Openreach reduces costs of migrating onto LLU platforms
The providers making use of local loop unbundling received a further boost on Monday 5th June 2006, when Openreach announced price cuts for migrating customers from an IPstream or Datastream based service onto one of the LLU platforms. More detail over on the Openreach website.
These price cuts affect providers who are planning to migrate blocks of customers onto a LLU service. This tends to happen as providers work their way around the country and unbundle a specific exchange and want to move customers onto their own DSLAM/MSAN to exploit the flexibility and cost savings possible with an unbundled platform. There are two price cuts, for a bulk migration onto a shared LLU line Openreach will charge £25.39 (exc. VAT) per line, and in the case of a fully unbundled line the fee will be £27.54 (exc. VAT). These are price cuts of 27% and 21% respectively.
For those not aware, the difference between a shared unbundled line, and a fully unbundled line, is the following: With a shared line you still pay voice line rental to BT or whoever is your Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) provider, if it is a fully unbundled line then the voice part of the line is moved to the unbundling operator also, so no line rental is paid to BT by the end-user.
A small fee of 49p now allows fully unbundled operators to carry out a number migration for their lines, thus letting people keep their existing BT telephone number after they've moved to an unbundled telephone/broadband service.
There is some speculation that the price cuts are a move to stimulate take-up of the LLU services, since at present while the number of LLU lines is rapidly growing, it is behind the original projections, which were for 1 million lines in the Summer of 2006. Hopefully very soon we will see news on better support for migration between LLU providers and back onto the IPstream/Datastream based services from BT. What tricks the BT Group has up its sleeve for when the 1.5 million LLU lines, or July 2007 is reached with respect to the IPstream product are not clear as yet. The pressure from those providers not using unbundled services is that the pricing particularly of the BT Central components needs to come down, otherwise UK broadband will not be able to make full use of the raft of the more bandwidth intensive tasks like TV over broadband which is due to appear in the coming months.