ISP Review - ISPs & The Big FRIACO Discount

ISP Review Gets ISP Feedback To The Recent 17% FRIACO Price Cut

ISPs & The BIG FRIACO Discount
By Mark 'Winter' Jackson : Aug 25th-2003 : Page 1 of 2

"one key problem is how the cut only appears to affect BTs own products and a few ‘select’ rivals, such as C&W"

On 21st July 2003 the UK telecoms regulator, Oftel, announced that it had ordered BT to cut the cost of its wholesale unmetered dialup (FRIACO) product by 17% and backdate the discount. The decision followed an earlier complaint by operator Cable & Wireless (C&W).

The cut came as a direct result of Oftel finding that BT had been charging operators for certain call routing and call management measures that were no longer necessary.

Unsurprisingly many felt that this would result in cheaper end-user Internet access, although to date the prophesised discounts have failed to materialise. Consequently ISP Review wanted to find out more and contacted several ISPs to gain opinions on the matter; we received a mixed bag of responses.

The Problem

The feedback we gained from ISPs has made it clear that one key problem is how the cut only appears to affect BTs own products and a few ‘select’ rivals, such as C&W, the operator responsible for the original complaint; However, many ISPs use third-party alternatives.

SurfAnyTime / Firefly’s MD, Derek Lewis, commented that “BT ports represent only a small number of our port allocation, mainly due to price and BT's inane billing procedures, and therefore this would be unlikely to affect us or our customers greatly.”

So what of those providers that do get their ports from BT, how do they feel about the discount? One such ISP, Tiscali, blames BT for not passing on the discounts in the first place: “This 17% cut (and backdated portion) has not yet been passed on to Tiscali by BT Wholesale and there is no indication currently that it will be - it's all been a bit of a smokescreen, the money has passed from one part of BT to another, Oftel has been seen to have done its bit and consumers are left with an expectation that their ISP will pass on the saving.”

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