Wi-Fi provider the Cloud has announced a new flat-rate service - unlimited wireless access for just £11.99 a month.

However, the "unlimited" service does come with a hitch - a one gigabyte-per month data limit and a 12-month contract. If you don't want to sign up for a year, you can pay the £12 for a single week's surfing - again with the 1Gb limit.

Despite the limit, the Cloud's service is a welcome move, in an area that is about due for real competition. Most providers charge a crippling £5 per hour, many charge more.

Freedom2surf, claimed to be starting a price war last year, by undercutting BT on its own Openzone network, but Freedom2surf's prices still start at £4.50 per hour, compared with £6 per hour at BT - exactly where they were last February.

The main reason the stagnation in the market may be that there is little price elasticity. Cutting the cost alone doesn't boost usage, as the Cloud's founder George Polk told Techworld two years ago, hence the move to make things simpler and do away with pay-per-hour vouchers.

Users of the Vonage VoIP service already get flat rate usage of Cloud hotspots, for voice calls only, included in their monthly £7.99 fee, according to a deal announced earlier this year.