German users ask politicians to lower Net prices
MUNICH (IDG) -- Declaring last year's Internet strikes a failure, a German user group is now trying a different tack to get across the message that metered phone charges are seriously hampering the growth of the Internet in Germany.
A group calling itself IOT -- Internet Ohne Taktung (Internet Without Metered Charges) -- is going directly to the political establishment, and the public, with its complaints about high Net costs. IOT has launched an online campaign to gather "virtual signatures" demanding a stop to metered phone charges for Net users. The signature list will be delivered to German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. It is not clear when the signatures will be delivered, however, and IOT founder Philipp Sudholt could not be immediately reached for comment.
"Imagine you are sitting in front of the television, and have to ask yourself 'can I afford to watch the film to the end?,'" notes IOT on its Web site. "These are the psychological barriers of the Internet in Germany."
Throughout Europe, users still pay per-minute phone charges for Internet usage, just as they do for ordinary local phone calls. Last year, users in several European countries staged "Internet strikes," asking users to boycott the Internet for one day in protest of the high costs. Other than in Spain, however, these efforts were largely unsuccessful in changing the cost structure.
A recent study by Jupiter Communications also notes that metered charges are causing Europe to significantly lag the U.S. in the number of households with Net connections, thereby hampering electronic commerce.
IOT has three demands:
IOT also pointed to the success of a similar movement in the U.K. called Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications. The British group has made Internet access costs a parliamentary issue, and some ISPs are now offering flat-rate access on the weekend, IOT said.
Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is the Munich correspondent for the IDG News Service.
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