NTL attacks BT with Xbox
And that could really hurt!
NTL is using Xbox to score points against BT as the contest for new broadband consumers hots up. Yesterday the cableco announced a new ntl:home 'Broadband + Console' offer, which "costs just £5 per month on top of your 600K or 1MB broadband service" with a £30 installation charged waived for sign-ups which occur before the end of February.
The Broadband+Console packages includes "all the equipment you need to connect to the Xbox Live service", which we'll take to mean a bundled Starter Kit, and the appropriate NTL widget for simultaneously using the service and your PC. Offsetting the cost of the Live yearly subscription fee, NTL/Microsoft have stuck 5 quid per month on top of the usual service cost. £29.99 for the 600K service instead of a round 25 quid. And, we assume, £39.99 instead of £35 for 1MB (the standard price dropped from 50 to 35 just before Christmas).
Compared to BTopenworld's Home 500 Plug & Go service, NTL says, this represents a saving of up to £213! The idea behind this stunning calculation is that although the monthly subs fees are the same, BTo users will have to buy their own Starter Kit (£40 cha-ching!), a modem, router and/or hub (£100 cha-ching!) and must pay rental for the phone line separately (£9.50/month cha-ching!). Meanwhile, NTL has axed the £30 set-up charge for subs - but only until the end of February. It's still something of a fit of generosity though - standard broadband install charges from NTL are £75 for new customers and £50 for existing users. Even £30 from March onwards seems reasonable by comparison.
However, there are some flaws to note here. Neither option presents you with an Xbox console, which would be the ultimate all round offer (and with Microsoft's desire to give them away of late, it seems even more peculiar), and according to MS' page on the subject, those hoping to jack in through their set-top boxes will have to wait until "mid-2003" for their service. Obviously the assumption is that ntl:home Broadband+Console is for actual cable modem users.
But is it really worth it? As a set-top box connecting Live gamer myself, I'll admit it took a bit of fiddling to get going, but given the service's in-built ability to fake MAC addresses (allowing you to simply swap PC cable for Xbox cable round the back of the STB whenever you want to play), effectively all you're doing here is paying NTL an extra fiver a month to save yourself getting out of the comfy chair. Are you really that lazy?