back to article BT to slash landline rentals by 37%... for the broadbandless

BT monthly landline costs are to be trimmed by £7 from this weekend but only for customers who don't buy fixed-line broadband from any provider – in other words, hardly anyone. In October '17, regulator Ofcom revealed BT had agreed to reduce monthly bills following an investigation into rising landline prices. From Easter …

  1. N2 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Seriously

    Surprised anyone uses BT after their price hikes.

    1. JakeMS

      Re: Seriously

      If your with any call/broadband provider which uses the standard landline (aka, not cable) you have to pay this line rental. Usually you pay it to your ISP and they forward it to BT.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seriously

        you're

        1. JakeMS
          Happy

          Re: Seriously

          @ AC "you're"

          I'm getting too old to bother with correct spelling, come July I'll be 27!! Basically almost an antique. :-P

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I'm getting too old to bother with correct spelling

            What about the grammar though?

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. AndrueC Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: I'm getting too old to bother with correct spelling

              What about the grammar though?

              She's fine. She's just received a discount on her telephone bill.

          2. RegGuy1

            I'm getting too old to bother with correct spelling

            Oh dear. If this is the attitude of to days yoof, Brexit Britan is wel an trooley skrood.

            My advice -- buy a dictionary. There is no excuse for bad spelling -- here you get 10 minutes editing time!

            1. JakeMS

              Re: I'm getting too old to bother with correct spelling

              @RegGuy1: Aye, the youth of today what shall one do with them?

              I must say though, I was attempting to be humorous with regards to my spelling/grammar errors. I may make a mistake from time to time but I do try to ensure that one does indeed spell his words accurately and uses ones words in a correctly formatted message.

              Please accept my sincere apologies for any offence and/or undue harm I may have caused my fellow commentards with my inaccurate spelling or usage of grammar.

          3. Bob Ajob

            Re: Seriously

            You remind me of my father, only he is considerably older than you. I was taught to be ashamed whenever I use incorrect spelling or grammar. It happens all the time, hopefully as I get older I'll stop automatically correcting my mistakes. The thing that surprises me most is the abysmal spelling of some senior management types, demonstrates that a good education is not necessarily required to achieve a position of power.

      2. Oor Nonny-Muss
        Boffin

        Re: Seriously

        Indeed - but often a decent ISP will not add a mark up anything like the obscenity that BT Retail do.

        BT Openreach wholesale line rental charge is £86.72 pa (ex VAT) - (£7.23/mo ex VAT / £8.67/mo inc VAT)

        So even at £11.99/mo they're making £3.32 just for paying themselves...

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Seriously

      You just wait for a deal and then get a new one when it ends by threatening to leave. Anyone who pays the advertised rate to their ISP is missing out.

      1. ad47uk

        Re: Seriously

        The two cheapest at the moment is Vodafone and Now TV, both a lot cheaper than what I am paying with Plusnet. In contract at the moment, but I will certainly look at others. the only problem with Vodafone and now TV is that they do not like you using your routers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Seriously

          "The two cheapest at the moment is Vodafone and Now TV...."

          Well as Voda and NowTV (Sky) is only ranked a bit higher than Talk Talk, could explain why they are cheap.

          https://www.which.co.uk/news/2017/09/which-reveals-best-and-worst-broadband-providers/

        2. xad001x0w

          Re: Seriously

          I'm a new Vodafone customer and am sending this via a Draytek modem and Asus router. The Vodafone gear is still sealed in the box it came in. You just need to ring up and ask for your username and password - that chap I spoke to handed them both over without question - even made me read it back to make sure I had them written down correctly.

        3. Oodles of Noodles

          Re: Seriously

          Actually, I changed to Vodafone a couple of months ago ( Halving my BT Bill ) and they had no problem with me using my own router and associated gubbins. Just call them and they give you the details you need.

    3. Oh Homer
      Mushroom

      Re: "Surprised anyone uses BT"

      You forget that BT owns nearly all the telecoms infrastructure in this country, and therefore it's nearly impossible not to use at least part of it.

      That's especially true for "the last mile of copper" between the exchange and your house. Many of us can't just cut this line and switch to an alternative (i.e. LLU or "Local Loop Unbundling"), because for us no alternative is available. The best we can hope for is someone reselling wholesale BT (OpenReach) lines at a lower price (the mere fact that this is possible proves that BT/OpenReach is overcharging retail customers).

      That's where I am now. I'm on a so-called EO or "Exchange Only" line (no cabinet, just a cable directly into my house from the exchange, 2.5 miles away), on an exchange with no LLU, but which does at least have BT/OpenReach wholesale resellers offering lower prices.

      Previously I was paying BT an average of £53 per month just for "line rental" and a pitiful 2Mb/s internet access (with a theoretical maximum of 6Mb/s, which it never achieved). That was before calls or any other dubious charges (they used to "fine" me for delegating not to pay by direct debit, for example).

      Now I get exactly the same level of service from a wholesale reseller for just under 20 quid a month, nearly one third of the price. But the fact is I'm still using BT's infrastructure, and they're still getting their pound of flesh (via the reseller).

      uSwitch are absolutely right, more people need to be doing this, but BT's monopoly on infrastructure, its obscene profiteering and highly dubious protection-racket-style charges desperately need to be obliterated.

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        Re: "Surprised anyone uses BT"

        Sounds almost like Telkom here....

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Even the fcuking narcissistic Regulator weasels OFCOM are misleading folk, now

      So pissed off about this, BT have now managed to get an extra 6 months line rental from me, in anticipation that the "BT only" line rental would be cut to £11.99 from £18.99.

      The line in question has a long standing high impedance fault that BT have never managed to solve, so if you do attempt to connect a DECT phone to it, it causes the Broadband to disconnect/renegotiate the connection on every incoming call. It hasn't had a phone connected to it for YEARS, because it never worked as it should.

      I got used that.

      Even the fcuking narcissistic Regulator weasels OFCOM are misleading folk, now. Ofcom's press release is extremely misleading (in favour of BT), in what it doesn't tell you.

      https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/features-and-news/charges-cut-million-bt-customers

      Failing to explicitly state this only applies to those taking "just" BT line rental, but excluding those that take just BT line rental but that pay a "Proper ISP" for Broadband separately, i.e. no combined "bottom of the barrel package deal".

      I feel conned today by the regulator Ofcom, it's bad enough feeling constantly conned by BT.

      Sort it Ofcom, this should apply to ALL BT CUSTOMERS TAKING JUST LINE RENTAL FROM BT.

      1. Adam Jarvis

        Re: Even the fcuking narcissistic Regulator weasels OFCOM are misleading folk, now

        Here's Ofcom's little but significant (weasel) words...in a small easily overlooked bullet point.

        1.10 Since the February Consultation, we have been made aware that providers of standalone telephony services on Openreach’s network are in fact able to identify which of their customers are voice-only and which are split-purchasers. Therefore, while providers have not so far set different prices (or other terms and conditions) between these two customer groups, they could do so if they wished. Accordingly, we are no longer of the view that voice-only and split-purchase customers should be considered part of the same market.

        https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/107322/standalone-landline-statement.pdf

        Actually, this agreement (even as a "cosy agreement" approved between BT and Ofcom) has a lot of similarities to the case of British Airways (that owned and ran the booking system) accessing third party Virgin Atlantic airline customer data, to target those third-party customers, marketing different prices based on such data and using such data for market advantage. Should BT even be accessing/recording such data regarding rival ISPs?

        Here it's BT customers being charged £11.99 a month, compared to £18.99 for no discernable difference in the service being provided but based on BT having access to the fact a third party provides a Broadband service on that line, because it operates the underlying databases where such data is stored by the third party ISP.

        I personally think it will fall foul of competition law.

  2. JakeMS

    I know someone!

    I know someone who will benefit from this!

    My dear ol' gran. She doesn't have any form of broadband and only has Landline for calls.

    She has a computer for games, but it is not connected to the World Wide Web.

  3. andy 103
    Stop

    What does line rental actually cover?

    Genuine question -

    What do companies use the revenue from line rental for?

    Is it for maintaining lines? Or is it just an additional dubious revenue stream along the lines of airlines who charge you extra to sit next to your partner/family, even though it costs them fuck all to make that possible?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do they know you have virgin broadband if you don't tell them?

    1. andy 103
      Joke

      "How do they know you have virgin broadband if you don't tell them?"

      Even if they do you can just ask them to "forget" under the GDPR legislation, not that anyone understands it anyway.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Very few people have Virgin Broadband and a BT phone line, as it is more expensive to not have the phone line from Virgin.

    3. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: What does line rental actually cover?

      It's meant to cover the cost of the fixed costs and maintaining the line: EG, power useage at the exchange, upkeep of poles/ducts/etc, plus the call outs to fix it if there's a fault that isn't end user/isp related.

      Therefore it probably just goes into the overall budget of the company and disappears into the mix...

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: What does line rental actually cover?

        Except that if your line is pants you still have to pay to get the line to house replaced by BT (might have changed as a while ago, we had to pay as, even though we had (non BT) internet, line only had to be good enough for voice calls as far as BT was concerned and so bandwidth was tiny). We would only ahve got a free line replacement if quality was too bad for voice calls.

        So, essentially a scam.

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: What does line rental actually cover?

          Here's your solution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JEUChn0Jq8

    4. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: What does line rental actually cover?

      Line rental is part of the cost for running the infrastructure. Companies typically charge the broadband package on top. It's possible to rent your line from a separate company to your broadband provider so long as they're both on BT's network (the wonders of deregulation), in which case the line rental is going to a company that's paying BT for access to the exchange and your phone line (and providing you with phone services, which they are probably also renting off BT) and the broadband payment is going to a company that is paying BT for putting their equipment in the exchange to connect to the other lot's equipment to connect you to their backhaul.

    5. ravenviz

      How do they know you have virgin broadband if you don't tell them?

      They don’t. But then that’s breach of contract. Like all the other breaches that are commonplace e.g. not having buildings insurance as a term of mortgage. In the end it’s a personal risk assessment.

  5. Lee D Silver badge

    To be honest, I refuse to pay even £11.99 a month for basic telephony now (ignoring the call charges etc. on top).

    Mobile telephony is not only INCREDIBLY cheaper (I think you can have giffgaff from £5 every 3 months without fear of them cutting you off) but much more likely to be useful - custom ringtones, Caller ID, selective silencing, do-not-disturb, voicemail, block spam and un-identified callers, etc. etc. etc.

    When I moved recently, I looked into activating the old BT line and using it for broadband. This was stymied by several things - they wanted a deposit, they wanted £18.99 a month for the line (or thereabouts), they wanted more per month to put on the broadband, I would have to buy a phone handset if I wanted to use it to make calls (and nowadays, that would be a £25 cordless set), and in the end I would only be "guaranteed" less than 1Mb on ADSL2, 10Mb on VDSL.

    It was just easier to buy a 4G Wifi box and a SIM. 30Mbps. Free Netflix/etc. that don't count towards data usage. And a data allowance that I only burnt through once (over Christmas) and paid an extra tenner to double it for that month only. If I did an annual contract (which BT also wanted), I could have it for £20 a month. Plus I can take it anywhere, and it's battery backed (being a portable device). I can also switch providers any time I like by just swapping a SIM or even telling the box to piggy back off any other Wifi (e.g. my phone hotspot, etc.) without having to change a single setting on any network device.

    Sorry, there was just no competition there at all.

    In work - same story. We ditched all the analog and ISDN lines and went SIP with a non-BT provider, over a non-BT leased line. Saves SO MUCH MONEY, and hassle, and has much greater capacity.

    The landline is dead. It's just going to take a few decades to drum that into people. But do you really think the next generation of 20-somethings are going to care about Wifi in their flat if they have 5G?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re:Wifi in their flat if they have 5G?

      Yep and have fun with all that contention then. IF you think that 4G was bad...

      Oh, and far easier for others to eavesdrop on your traffic with WiFi.

      If you do use WiFi then make sure that all traffic is over an VPN first. Do you really want to broadcast to everyone else on your WiFi that you are browsing 'HotBabes.com' ?

      I VPN everything on my home WiFi these days. You really don't know who is listening in these days.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        HotBabes.com

        Thanks. Not tried that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >Mobile telephony is not only INCREDIBLY cheaper (I think you can have giffgaff from £5 every 3 months without fear of them cutting you off) but much more likely to be useful - custom ringtones

      It's actually pretty useless for large parts of where I live due to a shit signal however we do have FTTC in our village.

    3. ravenviz

      custom ringtones

      Woop-de-doo!

  6. Geoff Campbell
    Go

    Mmmmmm, thanks, BT.

    I ditched my landline years back. Internet comes via WiFi, the old house phone number was ported to a VOIP provider which runs nicely over that, and we all have mobiles as a fallback anyway.

    So, thanks, BT, but I'm good.

    GJC

    1. MrXavia

      Re: Mmmmmm, thanks, BT.

      Where does your WiFi come from if not a landline?

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Mmmmmm, thanks, BT.

        Oi, stop nicking your neighbours wifi!

      2. ad47uk

        Re: Mmmmmm, thanks, BT.

        I think he means wireless not Wi-fi, the one I used had transmitters on churches, I linked to one on the cathedral

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mmmmmm, thanks, BT.

          Comes from the wireless. Do you stream music from the gramophone?

      3. Geoff Campbell

        Re: Mmmmmm, thanks, BT.

        It's a local mesh servicde using 5GHz point-to-point directional antennas. I wasn't referring to the house WiFi.

        GJC

    2. ad47uk

      Re: Mmmmmm, thanks, BT.

      I did that a few years ago, before we had FTTC here, it was fine, a good 10Mb/s, which was fine for my needs,. but then it started falling apart after a couple of years. they could not cope with the amount of traffic, So when FTTC came here I reluctantly changed to that. the company that was doing the wireless broadband have now stopped doing it, I still have the equipment on my roof, Is a good talking point. I am sure some people think I am a spy :)

      Still have a VoiP as well, not that I use it much these days, maybe i should get the number transferred to my landline.

  7. alain williams Silver badge

    What to tell BT ...

    You do not have fixed line Internet; Virgin provides you with a TV connection and chucks in some Internet.

    I can see why BT might offer cheaper to non Internet people - the line can be cheaper & the card in the telephone exchange is POTS only (so cheaper), no load on its ATM network, etc. Well if you get Internet via Virgin/who-ever-cable then BT do not need to provide any of the expensive kit either.

    1. Karl Austin

      ATM

      BT doesn't have an ATM network any more from memory. Originally ADSL was done over ATM, but AFAIK that was phased out some years ago now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ATM

        Originally ADSL was done over ATM, but AFAIK that was phased out some years ago now.

        Seems unlikely, what else would they run IP over? Frame Relay in some places, maybe, but ATM is still the most practical solution.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ATM

        The last leg (between the exchange and residential property) is still encapsulated ATM.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ATM

          Unless you tell your router to just do PPPoE. The ATM side of it hasn't existed for some time. It's all Ethernet now. If you tell your router to use PPPoA you're in effect doing PPPoA then converted to PPPoE. The ability to use PPPoA is for legacy reasons (If they turned it off, there would still be lots of people complain their routers stopped working - although not as many as when it was first done.), and terminated at the first line card it gets to and taken to Ethernet instead.

          ATM has not been the most practical way of carrying IP for quite some time due to the lack of higher speed interfaces.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What to tell BT ...

      "I can see why BT might offer cheaper to non Internet people....."

      Err think you may find it was because they were told to.

  8. GlenP Silver badge

    The whole point...

    of this was to help the people (mainly elderly) who have stuck with BT. They are not going to change provider at a whim (and without Internet access it's not easy to do so), they're not going to use mobile assuming they can get a signal.

    For the rest of us, shop around.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The whole point...

      Years ago BT introduced (or were told to introduce) a low user rebate on line rental fees for people who made very few calls but needed to have a phone. They gave me the discount ... apparently their systems were unable to realize that the reason I had virtually no call charges on my bill was because I used this new fangled Mercury service for all my calls.

    2. ravenviz

      Re: The whole point...

      they're not going to use mobile

      Better marketing of those mobiles with massive buttons is called for!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The whole point...

      My eighty one year old mother will be pleased to know that BT don't consider her elderly :-)

  9. whatsyourShtoile
    Trollface

    line rental isn't expensive enough for broadband customers

    they should have to pay a reasonable amount, lets say, £5000 per year.

  10. ibmalone Silver badge

    Really just makes the chunk they are charging for the broadband line more apparent. Still doesn't beat the Openreach disconnection charge you have to pay if you ever need to cancel a FTTC contract with any provider that uses them (and which Ofcom seem to think is okay and not an anticompetitive penalty).

  11. Just Enough

    Not what you meant to say

    "BT monthly landline costs are to be trimmed by £7 from this weekend but only for customers who don't buy fixed-line broadband from any provider – in other words, most people."

    This says the exact opposite of what was intended. If "customers who don't buy fixed-line broadband from any provider" was phrased in "other words" it would not be "most people", it would be "very few people"

  12. LessAnonymousCoward

    Why change the line rental price

    Surely the line cost is the same regardless of whether you have an internet service running on it? Why not just charge everyone the same line rental and reflect any additional cost related to an internet service in the pricing for the internet service... or would that just be too transparent?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Why change the line rental price

      It's not that simple. While line rental used to be just about the maintenance of the cable (and still is for openreach) for CPs (the companies we actually sign up with) it's become something more. For over a decade openreach has been reducing the line rental charge while CPs have been increasing it. This is either price gouging by the CPs or else the extra revenue has been used to keep down the cost of other services. Given that Ofcom have recently asked CPs to stop differentiating between line rental and other services I think they accept that it isn't price gouging.

      However Ofcom have also realised that this is unfair for those people who don't take a broadband service. If you don't need or want broadband why should you be helping subsidise it for other people? Especially since most of those who only want a voice service are the vulnerable in society.

      So this correction is addressing that. It's sending a message out (I think) that it's okay to charge one price for those people taking a 'full range of services' on their line but in exchange those who only take a voice service should only be paying for just that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why change the line rental price

        The problem is that plenty of people only take a "voice-lines only" service from BT Retail, and everything else (third-party services provided by that line) is none of their business, regards to the line rental charge.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Why change the line rental price

          Your reply doesn't seem to address anything in my post. I didn't say anything about how such a scheme should be 'policed'.

          All I did was point out that without this discount some people (mostly the vulnerable in society) are paying more for their line rental than they should. This is because despite openreach dropping the price it charges to CPs for line rental, the CPs have been increasing the amount they charge us. The end result is that Granny ends up paying for things she doesn't want or need.

          My solution would have been two-pronged: stop CPs over charging for line rental and introduce a separate 'vulnerable user' discount system that people can apply for and that requires proof (or at least a signature attesting to them meeting the criteria for it).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why change the line rental price

            "My solution would have been two-pronged: stop CPs overcharging for line rental and introduce a separate 'vulnerable user' discount system that people can apply for and that requires proof (or at least a signature attesting to them meeting the criteria for it)."

            Why make it so complicated? Line rental 'is' line rental.

            Ofcom are completely clueless here, inept even.

            BTRetail already have a 'vulnerable user' discount scheme if you are on specific low-income Government benefits.

            https://www.btplc.com/inclusion/ProductsAndServices/BTBasic/Whatdoyouget/index.htm

            Ofcom are completely clueless here, inept even.

            BTRetail have no right to 'police' what third-party services are on a line and set line rentals charges accordingly, that's dominant player market abuse.

            "Wire only" Line Rental should be the same charge because when a person takes Broadband from a third party supplier without taking a package with a phone line, they are not cross-subsiding Line Rental prices, they are paying the full market rate for that Broadband only service, often, because of the need a monthly ongoing contract, rather than an upfront 12-18 month contract.

            Monthly - Month in advance-Broadband prices (which are often at least £10 a month more) should also reduce to match upfront 12-month contract prices after you have been with a company for twelve months.

            If a consumer doesn't want to take on a 12-18 month contract they shouldn't be continually charged (ongoing) £10 a month more, because after 12 months both parties (monthly and those that took a 12 month contract) are then on rolling 1-month contracts.

            Ofcom are supposed to be the regulator here. BTRetail should not have access to such data for such purposes, because it sets a very bad precedent in terms of what other types of differential pricing BTRetail might start using, using their market dominance and 'grey data' within the BTGroup to gain market advantage,in terms of BTRetail over other ISPs.

            1. AndrueC Silver badge
              Meh

              Re: Why change the line rental price

              Why make it so complicated? Line rental 'is' line rental.

              The problem there is that a lot of people who only use their line for broadband don't understand why they have to pay line rental. There's a lot of people who associate it with voice services. You often see that cropping up here in discussions about line rental (there's probably a couple in this very thread). And you can see where some of their confusion comes from. They know that their telephone line is providing two services (even though they are not using one of them). They see two things on their bill. They think one is for broadband and the other is for voice.

      2. LessAnonymousCoward

        Re: Why change the line rental price

        You're effectively saying the same thing - Line rental has become a charge for other services and I say it should be a flat rate for the use of the wire. If you use a telephony service or a broadband service on it, the costs of those should be reflected in them.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "BT to slash landline rentals by 37%... for the broadbandless"

    Does that mean the same thing as this...?

    BT to stop subsidizing its broadband services by overcharging by 37% for landline rentals, at least where the landline renters don't even have broadband.

  14. mark l 2 Silver badge

    So from reading the info you could pay less landline fees and use dial up internet as this isn't broadband. Although I don't even know if any dial up ISPs still exist in the UK now. The last one i used was Freeserve from the late 90s.

  15. Mycho Silver badge

    Remind me,

    Can you still get £5 off your TV Licence if you're blind?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Remind me,

      "Can you still get £5 off your TV Licence if you're blind?"

      It's 50% discount if you or anyone in the household is registered blind. Applies to either colour or B&W licence, though I'm not sure how much use a B&W licence is these days. Even the blind can use PVRs for recording/time-shifting and they only come in "colour" versions requiring a colour licence. I'm not even sure you can buy a B&W tv nowadays

    2. cosymart
      Boffin

      Re: Remind me,

      No, it's 50% off if you are registered blind.

  16. Fihart

    BT has finally compared prices.

    And realised that several mobile providers offer cheaper calls than BT, even on PAYG. No line rental, texts -- and calls while you are out and about. BT's remaining customer base has, basically, been down to inertia.

  17. Barrie Shepherd

    "BT monthly landline costs are to be trimmed by £7 from this weekend but only for customers who don't buy fixed-line broadband from any provider"

    I would like to think that BT saying you have to pay a higher landline (standing) charge, if you also have a completely (i.e via a non BT pipe) Internet service from another provider, can be legal. It must be against some unfair trading practices act. It is none of BT's business what other fixed line connections I have to my premises.

    I doubt that an electricity company could get away with saying your standing charge will be more if you also have a gas supply to your premises.

    Yes it costs BT (should that be Openreach?) more if their copper connection to your house also carries a BT or a third party ISP Internet connection but it costs them nothing more if a third party ISP has run their own infrastructure to your property.

    Seems like BT are smarting because they have been forced to behave in a socially aware way and make the provision of basic telephone services affordable.

  18. jason 7

    So basically...

    ...this discount will vanish in 5-8 years along with those customers?

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Adam Jarvis

    Here's Ofcom's little but significant (weasel) words...in a small easily overlooked bullet point.

    Here's Ofcom's little but significant (weasel) words...in a small easily overlooked bullet point.

    1.10 Since the February Consultation, we have been made aware that providers of standalone telephony services on Openreach’s network are in fact able to identify which of their customers are voice-only and which are split-purchasers. Therefore, while providers have not so far set different prices (or other terms and conditions) between these two customer groups, they could do so if they wished. Accordingly, we are no longer of the view that voice-only and split-purchase customers should be considered part of the same market.

    https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/107322/standalone-landline-statement.pdf

    Actually, this agreement (even as a "cosy agreement" approved between BT and Ofcom) has a lot of similarities to the case of British Airways (that owned and ran the underlying booking system) using their overall control of the booking system, to access third party Virgin Atlantic airline customer data, to target those third-party customers, marketing different prices based on such data and using such data for market advantage.

    Should BT even be accessing/recording such data regarding rival ISPs in order to differentiate on pricing?

    Here it's BT "line only" customers being charged £11.99 a month, compared to £18.99 for no discernable difference in the service being provided but based on BT having access to the fact a third party provides a Broadband service on that line, because it operates the underlying databases where such data is stored by the third party ISP.

    I personally think it will fall foul of competition law.

    1. Barrie Shepherd

      Re: Here's Ofcom's little but significant (weasel) words...

      "Should BT even be accessing/recording such data regarding rival ISPs in order to differentiate on pricing?"

      Is it BT or Openreach? That aside I don't think the issue is so simple and the BA analogy is not similar as the database BT/Openreach has will not, I'm sure, have details of other ISPs direct customer lists. I doubt that Virgin would advise BT/Openreach of their directly connected customer base.

      My take is as follows;

      BT/Openreach have invested in the infrastructure both in the street and in the exchanges where the third party ISP equipment is connected. To enable and maintain the connection of third party ISP equipment will add to BT/Openreache's maintenance costs, hence it's appropriate that, where BT/Openreache's infrastructure is used to carry other ISPs customers internet traffic, the discounted phone line cost should not apply.

      My gripe is where BT/Openreaches infrastructure is not used for other ISP traffic because those ISP's have their own infrastructure connecting to their own customers. For BT to claim that means no telephone line discount is very sharp practice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Here's Ofcom's little but significant (weasel) words...

        In this case, it's BTRetail.

        "BT/Openreach has will not, I'm sure, have details of other ISPs direct customer lists"

        {facepalm} Given the "lines only" BT rental goes to the house/premises in question carrying those third-party services, BTRetail (let alone BTOpenreach) already has those customer lists" and BTRetail know there are third party services active on the line, by the information given to them regarding third party services on that line by another part of the BTGroup. It has a lot of similarities to the British Airways case.

        FFS, these two companies BTRetail and (BT) Openreach are now supposed to be separate and distinct with their own board members, yet this data has reached BTRetail.

        Somehow, BT Retail has been given access the underlying databases of BTGroups' BTOpenreach/BTWholesale, to differentiate on retail "lines only" v "lines only-phone only" rental price. £18.99 v £11.99. That's similarly, is very sharp practice.

        BTRetail even knowing there are third-party services on a line, allows them to use market abuse/ market advantage to target those customers with BTRetail Broadband products.

        As far as I can see, there is no new underlying BTOpenreach/BTWholesale product here (because that in itself would convey third party info to BTRetail), this is a voluntary agreement between weasels Ofcom and BTRetail, where third-party data that BTRetail shouldn't be privy to, has been given to BTRetail "somehow", via access to the underlying BTGroup-BTOpenreach database systems that store information regards third-party products on a BTRetail "lines only" line.

        1. Barrie Shepherd

          Re: Here's Ofcom's little but significant (weasel) words...

          "{facepalm} Given the "lines only" BT rental goes to the house/premises in question carrying those third-party services,"

          Don't doubt it, my point was that the data set BT/Openreach has will not identify houses additionally served by infrastructure installed by other ISPs (i.e.Virgin).

          I suspect that BT Retail will be charged for the telephone connection by Openreach, BT Retail will then bill the customer accordingly.

          I suspect that Openreach will be the party who is distinguishing between Internet connected / not connected and will be passing the appropriate (reduced for phone only) charge to BT Retail. For Internet connected lines that charge should be the same as Openreach charges other ISPs.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Adam Jarvis

    Ofcom-Sharon White/ICO (for you if you're reading) Let's keep things simple here...

    Bluntly, how the fuck does BTRetail 'know' there are third-party broadband services on a given "Lines Only" BT phone line product? (given BTRetail and BTOpenreach are distinct, separate companies, with a separate board, supposedly).

    Sounds like a misuse of accessing underlying BTGroup data to me, to gain market abuse/advantage in order to differentiate on line rental pricing.

    Grateful for a reply here, or you can just answer such a question as regard to my formal complaint now with the Ombudsman on the matter, that's already deadlocked by BT who shut me down, pretty much instantly, when I raised the data protection issue.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ofcom-Sharon White/ICO (for you if you're reading) Let's keep things simple here...

      > Bluntly, how the fuck does BTRetail 'know' there are third-party broadband services on a given "Lines Only" BT phone line product? (given BTRetail and BTOpenreach are distinct, separate companies, with a separate board, supposedly).

      Technically (i.e. from a technology pov), they know because broadband resellers get access to OpenReach's systems that allow them to test the line, check line speed, etc. Part of the status data returned is whether ADSL or VDSL is present, so it's easy for BT Retail to check each customer that asks for the 'voice only' discount.

      Whether they should be allowed to act on that information is a pertinent question, but I think that's a question for Ofcom or maybe the CMA, rather than the ICO.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ofcom-Sharon White/ICO (for you if you're reading) Let's keep things simple here...

        The idea BT Retail check every line via the public BT Wholesale Broadband checker, is just poppycock.

        BT Retail got this information from (BT) Openreach and it's a clear abuse of competition law, worse still, with the backing of weasels Ofcom who thought it would shut up any dissent against the ever-increasing "Line only" BT Retail rental charges.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ofcom-Sharon White/ICO (for you if you're reading) Let's keep things simple here...

          > The idea BT Retail check every line via the public BT Wholesale Broadband checker, is just poppycock.

          I didn't say they used the *public* broadband checker. I said that the broadband resellers get access to OpenReach's systems. These are their internal systems that provide a lot more detailed information than the publicly available checker. Bulk checking is perfectly feasible: many ISPs already run daily checks on all their customers to anticipate faults and these are done through the OpenReach systems.

  23. Barrie Shepherd

    New Article not clear

    The article refers to BT i.e the overarching company that holds BT Retail and Openreach.

    It is not clear but one explanation for the apparent leaking of info is that it will be Openreach who determine if the line has an internet connection. If no Internet connection (from any ISP) Openreach will then bill BT Retail a reduced cost for the line which BT Retail will pass onto their customer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New Article not clear

      "If no Internet connection (from any ISP) Openreach will then bill BT Retail a reduced cost for the line which BT Retail will pass onto their customer."

      Yes, but that hypothesis in itself is dominant player market abuse by BTGroup (stupidly with the blessing/sanctioned by the regulator Ofcom) whereby data is being passed from (BT) Openreach (now a separate legal entity) to BTRetail to gain dominant player market advantage, in setting the "lines only" line rental charges based on data that BTRetail should not be privy to, certainly not to set prices by, and the whole reason (BT) Openreach is supposed to be a separate legal entity FFS.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: New Article not clear

        Re: Yes, but that hypothesis in itself is dominant player market abuse by BTGroup

        Well the only way I can think of that would get around that problem would be for Openreach to set a price for "the line" and price for termination. Thus total line price to an Openreach customer would be: £ physical (unlit/unpowered) line + (customer premises termination) + (broadband termination + connection to LLU) + (phone termination + connection to phone service).

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blast from the past

    Back in the early 1990s, internet access in the UK was prohibitively expensive because of dial-up call charges. BT engineers would tell you that the only relationship between the calls you made and how much BT charged you for them was the amount of ink it took to print out your bill.

    Somehow they had managed to fool people into thinking it was fair that the more you used the phone, the more it should cost you. So whenever I proposed the idea to friends and colleagues that local calls should be free of charge, as in the US, they thought I was bonkers. BT said they couldn't possibly introduce such a ludicrous scheme. Then everyone started using the internet and suddenly having unmetered calls was a wonderful idea.

    Ten years later I started asking why everything going over the internet wasn't encrypted by default, and everyone said I was bonkers ...

  25. JJKing Bronze badge
    Devil

    Other vile phone company dirty tricks.

    Telstra in Australia (you know the place, land of cricket cheats :-) had a really underhanded way of increasing profits in the dialup days of the Internet. They didn't have a real good modem to user ratio so when you would try and dial in, the bastards would let the call be answered and then disconnect you because a modem wasn't available. I know someone who had their setup set to auto redial every few seconds when trying to get access during peak times. He ended up with a massive bill because each call cost $0.20. So 3 seconds after being disconnected it would autodial again. Ring 3 or 4 times, answer, disconnect and 3 seconds later, rinse and repeat. We figured 12 dialup attempts per hour 12 x $0.20 = $2.40 on top of your monthly fee. Memory has faded a bit.....ok a lot but for some reason I seem to remember one night showed 100 odd redials. Not long after that this dirty practice was exposed.

    Also being from down under and not knowing many of the abbreviations from the top of the globe, does BT stand for Bloody Thieves?

  26. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    We used to have fair iburst coverage at our domicilium. Was good enough for youtubing etc. With unused data rolling over to the next month.

    Until the company decided to ditch their old tech and vswitch over to LTE/LTE-A

    Which is actually more expensive, you need new hardware, and there's no data rollover.

  27. Zmodem

    its fake, and only to get the other half of the country BT won't give a land line back to, because its the first bill you won't pay when you get sacked from your job, gets a land line

    its not even half on the OFCOM stats, because the 46% is for BT and cable, everyone elses dongles and t-mobile

  28. Adam Jarvis

    This is a real mess Ofcom. Ofcom you've been duped.

    Ofcom, you've spent an absolute fortune establishing Openreach as a separate legal enitity to prevent dominate player market abuse, yet you've basically said (with this proposal) BTRetail can access information given to it from other parts of BTGroup, i.e. (BT) Openreach regarding what third-party services are on a consumer's line and are allowing BT Retail set the "Line only" rental prices accordingly.

    BT Retail will say (and have done) that information is available to all landline providers so having access to what third party services are on a given consumer line, is fair game and tt's not market abuse within the BT Group as a whole.

    The problem with this is BT Retail are the ones that gain most from having this information, BTGroup know this, and why BT Group have agreed to this proposition.

    Ofcom/Sharon White, you've been duped. You can't allow BT Retail to set prices based on information only known to (BT) Openreach, because of all the work that Ofcom has done into establishing (BT) Openreach as a separate legal entity.

    It's wrong.

    1. Zmodem

      Re: This is a real mess Ofcom. Ofcom you've been duped.

      should'nt worry, openreach can offer lines only for broadband and have no need for a useless home phones

      if you register on talktalk and plusnet and skip BT

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