Czech Internet Access a Bit Cheaper, At Last

After four months of turbulent discussions among Czech Internet users,
monopoly telephone company SPT Telecom and ISPs, a tentative solution to the Internet access pricing struggle has emerged.

Dial-up access to Internet is going to be a bit
cheaper from now. Nevertheless, no one is fully satisfied.

The “Internet 99” calls that SPT Telecom proposed for cheaper Internet access rates had independent ISPs upset, because in order to provide the service the ISPs must provide two sets of lines and modems–one for normal calls and one for the discounted “Internet 99” calls.

Several rounds of talks between ISPs and SPT Telecom have taken place, with the result being a very slight adjustment of the rules. “Internet 99” is now cheaper than normal voice service in more cases
than it used to be, and ISPs can choose not to take part in the program.

On March 11, ISPs promised to
start with implementation of “Internet 99” immediately. They emphasized that
they were doing so only as a favor for their customers, not as a settlement with SPT Telecom. Instead, they are filing a suit to the Czech
Antimonopoly Authority.

“SPT Telecom is unable to deny that it is using
money collected from higher phone rates to fund its own ISP service, Internet On Line,” said
Boris Belousov, spokesman for the group of ISPs.

The situation is expected to be complicated at least until January 1,
2001, when the Czech telecommunication market is going to be deregulated.

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