The need for nbiased information on ISPs

Now that Which? has joined the ranks of Internet service providers (ISPs), who is the battered consumer to turn for unbiased information?

Most consumers have little idea of the level of service they can expect from their ISP. They are not told how many times in a week they will get an engaged tone when they dial in, how long their e-mail will take to be delivered and how long they will have to wait in a "phone queue" to get even the most basic questions answered.

Consumers take their chances by weighing up issues such as support line opening times and ease of installation/ payment, and have no idea what they are buying. They commit to paying the ISP, but what does the ISP commit to give them? Typically, the answer is nothing, except a "we will do our best" policy.

The same is true of mobile phone operators. We are told in advertisements about coverage of the phone companies but not how many times out of 100 when we go to use our phone we will get "Network Busy" or "Please Select Network" on our phone displays.

As consumers, we don't get service levels, we get contracts that the tie us to paying money with no guarantee of quality or reliability. The Christmas rush on mobile phones and ISPs is already in full swing, and we are left unprotected.

It is time the Government stepped in and forced the ISP and mobile phone providers to give consumers a step-by-step guarantee of what they will get for their money.

Terry Robinson,

BT's videoconferencing demonstration facilities

I read with interest the article by Chris Gill ("Good to talk, better to read", 14 October) in The Independent's Network+ supplement. I work for BT and I would like to draw your attention to a small mistake; the article stated, "if you want BT to give you a proper demo of videoconferencing you have to travel to London - a nice irony..." I was a little surprised to read this, so I checked and found that it is not the case.

BT does have several videoconferencing demonstration sites throughout the UK (Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester) and also gives demos at the various shows and exhibitions which it attends each year.

For further information about BT videoconferencing, where and how to arrange a demonstration, you can call 0800 515 550. I hope this information is useful.

Nicholas Burt

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