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BT plans to slash Wholesale Broadband prices

BT revealed how it plans to reduce its wholesale broadband pricing once 1.5m lines have been unbundled. The indicative prices are aimed at offering service providers a cost effective alternative to Local Loop Unbundling (LLU).

The new pricing structure is intended to come into effect from May 2007 - at which point BT believes the UK will have achieved 1.5 million LLU lines – and will be implemented in two stages. The unveiling of the proposals will enable service providers to plan ahead.

From May 2007, service providers will see the rental charge for the most highly used wholesale broadband product – BT IPstream – reduced by 9 per cent, with the price coming down from £8.40 per line per month to £7.63. This price is expected to be reduced further in the second round of changes planned for January 2008.

There will also be further savings for service providers at high density exchanges. The current rebate scheme that applies at 561 of these exchanges is set to be revised to cover 1,016 exchanges. The level of this rebate is also set to increase from £1.10 to £1.24 from May 2007. The rebate reflects the lower cost of providing broadband in these areas.

The increase in the rebate – combined with the lower rental price - will reduce the net monthly rental price (i.e. rental less rebate) in these exchanges from £7.30 to £6.39. This is a reduction of 12.5 per cent. Further increases to the rebate are also planned from January 2008.

Cameron Rejali, BT Wholesale managing director for products and strategy, said: “These pricing proposals will help our ISP customers develop their business plans and compete effectively in the broadband market. The proposed prices better reflect the economies of scale and input costs we face, meaning we can deliver lower average costs to ISPs. The industry has been waiting to hear how we will enable them to compete with the local loop unbundlers and so these proposals should allow them to plan ahead.”

Service providers choosing the BT Datastream product - a simpler service than that provided by the BT IPstream product - are also set to benefit from the revised rebate scheme. The existing rebate of £1.15 for connections to the current 561 exchanges will be extended to the 1,016 designated exchanges. This will effectively reduce the rental charge per end user from £7.05 to £5.90 in those areas from May 2007.

BT Wholesale has started to purchase the LLU product and will consequently be charged for the provision and cessation of a line from Openreach. From May 2007, BT Wholesale intends to reflect these charges through connection and cessation charges for its service provider customers. As a result, the connection charge for BT IPstream and BT Datastream products will come down from £40 (ex VAT) to £34.86 (ex VAT) reflecting the charges from Openreach.

A cessation charge is also set to be introduced where service providers order the termination of service on an end user’s line. This charge of £33.75 (ex VAT) reflects the input costs from Openreach. The cessation charge will not apply when a consumer wants to move from one service provider to another and both service providers use the MAC process. BT’s aim is to encourage more service providers to participate in the MAC process, which is designed to make it simpler for consumers to move from one service provider to another. The cessation charge will also not apply where there are bulk migrations to LLU.

Finally, BT Wholesale also confirmed today it intends to trial Wholesale Broadband Connect in selected exchanges across the UK from Summer 2007. This is a new next generation broadband service created using 21CN. Using ADSL and ADSL2+ technology, it will provide national connectivity enabling communications providers to connect their broadband and data customers to their own networks and services efficiently and cost effectively. With planned speeds of up to 24 Mbit/s, BT Wholesale Broadband Connect is set to be available to almost half the UK from early 2008, with nationwide coverage linked to the rollout of 21CN.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.