From the 10th of November, online customers will be able to sign up for a 12 month AOL Wireless Broadband contract which includes a top download speed of 8Mbps, a 10GB usage cap a choice of either free evening and weekend calls or unlimited anytime calls (local and national 01, 02 and 03 numbers), and pay their line rental directly to AOL, rather than having to pay BT. This means there’s just one convenient monthly bill for broadband, calls and line rental – all your communications costs covered by one neat monthly payment.
Whilst there is no difference in terms of price – the line rental is billed at £10.50 a month (that same as you’d pay BT) the total cost of the services (broadband and voice calls) plus line rental will appear as one sum on your bank statement, allowing you to quantify your costs with greater ease. Existing customers should see the change in their statement from November onwards.
The only thing required from BT is the installation of a phone line. There are no additional charges for connection or any set-up fees from AOL, or installation of the free Netgear Wireless Router (RRP £50). In addition to up to 8Mbps broadband and a choice of free call packages, all AOL Broadband customers get free technical support assistance over the phone (lines open from 8am to midnight), and allow you to switch your existing phone number over to the new service.
This AOL package will be available to customers who order online from the 10th of November, or if you can’t wait that long, give AOL a call on 0800 049 4402.
Posted by Tom on September 25th 2008 in AOL, BT Broadband, Switching
A government inquiry team is likely to advise against major state intervention in a UK-wide fibre optic network.
Francesco Ciao, the vice chairman of Lehman Brothers in Europe who heads the review has already expressed the opinion that an ultra high-speed broadband network should not be publicly funded, and that this decision would not be detrimental to the competitiveness of the UK digital market. “What is emerging is that the UK is still one of the most dynamic markets across Europe,” he said.
“Broadband penetration has done very well. And as for the internet economy, we still have the highest expenditure on e-transactions in Europe. I would hesitate to advise any government and say, ‘Actually this is so important, so vital for the future of citizens, businesses and the media, forget it: let’s go back to a more constrained market dynamics and put fibre everywhere. There are other technologies, wireless for one, that will increasingly deliver alternatives. You might run the risk of putting £15 billion into the ground.”
However, many in the technology industry have been eagerly anticipating the planned fibre-optic network which could achieve speeds of up to 100Mbps, compared with standard copper wire connections today which tend to reach around 8Mbps. The inquiry looked at the extent to which Britain’s economy would fall behind if the expected £15 billion were no invested in a fibre optic broadband network.
“Although some other European countries are beginning to deploy next-generation access, I don’t think we are in a position to say the UK is falling behind,” Ciao said.
“The infrastructure seems to be fit for serving the needs that we have and there are early signs of competitors beginning to plan ahead to deploy next-generation access. I can’t see any reasons to be particularly concerned about a material gap in competitiveness.”
The review, commissioned by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform will be presented to ministers this autumn.
Posted by Ellie on September 5th 2008 in Broadband, Next Gen Broadband, Switching
Official statistics have revealed that record numbers of households in the UK have broadband connections.
According to a study by the Office for National Statistics, 56% of British households have a broadband subscription, up on 51% last year. Altogether, 65% of households in the UK have internet access, with the majority using broadband rather than dial-up. The survey found that men were more likely to surf the internet than women, with 75% of men logging on regularly compared to 66% of women. Although the number of pensioners using the internet has risen considerably over the last few years, over-65′s are the age-group lest likely to use the web. In fact 70% said that they have never used the internet.
Pensioners’ lobby groups have said that this is indicative of the way in which elderly people have been left behind in the digital age. David Sinclair, head of policy at Help the Aged, said that elderly people especially needed access to the internet during the current credit crisis in order to shop around for cheaper deals on electricity, gas and food. “Exclusion from modern society is increasingly less about being able to get to the library and more about being able to access the rivers of information flowing in and out of British homes each day,” he said. “If you cannot access these rivers you cannot take part.”
“This is not only about getting cheap car insurance online. It is about equality in the marketplace. We know internet access can mean a difference of hundreds of pounds over the year from deals on utility bills, food to all other manner of other goods. In a time when costs are rising should we not allow the poorest among us a chance to keep afloat?”
Posted by Ellie on August 27th 2008 in Broadband, Switching
A study by the telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has found that the copper wiring network currently used in the UK could deliver speeds of up to 50Mbps if exploited to its full potential. In an investigation into Britain’s current broadband network, Ofcom wanted to test whether it would be capable of delivering the higher speeds that ISP customers are demanding.
In theory, copper wires could still achieve speeds of up to 50Mbps if an upstream modem is hosted in the exchange. However, in practice actual speeds would probably be far lower, as the quality of copper wiring varies considerably between households.
The latest findings could throw a spanner in the works when it comes to BT‘s grand plan, announced in July of this year, to install a £1.5 billion fibre-optic network across the UK, if the telecoms company agrees with the findings. Virgin has also expressed interest in investing in the network. A number in the industry fear that Ofcom’s findings could severely delay investment in a fibre-optic network, meaning that Britain would lag behind the rest of Europe, and certainly Asia, when it comes to ultra high-speed broadband.
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Posted by Ellie on August 20th 2008 in Broadband, BT Broadband, Switching, Virgin Media
According to BT, the black hubs have been flying off the shelves like the proverbial hot cakes, and so, flush with Easter spirit, they have decided to extend the deal til the 31st of March.
This is great news for people who wanted one of the black beauties but were waiting to come out of a previous contract before switching but missed the previous boat (yesterday). The offer of the BT Home Hub to come bundled with the Option 1 broadband package is also still standing, meaning that free wireless home networking is still available on all BT Broadband products.
The black hubs are pretty fetching, and we’d like to see BT make the choice of colour, sorry, shade, available to customers during the sign-up process.
Posted by Tom on March 20th 2008 in BT Broadband, Switching
2007 has also seen much consolidation in the Broadband marketplace, with mergers and acquisitions seeing old players shake hands and donning new team colours.
At this stage in the financial year, there’s still everything to play for up until April 2008, with takeovers from Tiscali and Carphone Warehouse hopefully giving former stragglers Pipex and AOL a shot in the arm, and with Sky connecting customers at a phenomenal rate since the launch of their successful See Speak Surf squad formation. Up and coming ISP Be Broadband, has also been a keen player, thanks to partners O2, who have just launched their own broadband service using the Be network.
We’ve taken a quick look at the total take-up of the big six so far, and had a look a some of the more prominent ‘tier 2′ ISPs available.
UK Broadband Premiership – Q3 Figures 07/08 Season
BT Group (BT Broadband/PlusNet/Brightview) – 4.1 million
Virgin Media (including Virgin Media Cable and ADSL) – 3.3 million
Carphone Warehouse (TalkTalk/AOL UK) – 2.5 million
Tiscali (Tiscali Broadband/Pipex) – 2 million
Orange (Orange Broadband) – 1.6 million
Sky (Sky Broadband/UK Online) – 1 million
UK Broadband Division 1
O2 Telefónica – have launched O2 Broadband, using the Be Broadband ADSL2+ network. O2 Broadband comes at a discounted price to O2 Pay Monthly mobile customers who pay more than £30 a month.
NamesCo – one of the veterans of the ISP league, NamesCo may not hold as big a market share as the big hitters, but specialise more in hosting, and provision of webspace. NamesCo have generous packages for businesses and residential customers alike.
Eclipse Internet – with word of mouth spreading, Eclipse are slowly winning over customers with a solid broadband service that doesn’t rely on flashy bundle deals or expensive ad campaigns. Eclipse is owned and ran by KCOM, who handle all telecommunications within Hull and around the Kingston area.
Demon Internet – Like NamesCo, Demon have been doing the rounds since the early days of dial-up and are an established and trusted brand. Demon also specialise in hosting, providing webspace, unlimited emails, and static IP addresses with their home and business packages.
Posted by Tom on November 21st 2007 in AOL, Be Broadband, Broadband, BT Broadband, Demon Internet, Eclipse Internet, NamesCo, O2 Broadband, Orange Broadband, Pipex, PlusNet, Sky Broadband, Switching, TalkTalk, Tiscali, UK Online, Virgin Media
It’s been another bad week for TalkTalk, who despite promises of investing heavily into customer services, have seen their name very publicly dragged through the mud after one former customer successfully sued the ISP for £630 in the small claims court.
Ann Gordon, a retired languages teacher, had seen her phoneline pack up after switching from BT to TalkTalk, and be left without any kind of service for almost six weeks, despite repeated promises that a temporary mobile service would be supplied for which she would be reimbursed. In a post that Mrs Gordon made at thisismoney.co.uk, she wrote:
“We had 39 days, no phone, so no internet; no apology, no explanation. They offered £20 (already paid by us) which never appeared. We asked for a refund of 2 months direct debit, plus mobile phone charges (promised us on the phone!), but never saw a penny.”
After 39 days without a phone or the internet, Mrs Gordon asked to be switched back to BT who, sorted out her problem in under 20 minutes.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast News this morning, Mrs Gordon described TalkTalk’s customer service as “Kafkaesque,” and in a report in last Saturday’s Guardian she is quoted saying “All my letters to TalkTalk – including to the managing director – got no response… I did everything I could to resolve this matter. Even after the successful judgment in court, they still refused to pay up, and I was forced to spend another £55 to instruct the bailiffs.”
It was later revealed that TalkTalk were apparently ‘unaware’ of the situation until bailiffs turned up at their London offices. A statement issued last week reads: “We will obviously abide by the court’s decision and will be paying her immediately. We are very sorry that it came to this and would like to unreservedly apologise.”
Posted by Tom on July 13th 2007 in Broadband, BT Broadband, Switching, TalkTalk
Virgin Media, who had previously threatened Sky with legal action after the dispute over carriage fees for their channels, are expected to issue a writ to the High Court sometime this week.
Sky pulled a selection of their channels from Virgin Media’s cable TV package in March, after the two companies failed to agree on a price for the channels; Virgin said that Sky were asking for over double the amount of the previous deal – a claim emphatically denied – and stated that that they would take Sky to court in 30 days if an agreement could not be reached.
Virgin’s statement in March read: “Following Sky’s withdrawal of its basic channels from Virgin Media’s TV service, Virgin Media has formally advised Sky that it will pursue action in the high court if their carriage disputes are not resolved within 30 days.”
Since then, Virgin have introduced faster cable broadband speeds, a free digital TV set-top box for ADSL customers, and have petitioned Ofcom to scrutinize the converged pay-TV/broadband market in an attempt to make life difficult for Sky.
Sky have hit back with a high-profile advertisements mocking Virgin’s reduced TV service and are prepared for a lengthy legal battle, dismissing the possibility of court action as a part of a perceived Virgin Media “PR Campaign” to portray Sky as a bullying conglomerate.
Posted by Tom on April 10th 2007 in Broadband, Sky Broadband, Switching, Virgin Media
The heated Broadband/Digital TV battle between Virgin Media and Sky intensified yesterday with Sky threatening to deny Virgin customers popular favourites such as The Simpsons, Lost, and 24. The dispute has reopened old wounds sustained when Sky boss Rupert Murdoch purchased an 18% controlling share in ITV last year, effectively putting the kibosh on Richard Branson’s attempts to take over the television company under the ntl brand.
This current move is said to be a reaction to many customers switching to the new Virgin Media service, presumably to take advantage of the exclusive Broadband and mobile deals on offer; it is estimated that Sky could lose up to £20 million in profits that would have been accrued through advertising if they pull their channels.
Virgin has said that it now expects to lose basic channels such as Sky One, Two, Three and Sky News and Sky Sports News. The two companies have been having talks to agree on a new deal; the current contract expires at the end of February. Virgin have been looking to renegotiate, although it was admitted last Friday that dialogue had broken down.
As was mentioned in Sunday’s Media Guardian, Branson also thumbed his nose at Sky by going behind their backs and securing a deal with American TV network ABC, the producers of the aforementioned Lost, in an attempt to lessen the damage that the loss of the Sky channels will cause to Virgin’s Digital TV enterprise. This deal will make all three series of Lost available to customers as part of the video-on-demand channel, Virgin Central.
Posted by Tom on February 27th 2007 in Sky Broadband, Switching, Virgin Media
As of today, Migration Authorisation Codes, or MAC codes as they are commonly known will now have to be issued by ISPs to customers who which to move to another provider.
MAC codes were introduced by Ofcom and BTas an industry standard code of practice between Internet Service Providers, to ensure that customers who wanted to ‘switch’ from one provider to another could do so with ease, and not be bound into a contract against their wishes.
However, ISPs were not obligated to provide their customers with MAC codes on demand, and were unpopular with many companies who refused to adopt the practice of issuing the codes. This left many people frustrated, unable to leave a contract prematurely without being heavily fined.
There have been plenty of horror stories when customers have been lumbered with slow connections and download limits and have effectively been unable to shop around for a better deal because their provider is withholding their code.
Now wholesale providers will be required to issue consumers and small businesses (of 10 employees or less) with MAC codes within five days, regardless of any amounts that may be owed or any contractual obligations the end user may be under. Users are now able to vote with their feet if they deem the service they have received from a provider to be unsatisfactory.
This is great news for broadband customers, as it allows for greater freedom, and will hopefully force underperforming providers to improve their services and not rely on lengthy contracts to bind customers to their wallets.
Posted by Tom on February 14th 2007 in Switching
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