncertain about committing to 20 or 30 a month for a broadband service," he said.

Europe ahead

"With this you are getting the best of both worlds.If you don't use the service much then you don't pay that much but if you do then you aren't writing a blank cheque," he added.

The big players such as BT and the cable firms are yet to introduce pay-as-you go services.

Telewest's spokesman John Morewood conceded it is an interesting concept.

"It is a nice idea but the prices are exclusive of VAT and you have to pay an activation fee and get a modem so it is not quite so rosy as it sounds," he said.

European internet users are already enjoying pay-as-you-go services in France and Germany.

T-Online offers German surfers a 10 euro a month service which offers 20 hours of broadband, with extra hours charged at a per-minute rate.

Customers using Metronet's PayGoDSL service seem happy with the flexibility of pay-as-you-go.

Chris Stevens signed up two months ago.

"Last month we only paid 12," he said.

"My wife and I only tend to use the Internet for browsing and e-mail and the occasional download of software updates so we will benefit from a pay-as-you-go package."

Around 42% of UK households are currently online with around 3.4 million people connected to the net via broadband.

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