Irish internet service provider (ISP) UTV Internet has announced that it will shortly be introducing a flat-rate ‘all time’ internet service for Republic of Ireland customers.
The new service, which is the first of its kind to be announced in Ireland, is expected to be available from June 2003. The company says that pricing for the product is still being finalised, but it is assuring its existing UTVip customers and new subscribers who sign up before 1 June, 2003, that they will pay no more for the new product than they do for their existing service.
“We are absolutely delighted to announce that we have signed a major telecom contract which enables us to introduce the first ever flat-rate internet service in Ireland. Our ambition has always been to extend customer choice for internet users in the Republic. When we introduced UTVip last September, we introduced virtually unlimited internet access off peak for just €29.99 per month. Now we can take this one step forward by offering our customers internet access any time day or night for a set monthly fee,” said Scott Taunton, managing director, UTV Internet.
Taunton said that the new package will not be always on, but will offer flat-rate access at ‘reasonable usage’ levels. From this statement it would appear that the company is giving itself the option of removing users it deems to be over-using the service to the detriment of other users. This is a practice that is becoming more prevalent with ISPs here and in other countries.
UTV internet has been something of an early mover in terms of offering internet access for set fees rather than on a per minute basis. The launch of UTVip last year was widely regarded as a step in the right direction in terms of making internet access more affordable. It has been widely argued by consumer lobby groups such as IrelandOffline that flat-rate unlimited access for a set monthly fee ought to be standard in this country. It is felt that the availability of such services will help broaden the penetration of the internet and increase usage.
By Dick O’Brien