Broadband Britain is still a pipe dream because providers are failing to make the case to persuade users to upgrade - and BT is the chief culprit.
Telecoms analyst Analysys has today published a report claiming that unmetered internet access, or Flat Rate Internet Access Call Origination (Friaco), creates usage patterns that encourage users to upgrade to broadband connections.
But report author Rupert Wood told vnunet.com that only cable users were showing signs of making the switch in the UK and, even with cable, costs were high.
"There are very specific UK reasons holding back the migration of users from Friaco to broadband: high costs and difficulties with provision, particularly with ADSL," he said. "At around £40 a month, ADSL is both expensive [£150] and time-consuming to install. The plug and play promise of self-installed ADSL will help, but £75 is still higher than most countries."
Wood added that a higher proportion of cable customers, who pay less, had upgraded. As of June, 11 per cent of Telewest internet subscribers and five per cent of NTL customers used broadband.
But he warned that, unless broadband prices came down, the relative cheapness of unmetered narrowband could create a Friaco cul-de-sac because the broadband message was not getting across.
Indeed, BT has already experienced this problem with around 2000 of its Friaco-product customers who are classified as heavy users but are unwilling to upgrade to broadband, even when faced with a restricted service.
Caroline Bryan, technology analyst at Datamonitor, believes that BT has failed to market ADSL correctly. She told vnunet.com: "The marketing of broadband has been poor. Something's gone wrong. The person on the street doesn't understand what broadband has to offer."
Bryan explained that downloading music and films and playing online games were all consumer applications that could be used to stress the difference between broadband and narrowband surfing.
However, Wood added: "Other than simply higher speeds, it is difficult to see what the selling point of broadband is. Other than porn, there is a paucity of content and it has not been made entirely clear why web surfing is better by having faster speeds.
"We don't expect residential broadband use to overtake narrowband for a very long time. Indeed, it's not on our map. It's an awful long way off."
Andy Green, managing director at BT Openworld, maintained that UK businesses had to help by supplying the applications and content that would compel use, but that too many preferred complaining instead.
"We could have confidence, or we could be 'British': fill in our survey, have a whinge, and rabbit on at the government about local loop unbundling." he said.
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