BT will launch a flat-rate, or unmetered, Internet-access service for ISPs (Internet service providers) and telecommunications operators next month, the company announced yesterday.

The BTnet SurfPort 24 service will use the Flat Rate Internet Access Call Organization (FRIACO) tariff, which provides unlimited, 24-hour access to ISPs and operators for a single monthly fee. The service works by collecting dial-up Internet traffic from local BT exchanges, and delivering it down a single pipe to the ISPs, Danny Sullivan, vice president of service providers for BT's Internet group, BT Ignite said.

BT Ignite will roll out the service geographically from January 18, with national coverage available from April.

The service will be available to ISPs and other operators at a price of between £87 and £110 pounds per port, per month, depending on the length of contract, with a minimum of 1,500 ports, Sullivan said.

It is expected that the new deal for ISPs will engender a second wave of unlimited Internet access tariffs for consumers.