RealTime IT News

Australian ISP Tries Per-Minute Access

Australian telecommunications carrier AAPT will attempt to undercut its rivals in the Internet industry with a cheap per-minute timed service to consumers.

AAPT will offer a service called SmartSurf which will be metered at 2.5 cents Australian ($US0.016) per minute increments, totalling AUS$1.50 (US$0.96) per hour.

The company made news last week when it bought out the 41 percent of major Australian ISP Connect.

Larry Williams, CEO of AAPT, said the pricing move was "designed to re-introduce simplicity" into Internet access for Australian home users.

"There are no complex plans, no monthly free hours. For every minute you are online, you pay 2.5 cents per minute, $1.50 per hour. No upfront payment is required," said Williams.

The SmartSurf service comes with a catch--users also have to be customers of AAPT's long distance telephony service.

The service is the first movement by Australian ISPs to mirror the latest movements in Britain, where ISP services are being offered for free. English local phone calls are charged on a timed basis, however, so in Australia, where local calls are charged a flat fee, SmartSurf effectively resembles the cost structure of FreeServe, offered by British bookseller Dixon.