BT To Its Business Customers: You Will Be Assimilated - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers

BT To Its Business Customers: You Will Be Assimilated

BT has started turning 200,000 of its business customers' Wi-Fi hubs into public hotspots in its OpenZone network. Only it hasn't overtly asked for their permission.

BT has started turning 200,000 of its business customers' Wi-Fi hubs into public hotspots in its OpenZone network. Only it hasn't overtly asked for their permission.The change was buried in an otherwise routine software update, and requires that business owners opt out of the new arrangement, which suggests that BT probably didn't want to make a big deal of the new program. If interested, customers can buy prepaid vouchers and re-sell them to third parties, which is weird, considering those very same customers already have paid for the access. Customers who aren't interested in this double-pay scheme can choose to let BT do the charging directly.

Now, imagine if, say, GE decided to rent out space in your fridge to your neighbors. Or the USPS decided to let anybody drop off packages for mail pickup at your doorstep (or take delivery there). I know the expectations and requirements of a business are different, and Internet traffic is digital, but the basics of the arrangement are the same, whether in virtual or in geophysical space, aren't they?

The value-add from an Internet services provider is hard to find on a good day, as digital traffic is no less a commodity than water flowing through a pipe. Service is perhaps the best, if not the only, way to make a difference, and pricing is a core component of any perception or services experience. In this instance, BT is fooling around with its service and somewhat with its pricing, and requiring its customers to read the mouseprint to escape being assimilated.

Does this action differentiate the BT brand from the other ISPs with which it competes, or are they all up to the same shenanigans?

If it does, does it differentiate BT in a good way?

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

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