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ABC Supports ISP's vs BT Price Hike

Posted: 17th Sep, 2004 By: MarkJ
The Access to Broadband Campaign (ABC) group has joined with the UKIF in supporting smaller ISP's against BT's business broadband ADSL price hikes:

A decision by BT in response to a ruling by Ofcom seems to be threatening the future of the UK's "LittleNets" who provide internet services to consumers and small businesses. BT is proposing a price hike of up to 30% on certain broadband products that the 'LittleNets' buy from BT and resell to their users. This should be of grave concern to consumers, Government, and suppliers, said the Access to Broadband Campaign (http://www.ABCampaign.org) this afternoon.

"This is important because many of these smaller companies provide innovative and specialist services and services in rural areas which many of the bigger service providers see as unattractive and low margin markets" says Brian Condon of the Access to Broadband Campaign.

There are three types of suppliers in the UK today, say ABC, "Big Telecom" (BT), The AltNets (alternative networks like NTL, Telewest, Energis, Cable and Wireless, Thus, Your Communications etc) and the "LittleNets" (about 150 internet service providers in the UK who provide services in local areas). Over the past 10 years, argues ABC, it is the third grouping of ISPs that has played a significant role in bringing broadband to rural Britain by being willing to invest in local markets which the bigger players see as unattractive.

The proposed increase in price of the IPStream products bought by the LittleNets, which are an integral part of the wired broadband middle mile, is likely to tighten the squeeze on many of these smaller UK Internet Service Providers (the guys who give you access to the Internet) and particularly those in rural areas. The price rise proposal will have a disproportionate impact on the smaller players while favouring those with scale - the largest of which is BT itself.

"While we accept that the whole area of regulation of these types of services is difficult and complicated," says Condon, "we cannot believe that Ofcom intended that its ruling would result in such a large impact on small, innovative providers who are just the sort of businesses regulation is supposed to protect from players with Significant Market Power."

"Innovation is occurring at the edge of the network, with new services being delivered, such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Price hikes in the centre which endanger the future of the LittleNets can only damage UK plc and don't seem to us to be in the best interests of the consumer" he adds (somewhat bitterly).

BT's price increases are due to take place by the end of the month. ABC members will be lobbying MPs to bring this situation to the attention of the Government.


ABC makes an all too valid point regarding Ofcom's purpose towards protecting the little players against big ones, a group they now appear to be failing.
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