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    UK ISP PlusNet to Tackle Broadband Price Confusion over Low Cost Areas

    This is a discussion on UK ISP PlusNet to Tackle Broadband Price Confusion over Low Cost Areas within the General Computing and Internet forums, part of the Community channel category; UK ISP PlusNet to Tackle Broadband Price Confusion over Low Cost Areas - ISPreview UK Budget Internet provider PlusNet must ...

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      UK ISP PlusNet to Tackle Broadband Price Confusion over Low Cost Areas

      UK ISP PlusNet to Tackle Broadband Price Confusion over Low Cost Areas - ISPreview UK
      Budget Internet provider PlusNet must correct their definition for “Low Cost” areas, which directly impacts the price that subscribers pay, after ISPreview.co.uk readers noted that the details on their website appeared to have been out of date since 26th June 2014 when Ofcom changed the regulation.

      At present PlusNet’s customers pay less for the service if they live in a so called “Low Cost” area, which is explained in more detail on their Guide to Low Cost Areas page and defined as being reflective of Ofcom’s telecoms Market 2 and Market 3 definitions. By comparison customers considered to be in Market 1 pay a higher price (we’ll explain why in a moment).

      Put another way, the standard price of PlusNet’s Unlimited Broadband package is £9.99 per month in a Low Cost area (excluding line rental as this price remains the same regardless of market definition), but this rises to a staggering £17.49 if you’re stuck in a part of the UK defined by Ofcom as Market 1.

      In simple terms, Market 2 and 3 account for the vast majority of the UK where there is plenty of competition between ISPs and thus regulation is soft, which is a combination that results in lower prices. By comparison Market 1 accounts for the final 11.7% of UK premises (i.e. mostly rural areas and or locations where only a single primary provider exists) and thus suffers from less competition and more regulation, which means higher prices (note: it might arguably be even more expensive if Ofcom didn’t regulate).

      The Change in Market Definition


      The above definitions have been around for a fair few years and in that time rival’s to the incumbent BT throne, such as TalkTalk and Sky Broadband, have expanded the coverage of their own non-BT unbundled (LLU) phone and broadband networks. Ofcom’s recent review of the UK’s Wholesale Broadband Access (WBA) markets (final statement) took account of this and other changes to produce a new definition, which the regulator told us came into effect during late June 2014.

      Without getting too technical, under the new definition Market 2 and 3 effectively became known as Market B (accounting for 89.7% of UK premises) and the more expensive and tightly regulated Market 1 became known as Market A. The key difference here is that the new Market A now accounts for 9.6% of UK premises, which is less than the 11.7% under Market 1 (i.e. more premises were classified as being in a “Low Cost” area).

      In other words PlusNet has spent more than half a year expressing the old market definitions and thus giving customers confusing or completely incorrect information on their website about how much they should pay. A particular fear exists that some of those originally defined as being in Market 1, but which may now have been moved into Market B (cheaper areas), could currently be paying well over the odds for their broadband.

      The good news is that this problem should only impact a fairly small number of the ISPs customers and it’s hoped that PlusNet’s internal systems may have taken account of the change, even if their website has failed to reflect the correct information (at the time of writing it’s still reflecting Ofcom’s old definition).

      We raised this problem with PlusNet on Thursday last week and happily they promptly responded to say that the issue was being investigated. A more detailed response has been promised after the investigation has concluded and we will update this article once that arrives. In the meantime any customers defined by PlusNet’s system as being outside of a ‘Low Cost’ area might wish to double check with the ISP in case they’re now in the wrong market definition (especially if you’re out of contract).


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      Re: UK ISP PlusNet to Tackle Broadband Price Confusion over Low Cost Areas

      I've never understood why Plus Net took the decision to offer a multi-tiered pricing structure like this in the first place? I'm not aware of any other ISP doing this and it's not like the end user has a choice which market their exchange falls into, so I have never understood why they do it?

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      I'm guessing that other ISPs just absorb any additional cost relating to those market 2 & 3 exchanges that they might suffer in getting work done but PlusNet don't? Maybe! Just guessing really...
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      Re: UK ISP PlusNet to Tackle Broadband Price Confusion over Low Cost Areas

      I remember when PN first started this, they didn't even include 'market 2' exchanges in the lower priced tier. When I was with PN, I watched my exchange move from market 1 to market 2 as first Talk Talk and then Sky came along and LLU'd my exchange. As soon as Sky came along, I switched to them and have been with them ever since as at the time there was no 21CN WBC in my exchange (though there is now).

      I'm surprised fibre doesn't change the market status as that has arrived here now too, though I'm still on one of the EO lines that hasn't been converted to a cab (some have here, as a fibre cab has now been installed outside the exchange, but I'm still too far away. I must be on one of the longest EO lines there is )

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      Re: UK ISP PlusNet to Tackle Broadband Price Confusion over Low Cost Areas

      I wonder if the fact that the only alternate to PN on a M1 exchange is BT, has anything to do with the pricing policy. It is one thing that lets +net down in my opinion, the fact that they are willing to further penalize anyone who has little choice of ISP.

      TomD


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