Further supplementary memorandum by Reuters
Ltd (text taken from e-mail of Ben Wilson (Public Affairs Assistant)
of 6 July)
I have today received the attached documents from
Tarifica and have pasted in below the covering message I received
from my contact there.
Please note this is Tarifica data and should
therefore not be seen as Reuters evidence. Nevertheless his conclusions
would seem to back up the comments Phil Sayer made in his oral
comments to the Committee (paragraph 856), ie that BT Surftime
pricing will be broadly comparable, although it is evidently somewhat
difficult to draw meaningful conclusions when only Germany is
offering a similar product.
However, I would seek to re-emphasise that Surftime
will not provide the consumer or businesses with faster Internet
access, which is a far more important driver for e-commerce. That
will come partly with the roll out of ADSL and local loop unbundling;
our concerns on the slow BT/Oftel progress in this area have been
put to you several times previously. I note that Spain is the
latest EU country to announce that it will meet the European Commission's
target for local loop unbundling by the end of this year. The
UK will be among the very last of all EU countriesnot just
the major onesto unbundled the local loop and it will certainly
fail to meet the Commission deadline. Furthermore, we note that
BT has delayed the rollout of its ADSL service Openworldwe
believe the current launch date is September 2000.
I'm afraid of the countries surveyed on two
incumbent operators, BT and Deutsche Telekom, actually have flat
rate Internet schemes. I've included a Word file with some background
with details of what other operators are providing in the future
or offering as a substitute to flat-rate (generally bundled minutes).
My opinion is that flat rate Internet pricing will be commonplace
within the next 12-18 months in Europe, much as subscription-free
services became the norm in the second half of 1999.
Comparing BT surftime with T-Online's flat
rate does seem to show that BT is competitive, there's just the
case of having to ensure your ISP is signed up to it.
However, as with the "free" model
of ISP access, it tends to be the new kids on the block who come
up with the latest offer and the incumbents that follow on. This
is clearly the case since the Alta Vista announcement earlier
this year despite BT saying that SurfTime was on the way already.