A welcome antidote to the worldwide wait

Share

Will the price cut be enough to persuade Britons to sign up for the broadband 'revolution' with as much alacrity as Americans or our fellow-Europeans?

The difference between dial-up internet access and a high-speed service that is permanently on is akin to that between a horse-drawn cart and a car, which is why there is usually no going back for people who have graduated from one to the other. So it would be churlish not to applaud the sharp price reduction announced yesterday by BT for its broadband service.

Assuming that the internet service providers pass on most of the cut, an average monthly subscription should come down to around £25 from the £40 or so it currently costs. This is by any measure a swingeing cut, and makes broadband service in Britain as reasonably priced, if not cheaper, than its equivalent elsewhere in the world. Whether it will be enough to persuade Britons to sign up for the broadband "revolution" with as much alacrity as Americans or our fellow-Europeans, however, is another matter. Germany already has 2 million subscribers, Britain fewer than 150,000.

The wonders of broadband are not at issue. The technology allows the same line to be used for Internet access and telephone calls without either capability blocking the other. It enables audio and video files to be transferred almost instantaneously. Whole films can be delivered in minutes. So why has Britain been so comparatively slow to adopt the new technology?

The widely-accepted thesis is that high prices have are the main deterrent. Certainly, £40 a month is steep, and those cable companies that supply high-speed internet access have already attracted more subscribers than BT, with monthly payments set at £25. But that is still double the price of many dial-up subscriptions. And for home, rather than professional use, dial-up access is adequate.

The price cuts announced by BT mean that the theory of price as the chief obstacle to wider take-up will now be tested. In fact, consumer resistance may lie elsewhere. Even if the price of fast internet access is going down, the price of computers remains static. And, as with mobile phones, there may be a limit to the range of services that people need or want from computers.

If they are to conquer the mass market, BT and the internet service providers must work harder to convince people that their most hi-tech services are not only competitively priced, but relevant to the lives that most people live. Price is important, but it is not everything.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Assessor

£26000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: SAP Assessor Job T...

Year 6 Teacher needed for 1 Term- Worthing!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Year 6 larger then life teach...

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: SEN Jobs Available Devon

Infrastructure Lead, (Trading, VCE, Converged, Hyper V)

£600 - £900 per day: Harrington Starr: Infrastructure Lead, (Trading infrastru...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: eurogloom, Ed in Red and Cameron's Wilsonian U-turn on control orders

John Rentoul
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering