ISPs run to low end market..
Many will argue that this is the wrong way to go when we see slower "broadband" connections being launched, but increasingly more and more ISPs are joining the not-quite-broadband "broadband" bandwagon with 256kbps services that won't even stream current "broadband quality" video (which itself could be far improved).
This morning, TheRegister reported on two product launches: BT Broadband introduced a new 'capped use' service at £19.99 (incl. VAT, when paying by Direct Debit) a month. The service includes a 1GB traffic allowance and it is expected BTB will introduce a charging mechanism for further use. The setup fee is £80 which includes a modem on a twelve month contract.
BT Broadband Basic as the new package is called, is targeted at current dial-up users who do not see the need for broadband at current prices:
So in this respect, we should congratulate BT in that they are moving towards a model that allows users to pay for what they actually need to use, but still have the availability of a "true" broadband connection, unlike a certain other companies..
TheRegister quoted Ingram as saying that 1GB is "plenty of capacity for half of broadband users" which perhaps illustrates the problem with broadband adoption as it stands.
Also out today, Telewest has announced a 256kbps "broadband" service at £17.99 per month (incl. VAT) with guidance that users should not exceed 750 MB of traffic per day and the company will endeavour to move heavier users to another package. This seems to be the other extreme of slower speeds but offering far more actual usage at around the same price bracket. The setup fee (waived for the first 5,000 who pre-register [see TheRegister for link]) is £67.99.
To end the day, PlusNet has decided to take advantage of the publicity generated by BT in introducing this service and made an even better offer. It has already been offering its entry-level 512kbps HomeSurf service for a long time and now includes a free USB modem in the package to tempt users to its service which costs £18.99 (incl. VAT), right in between the BT Broadband Basic and Telewest services
Of course, we should not forget PlusNet's "dslConnect services which start from 150 Kbps (£15.99/mo) although admittedly it is making the speed differences more clear than others on its website. But, overall, PlusNet's price (including its current offer) is both £1 cheaper each month, it costs £20 less to install, includes local rate support and best of all, and they won't charge you if you go over 1 GB a month.
It is not unexpected that usage-based charging is coming in at a steady rate, but some will see 1 GB per month as quite restrictive, making it difficult to take advantage of broadband. We believe the key to usage based charging is such that it separates "heavy" users from "light" users rather than making them worry over every single download they make and the way to do that is to bring the "per GB" costs right down with a generous inclusive allowance. It doesn't necessarily matter if ISP profit comes from light users as long as it's not at the cost of subsidising heavy users. However, going on what BT told TheRegister about actual utilisation, it seems that broadband content is lacking. [seb]