My requirements are simple: cheap phone bills (my housemate is
never off the blower), Sky One, UK Gold and the Paramount channel.
Sky Digital put me off balance to start with, as ’Michelle’ seemed
surprised and bewildered at having someone on the other end of the
telephone asking about the service, and went completely silent.
She revved up enough, eventually, to stutter information about the
pounds 40 installation (provided I subscribed for at least 12 months -
pounds 100 for fewer); the cheapest package (pounds 7) and the most
expensive (pounds 32).
What she didn’t tell me, until prompted, is that I could get 40 per cent
off my BT phone calls. This would be great, but the fact that the
service is running through my phone line somehow incurs a pounds 360
penalty if I decide to give it up before my 12 months are up.
With the cost of the channels I want, and factoring in the BT line
rental, I’m looking at around pounds 22 per month. The cheap phone calls
are tempting, as is access to the Open interactive service. I’m given
two other numbers (with no explanation as to what they are) to call for
more information. Why wasn’t I given those in the first place?
On to ONdigital. Friendly ’Tim’ took me through all the packages in
great detail, explaining that although the service isn’t linked to a
telephone operation, BT has got ’some sort of deal’ going on with
discounts off your bill.
The ’primary’ channels - at pounds 9.99 per month - sound good, although
it appears I can’t get Paramount. After rattling through details of the
’premium’ channels, Tim mentioned the free-to-air ones, which I’d
forgotten about (shame on me, media journo that I am).
Cost-wise, the ONdigital service is a similar story to Sky, but without
the interactive option.
Finally, Cable & Wireless. A clear, nay, outstanding winner, not only in
the service I got from ’Noble’ (yes, that really was his name and he
knocked ONdigital’s Tim into a cocked hat) but in the great offer he
More than the others, Noble wanted to know exactly what I wanted and it
seemed that there was a nifty little deal to suit my every whim. OK, so
I don’t get Paramount, but there’s loads of other stuff I want.
All told, with the channels I want, free local calls, no telephone line
rental, cheap national and mobile calls (one for my housemate) and free
upgrade to digital when it launches, I’m looking at pounds 12.99 a
month. They’ll even bung in an extra telephone socket in the kitchen so
that I can watch Friends in peace while my housemate talks for
I signed up on the spot.