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Tuesday 11 April 2006 09:14:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Today sees the official launch of 'Free Broadband, Forever' from TalkTalk. Though to get the free broadband you must subscribe to the company's £9.99 calls package, and don't forget the small matter of the £11 per month for line rental. The press release giving more detail can be found at www.cpwplc.com.

The calls/broadband bundle is available from today on 1000 exchanges, which gives a coverage of around 70% of the UK. This does not mean Carphone Warehouse has unbundled 1000 exchanges in a matter of weeks, rather that initially people will be connected to broadband via a BT Wholesale IPstream service, and then migrated onto the LLU service as Carphone Warehouse unbundle each exchange. The first LLU exchange is scheduled to go live in July 2006.

The broadband package that is part of the bundle runs at a line speed of up to 8Mbps, and comes with a 40GB (GigaByte) monthly allowance (the press release has a typo stating 40gigabit). A £29.99 connection fee applies, and the product comes with an 18 month contract.

The bundle is available to those outside the 1000 exchange area, but you will have to pay an extra £9.99 per month, and for those not wanting to take the calls part of the bundle you can have the broadband service only for £35 per month.

“Our approach to business has always been about how little we can afford to charge our customers, rather than how much we can get away with. So today we are cutting more than 60% off the cost of the average UK residential telephony and broadband bill, and additionally providing unlimited calls to 28 international destinations. The residential telecoms market in the UK will never be the same again. From today, broadband is a right, not a privilege.”

Charles Dunstone, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Dunstone makes some bold claims about the telecoms market changing forever, and only history can be the judge of these things. The comment about broadband being a right and a not a privilege is interesting, since the company even inside its coverage area is going to have perhaps 0.4% of its potential customers who can get no exchange based ADSL service. Providers using unbundling do have the ability to resolve this, by using sub-unbundling which means injecting a DSL signal onto the local loop outside the exchange, and thus reducing the distance it travels to reach the consumer. We doubt Carphone Warehouse are looking at that route.

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