Free … Too much of a good thing?

It is nice to hear a CEO admit to the fact that he might have over-hyped his offerings a bit too much, and without sweating the details. Charles Dunstone, the maverick CEO of UK-retailer Carphone Warehouse confessed to The Sunday Times of London that his company was struggling to meet the demand for free broadband, the company had launched in April 2006. Nearly 400,000 have signed up for the service.

“Free is such a powerful word,” said Dunstone. “It’s a £250-a-year saving for most people. In hindsight, maybe I should have anticipated that a bit more.

Well, that might be only partially right. James Enck, a man who marries the American forthrightness with British understatement writes, “Beneath the media hype about free broadband in the UK lies a sordid underbelly of broken promises and frustrated customers. In the latest example, one of my colleagues has suffered from a complete lack of connectivity on TalkTalk broadband for the past 36 hours (the line is working fine for voice.)”

Dunstone’s good intentions aside, there is a bit of a broadband brouhaha brewing in UK. Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB has now offering aown free 2MB/s broadband connection to its existing television customers. Murdoch’s plan – make the profit on TV service. Dunstone wants to make money on voice and wireless services – two businesses that are well, under price pressure.