Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Naked broadband

One of the things that I enjoy about discussions about technology is that there is always a bit of jargon you have never heard before. Today I went to a breakfast meeting where I was introduced to the concept of "naked broadband". In essence it means being able to buy a broadband-only service from your provider without having to pay a monthly line rental to BT. Apparently such things are common elsewhere in Europe but rare in the UK.

Why might this be a good idea?

The argument runs that broadband penetration in the UK is starting to run out of steam. Overall coverage is now growing only very slowly, with almost complete coverage in urban areas among the middle classes, but lower penetration among elderly people and among people on lower incomes. However, the latter group are increasingly likely to depend very heavily on their mobile phone. Once they have paid for their mobile phone and their BT landline rental, many cannot afford broadband as well. But if they use their mobile phone a lot, they may not need a BT landline for voice calls - so why not let them pay instead for broadband?

Given the concerns over the 'digital divide' - which is likely to get worse as superfast broadband is rolled out in some parts of the country and not others - the idea of 'naked broadband' as an option seems on the face of it to be a good one. If it reduces the barriers to broadband access among those who (and whose children who) would otherwise miss out, it must be worth a try.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to know how this would work in practice. Broadband still needs a phone line to connect to. That line needs installation &, periodically, maintenance, both of which cost money and are currently covered in line rental.
How, then, will these costs be recovered? If it were to be added to the price of data transfer either per magabyte, or maybe higher cost on monthly download limit, this would just shift the cost; isn't this just line rental by another name.

Andy said...

I would like to see this get more straightforward to achieve. I recently moved house, and wanted broadband but didn't especially need a phone line. Virgin (bl**dy) Media turned out to be the cheapest and simplest option, since they're pretty cheap and I only have to talk to one company. Trying to work out who I could get ADSL from cheaply, and whether I needed to organise line rental separately, was a confusing maze in comparison. It is ludicrous that I can get a technically superior service (cable) for less money, in exchange for signing up to a 12 month contract.

Now all I need is for Vigin Media to be able to re-pull a cable to my house, even when there are cars parked on my road (which, it turns out, is every day), and I'd be sorted...

Jock Coats said...

Isn't this really a function of "local loop unbundling" - where alternative providers can establish their own infrastructure to replace the old copper and provide a range of services that need not include telephony?

On the other hand, other solutions such as broadband wireless - linked or not to your mobile phone provider - hold out the possibility not only of reaching those parts cabled services cannot reach and much more cheaply.

Unfortunately our corporatist state decided to carve the UK up in, er, a monopoly (more or less, a duopoly in some places), when it doled out the WiMAX spectrum too.

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compare broadband said...

I cheked few countries broadband provider sites and found that almost all are offering this service.Even in India Govt run company BSNL is providing this service.