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August 6, 2001 - August 10, 2001

News - August 10,2001

Internet ‘Bench’ Makes Free International Calls

By:mark.j @ 9:22:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Microsoft's MSN backed project, 'The Internet Bench', based in Suffolk (UK), went online last Monday. Sadly the bench, which allows up to four people to log on to the web, was soon vandalised and later discovered to allow free international telephone calls:

Two teenagers discovered the world's first internet bench could be used to make free international telephone calls.

Neil Woodman and Dan Sanderson, both 17, took a normal telephone handset along to the bench, which was created by Microsoft's MSN service in partnership with the local council.

The pair cheekily phoned St Edmondsbury Council to warn them of the problem and then tried to call Microsoft boss, Bill Gates. It was an embarrassing oversight for the high-profile project.

If you happen to live in Suffolk then feel free to take a gander @ the BBC News Item and then pop off to test the thing out. Personally we think you'd look rather silly on it, especially in the rain =).

BTOpenworld In Another Online Partnership

By:mark.j @ 9:12:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

It looks as if BTOpenworld will be partnering with Panlogic to provide a new online partnership marketing solution. Apparently it would complement BTopenworld's marketing strategy, which already consists of partnerships with major retailers such as HMV, Toys'R'Us and Iceland etc.:

BTopenworld chooses Panlogic to provide online partnership marketing solution

BTopenworld has selected web marketing and advertising agency, Panlogic, to develop its online partnership marketing strategy through its specialist division Panprofit (http://www.panprofit.co.uk).

Under the terms of the deal, Panprofit will be the preferred supplier to BTopenworld for private partnership programmes. Partnership marketing, whilst similar to public affiliate marketing in that payment is commission related, is targeted at a small number of select partners, allowing greater control and increased scope to personalise relationships.

Panprofit's programmes are developed using the iChannel technology that allows sophisticated tracking, data mining and with co-branding allows for more strategic relationships between web sites through contextual selling. Panlogic, through Panprofit, is the only agency that has a license to operate this best of breed technology.

The decision to undertake a partnership marketing initiative with Panlogic, complements BTopenworld's tiered affiliate marketing strategy, which also consists of direct partnerships with major retailers such as HMV, Toys'R'Us, Iceland and relationships with individuals who have their own sites.

Chris Jones, head of distribution for consumer internet at BTopenworld said 'We've chosen Panlogic and Panprofit due to the sophistication of the iChannel technology, as well as the control and customisation that such a private partnership programme will give us.'

William Wemyss, director at Panlogic, commented: 'We're delighted that a brand as strong as BTopenworld has decided to select Panprofit to provide this specialist service. It is a significant win for us'

Typically with Telewest and NTL already teaming up to promote their broadband services, it makes sense for BTO to raise their profile a bit as well.

Telewest Expands 'Talk Unlimited'

By:mark.j @ 9:03:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Users of Telewest’s service in the southeast will be glad to hear that they've expanded their 'Talk Unlimited' (unlimited local and national calls) package to Essex, Kent and South London:

Customers can talk all day, everyday with Telewest’s Talk Unlimited service which offers residential customers unlimited local and national calls for 25 per month. The package also includes line rental and optional access to 17 channels of digital television and interactive services.

Paul Bartlett, head of telephony said: “With Talk Unlimited customers can talk more and worry less. We are helping to cut phone bills down to size for our customers."

We are breaking down the barriers to using the phone in a way the competition is not. It’s not just local calls that are free – national calls are unlimited as well. And there are no time restrictions at all so it’s an end, at last, to phone rationing. Just think, no more worries about how long you spend on the phone, or how much your bill will be."

The DigitalSpy item goes on to make a comparison with BT, whom always manage to look expensive and confusing next to any opposition. Very few Telco's offer packages this affordable; hopefully BT will eventually expand free Off-Peak calls to On-Peak as well.

News - August 9,2001

Clara.net Reinstate AnyTime 24/7 Number

By:mark.j @ 4:06:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

As many may remember, last week clara.net were forced to introduce a second 'Freetime Anytime 24/7' unmetered dial-up number due to a bug with the primary one.

Apparently the problem has now been fixed and clara.net will shortly be closing the temporary number following the reinstatement of the original:

The original FTAT number is, we are told, now fixed. Accordingly the new number we introduced will be withdrawn from service over the next few days. Customers should revert to the original number.

We will monitoring the progress carefully.

Hopefully all should now be back to normal, although don’t forget to drop them a line if it’s now.

While using the number ourselves, we’ve also found that it appears to tally on BT phone bills. Whether this is an issue with BTs online system or not we don’t know, although it only occurs on clara.net’s anytime number. Does anybody else checking their ‘current’ bill through BT Online find this?

Freeserve Still Threatening To Move

By:mark.j @ 3:57:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Following last week’s drama, when Freeserve accused AOL of illegally avoiding UK VAT through a loophole in the tax system (had its systems outside the UK). Today Freeserve have re-stated their intention to move if something isn't done:

The threat - regarded as empty rhetoric by many industry watchers - is still in place following high-level talks yesterday between senior executives at Freeserve and Customs & Excise concerning the payment of VAT by ISPs with servers outside the European Union.

Last week, Le Freeswerve capitalised on a report which revealed that rival AOL UK didn't pay VAT in the UK because of a tax loophole.

Le Freeswerve demanded an urgent meeting with Customs to clarify the position and threatened to move its operation to Algeria so it too could benefit from the same loophole unless the issue was resolved.

The Register mentions that very little information regarding Freeserves meeting with certain industry groups has been revealed. It looks as if we'll just have to wait, although whether Freeserve will move if they don't get their way is open to speculation.

One In Four Surf Adult Content Sites

By:mark.j @ 3:52:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

According to the latest statistical survey from Net Value, roughly 3.8 million UK surfers (27.5%) view adult content. That's an average of one in four web users:

Interestingly, although there are now four million more UK internet users than a year ago, the number of those who visit adult sites is only 340,000 higher.

Jannie Cahill, marketing manager at Net Value, told vnunet.com: "Visitors to adult sites have remained pretty consistent over time - 18.5 per cent of visitors to these sites connected pre-1997 and 12.8 per cent are professionals. This ties in with early adopters of the internet being male and affluent."

"Also, women are increasingly accounting for new users, yet they only make up one in four visitors to adult sites. The porn sector seems to attract and keep a very loyal, and niche, audience."

No excuses for the women this time, as the VNUNet item would appear to highlight =). Typically students appear to be the biggest culprits with the rest being divided between manual workers and professionals.

Oftel To Improve Consultations

By:mark.j @ 3:44:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Oftel have issued yet another press release, this time announcing new measures to improve consultations with consumers and the industry. It's a fairly short PR:

To encourage greater involvement from industry and consumers on regulatory issues, Oftel will:

* set up a new Oftel forum where representatives from network operators, service providers, consumer organisations and Oftel can discuss current issues and forthcoming policy reviews.

* make greater use of working groups and workshops where specific issues can be discussed, so reducing the reliance on time consuming formal consultation.

* Explore the scope for using more innovative forms of consultation, such as citizens’ juries, to engage the public more directly.

* Streamline some of the more detailed written consultation processes, while making sure that twelve week consultations remain on major policy issues.

The measures are set out in the statement Oftel’s use of Public Consultation published today.

Chris Kenny, Oftel’s Director of Regulatory Policy said:

"Effective consultation is essential to Oftel’s decision making. We need to hear in detail from the industry and consumer groups to ensure that our decisions are relevant. However, consultation can place a heavy burden on some stakeholders, especially consumer groups."

"Our proposals will allow more organisations to play a part in Oftel’s decision making and increase the speed and effectiveness of our consultation. It will also supplement our greatly increased programme of market research."

"Oftel will host a new six-monthly public forum to which it will invite representatives of consumer organisations, user groups and telecommunication companies to discuss current and forthcoming issues."

"The forum will reinforce Oftel’s customer-focussed approach to regulation and encourage greater co- and self- regulation, an important part of Oftel’s strategy."

This all forms part of Oftels continued drive towards its future intents for Ofcom, the general regulation body (ISPs included) due around 2003.

xDSL Enabled Coverage Stats

By:mark.j @ 3:38:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

ADSLGuide have published some interesting stats released from BTWholeSale earlier today, they represent current UK coverage, those whom can get R/ADSL:

60% (13) million households
52% primary/secondary schools
68% nursery schools
71% colleges
53% public libraries
70% existing Internet users

We find it hard to believe that 70% of Internet users could make use of R/ADSL, especially since nobody can be completely sure who's using what and how. After all, the national stats also tend to include WAP users and we're fairly confident they can't get DSL =).

NTL & Telewest In Operational Merger

By:mark.j @ 3:31:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

After having collaborated over their broadband Internet access advertising campaign, it now looks as if the two cable giants (NTL and Telewest) could take things a little further.

Apparently the Financial Times has reported that the two are working towards an operational merger ahead of eventual industry consolidation:

The paper said the two operators may collaborate over purchasing, the sharing of customers, the convergence of products and a joint national retail effort.

They were keen to present a united front against fierce competition from rival telecommunications and pay television operators, it said.

The deepening of the alliance would follow the merging of their advertising operations and the launch of a joint campaign to promote Broadband Britain. Executives say it could lead to merger of most of the companies' operations, the Financial Times said.

As the ZDNet item reports, any kind of 'full' merger is still distant because of various debt burdens, however consolidation can be a gradual process. While it would indeed make for some fierce competition with BT, the cable market is somewhat different and could be bad for smaller operators.

WonkyPig To Introduce 128Kbps ISDN

By:mark.j @ 9:46:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The 'new' and hopefully revitalised unmetered ISP service, WonkyPig, looks set to get a boost in the near future. According to their site the ISP is set to adopt support for users of ISDN, specifically the dual channel 128Kbps kind.

Although details are scarce and no finalised information has been announced, some readers did spot an earlier banner on WP, it was later removed:

Well, there was a banner on their website basically saying they would be launching a 128K ISDN package for an extra 5 a month, and to call or email them for further details.

Apparently those whom have managed to contact them claim that their just finalising details and the service should be made available soon. We'd expect +5 to be somewhat low considering dual channel requires the use of 'two' ports.

On a side note, WPs site also mentions word of a 24/7 customer support telephone service coming online in the near future.

Top 10 UK Domains (Time Online)

By:mark.j @ 9:36:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

According to the following data, AOLs Proprietary domain is ranked as the site people most like to surf around on. In fact they spend an average of 132 minutes per person, per week doing so:

1 -- AOL Proprietary ---- 132.8
2 -- MSN Messenger Service ---- 46.3
3 -- ICQ Applications ---- 40.8
4 -- Yahoo! Messenger ---- 23.4
5 -- AOL Instant Messenger --- 23.4
6 -- Virgin.net --- 22.3
7 -- MSN.co.uk ---- 22.1
8 -- eBay.co.uk --- 20.4
9 -- MSN.com ---- 18.4
10 - FriendsReunited.co.uk -- 18.2

As the netimperative.com item shows, it's brand name portals and all the major 'instant messaging' services that get the most time per visitor.

News - August 8,2001

ItsGoodToGive Re-launch Unmetered

By:mark.j @ 4:17:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The unmetered charity ISP, ItsGoodToGive, which suffered at the hands of the 'older' and poorly managed WonkyPig unmetered system, has now re-launched with its own service.

Although there's nothing much that we didn't already know in the full press release, which can be viewed HERE, it's good to see the ISP is back after previous problems:

ItsGoodToGive.co.uk, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and charity revenue generator, today announced the launch of its 9.99 per month unmetered access Internet service. The service also offers users the option of a yearly subscription fee of just 107.99.

ItsGoodToGive.co.uk new unlimited Internet access service undercuts the UK's biggest and more established ISP's to bring the customer a bargain service without compromising on quality. In addition to the competitive pricing, the company will donate to its charity partners. The donations will be at a rate of 2.00 per 9.99 account per month, or 20.00 per 107.99 yearly subscription.

John Ager, Executive Chairman of Its Good To Give Ltd explained: "We are offering this price because we can afford to do so, even with the additional donation to our charity partners. There is no need for us to charge over the odds just because this is what our competitors are doing."

John Ager continued: "We are aware that many ISP's have run into difficulties in the past with unmetered access services and we have watched and learned from their mistakes. Some people may write us off as a small minnow in a large pond, but we are ready and able to take on the bigger and more established Internet Service Providers. Where we have an advantage is that we are prepared to deliver a price that our users want, not just what they might tolerate."

The ISP has a two-hour auto cut-off mechanism if the account is on-line but not in use but the user can reconnect and resume access at any time. The service also offers speedy 56k modem or 64k ISDN access.

Initial capacity is for 10,000 new users. Once this has been fulfilled, ItsGoodToGive.co.uk will expand its capacity within a period of two weeks. This is to ensure ItsGoodToGive.co.uk can provide its customers with a quality service right from the start, whilst still undercutting the competition.

If their earlier PR is to be believed then the new system should be coming directly from BT Ignite, although situations may have changed since then. Currently the cheapest an ISP seems able to offer 24/7 unmetered, without loosing much quality, is roughly 10 per month. Certainly the donation of 2 off that for every subscriber takes them closer to 8, which raises some concern.

Either way the ISP seems determined, although subscribers shouldn't be expecting the highest quality services and support on the web. Props to Net4Nowt for picking up on the release.

CloudNine Warns Unprotected Net Users

By:mark.j @ 3:53:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Yesterday saw the residential and business unmetered/broadband ISP, CloudNine, suffer one of the most serious service outages in their 6year history.

It came on a day when the Internet was under siege [Ed - No not by Steven Seagal (Heaven help us)] from Internet worms causing massive denial of Service (DOS) attacks around the globe, of which C9 were one such attacked provider.

Today they've issued us with an important service update and point some of the responsibility towards broadband ADSL customers running UNPROTECTED servers:

Cloud Nine services are starting to return to normal after the denial of service attack we sustained over the last 48 hours.

We are not yet sure exactly what type of attack this was but after much analysis of the symptoms of the attack we have developed a strategy that has enabled us to repel the attack.

Basically, we have started adding back in services one at a time i.e. mail, dial-up, browsing, etc and we are now in a position where:

1) Dial-up services are now working.

2) Dial-up users can collect and send mail, browse, ftp, etc. Some two-way processes such as chat, IP telephony, etc may not yet work since we are opening up ports on a "suck-it-and-see" basis. If you have a specific service that you regularly use that is not working then please contact the help desk and we will add these to the ports we are re-enabling.

3) Web hosting and email hosting customers not dialling Cloud Nine can now collect and send mail, view their web sites, upload pages, etc.

This is the first time in the last 6 years we have faced an attack of this nature and we have learnt a lot of lessons from this. In a way it is a bit like the problem we had with "inside-out" spam mail that we faced back in March (though obviously that only caused localised disruption rather than the disruption we saw with this incident).

We learnt the lessons and have not seen ANY repetition of such SPAM incidents since. Whilst we obviously cannot guarantee that these things will never happen, we are a company that learns from experience and we will do everything we can to learn the lessons and take appropriate measures.

To put this incident in context, we are seeing SYN-flooding, TCP short session and IP spoofing attacks approximately every 16 seconds and up to now all these have been blocked by our firewall. This was particularly malicious and may indeed have been Code Red II related (at least this is the suspicion of our firewall manufacturer).

We are increasing the security on our firewall and building a cordon around it to provide further protection against possible future variants of Code Red.

The attacks we were facing were coming from hundreds of different locations, however the majority seemed to originate from ADSL installation IP blocks. This is very worrying. Our big concern is that more and more people are connecting to the Internet on a (fast) permanent basis and running servers on these connections that are TOTALLY unprotected. This is very irresponsible behaviour since they face having their own servers hacked and generally disrupted but more seriously they are being hijacked and used in attacks against people who are protecting themselves.

This used to be limited to SPAM email activity but is now obviously becoming more malicious with denial of service activity. ISP's will have to take more measure to prevent the actions of their customers causing disruption to others. This will inevitably entail restrictions on what customers can do with their connections and in the longer term more education will be required to ensure that NOBODY SURFS THE NET UNPROTECTED - perhaps we need a "Practice Safe Internet Campaign".

There are many packages available to prevent computers being hijacked (many of them free, like our Tiny Personal Firewall). Not protecting yourself is absolutely irresponsible behaviour and will increasingly need to be seen as such.

Once again we apologise to customers for the inconvenience caused. Please contact our Help Desk if you are experiencing any problems that you think may have been a by-product of these incidents. We are keen to settle the network down as quickly as possible and return to the exceptional levels of stability that we usually achieve.

It would seem as if the evolution of broadband connections has, much like the North American stock market and residential share buying, brought a spate of new and inexperienced users into hosting their own servers.

Typically many of these individuals don’t appear to grasp the important concept of using firewalls and keeping up-to-date with the latest exploit patches. While Internet worms such as ‘Code Red’ tend to be rare occurrences, they do still happen and more often than some people think.

We already have some articles on firewalls and being secure online, although we intend to do more in the near future. Our hope is to make everybody aware of the dangers and to help keep the Internet a safe and fast place for all to surf.

Experts Urge BT To Hold Onto Its Network

By:mark.j @ 3:36:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Lars Goddell, analyst at Forrester Research, has today urged BT to hold onto its fixed line network and refuse any future offers.

Not that he'll have much of a problem with BT on the issue; Lars firmly believes the long-term benefits out way the swift cut in debt:

According to Wednesday's Daily Telegraph, BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland was originally in favour of this 8bn offer, which would leave the company owning the rest of its fixed-line network. BT later rejected Earthlease's bid.

Accepting either offer would mean BT would then have to rent network capacity from the new owners in order to offer voice and data services to its customers. With a flotation of BT Wireless -- its mobile operations -- due soon, accepting the offer from West LB would mean the company was effectively being dismembered, according to some industry observers.

According to Lars Goddell, analyst at Forrester Research, BT should refuse both offers, even though it is under pressure from investors to improve its performance. "BT must figure out which business it wants to be in," said Goddell, adding that the telco should not rush into change "just because the financial heat is on".

ZDNet’s item and Lars's comments seem to ring true with BT as well, who have already adopted a similar stance on the matter. Apparently the resale of fixed network services would be of greater benefit to BT further down the road, rather than just selling it all off in bulk.

As it stands, BT has refused all offers, although Oftel are still in discussions with Earthlease over their 8Billion bid for 'part' of the fixed line network. We'll just have to wait and see.

Site Update - 4,000,000 Visitors

By:mark.j @ 10:34:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Well that's the 4,000,000 unique visitors mark crossed and lord knows how many page impressions (views) it equates to =). Sorry, I inaccurately stated it'd be 3,000,000 (unique visitors) yesterday, which was of course incorrect and our last mark for earlier in the year.

While it's not actually that much when compared to a typical site somewhere in.. say.. The United States (North American), it's pretty good for a spare-time British site covering ISPs.

Back to work..

Looks like I neglected to mention some page changes we made before this mornings news was posted. We've updated the Complaints, Top 10 ISPs and Unmetered ISP listings page. Our ISPs database was also updated with some xDSL and Satellite ISP changes.

PlusNET Reduce Business ADSL Prices

By:mark.j @ 9:39:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Much as we'd expected to be the case, PlusNET have been the second major ISP to respond to BTs latest 'ethernet' price cuts. Since there's no point in posting the whole press release again (same as the last one), we'll just cut and past the important part:

PlusNet's new pricing structure for their Professional (single-user) and multi-user and network compatible Business ADSL services take effect from 1st September, making PlusNet one of the cheapest supplier of Business ADSL services in the UK today.

In line with PlusNet's earlier statement about ADSL Home, today's price reductions will apply to both new and existing customers from the effective date.

ADSL Professional 500 75 +VAT per month
ADSL Business 500 95 +VAT per month
ADSL Business 1000 120 +VAT per month
ADSL Business 2000 145 +VAT per month

Expect yet more ISPs to reduce prices in the coming months; we'll probably have to run through our entire list again at the end of September. As we understand it, the majority probably won’t make any real announcements until after September is over.

Austria Gets Green Light For Powerline

By:mark.j @ 9:33:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The UK abandoned the notion of Internet access through a power socket (Powerline) several years ago, although in the meantime some countries such as Germany and Austria have continued trials.

Yesterday an Austrian company was given the green light to expand field trials of its Powerline Internet technology:

Infrastructure Minister Monika Forstinger said on Tuesday utility company EVN's system still has to be approved as an Internet service provider, but it would be treated as a normal electrical appliance in terms of safety regulations.

The system works by transmitting information in the form of electromagnetic signals through a home's mains power socket into a decoder which then converts the message into computer code.

An EVN spokesman said, "This (the governmental approval) is an absolutely positive signal."

The ZDNet item goes on to mention how Powerline is designed to rival broadband technologies such as ADSL, it also talks of Germany's adoption in selected parts of the country. Apparently Powerline could also find itself being trialled in Iceland, Spain and Sweden.

From what we've seen of the system, it actually turns out to be very expensive with fluctuating speeds and heavy bandwidth limits for a broadband technology. It failed to take off in the UK due to problems with the power infrastructure (interference) and stricter regulation.

Worldwide Internet Slowdown

By:mark.j @ 9:23:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Apparently the recent fears regarding Internet worms such as 'Code Red 1/2' (among others) are at least partly to blame for the slower than normal access many have recently been experiencing.

ISPs had to increase their protection and a few have also suffered a complete shutdown, although whether this is directly related is almost impossible to know (complex networks).

Yesterday an Internet weather report showed serious packet loss in almost every single EU (UK included) and American country. Code Red alone may not be completely responsible, although it has cost an estimated 1.4Billion in damages.

Computers infected with the worm were being used to attack other parts of the Internet, with the second generation (CR2) proving even more malicious and resilient than its predecessor. In response ISPs have been shutting down key areas to clean servers and start up with strong security, or simply upping the power of their firewall.

Sadly the net may still be somewhat unstable for the next few days until everybody can adapt.

Clara.net Nominated For 'Best ISP Award'

By:mark.j @ 9:13:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

It would appear as if clara.net are up for the Best Consumer ISP in 2001 Future UK Internet Awards, as highlighted in their latest editors newsletter:

We are delighted to announce that we have been nominated for Best Consumer ISP in the 2001 Future UK Internet Awards. There are 17 categories in total, and in addition to Best Consumer ISP we have also been nominated for Best Web Host.

The awards are hosted by Future Publishing, which publishes among others .net magazine, Internet Advisor, PC Plus, PC Guide and PC Answers.

Nominations and votes are canvassed from Future Publishing's readers and online visitors. The nominated companies will be short listed and judged by a recognised panel of experts including some of Future's Internet journalists.

Voting is taking place on the awards website so click on the banner on Claranet's home page www.clara.net and vote now!

News - August 7,2001

FORUM Move 99% Completed

By:mark.j @ 5:16:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Well readers should be glad to know that we've finally completed the move to the new forums. We've still got a few small improvements and changes/updates to make, although it's finally ‘ALL’ online.

Many of the new features and forums that were requested have now been added, including the much asked for 'ISDN Discussion' forum. We've also moved a few things around and into more logical categories.

Expect a further update tomorrow and also watch for us passing the 3,000,000 UNIQUE readers mark =).

CloudNine Suffer Denial of Service Attack

By:mark.j @ 4:45:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Ever since this morning we've been receiving complaints from various people regarding being unable to login to CloudNines unmetered service. Indeed we couldn't even connect to their websites and this may well have also affected broadband customers.

After contacting CloudNine they were quick to respond with a statement and we should also point out that their service has only just come back online:

Having spoken to BT, Microsoft and our firewall manufacturer we are now about 95% certain that the firewall problems were not software related and more likely to be caused by a persistent denial of service attack.

We tested the firewall in just "router" mode and the attacks persisted. Consequently we have adopted the following strategy:

1) From 2:45pm until 3:30 pm we were running the firewall in "block-everything" mode! This means that we were able to assess if the firewall could block an attack in totally secure mode.

2) As of 3:30 pm we have re-enabled dial-up users with minimal Internet access. This means that you can log-on, authenticate, browse, ftp, and collect and send mail. We have NOT enabled any incoming traffic as yet which means that our web sites are still not visible to dial-up users not dialling Cloud Nine. Nor is inward mail delivery yet re-enabled.

3) At 4:15 we will be re-enabling limited inward access i.e. mail, ftp and possibly browsing.

Our objective is by 6:00 pm tonight to re-enable basic Internet connectivity i.e. all web site visible, incoming and outgoing mail, ftp and DNS services.

We will then leave this running overnight and re-evaluate in the morning and decide how to enable other services without opening any holes.

Our apologies for the inconvenience, but we are sure you will agree that a tight carefully controlled strategy that prevents any further disruption is the correct strategy.

It's not clear whether this most recent attack was the product of an individual or one done automatically through the Code Red 1/2 Internet worm. C9 are known to use ASP (Microsoft) technology in their web hosting systems, technology known to be vulnerable to the latest worm.

Zen Announce Ethernet ADSL Price Cut

By:mark.j @ 4:33:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Quicker than a kangaroo, Zen Internet (ADSL) have been the first to respond following the latest spate of 'business' level cuts (below) with BTIgnite’s ADSL services - full press release follows:

Zen Internet, one of the first Internet Service Providers in the UK, are delighted to announce that, with effect from 1st September 2001, its multi-user ADSL services will reduce in cost by 5 per month. This equates to a saving of 60 per year.

The price change comes about as a result of BT Wholesale announcing its latest price reductions today, which has lowered the price of the BT IPStream S portfolio, over which Zen Internet provides its multi-user business class services.

Whilst Zen, unlike others, have not noticed any downturn in the take-up of ADSL, it is hoped that this cost reduction will improve the accessibility of DSL and generate more mass market appeal.

New and existing customers will be charged 105, 145, and 185 respectively for the 512Kbps, 1Mbps and 2Mbps multi-user (ethernet) ADSL services from 1st September 2001. This makes Zen Internet's service at least 14.97 per quarter cheaper than the BT Openworld equivalent ADSL multi-user offering with static IP addresses.

Ian Buckley, Marketing Manager at Zen, said: "We have had excellent take-up by business customers and fully welcome this price reduction, it can only help to spur the rollout of Broadband to businesses in the UK. The next requirement to further boost the adoption of this technology by business customers is the more lenient limits which have increased the reach of ADSL on the single-user USB service. We expect this to be implemented by the end of the year."

The introduction of new Terms and Conditions with Service Level Agreements (SLA) by BT Wholesale at the end of this month should also prove to be an encouragement to businesses to adopt this new technology.

Zen Internet provides a range of ADSL services, for further information, please visit our Web site at http://www.zenadsl.com.

Expect more such releases to follow.

BTIgnite Reduce Ethernet xDSL Costs

By:mark.j @ 4:29:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Ever since BTIgnite introduced a 5 (monthly) cut to their residential USB xDSL services through BTWholesale two weeks ago, a number of ISPs have been angry that this didn't extend to Ethernet products.

Today ADSLGuide have posted notice of BTWholesale extending these cuts to Ethernet as follows:
S500 - 780 per year (65 Per Month)
S1000 - 1020 per year
S2000 - 1260 per year

As usual you should expect a raft of new press releases from various ISPs whom will shortly be adapting to these changes. Looks like we'll be updating our ISP listings for another decade or two then =).

TFI MD Responds To FC Editorial

By:mark.j @ 4:22:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The busy chaps over @ Net4Nowt have managed to grasp the first response to yesterdays FreeChariot editorial, which appeared to be a marketed attack on TheFreeInternet (TFI / Excite 0800).

As expected the Managing Director of TFI, Lister Park, has rightfully responded with a fair return of words:

Whatever the real reason behind their attack on TFI, I would like to point out to the management of Freechariot that, according to Industry predictions, there are still some 15 million or so interested people in the UK yet to sign-up to an Internet service provider - more than enough to go round. Perhaps, if they concentrated their efforts in building a business they can sustain from this huge potential universe they wouldn't have time to decry their (superior) competition.

It isn't easy out there for ISP's of our size, but we at TFI have proved that, despite the knocks (and the knockers), we are still here! Freechariot should look inwards before casting aspersions on others. At the risk of misquoting the Bible, I suppose my sole response should be "Let him without sin cast the first stone!"

TFIs response is, unlike FCs editorial, not quite as blunt or rude. It points out many of FCs past attacks on various industry ISPs / figures and makes a few comparisons.

Once again we can only say that for an ISP to attack another ISP in such a crude way is probably NOT going to improve their image, whether they'll respond to TFI remains to be seen.

AOL Issues Netscape 6.1 PR1

By:mark.j @ 4:02:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Following AOLs purchase of all things 'Netscape' earlier in the year, it was made clear that they'd continue the browser in its current form through standard upgrades.

In other words you'd be 'unlikely' to see Netscape v7, yet version 6 upgrades would be introduced. Today and probably in response to the imminent release of Microsofts IE6, AOL Netscape have released NSv6.1 Preview Release 1:

As we continue to build upon the ground breaking Netscape 6 browser, we need interested people like you to help us test the Preview Release 1 of Netscape 6.1. After you have downloaded and tried it, please provide feedback. We need your feedback to ensure that we build the fastest, most stable product possible.

It doesn't look as if PR1 has any improvements to HTML rendering, although some of the additional features seem to be improved. You can get more details and download it HERE.

Alcatel ADSL Modem Security Scare

By:mark.j @ 3:45:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Last time it was Cable Modem adaptors; today it's Alcatels ADSL Modems that take the top spot for security concerns. Apparently the modems house a remote-access vulnerability that could allow an intruder to modify the software running the devices:

A message bouncing around the BugTraq security mailing list reports that there is an attack in progress, by unknown parties, against all Alcatel ADSL modems in use.

Alcatel modems are the European favourite for ADSL service providers, including UK companies such as BT Openworld.

Security watchers are speculating that someone may have upgraded the firmware of all Alcatel modems in use in Italy, meaning that other European countries could be next on the list if they haven't been hit already.

The VNUNet item believes the attacker is scanning ISP customers to check for Alcatel ADSL modems and then modifying them through port 21 (firmware access). Although none of this has been officially confirmed, users of such modems might be well advised to read the rest of the item.

10% Of Yorkshire Net Users Surf Naked

By:mark.j @ 3:36:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

That's correct, the Yorkshire dales just got a whole lot more suspicious after the results of NOPs latest survey for AOL were made public. Apparently one in ten people confessed to surfing the net naked, ewww... - put it away!

Thankfully for the male population out there, three in every ten west country women liked to wear just their knickers to surf.. ahhh that's more like it:

Thankfully, AOL UK has wheeled out psychologist Dr Susan Marchant-Haycox to tell us what all this means.

"Folk in the West Country who go online in their knickers or lingerie are probably more likely to conduct other daily chores such as cooking, cleaning and watching TV in minimal clothing too."

"Scottish, Welsh and East Anglian Internet users and those in the South East who prefer to keep their work clothes on are also more likely to remain well-dressed when they go about their other daily tasks."

The Register's item goes on to state that it's all because the Internet is slowly becoming more central to our everyday lives. Personally I can't agree with the whole 'cooking in the nude' idea as mention above, I once had a nasty incident with a hot.. [Ed - Yeah, we best cut it there Mark.]

BigBlueSky Push Unmetered Re-Launch Forward

By:mark.j @ 9:56:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Having originally planned to re-introduce their unmetered dial-up service on 11th September, BigBlueSky (BBS) have now made an announcement regarding this date being pushed forward to 14th August:

BBS is proud to announce that we are ahead of schedule and are moving our launch date: The site will begin providing service on Tuesday 14 August 2001.

1. 1:1 first time connection.
2. Faster connections.
3. 24/7 access.
4. 24/7 customer service.
5. Special packages which include Telephone, 0800 Internet access and Cable for a low monthly fee, will be available from 1 October 2001.

Due to changes here at BBS it will be necessary for all existing customers to go to the registration pages and complete a new registration to continue using the service. The new registration page will be available on Friday 10 August 2001. The connection is being offered at 12.75 per month. We expected to launch the new services by 11 Sept. 2001 but thanks to our being ahead of schedule, we have moved our launch date to move forward to the 14th of August. Our customer service numbers will be changing - the new numbers will be posted on the home page prior to launch.

There's no denying the fact that BigBlueSky have a lot of ground to make up, not only with their PR, but also the customers whom feel cheated after their last attempt.

Thankfully the use of Nutshell's Wholesale Product is a much wiser choice for their second attempt and for once is set at a realistic price. Sadly they've already made their first mistake, that of publishing an incorrect modem to user ratio - '1:1 first time connection'.

This is clearly the ratio for a service with no users yet and hopefully BBS will update it to the 'guaranteed ratio', which we'd guess to be between 12:1 and 20:1, similar to other ISPs.

First e-Government Target Met

By:mark.j @ 9:16:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Not to be confused with the provision of broadband and general Internet access plans, the e-government ideal is to get local authorities and councils around the UK online by 2005.

Thankfully and rather unlike other government funded e-strategies, the first e-government deadline appears to have been met:

Nine out of ten English councils have submitted strategies for getting their services online in time for the 31 July deadline, the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) has confirmed.

The "Implementing Electronic Government" (IEG) strategy statements were handed in by 94 percent of 388 councils in England last week. The 25 councils that missed the deadline will be encouraged to comply within the next few weeks.

The IEG reports set out how local councils plan to meet UK Online objectives by providing all of their services online by 2005. "Any service that can be done electronically must be included in the strategy," said a spokesman at the DTLR. Councils are not under any statutory requirements to comply with the e-government programme, but "ultimately they will have to answer to their citizens if they fail to secure any money," a DTLR source said.

Although the ZDNet item doesn't cover exactly what these local councils hope to give consumers, we do know that it should aid the ability to use online voting for the next election. Other things such as 'live' statistical and timetable data for public services (Buses, Trains etc.) should also be available.

News - August 6,2001

V21 Updates Unmetered Prices

By:mark.j @ 4:17:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The child friendly unmetered dial-up ISP, V21, have today sent us a small update regarding some price changes and other improvements to their service:

V21.co.uk is now one of the cheapest ISP's in the UK. Access is now faster with additional bandwidth and a new dns server. Members can now sign up the year and enjoy even cheaper access.

99.99 per year(8.33 a month)

Sign up is now immediate with a faster signup server and we are now delighted to give unlimited pop3 accounts AND web based email.

This would appear to be the latest in a serious of ISPs 'cutting the bone' with their monthly access charges. Both WonkyPig and 08002Go follow a similar line and so far it seems to be succeeding.

More ISPs are expected to join this bracket in the coming months, although v21 would seem to stand out with their specialised ‘child friendly’ systems.

Vispa Re-Introduce Newsgroup Service

By:mark.j @ 4:11:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Vispa lost their last Usenet service after their supplier went out of business; today they've sent us a new press release regarding the re-launch of that same service, but with a new supplier:


August 6th 2001

Vispa Internet is pleased to announce the re-introduction of our new usenet newsfeed after a short period of downtime following our last supplier going out of business and giving us just 48 hours to make alternative arrangements.

While it has taken a bit longer than we expected to bring Vispa's Usenet service back online, it was important that we found a quality provider. The new feed is currently handling 37,000 popular/high traffic groups with more been added daily via requests made by users and ones found by our new upstream provider.

Vispa Internet regards Usenet as an important part of users Internet experience and has doubled SCSI Disk Capacity for this improve service allowing us to collect and hold a greater amount of articles.


FreeChariot Attack TheFreeInternet

By:mark.j @ 4:06:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

As spotted on Net4Nowt, FreeChariot have today updated their FC Editorial with what can only be described as a competitive attack on TheFreeInternet (Excite 0800).

FC has a tendency to speak their mind and often end up being just as revered as they are criticised. See what you think:

Selling "Plastic Bags" While Giving Your Products or Services Away Free - Only on the Internet.

Imagine Tesco giving free groceries while selling the plastic bags to carry the groceries; football clubs asking fans to pay only for replica shirts so that they can have free stadium seats; cable companies asking you to pay a one-off fee for a cheap box while giving you free viewing of all the footy and movies you can watch. You can't imagine such acts of lunacy? bless you.

This is exactly what one of our competitors is doing. The Free Internet Group (tfig - pronounced - theeck) has been flogging their free internet service - hard. TFIG is giving free calls and access away while selling the software to use in logging on. We are in 2001 and they are still playing the 1999 game of get-the-numbers. Hoping a stupid rich company will cough up to buy their company, even if the value of the customers have been destroyed by giving the china away.

You have never seen FREE sold so hard?. Well we have. What this guys are doing is exactly what Ezesurf did. Remember them? Ezesurf decided in the profound wisdom of its dodgy management that they would sell cheap shares - for less than the cost of a few packet of fags. They then gave away unlimited internet calls.

Well you can very well guess what happened. The company went belly up. When the poor punters (who rushed in because they have never seen a better offer) asked for their money back, they were told that they never paid for the internet access and calls, so nothing doing. They got news that all they paid for was the shares of a company that has now gone into lala-land.

Why are we speaking out? Profoundly bad propositions like this give internet companies a bad name. The gutter of damaged internet ideas and destroyed value is full of companies who try too hard to do business in a new way hoping it would make them stand out. All that it does is devalue all the hard work of some of the most intelligent and talented people that has ever worked in any industry new or old.

The internet has been many things to a lot of people but the most important effect of this mostly unknown and remarkably untapped medium is that some so-called experts think that it has changed humanity and the processes that we have come to depend on irrevocably.

They are wrong. Some of these experts and practitioners of the new media are finding out to their cost that the internet has not been around long enough to make the kind of changes they assume that it would. They are finding out that not enough people are using the medium with enough frequency to make possible the changes that they thought would happen quickly.

Most importantly, the internet does not encourage or permit so called new business media experts to preach stupidity. All that the internet is, is a tool - a very good one. Businesses are run with money belonging to people - family, friends, shareholders, customers and corporate investors. To best provide good returns to these people, a business has to run solidly. The free internet group and those who rush in should note that you can not run a solid business by giving your core proposition away.

At FC we found out the hard way - without trying the same lunacy - that new media or old media, you have to run a business to make money fairly through selling your goods and services. So good luck to the free internet group and those looking for a freebie while paying for "Plastic Bags".

Thank you and So long.

PS: It is a free country, so comments are allowed. Send them to FC Editorial.

It may well be a free country, although many of the comments above could be rather unhealthy for FC if TFI decide to respond. Typically only a few paragraphs are devoted to the attack, with the rest being used as clever marketing for their ISP.

All this is made worse by the fact that FCs history isn't that clean either, they may be doing ok now, but they're just as open to attack should TFI respond. Fun.

30% Get Holidays Online

By:mark.j @ 3:48:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Proving that the tech and dot.com market isn't always as black and white as various analysts make out, apparently 30% of the nation's online population are searching for their holidays on the Web.

Roughly 4.5 Million people have opted to hunt for their holidays online, with last years 'share killer', Lastminute.com, still taking the top spot.

Researching and booking holidays online was most popular with people in the highest income sector, those earning over 45,000 per year.

StarSpeeder/SkyStorm Suspend Service

By:mark.j @ 3:43:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

As posted in various threads on our forum(s) this afternoon, it looks as if the broadband Satellite ISPs, StarSpeeder and SkyStorm (reseller), have been forced to 'suspend' their services.

Both Satellite ISPs were the first of their kind to offer a one-way residential digital Satellite Internet access service. Initially getting off to a promising start during the late spring, services slowly began to suffer a number of technical niggles.

On the 3rd August last week an update was posted on their forum:

CBL still do not appear to have resolved the amplifier problem. However, there my be other difficulties that we are not fully aware of. We are seeking confirmation from CBL of the current status and will advise as soon as we have more concrete information.

Apologies again for this loss of service but as we have said before, these problems are beyond our control.

Today StarSpeeder and any ISPs whom might be linked to the same service (SkyStorm) have been forced to suspend it because there's no longer a service running. StarSpeeders site (news page) currently reads:

We have no direct confirmation from CBL in Luxembourg, but we understand that the service is currently suspended because they have some unresolved issues with suppliers of equipment and services.

Whilst we have no influence with CBL, we acknowledge that the future of our business is based around successful subscriber management and technical support for satellite Internet service users in the UK.

If it transpires that CBL do not have a ready solution, then we need assure our UK customers that we will do everything within our power to minimise the impact of the suspension of service. Specifically:

See if there is any way that the CBL operation can be put back on track, for example, with assistance of some venture capital organisation.

Look at the possibilities of finding an alternative service at a similar cost. We are aware of another company starting up in the very near future, but we need to be certain that their service will be sustainable.

They also promise to refund any outstanding account balances and apologised yet again for the problems. Whether this issue will be resolved or how SkyStorm (Reseller) will deal with it remains to be seen.

Oftel Set To Cap Mobile Prices

By:mark.j @ 3:22:PM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Despite the cost burdens already pressured onto operators through 3G broadband wireless licenses and network infrastructure, Oftel now looks set to impose further price caps on mobile services:

Analysts expect Oftel to continue current price caps on landline-to-mobile calls, set nine per cent below inflation, and to extend price limits to mobile-to-mobile calls.

The limits could reduce users' bills by an average of around 10 per cent.

But the move could cost leading operators such as Orange, BT Cellnet and Vodafone hundreds of millions of pounds in lost average revenues.

While this isn't likely to make future 3G or even the new/current GPRS Internet systems any cheaper, it could still make all our ‘current’ calls a tiny bit more affordable.


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