UK internet take-up is set to get a major boost as Tesco becomes the first supermarket to launch as an ISP.
TescoNet is a basic, low-cost internet package, aimed at home users and promoted through Tesco stores, with the backbone of the service being provided by BT.
The TescoNet package, priced at £8.99 per month, for unlimited access and up to five e-mail addresses, will be in competition with other consumer ISPs like VirginNet. However, it is not expected to have any impact on higher-end corporate internet providers.
"Tesco is offering a basic, cheap-and-cheerful service," said CompuServe UK MD Martin Turner. "I hope that they are successful because it means more internet penetration in the UK which is a good thing." He warned that running an ISP required substantial investment in service and support and that if TescoNet proved popular then it could be difficult for Tesco to manage it, and to guarantee access for all.
Tesco's previous forays into on-line technology have not been total successes from an IT standpoint. It also runs an on-line shopping service called Tesco Direct which offers next-day deliveries of groceries. However, when launched in 1997, customers' on-line orders needed to be printed out and then re-keyed into an internal computer system, with a paper copy of the order filed for reference.
Tesco spokesman Russell Craig said that TescoNet would be run separately from Tesco Direct, and that the use of the Tesco brand would appeal to customers who wanted an internet account but had not heard of any of the existing ISPs.
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