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Entry Level Broadband - Where to set the barrier?
Monday 08 March 2004 09:55:00 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Various providers have introduced products to differentiate between light and heavy users in an attempt to attract more dial-up users onto broadband. These new low level services are particularly attractive to dial-up users as the cost of upgrading is minimal but the benefits of an always on connection are significant. The question marketing departments are trying to find the answer to is 'where to draw the line?'

Last week, we reported the launch of BT Broadband Basic, a service based on a 1GB per month inclusive allowance priced at £19.99 per month aimed at this market, only to find Plusnet's marketing department fuming over BT's claims to be 'leading' the sub-£20 broadband market. Of course, it wouldn't be this simple. Actually, in its advertising, BT also upset Tiscali who didn't like the comparisons being made against it. More on TheRegister.

NDO joined the race for cheap broadband with its Home500Lite service which works out at around the same price over the first year (the first five months being at £15.99 and then £21.99, a pricing strategy very similar to Freeserve) but says the product is limited to "10 GB of bandwidth per week" which is quite a generous allowance on a limited service.

AntiCap UK, the campaign for unlimited broadband services wasn't very happy with the launch of new capped services.

"BT's offering gives a derisory amount of use in a day. If all the BT budget user wishes to do is to check their email occasionally, and perhaps their lottery results, fair enough. But, do you really need broadband for this? The BT offering will not allow the customer to expand their use, as their understanding grows, to take advantage of broadband's potential. As the customer becomes exposed to the online community, expectations will grow. The impact of all the inevitable patch downloads of the essential antivirus, firewall, spamwasher and windows bloatware can't be underestimated.

We believe this BT limit is excessively low and makes the product unusable. It must not be the future of UK broadband."

AntiCap UK (

There seems to be a significant difference with the lower end offering 1GB/month rising through to unmetered services where providers are gambling that the negative PR from capping and the relatively small number of heavy users means it's better to make a loss on those few bandwidth hogs.

Whilst metered broadband services do widen the horizon and encourage more adoption, a 1GB per month download limit is likely to hold users back from taking full advantage of their broadband connection. We should note BT has not yet published pricing on excess use which will hopefully yield good news. We'll keep our fingers crossed. Perhaps they may even adopt a 'capped price' system as Metronet has been offering for over a year on it's pay as you go broadband package. [seb]


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