22 January 2003 Pipex, Plusnet and NTL have been identified as the cheapest providers of home broadband Internet access, according to new research by Infoconomy. And the difference in price between different service providers could cost users up to £250 over two years.
The price of setting up a home broadband connection have been slashed this year as a result of wholesale price cuts imposed by the telecoms regulator on BT, the owner of the infrastructure through which all DSL services in the UK are run.
Although the price cuts will only come into force at the end of March, Internet service providers (ISPs) have rushed to introduce special offers. These include cut-price or free connection and DSL modems.
But there remain big differences in the subscriptions and other fees charged by different vendors.
For example, the cost of setting up and running a home DSL connection with Pipex weighs in at £586 over two years, with NTL costing £599.76 and Plusnet £614.75. Pipex came in cheapest after slashing its hefty £164 charge for a modem and connection.
Clara.net, which targets the small office/home office (SOHO) sector of the market, costs almost £250 more at £833.55 over two years.
NTL and Telewest broadband services are only available in areas that have access to either company’s cable services.
For the purpose of comparison, Infoconomy only looked at NTL and Telewest’s 600 kbps offerings because they were the nearest equivilent to DSL vendors’ standard 512 kbps products. Both cable operators also offer one megabit connections.
Overall, DSL vendor Plusnet offers the cheapest monthly broadband subscription at £20.99, although it bars access to bandwidth intensive peer-to-peer (P2P) applications and binary newsgroups, where users can share images, videos and applications, often pirated. Users wanting such services must pay £2 more.
Home users’ choices are complicated by the wide range of different tariffs on offer. For example, Plusnet offers users the opportunity of rolling up the connection fee and the cost of a DSL modem into a monthly payment of £28.99, which falls to £20.99 after one year.
However, some vendors have been criticised for initially offering poor or unreliable service or taking a soft line on spammers, leading to their mail servers being blacklisted by anti-spam groups and even other ISPs.
Users are advised to check vendors’ performance statistics at ADSL Guide (www.adslguide.org.uk) before signing up.
The full spreadsheet is available on request from Infoconomy at the email address below. All data is believed to be correct at the time of publication.
Infoconomy’s methodology takes into account the cost of buying a modem and the connection charges. These are rolled up into the first year’s cost. The second year cost includes just the monthly subscription fee. Companies such as Plusnet offer a range of tariffs, while others dictate that users must use a particular DSL modem.