Broadband News

Guardian talks of 'naked DSL'

Back on September 2nd, The Guardian ran a piece entitled 'Ringing the changes '. The item looked at the future of using broadband connections as the basis for telephony services. Some readers picked up on one paragraph in particular.

"Previously, that caveat would have disguised a whole series of drawbacks: broadband connections needing an existing telephone line, for which you would be paying line rental, and from which you could not move your number. Moving to VoIP is, of course, less attractive if you need to tell everyone a new telephone number, and loses its lustre almost entirely if you have to continue to pay for your old phone anyway.

But no longer. From next month, on the orders of the media and telecommunications regulatory body Ofcom, British customers will be able to buy "naked DSL". This means the broadband connection no longer requires the payment of a telephone line rental. "

The Guardian Thursday 2nd September 2004

This would seem to suggest, that ADSL was shortly going to be available without the need to pay BT Retail the PSTN line rental fee of £10.50 per month. Oddly though nothing has been heard from Ofcom on this move, and BT Wholesale has commented that it has no plans to decouple DSL from PSTN. The likely explanation is that the new Wholesale Line Rental product is what The Guardian is referring to.

Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) is when a third party takes over the payment for your phone line. This is the next logical step for CPS providers, since it allows them to offer a simple one bill service. Some providers may well combine this with an ADSL package, so that for one monthly payment you get the rental, calls and ADSL all bundled together. The other option is for a provider to use a fully unbundled LLU line (for example EasyNet) which has no PSTN service associated with it.

It is worth pointing out that the regulated price for the WLR is only marginally less than the retail line rental, which means there is little scope for massive cost savings. Though we do expect call providers to start offering packages where the line rental is effectively hidden in the call and ADSL charges. An example would be, a £10 monthly fee, which also includes £5 of free phone calls, or if you take a calls and ADSL package there is just a £30 monthly fee.

At the end of the day, someone somewhere will be paying for the local loop, and for engineers to maintain it. We can be sure that in the next 12 months packages will appear where you stop paying BT directly, but be under no illusion, if it is using part of the BT local loop, BT will be taking their cut directly or indirectly.


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