Millions paying extra in rural "broadband blackspots"
By Barry Collins
Posted on 8 Jul 2008 at 08:21
Millions of people living in rural areas are being denied access to the best deals on broadband, according to a leading comparison site.
People living in "broadband blackpsots" where there are no local loop unbundled (LLU) lines are paying up to £15 more per month for their broadband, compared to those in urban areas.
It's another kick in the teeth for rural broadband users, who routinely suffer from far slower connections than those in large towns and cities.
Moneysupermarket.com claims there are almost 12 million homes outside of Tiscali's LLU reach, meaning anyone wanting to access the provider's deals would have to pay an extra £8 per month. Similarly, it claims AOL's blackspot extends to almost 10m homes, with its customers paying an extra £10 per month.
"Millions of people are penalised for living in these 'broadband blackspots'," according to Rob Barnes, head of broadband and mobiles at Moneysupermakret. "Major household names such as AOL, Tiscali and Talk Talk charge extra for those outside of their LLU network and as a result pass on costs of up to £15 per month."
ISPs are able to offer customers in LLU areas discounted deals because they have their own equipment in exchanges, and don't have to pay BT Wholesale a monthly fee for the customer's broadband connection.
A new report from the Office of the Telecoms Adjudicator claims there are now 4.76 million unbundled lines in Britain, indicating that "demand remains strong" for such services.
Tiscali claims it is "astounded" by Moneysupermarket's claims of a broadband postcode lottery. "It [Moneysupermarket] implies that Tiscali doesn't offer competitive deals outside our LLU areas, when we are actually one of the most competitive providers nationwide," the ISP claims in a statement.
"We are able to offer additional products and bundles in our LLU areas, but we also offer best value pricing nationally for broadband and voice, whether a customer is on LLU or not.
We would also like to point out that its information is far from complete and doesn't feature BSkyB or Virgin Media; both companies have significant price and product differentials for non-LLU and non-cable customers respectively."
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