In what looks like the grandest nose/face manoeuvre yet in the ADSL palaver, ISP Freeserve is raising the price of its high-speed internet access from £39.99 to £49.99 in an attempt to make a point to telco watchdog Oftel.
In a press statement yesterday Freeserve said it has "no confidence" in the ability of BT and BTIgnite, which sells ASDL lines to ISPs such as Freeseerve, to "drive down prices to a level which will facilitate large-scale take-up of broadband in the UK".
Unlike Telewest, which dropped the price of its high-speed access package to £25 a month earlier this week, Freeserve is a virtual provider and does not have access to its own network. This means its costs are higher. Users will now have to pay Freeserve £49.99 a month plus a £170 installation fee.
"This is a strategic move by Freeserve," said a spokesperson for the ISP. "Consumers really couldn't afford our service at its previous rate and by hiking it up we hope to make Oftel take some action."
"We are looking into this," said a spokesperson at Oftel. "We obviously want to work out a price that is suitable for consumers."
Freeserve stressed that it had no confidence in BT's part in the allocation process for ADSL capacity and that these price increases had been forced upon them.
BT confirmed that it has done away with the consumer allocation process.
"Because [we] have improved installation rates three-fold, we had no need to continue the allocation process." said a spokesperson at BTIgnite, the ADSL arm of BT.
Freeserve said it would not rely on BT until it pushed wholesale prices down on a par with France and elsewhere in Europe.