A price war bloodbath in the Internet service provider business looked inevitable last week as US company Netcom opened for business and Pipex slashed its prices on its Dial service.
David Clarke, former marketing director at Compaq UK, will head up a 40-strong Netcom team based in Bracknell. He said it will offer a one-stop solution including software for u13 plus VAT per month for online access.
This will pitch it directly against Pipex, which cut its setup fee to u20 plus VAT and increased the amount of free Web space it provides to 1Mb.
Clarke said the UK market had an 'untapped potential' for Internet service provision in the consumer market.
But Paul Rivers, head of dial-up services at Uni-palm Pipex, claimed its offering, which includes a registered version of Navigator 2, will trounce the opposition. He said: 'I'm either exhibiting psychopathic tendencies or I'm very excited about this.'
'You'll get access to our Pops (points of presence) at 33.6Kbps. This is the fastest connection in the world.' Hub modems at Pipex sites would operate at those speeds if individuals used V.34 technology, he said.
Netcom, a US provider, forecasts that PC penetration in UK homes will increase from one in nine homes to one in five by the millennium. Clarke said: 'We will be judged against how well we deliver against a service offering involving close partnerships with customers and retailers.'
Matt Townend, marketing manager at Pipex Dial, claimed that in a home market of more than 130 Internet service providers, its services were both the most reliable and the fastest. 'In the UK that means the lowest possible phone charges.' Apart from the setup prices, it charges u15 a month, plus VAT.
He claimed Pipex had an estimated 25,000 subscribers to its services.
While he acknowledged Demon Internet had more, Townend claimed Pipex' growth rate over the past 12 months amounted to 10 per cent compared with Demon's five per cent.
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