BT hires Sputnik to help shake-up in online charges

British Telecom is to launch a PR campaign to drive through a radical shake-up of the way people pay for internet services.

The telecoms giant is to enter the micropayment market for the first time this September.

Micropayments involve online content providers charging internet users small amounts for services, such as archive material. It is hoped these charges will eventually replace ads as a major source of income for providers.

Helen Davis, head of business development and marketing, said: 'This is not about charging more. This is about creating better content and charging small amounts for it.

If I need information from an archive, I'd be happy to pay 50p for that. Online advertising hasn't really worked - it's time for something different.'

Sputnik Communications has been hired by BT to assist with its B2B and consumer work.

PR plans include targeting the new media industry as a whole, as well as content providers, in an attempt to convince them of the benefits of micropayments. A consumer push will then follow in September.

Davis added that BT will have in place a quality control system and may forego charges for customers who are not satisfied with the content they are paying for.

The Sputnik team is headed by partner Penny Furniss, who reports to Davis and BT micropayments CEO Ian Price.

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