UK high street names are racing to turn their customer base into cyber account holders, as Tesco opens up as an Internet service provider and Nationwide Building Society confirms it will be next.
Tesco, which is planning a major promotion over the coming weeks for Tesco Net, is selling the service on "low cost, ease of use and excellent customer support".
Connection to the service, which is provided through BT, will cost an extremely competitive #8.99 a month for unlimited access. Alternatively, customers can sign up for a year and get 12 months for the price of 11 - basically a year for less than #99. Members of the Clubcard loyalty scheme will earn points towards money off vouchers, cutting costs even further.
Tesco's IT director, Ian O'Reilly, said: "Our experience has shown the new wave of Internet users are looking for a name they can trust. Tesco aims to offer an innovative service that will enable the novice, as well as the experienced Web user, to make the very most of the Internet."
Tesco Net is part of the supermarket's online strategy to expand its online shopping experience to more customers and to make it as quick and easy as possible, added O?Reilly.
Rival supermarket chain Sainsbury told 'VNU Newswire' that it had no immediate plans to set up as an ISP, but ?if customers demand it we?ll look into it,? said a company representative.
Nationwide plans to go live as an ISP this summer, in a move it first revealed early this year. Its service, like Tesco Net, will be provided through BT.
Nationwide declined to reveal any details, but said it will be "very competitively priced".
?We have eight million customers, we already provide Internet banking and have a Web site. Providing an ISP service is the obvious next step,? explained a representative for Nationwide.
Although the building society will be among the first high street names to provide an ISP service, it does not believe it will be the last. ?If you?ve got a large customer base it makes logical sense,? said Nationwide?s representative.
As with all Tesco products, Tesco Net features a 'No-Quibble Guarantee'. If customers feel the Internet isn?t for them, they can cancel their agreement at any point, explained a Tesco representative.
Tesco Net will supply its customers with five email aliases per subscription and 5Mbytes of disk space to create Web sites. Telephone connections will be on a local rate 0845 number. Analysts believe Nationwide will offer a similar service and pricing structure.
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