Understanding English Text

Graham Tritt

Pronunciation: the stressed syllable is bold.  For instance to advertise with an advertisement.
Vocabulary: words are linked to explanations in the leo dictionary at dict.leo.org
Original, from TIME Europe Explanations
The Wages of Success 
Europe's Internet service providers have learned that flat-rate access can become too popular 
Title: The Wages of Sin is a quote from the Bible and the title of a best-seller novel. 
Subtitle - flat-rate = fixed price per month regardless of time used
In the fiercely competitive internet world, commercial promises can be hard to keep. Last November, when London-based Internet service provider CallNet launched its "free" Internet access service, consumers signed up in droves, delighted to spend unlimited time online without racking up the sky-high telephone bills that often accompany Web surfing in Europe. But the bonanza proved too good to last last week, CallNet said it will withdraw the free service come September, labeling it unprofitable in its current form.  to launch - to offer to the public
in droves - in large numbers - like a flock of birds
withdraw - make unavailable - pull out - terminate
come September - when fall comes
The dash   is used here instead of a colon ; which separates equal parts of a compound sentence
its current form - the way it is now
CallNet's experience is not unique. In the past year in the U.K., a series of companies have launched free or unmetered Internet access plans in which the customer pays a simple one-off or flat-rate fee, or nothing at all only to be overwhelmed by massive consumer response. In April the ISP Breathe launched a "free for life" Internet plan, charging customers a one-off $75 fee. Last month it was forced to expel 500 subscribers for overuse after claiming they were clogging the network. LineOne, which launched an unmetered service in March, also withdrew it in July after declaring it "unviable." CallNet itself, which offered users the free Internet access if they signed up to CallNet's telephone service, intends to revert to metered access in the near future, and then offer several restructured flat-rate products.  The dash   here is used like brackets ( to explain something ) 
un-metered: both un and the main syllable are emphasized 
un-viable: the same (not able to survive)
overuse: also two syllables can be stressed 
re-structured: the same, because re- is important to the meaning of the word 
one-off fee - a price paaid once and for all 
flat-rate fee - a fixed price per month
Pronunciation of breathe - like breeze, compared to breath - like bath
What's going wrong? "It's the problem of underestimating customer demand and not getting the business plan right," says James Eibisch, an analyst at tech consultancy IDC. "These providers are wearing a very large cost base per customer, but getting very little revenue in return."  business plan 
cost base
Indeed, in the land-grab mentality of the Internet, some access providers are using low pricing structures to accumulate as many users as possible as quickly as possible. Such companies generally do not expect to make money from providing Internet access. Instead, they work on the theory that a critical mass of users will eventually attract advertising and other sources of revenue.  land-grab mentality - get your stake in the gold fields - wanting to acquire market share
low pricing structures - loss leaders - low rates to attract customers
critical mass (from nuclear bomb technology)- sufficient to keep going (in a steady-state activity)
The business reality has turned out to be quite different. "People that are using unmetered services are in many cases early adopters and very heavy users," says Noah Yasskin, director of European research at Jupiter Communications. "Many of these ISPs are subsidizing the costs of these consumers without making up the difference in revenue from advertising and e-commerce."  early adopters - people willing to start quickly using  a new service
revenue - income
Despite the U.K. experience, ISPs on the Continent continue to take the leap into the unknown. "We're buying telephone units on a per-minute basis and selling at a flat rate," says Julian Riedlbauer, a director of German provider AddCom AG, which launched its flat-rate offer at the beginning of this month and is already claiming 10,000 new customers. Riedlbauer says it is too early to comment on the plan's potential profitability: "It will depend how our customers behave," he says, "and we don't really know that yet."  leap into the unknown - move into an unpredictable area
per-minute basis - a price per minute of connection
flat rate - a price per month regardless of connection time
Even though unmetered access is experiencing teething troubles, many analysts and companies continue to insist that it will be the wave of the future. Jupiter Communications' Yasskin predicts that in the long term, three-quarters of all U.K. users will be on unmetered access, up from about one-quarter today. Major providers like BT and Freeserve in the U.K., and T-Online in Germany which either own telephone lines or have close ties to companies that do are preparing for that future by offering unmetered packages, including both fully unlimited packages and hybrids which give users unlimited flat-rate access in off-peak periods like evenings, but metered access at peak times.  teething troubles 
wave of the future 
in the long term 
up from about one-quarter today 
off-peak periods
Freeserve, which has about 2 million registered users for its access products, already claims 140,000 users for the two flat-rate plans it has launched since April. "The pay as you go model will not disappear," says Paul Barker, a Freeserve spokesman, "but we expect most people to migrate over." The company is large enough and has enough clout, says Barker, to make unmetered access a viable part of its operation. Smaller companies, he notes, "haven't got the scale or the leverage to negotiate with telecom providers."  pay as you go 
the scale 
the leverage
That may be about to change. Following a torrent of protests at high telephone charges, British regulator Oftel prompted BT to make wholesale flat rates available to other network providers, who can then pass lower charges on to ISPs. Similar moves are afoot in the Netherlands and Germany. regulator 
wholesale rates 
But the real revolution will come when regulators and the European Commission finally force Europe's telecom providers to open to their competitors the "local loop" the line between consumers and their local exchange. That could allow some ISPs to install their own connections to customers' homes. Unmetered access providers would then have more control over their costs, enabling them to nail down more accurate business models. And for the growing number of Europeans eager to spend unlimited time online with a reliable ISP, such changes can't come too soon. The clock is ticking.  the local loop -  the last mile - the two-wire copper cable between the subscriber's home and the local switching exchange (the central)
to nail down - to define exactly, to fix
the clock is ticking - time is running out
With reporting by Steve Zwick/Cologne