News: Ed Vaizey says that people need to see what they’re paying for.
Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey has added his voice to calls for more transparency in broadband prices, as Ofcom announced the results of its Business Market Connectivity Review.
Vaizey said that he had written to major UK telecoms providers such as BT, Virgin, TalkTalk and Sky to invite them to a roundtable.
"You get these headline prices which are misleading," Vaizey said to the Telegraph. "People should pay for what they use.
"If the companies come up with a different pricing structure, that is fine, as long as they can see what they are paying for. Some people want to get rid of their landline entirely and pay for their broadband."
Broadband companies are already facing a crackdown on their pricing practices, since an ASA study commissioned jointly with Ofcom found that many consumers were struggling to understand existing broadband advertising.
The draft measures, set to be brought in by 30 May 2016, called for all-inclusive upfront and monthly costs, with no separation of line rental costs.
Only 23 percent of consumers are able to correctly identify the total cost per month after viewing an ad and being asked to recall as much information about the offered deal as possible, according to the study.
On another front, Ofcom announced findings from its Business Market Communcations Review, presenting draft rules aimed at improving BT’s performance in installing high-speed business lines and cutting the wholesale prices it charges.
Ofcom would require BT to reduce the average time between a customer’s order and the line being ready to 46 working days by the end of March 2017 and 40 working days the following year.
Currently it is 48 working days, Ofcom says, up from 40 in 2011.
Ofcom also proposed that by March 2017, Openreach must complete 80 percent of leased line orders by the promised date, and by April 2018, 90 percent.
The regulator confirmed plans to require BT to provide access to its optical fibre network, outline in the Digital Communications Review last month.
Ofcom is signalling a harder line in its dealings with BT. Several parties had hoped that Openreach, BT’s infrastructure arm, would be split off from the BT Group during the review.
BT criticised the additional regulation and said that while there was "more to do" on service, the proposed measures would not help.
"Dark fibre is a flawed piece of regulation that introduces an unnecessary layer of complexity and will deter others from building their own fibre networks," said a BT spokesperson. "It is at odds with Ofcom’s recent statements about increasing competition at the infrastructure level.
"It is a cherry pickers’ charter benefiting those who don’t invest in networks at the expense of those who do including BT, Virgin Media, City Fibre and Zayo."
Ed Vaizey spoke to CBR exclusively in October. Read the interview here.