New BT chief Ben Verwaayen has been told by the UK's two largest internet service providers (ISPs) that price is the dominant factor holding back the adoption of ADSL broadband high-speed internet access by UK surfers.
Matt Peacock, communications director at AOL UK, told vnunet.com: "We've had our broadband team ready to go for over a year in the UK and longer elsewhere.
"We're completely committed to making broadband work and our customers want it. We just need the wholesale price to come down enough to sell at a mass market price." Peacock said that meant around £20 to £30 per month.
"Price is the principle issue," said Paul Barker, head of corporate affairs at Freeserve. "We'd like to price a service at £29.99 or £24.99 per month. There is certainly demand at under £30 per month."
Reports earlier this week speculated that Verwaayen would halve the wholesale cost of broadband access for business and home users to around £15 per month, but BT officials have since sought to downplay possible price cuts.
The telco has previously maintained that lack of content has held back the development of Broadband Britain, not prices of £40 per month or availability in only 59 per cent of UK telephone exchanges.
The UK was recently ranked 22nd out of 30 countries in terms of broadband penetration with around 150,000 ADSL subscribers. By comparison, Germany has an estimated two million ADSL subscribers.
AOL and Freeserve also rejected the idea that lack of content was failing to entice users to upgrade.
"Hello? We're AOL Time Warner and every single inch of what we do is being re-architectured for broadband. That's countless music and films. If that isn't content what is?" argued Peacock.
Freeserve's Barker added: "[Lack of content] doesn't seem to have hindered the take up in Germany and France. Our parent company in France has quickly gathered half a million ADSL subscribers."
Both firms, and BT's own ISP BTopenworld, have been conducting their own trials of self-install ADSL lines.
The product is touted as the broadband service most likely to kick start demand for high-speed internet access from home users. All three are likely to launch products soon after any price cuts unveiled by BT.
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