Esat BT’s long-awaited foray into flat-rate internet access (FRIACO) kicks off today with a special one-month-long offer of internet access of €20 per month – one third off the regular residential offering of €30 per month.
Flat fee internet access has long been seen amongst Irish internet users as a pipedream or a holy grail. Ireland’s low level of internet penetration has been blamed on the longstanding regime of per-minute-based metered access.
According to Esat BT spokesperson, Una McGirr, the new €20 monthly flat fee offer will put the company amongst the vanguard of lower cost FRIACO operators and signals the start of a price war in the sector.
Entitled IOL Anytime, the service is two-tiered. The residential offering is priced at €30 (incl. Vat), offering up to 180 hours of access per month, equivalent to an average of six hours of access per day. The business offering is €45 (plus Vat) per month for 260 hours of access per month, equivalent to an average of nine hours per day. The special €20 offer, which concludes on 31 January, will cover the first three months of the service.
“Given that we have been at the forefront in campaigning for FRIACO for Ireland for two years now, internet users can finally enjoy the best dial-up experience to the full, without the limitations of per minute charges,” said Esat BT Bill Murphy.
Referring to the current High Court battle between ComReg and Eircom over wholesale DSL rates, Una McGirr said: “Depending on the outcome of the court activities, we hope to be in a position to sustain the €20 charges on a longer term. This offer is there with the intention of signing up as many new customers as possible. At €20 per month, this is probably the most attractive flat-rate internet offering in Europe at present.”
Speaking in relation to UTV Internet’s flat rate offering of €9.99 for 30 hours access per month, Una McGirr said: “Compared with UTV’s offering, we will be policing our 180 hours of access very minimally, whereas we understand they will be policing their service aggressively. We plan to be fairly liberal about monitoring the service. Obviously there will be exceptions to the rule, but they will be few and far between.”
Esat BT’s Bill Murphy added: “I would hope that we will be in a position to further reduce IOL Anytime prices to customers for FRIACO in the near future.”
By John Kennedy