Somewhere between the vision and the dream sits BT's well overdue announcement that it plans to slash the cost of Broadband (wholesale) to under £15.00 a month to ISPs. Of course that suggests that over 40 Service Providers, the likes of BT Anytime and Freeserve will soon be offering it out to surfers at close to the £25.00 to £30.00 mark at a guess, making it an achievable option for the man on the street.

Pipex has announced that it plans to go below the £25.00 mark and other are muttering that even this figure is too expensive and I agree it has to go lower still if the Digital Dive problem is really going to be solved. By this I mean those with no access, 43 million people according to government figures, those with dial-up access and the new elite... those with broadband.

BT's CEO Ben Verwaayen, believes that broadband will be the De Facto connection in 40% of homes in two years and at these prices, who is to say he's wrong. It is after all, just what the country needs and the Prime Minster wants if the dream of Britannia is going to become anywhere near a reality before 2005; The PM's date for 100% capability for the delivery of central government services on-line, UK Online

I rather think that like the Net's beginnings, Broadband acceptance will be driven by the really important things in life. Live soccer and a heady mixture of sex and music. With Napster looking respectable, there are the Grid alternatives like Kazaa. Downloading an MP3 file is really tedious over a 56 Kb modem conection and broadband's high speed will prove irresistible to the Internet porn industry with its latest in pay per view webcam offerings, "Live from Amsterdam" or so I'm told!

Just one other thing bothers me though when I add-up my communications bills. A lot of things really not least of which is security, the imps of Satan trying to hack your PC through an open broadband connection, which I won't go into here, but look at my last column for an idea of the problem.

First the BT bill. My last one came in at £220 for the quarter. Of this £170 reflected line rental, special deals, equipment rental etc. - I have three lines. BT of course are incapable - They've give up or as the very nice customer service girl said to me "We're rubbish" - trying to consolidate my bills to include my Internet Anytime bill. This now comes separately, so that's an extra £15.00 a month. And if your broadband connection fails? God help us. Have you ever tried reporting a residential fault to BT?

Then there's the two mobile phone bills for me and my wife. Let's say £50.00 a month

Next comes Sky Television. With terrestrial TV now too awful to contemplate 90% of the time - it's either cooking or gardening or decorating - or all three - There's the Sky subscription at £30.00 a month. (The basic package for me, the Disney Channel without the football and the PLayboy TV options)

Finally, there, the TV license. Extortion at £109 a year for a BBC I rarely watch. Worse still most of the good BBC stuff is now on Sky through BBC Knowledge, which I'm paying for anyway and for that money, they still can't get the decent sports events, which go to Sky's "Pay per View".

So in total, the cost of being a member of this digital society is already over £100 a month. I have a Mb link here at the office and a perfectly good dial-up connection at home - two in fact because you need a reserve when BT Anytime become BT no time at all at peak period - Am I ready for the broadband experience? We'll see but for now, I'm planning to sit on the fence. And you, what will you do?


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