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Vonage renews calls for 'naked DSL' in the UK
Thursday 14 July 2005 13:27:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Vonage is calling 'naked DSL' to be made available in the UK, more details over on The Register. For those not aware of what 'naked DSL' is, it is where you only pay the monthly fee for your DSL connection, and do not pay anything directly to the teleco that owns the copper your DSL service runs over. Of course this would mean that you have no telephone service on the line, but with the emergence of VoIP services this is less of an issue. Currently most ADSL users in the UK pay BT £10.50 per month for their basic line rental, and then pay their ISP something in the region of £10 to £40 for their DSL connection. Vonage believe that by sacrificing the telephone service the line rental should be to lowered, or simply merged into the monthly DSL fees.

The UK has a few methods already, where you do not pay BT directly for your line rental. A product called Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) is available, and allows companies to bundle the telephone calls, line rental and broadband connection into a single bill service, the actual cost for WLR though is not really any different to the basic line rental from BT, just the figures are hidden in a single bill.

Fully unbundled services in the UK are perhaps the closest thing to 'naked DSL' at this time. A fully unbundled line does not carry a BT telephone service, it is up to the unbundler to decide whether to provide a telephone service or not. Currently the main fully unbundled provider is Bulldog, but they insist on your taking their telephony package which unsurprisingly has a line rental of £10.50 per month. The wholesale cost per month for a fully unbundled line is £6.66 (£80 per year), and represents probably the lowest monthly fee we may see if 'naked DSL' were made available.

It is unlikely that 'naked DSL' would appear as an option from BT without a fair deal of regulatory involvement. There would have to be a lot of thought given to it though, since if BT is forced into ever lower income from line rental and income from the traditional calls market continues to decrease, the desire to invest in the local loop may decline even more. This is at a time, when the number of voices calling for upgrades and improvements to the local loop infrastructure are increasing. Of course the simple option, is for BT to offer 'naked DSL' but increase the monthly broadband fee to compensate for the lost line rental from those that opt for the 'naked' option.


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