Soaring use of the Internet in the US is threatening serious gridlocks by tying up millions of local phone lines every evening. But such an outcome is unlikely in the UK, say Internet experts.
With US Internet use rising at 42 per cent a year, the phone network cannot keep pace. Gridlocks are becoming more frequent as Net users tie up lines for long periods and local phone users get more busy signals and sometimes hear nothing at all after dialling.
A recent report has said one in six Silicon Valley calls now fail, compared with one in 25 a year ago.
The latest problem was during last week's US presidential and congressional elections when Internet sites crashed after being bombarded with requests for the latest polls.
The burden on local telephone networks has outraged US telcos, which are lobbying the FCC - the US telecommunications regulatory body - to force Internet service providers to pay access charges to reach their customers.
Tim Brotherton, marketing manager for BT global Internet services, said: 'If, like in the UK, Internet users weren't allowed to make free local calls, there wouldn't be a problem. That's why Regional Bell companies are lobbying the FCC to get this changed.
'Rather than charging their own customers' premiums for using the Net, they want ISPs to charge customers who use their lines. They don't want to be the bad guys.'
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