Rural areas set to get cheaper broadband

Rural communities could soon be able to enjoy cheaper and faster broadband, if proposals from Ofcom get the green light.

The communications regulator wants BT to lower the prices it charges to internet service providers in areas where it is the sole supplier of wholesale broadband. It has proposed a reduction of charges between 10.75% and 14.75% below inflation.

The plans would increase competition between retail broadband providers and bring cheaper broadband to an estimated three million homes and businesses. The areas that stand to benefit are typically rural and include parts of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland as well as South West England, Norfolk, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland amongst others.

Following a period of consultation, Ofcom is likely to publish a statement in the summer, after which new price controls would come into force.

Read: How to banish the broadband blues

Ofcom also hopes that new price controls would also increase the broadband speeds available in rural areas. If costs were reduced ISPs should be able to buy more capacity for their users, without increasing costs, thereby increasing the speeds they are able to offer.

The regulator has also proposed exempting the latest broadband lines from pricing controls (ADSL 2+ which is able to support faster broadband speeds) encouraging BT to invest in better technology where it can.

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Consumer Focus welcomed the move. Adam Scorer, director of external affairs said:

"Broadband customers in rural areas where BT is the only provider will be pleased to be able to access cheaper broadband. This is a very welcome move by Ofcom. However, in some remote areas people are still waiting for broadband to reach them and many more don't have access to the faster broadband services they need to take full advantage of being online."

He added: "The Government plans for everywhere in the UK to have faster broadband by 2015. The emphasis needs to be on the market to deliver this, however, where there are fewer customers and profits are lower, this may not happen. People in these more remote areas need to be assured by the government that alternative plans are in place and that the money earmarked to tackle this issue will be enough."

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Your Comments

It's taken 7 months to get broadband since I moved to rural Cumbria and BT insist on 18 month contract, quite ridiculous.

Here in Cornwall the providers offfer what they still describe as "broadband", although the BT lines can only support dismally small speeds, eg 0.5 mbps to max 4 mbps and the charge is around an extra £15 per month for the privilege. The only bonus Virgin offered was to say they don't cap. One would hope they didn't at a speed like that, as it would hardly be a drain on the national net, lol

Why do people who decide to live in quiet locations well away from others then expect to pay the same as those living in densely populated areas.. The infrastructure has to be paid for and the charges should relate to the cost of providing it.

As a BT shareholder since it was sold off by the government in 1984 I am getting tired of Ofcom treating the company as if it is still owned by the government. If it is ok for BT to give access at a reduced rate to other companies why don't Virgin and Sky have to do the same.

I live approx 2.5miles from our exchange, i am unable to get 0.5mbps
thus i player etc is not obtainable, I can download but it takes an eternity
thus frustration.