01 February 1999

According to BT’s chief executive Sir Peter Bonfield, in the last three months of 1998 Internet access doubled, accounting for 15% of all BT network traffic. This year, he predicted, Internet usage will account for 20% of all network volumes. The upsurge has prompted BT to complain to industry watchdog Oftel, blaming the extra volume of Internet traffic for clogging the network whilst providing insufficient increases in income to justify expanding capacity. Under current regulations, BT has to share revenues from such calls with the Internet access provider, but BT is likely to put pressure on Oftel to allow it to retain a higher proportion of this income in future. The significant increase in volumes is due mainly to the mushroom growth of so-called ‘free’ Internet access services such as Dixons’ FreeServe.