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Unmetered ISP rates rise

Flat-rate price hikes may push users to broadband

Internet service provider AOL today announced it would up the price of its flat-rate dialup service by £1 a month. And it's not the only one.

Reductions last month to the price of broadband internet connection charges led many to believe the cost of surfing the net was finally coming down, but it appears not.

AOL denied claims that it is pushing users towards its broadband services, now retailing at under £30 a month, insisting the prices were the result of "improvements to the network".

ISPs Freeserve and BTopenworld are also hiking their prices by £1, to £13.99 and £15.99 respectively. Freeserve's increase will take effect from 5 April, BT's from 1 May.

"Obviously the government is keen to provide broadband at a price people can afford, but it is essential that a cheaper option exists for those people who cannot or do not want that. If flat-rate prices do become excessive then we will investigate," said a spokesman at Oftel.

AOL members will be charged £15.99 a month from 2 May — the first price increase since the flat-rate plan was introduced back in September 2000.

For some, the price difference between flat-rate and broadband internet access could now be close to negligible. For instance, ISP Plusnet's unmetered broadband service costs just under £23 a month; for the extra £7 to £9, many users may find themselves switching to broadband.

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