Cable and Wireless aims for the magic million lines
More news has emerged about the recent news on Bulldogs departure from the retail sector over on The Register. C&W are aiming to supply one million LLU lines over the next couple of years, which if the price and wholesale packages are right is not impossible. Some estimates for LLU growth suggest the UK LLU market may break the two million barrier by the end of this year, we have over half a million LLU lines now - so while not impossible it will need the rate of growth to be sustained or even accelerate.
It seems one of the reasons for the exit from the retail market was the increased competition from the bundles now on offer from the likes of Talk Talk and Orange. What was interesting to note though, that for someone who made relatively little use of a landline, and only needed broadband for a couple of hours a week, the old Bulldog Pay-As-You-Go product which was free and you just paid for the minutes it was connected offered a very cheap broadband service. The Bulldog LLU line rental was £10.50 a month, and after that you only paid per minute for the broadband connection, 1p per minute at weekends, 2p in the evening and 3p during a weekday. 15 hours of weekend usage would be just under £10. The unlimited up to 8Mbps product once line rental was included worked out at £30 per month, which while more expensive than the Talk Talk deal, offered what looked like a better broadband experience according to user comments on our forums. Of course which product is best for an individual or family with the bundle products is going to depend on how many landline/mobile calls are made. Perhaps the most difficult factor at this time in the Broadband market when choosing a service is interpreting what the various usage policies mean, some providers have clear limits, whereas others use wording like unlimited but hide unwritten limits in the terms and conditions or publish no figures, but in actual use the amount of usage before warning letters are sent out can be lower than some competitors who have fixed limits.
The wholesale LLU market is not without its competition already, Easynet and Tiscali Wholesale division are already in the market, with service provider agreements in place. The main difference is that these other companies use shared LLU, the Bulldog products are fully unbundled, so offer a route whereby the small to medium sized providers may be able to offer telephone line/broadband bundles without the massive investment in equipment and technical expertise.