BT today launched its no-frills high-speed internet access service called, rather imaginatively, BT Broadband.
Described by BT as an "alternative to the ISP business model which makes it easier for customers to choose what they want", the service offers direct internet connection, but strips out value-added services like email, free personal web space and content.
BT Broadband will cost £27 a month (£28 if not paid by direct debit) which isn't that much cheaper than rival unlimited-access broadband packages. ISPs Freeserve and NTL, for instance, currently offer deals retailing at £29.99 a month.
But on top of this monthly fee, customers are required to pay a one-off £60 installation charge and they will have to purchase a modem; BT's modem costs £80 but subscribers can use any modem they choose.
The main strength of the service, says BT, is that subscribers will be connected directly to the internet. "Customers will no longer endure the middle-man, they will go straight to the internet without having to go through an ISP," said a company spokesman.
But 'missing out the middle man' may upset other ISPs. Freeserve and NTL refused to comment on the package until they have received full details.
Telco watchdog Oftel said that it would only interfere "if the measure was uncompetitive" or it received complaints which, as yet, it has not.
Subscribers will automatically connect to a web page that advertises links to several of BT's partners' content, including search engine Google, BBCi, ISP Yahoo and anti-virus company McAfee.
"We are making it simple for customers to get the most out of the internet in a way that suits their own interests," said Pierre Danon, head of BT Retail. "These moves are all about providing customers with the services they have told us they want: faster direct access, integrated sales and services and a real choice of compelling services and online content."
The service will be available nationwide from autumn of this year.