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Oftel shows broadband still costly

Telco watchdog praises modems, pans fat pipes

The UK is getting a good deal on narrowband (modem) internet access but prices for broadband aren't quite so favourable, according to telco watchdog Oftel's latest findings.

Information on internet pricing has in the past been a little confusing and even Oftel has admitted it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether the UK is getting a good deal. However, it’s hoped the publication on Friday of Oftel’s latest research will provide some clarification.

"The broadband revolution and arguments over high charges have left many customers feeling hard done by, but we hope clear figures will set things straight," Oftel said.

The study, based on prices as at 1 August this year, found the UK was cheaper for dialup connections than Germany, the US and France. Only Sweden offered cheaper packages. But the story for broadband was not so rosy.

"The results of the new survey show that, while the UK is doing well in some areas, such as narrowband internet access and cable modems, there is still progress to be made in some areas, notably DSL [digital subscriber line]," said Oftel director-general David Edmonds.

Home users in the UK wanting a DSL connection had to shell out as much as £49 per month, the French were charged £35 while in Sweden it cost just £23 a month.

Despite an impressive-sounding 400 percent growth since December 00, broadband take-up is still very limited. Broadband users only account for around one percent of the 39 percent of UK homes with internet connections.

The government announced £30m of funding to promote broadband services to 'poorer areas' earlier this year, but little seems to have been done with the money thus far.

Last week the Broadband Stakeholders Group revealed 60 percent of the UK had potential access to broadband services but were choosing not to make the switch. Cost was just one of the reasons cited. Broadband service providers acknowledge people are deterred by the cost, but are also put off by their lack of knowledge about what broadband is.

For a full copy of the Oftel report click here.


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