ISP Tiscali today cut the price of its 150kbps "broadband" service, offering higher speed internet access for the same price as an average narrowband connection.
The £15.99 a month package, which is subject to a £25 setup fee, offers speeds up to three times those of current narrowband services.
But the debate as to whether 150kbps (kilobits per second) should be classed as a broadband service has never really been resolved. In a market review published by telco watchdog Oftel, 150kbps was deemed to be broadband.
However, in a report released back in April Oftel clearly stated that "Given the availability of 256kbps broadband internet access products, the director [of Telecoms] currently considers that it is appropriate to define broadband internet access at speeds in excess of 256kbps, since the products currently available above this speed will allow different content such as streaming video to be delivered," it said.
The telco added that it would allow for future increases in speed requirements "as new internet access services of different speeds are created and as new broadband content develops".
So it seems surprising that some six months later Tiscali would be pushing what in today's market is considered to be a fairly low connection speed as a broadband package. In its defence Tiscali's spokesperson Jody Haskayne insisted that Oftel had allowed it to refer to its product as broadband, "providing we make the connection speed clear".
The package is a promotional offer but Haskayne assured us that subscribers would remain with the £15.99 a month charge for the whole of the contract period (one year). There are no caps on usage, but the company does "manage provision" especially at peak times, which persumably it will use to scorn users when they go over their 'uncapped' limit.
Tiscali hopes the introduction of its low-end service will allow it to grasp 20 percent of the broadband market, which is currently dominated by BT Openworls, Freeserve and AOL.
If you're thinking of upgrading to broadband our advice would be to shell out an extra £4 a month for the full 256kbps.