Broadband price cuts are not the answer

An announcement by the communications watchdog which aims to cut the cost of broadband in rural areas fails to address the real problems faced by Norfolk people, campaigners said last night.

Ofcom yesterday revealed it would impose price cuts on BT Wholesale meaning the telecoms giant would have to reduce what it charges other internet service providers (ISPs) to use its broadband infrastructure.

It is hoped this will lead to more competition in rural areas like Norfolk and could lead to cheaper deals for customers. At the moment, rural consumers often pay more than those in urban locations.

But Jon Clemo, chief executive of the Norfolk Rural Community Council, said saving money on bills would mean nothing to consumers in this county if they were still struggling with super-slow speeds.

He said: 'Getting a quid or two off your bill isn't the challenge here, it's getting the service that's desired or needed in rural areas.'

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Ofcom has decided BT must reduce its wholesale prices by 12pc below inflation each year. The ruling only applies to asymmetric digital subscriber lines (ADSL) – those capable of providing speeds of up to 8Mbps. But it hopes it could also encourage BT to increase its roll out of ADSL 2+ technology which can provide speeds of 24Mbps.

Both services are delivered through the existing network of copper wires which lose speed as they move away from exchanges.

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Earlier this year, Norfolk County Council was awarded �15m in government funding towards a �60m scheme to bring high-speed broadband to every property in the county.

It followed the EDP's Broadband: Back the Bid campaign which urged business leaders, entrepreneurs and voluntary organisations to get behind the authority's application for the money from Broadband Delivery UK.

The project is expected to take four years to complete.

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