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Telewest Freezes Unmetered Service Sign-Up

UK cable operator Telewest has stopped accepting new customers for its unmetered Internet service while it sorts out continuing technical problems.

No new subscribers will be accepted for at least three weeks while Telewest upgrades its modem and network capacity to cope with the heavy demand for its £10 a month Surfunlimited service.

The news will come as little comfort to Surfunlimited customers and other Telewest Internet customers as they battle to connect to the service.

Telewest says it is unhappy with the quality of the service and has repeatedly apologised to customers. A spokesman said one of the problems is that customers are staying connected for too long.

"It's not just about getting on. People staying online for hours at a time carries problems of its own," said the spokesman.

Another major problem is that Telewest's telephone exchanges were unprepared for the service and unable to cope, as revealed exclusively here last month.

Customers who contacted vnunet.com today said that while Telewest is still taking details from new customers, they will not be sent the dial-up software or connected to the service for the foreseeable future.

Telewest confirmed the enrolment freeze. "It's going to be about three weeks before we're able to guarantee the quality of service in terms of modem capacity in our networks," said the spokesman.

The company has no plans to compensate customers for the problems.

"These are all new learning experiences. The fact remains that it is still the only genuinely unlimited service out there," said the spokesman.

BT Internet yesterday extended its unmetered service to include weekday evenings as well as weekends. It also cut the cost of the service from £11.75 to £9.99 a month.