NTL is not extending its unmetered internet service to customers who used to be served by Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), because it says their local networks could not handle the demand.
The telco, which completed its acquisition of CWC in May, said it would need to upgrade CWC's local networks before it could extend the ntlworld service to cable customers in those areas. NTL said this is unlikely to happen before at least spring 2001.
Launched in April, ntlworld offers unmetered internet access included in the price of phone rental for NTL customers. NTL acquired the consumer division of CWC on 30 May for £8.2bn. Although the two companies continue to officially run separately at present, both sets of customers are classed as NTL users.
Former C&W customers who have contacted vnunet.com have expressed anger that ntlworld is available to BT customers for a monthly charge but totally inaccessible to CWC customers - even though they are now NTL customers.
One customer said that after receiving the installation disk for ntlworld he was informed that the service would be available in September. However, after contacting NTL this month he was told that the service will not be available until next year.
An NTL spokesman said the company apologises to customers who have received the wrong information, adding that former CWC customers have been informed ntlworld is not currently available to them.
"While NTL appreciates that many internet users will be keen to get the benefits of the popular new service, local C&W networks would need to be upgraded in order to support it properly," said the spokesman.
"We are currently surveying these networks in order to assess the situation. As our priority is to maintain the high quality of the ntlworld service, we would invest in network upgrades before making the service available," he added.
Last week the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found NTL guilty of misleading customers over the availability of its unmetered internet service. The ASA received 168 complaints against NTL from customers who waited months before receiving installation software.
NTL admitted that the significant demand for its unmetered service lead to many customers experiencing delays. The company said to reduce the risk of service degradation to customers it began phasing distribution of the access disks.
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