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New Rule Stops UK ISPs Separating Line Rental Cost from Broadband Prices

Thursday, October 4th, 2012 (1:38 am) - Score 1,193

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will from today officially begin enforcing a new rule that requires ISPs to ensure that the cost of any compulsory phone line rental service is “stated sufficiently prominently” alongside adverts for related broadband bundles.

The new policy was first announced in July 2012 after the ASA ruled that it was “misleading” for Virgin Media to only state the cost of its broadband service (note: at the time this was priced at just £5 a month) when the related bundle also required a compulsory charge for Virgin Phone Line Rental (£13.90 extra per month).

The move represents good news for consumers because some broadband providers have recently taken to raising the price of their phone service, which often either isn’t clearly stated or instead reduced to small print, in order to make their internet access component look cheaper. In reality the total cost of both frequently presents a very different picture.

An ASA Statement said:

We understood that some consumers purchased line rental as a separate standalone service, for receiving incoming calls only, and therefore considered that line rental had a value associated with it in its own right, for which some consumers would generally expect to pay. On that basis, we considered that line rental was a non-optional, conditional service, as opposed to a charge with no intrinsic value which … did not need to be included in the overall price.

However, because line rental had some of the characteristics of a charge, we considered it was particularly important that its cost was stated sufficiently prominently.

As you might expect the ruling has clear implications for most Internet Service Providers, which were originally given until today (4th October 2012) to “bring their marketing communications in to line with the requirements of the adjudication“. However ISPs that only offer a standalone broadband service, where the price of line rental is likely to depend upon the customers own separate choice of an external phone provider, will not be affected by the change.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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