TalkTalk hypocrisy as it raises line rental by 50p

10 Aug 2010
Money

Telco hikes cost of line rental, months after warning of impact of price rises on low-income families

TalkTalk has raised its line rental charges by more than 50p a month - just months after warning that a similarly priced landline tax would force 100,000 low-income homes to give up their broadband.

The company's line rental charges will increase from £11.49 to £12.04 per month, as part of a series of price rises on call charges and other TalkTalk services that will come into effect from 1 October.

We estimate that the (50p) increase in price will mean that over 100,000 mostly low-income homes will be forced to give up their broadband lines - TalkTalk CEO Charles Dunstone, November 2009

That's the exact same month the Government's landline levy was due to be introduced, which would have seen 50p added to monthly telephone bills to help pay for next-generation broadband. A move that was vociferously opposed by TalkTalk.

"As well as being unfair we estimate that the increase in price will mean that over 100,000 mostly low-income homes will be forced to give up their broadband lines," said TalkTalk CEO Charles Dunstone in the press release issued last November. The estimate was based on TalkTalk's own pricing models.

The new Government decided to scrap the broadband tax, with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt citing TalkTalk's research into the impact on low-income families as one of the reasons why the levy was cancelled.

"Price rise, not a tax"

TalkTalk denies it's being hypocritical. "The difference is the Government wasn't implementing a price rise, it was implementing a tax," a company spokesman told PC Pro. "It wouldn't have stopped providers increasing prices to maintain their business."

The spokesman accepted that it was "entirely possible" that the price rise would force some low-income families to cancel their broadband connection, but claimed that the 100,000 "was an industry-wide figure" and that TalkTalk "was very much at the value end of the market".

TalkTalk is following in the wake of BT, which announced it was putting up line rental prices from October earlier this summer.

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