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Tiscali joins pay-as-you-go..
Thursday 11 March 2004 11:59:00 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Tiscali has announced it too is joining the pay-as-you-go broadband bandwagon with a new 512Kbps DataStream based service as well as a 1Mbps consumer broadband service priced to undercut its major cometitors.

The PAYG service retailing at £19.99 (incl. VAT) is based on DataStream so availability is restricted to areas served by Tiscali's network. As with BT's "broadband basic" service, it includes a 1GB monthly allowance although customers are also given an option to opt for 50 hours' use instead. Excess use is charged at £0.02 per MB (£20 per GB) or 2 pence per minute, capped at a maximum monthly bill of £50. Although we have not yet seen the details of BT's pricing and capping of bills beyond 1GB, this is a good strategy to give consumers confidence over the costs they may incur.

The excess use cap on pricing is very welcome but both the price for excess use beyond the first gigabyte as well as the level of the cap (at 2.5GB per month) is overly restrictive. As we indicated previously, this is likely to discourage users from taking full advantage of broadband content, although it may still tempt dialup users to switch to a broadband-type service. It is expected that those users who find themselves regularly paying more than an unmetered service would cost will be given an option to upgrade, but this will not be ready at launch. Also addressing the concerns raised over BT's service, Tiscali has said it will e-mail users when they reach the inclusive allowance to make them aware they will incur further charges.

Metronet has already been offering this pricing model for some time but with lower excess fees and price caps. In comparison, it would cost £14.10 (incl. VAT) for a 512Kbps user who used up to 1GB per month but additional charges would be at  £0.003 as opposed to £0.020 per MB with a maximum charge of £28.19 per month.

Tiscali's unmetered 1 Mbps DataStream service launches at £29.99/month with both services including free setup, modem and mail filtering (virus and spam protection). Customers who are outside Tiscali's own network coverage for DataStream will still be able to use the 1Mbps IPStream based service for £34.99 per month, again inclusive of setup fees and modem and mail filtering.

This is likely to be one of the cheapest unmetered 1Mbps services around. Whilst Central Point's broadband is slightly less expensive, it does not include a modem (but on the other hand only requires a three month contract). We'll have to see whether the service matches expectations. [seb]

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