Internet service provider Genie is to let mobile phone users get flat fee, or unmetered, WAP internet access on phones bought through the company's online shop.

Genie has become known for its mobile phone services, such as letting people send free text messages from its website. Now it's jumped on the bandwagon of unlimited internet access services, something that other ISPs have tried.

Many unmetered programmes have failed, and some remain in early days, such as AOL's unmetered access for £15.99 a month. Breathe also recently offered a short-term free WAP service. But this was a trial, whereas Genie is offering unmetered access on WAP phones from £20 per month with no cut-off.

Compared to other WAP service providers such as BT Cellnet, which offers 100 free minutes at any time for £18 a month, the service does work out a lot cheaper.

“We’re offering customers ‘all you can eat’ internet access for just £20 a month,” enthused Kent Thoxton, managing director of Genie.

But according to a recent study conducted by PC Advisor, mobile phone users are still spurning the WAP service. Also, a recent Mori poll revealed that although 14m Britons are dependant on mobiles, only two percent of the population owns a WAP phone. Genie is aiming fill this space.

Telecommunications watchdog Oftel has stated that from January 2001 all ISPs can choose the price per minute to charge customers over landline connections, rather than using BT's standard call rates. It hopes this will reduce the cost of internet access in general.

"The proposals will encourage greater use of the Internet access by allowing consumers to surf the Internet without clocking up large telephone bills," said David Edmonds Oftel's director general.

However, judging from PC Advisor's poll, it may take more than unmetered access to encourage the population to adopt wireless mobile internet services.