ISP Review - Free Broadband?

Free Broadband?
By Mark 'Winter' Jackson : Aug 23rd 2006 : Page 1 of 3
"Such promotions have a tendency to attract a lot of interest and providers can quickly become a victim of their own success"

FREE Broadband!”, the title of many an ISP’s latest promotion loudly exclaims, as if to entice everybody with the promise of cheaper than cheap Internet access. Indeed this latest marketing trend, which was kicked off by Carphone Warehouse through its TalkTalk division during the spring, has since taken off and been adopted by several operators.

On the surface such promotions appear to be excellent deals, seemingly offering something for nothing in an all too attractive sense. Typically it’s only when you take a fine comb through the usual foray of perplexing jargon and package conditions that the truth becomes clear – “free” costs money.

Examining Carphone’s Example

Glancing across Carphone’s ( promotion it’s easy to see the catch because while the broadband aspect might be “free”, you still have to purchase additional services in order to qualify for it. In this instance the ISP requires that you purchase its fixed-line telephone system, which couples a line rental charge of £11 to a package cost of £8.99 for a total fee touching £19.99 per month. On top of that you’ll find yourself locked into a nasty 18 month contract, not to mention that those without a modem may still have to shell out £29.99 in order to obtain the appropriate hardware.

Then there’s the data allowance (how much you can download in any given month), something that has become common among all ISP’s no matter whether they choose to publicise or disguise it under a nonsensical ‘Fair Usage Policy’. Carphone provides a seemingly ample 40GigaByte (GB) data limit, although tucked away in the fine print can be found references to restrictions on P2P File Sharing. Some providers may also charge high costs for additional GigaBytes consumed above the supplied amount. It’s important to investigate each ISP for these gremlins because they may impact a service you use.

It’s at this point that one should consider the additional risks in joining any widely advertised offer where the word “free” has been used. Such promotions have a tendency to attract a lot of interest and providers can quickly become a victim of their own success. Carphone has openly admitted that a significant number of those registering for the service have not yet been connected. Suffice to say that many have been forced to wait over a month for their connection.

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