[London, ENGLAND] In what will be seen as the culmination
of its “Stop the Clock” campaign, AOL UK
has announced unmetered Internet access in a cautiously phased U.K.
First to get the new flat-fee service will be AOL’s longest-standing
customers who can switch their accounts immediately. Next will be
other customers who joined AOL before Tuesday, when the announcement
As for all those Internet aficionados who until now have ignored
AOL in favor of highly-rated vanilla ISPs like Demon Internet
or Madasafish, AOL says they will be able to join “as soon as possible”
after existing members have had their fill.
The new service will cost all users £14.99 (US $21) per month,
including Internet access and telephone connection charges.
Karen Thomson, managing director of AOL UK, called the new unmetered
price plan “a watershed event for consumers,” and said it would
transform the interactive medium into a true mass-market phenomenon
in the U.K.
“We promised more than a year ago that we would fight to ‘Stop The
Clock’ of metered Internet telephone costs charged by the minute.
We are now delighted to give our members what they want — genuine
and sustainable flat-rate Internet access,” said Thomson.
To avoid too much criticism from all those potential users who have
been left out in the cold because they are not existing members, AOL UK
is offering a free 24-hour trial followed by its “AOL Off-Peak, All
the Time” service. This costs £9.99 (US $14) a month and one
penny per minute, 24 hours a day.
“We will work to offer these new members AOL Flat Rate in the near
future, as the U.K.’s telecommunications providers bring more and more
flat-rate network capacity online in the coming weeks,” said Thomson.
AOL UK has been a vigorous supporter of unmetered access in the
U.K., running a “Stop the Clock” campaign to put pressure on BT
to make its infrastructure available at reasonable cost. In May,
U.K. regulator Oftel obliged BT to offer a flat-rate tariff to its
competitors, paving the way for AOL’s new service.
There must still be a question mark over AOL’s ability to
provide unmetered access to all-comers in the current market.
AltaVista backed out when the figures did not stack up, and many
other companies have quietly allowed start-dates to slip by without
Nonetheless, AOL’s announcement is surely the most promising development
so far in the U.K.’s longest-running Internet access saga.