More evidence of UK broadband growth
The Office of National Statistics has published its Internet Connectivity figures for the UK. The PDF document can be downloaded from here.
The ratio of broadband connections to other forms continues to rise, with 64.2% of all connections being made via broadband. There was also an increase of 5.6% in the total number of connections to the Internet between December 2004 and December 2005. As of the end of 2005, dial-up only accounts for 35.8% of all connections.
While there is the odd sub £10 per month broadband connection, predictions suggest more may appear to attract the remaining dial-up consumers. How providers can offer services so cheap without quality of service or support not suffering is difficult to understand. Prices up until 2004 were largely driven down by reductions in prices by BT Wholesale, but since then the BT Wholesale price structure has remained largely static. Most reductions from mid 2004 onwards have been through cost savings by moving to LLU networks, or implementing some form of fair usage policy to allow providers to keep a grip on the peak time traffic flows. Another area where money can be saved is to move support operations to a more automated online system - which is great for billing enquires, but once your broadband connection fails, these systems can be slow to use. Additionally for non-technical users describing a fault in writing can be harder than talking to someone.
At the end of the day, if sub £10 broadband connections become common then it will be great news, but the concern is that this will lead to more complex contracts and lower levels of support. One example of the hidden costs can be the price of telephoning support. An ISP with an 0870 rate support line can prove expensive to call. Whereas one with an 0845 line will be cheaper, and one with a traditional 01 or 02 number will allow you to take advantage of cheap telephone call packages. Another thing to watch out for is a cheap headline price, that reverts to a higher fee after a few months.