The UK broadband market at the retail level has had two major life changing moments with regards to the price of services, the first was when Pipex broke the £30 barrier for broadband, and the other was the launch of 'free' broadband by TalkTalk in 2006. Orange back in 2006 responded to the onslaught that was Carphone Warehouse in 2006 by offering its own free broadband, but the broadband was only free for mobile customers who signed up to long contracts.
Jumping forward six years, Orange is looking to end-of-life this free broadband deal and that has caused an uproar particularly among those customers who have been loyal for many years and factor in the saving on broadband into their decisions at mobile contract renewal time. Technically the broadband will remain free, but to continue to qualify people will also need to move their voice line rental to the telco.
This is Money estimate that the changes will affect 90,000 mobile customers and at a time when Orange was starting to turn around its fixed-line broadband fortunes adding a few thousand new customers in the last quarter any mass defection will not be good on the financial spreadsheets. The current advice is that if you are affected to contact Orange directly, and if you have any original emails or documentation saved showing the terms you signed up to these will support your case.
While many will be rightly annoyed by the requirement to move their voice line rental to Orange, we should point out that this is a WLR product, so should not complicate changing provider at a later date, and it is also worth checking your existing voice line rental pricing, as Orange may not be any more expensive or possibly cheaper.
Money Saving Expert coverage of the issue has a comment from Orange that they have always reserved the right to replace, amend or withdraw the offer. The sensible way out of this situation would be to continue the offer for existing customers, but over time make the new EE broadband and mobile contracts attractive so that people migrate to the new contracts.