Following an investigation by the Advertising Standards Agency into the confusing nature of broadband ads, Vodafone has taken the lead and agreed to remove separate charges for line rental.
The ASA finished an investigation into broadband advertising earlier this year and found that less than a quarter of people surveyed could, when asked, correctly identify the cost of a broadband package from its advertised price.
The ASA announced that, from October 31st, the would be recommending that all broadband providers include line rental costs in the headline prices advertised for their broadband packages in order to avoid any confusion.
At the time, the ASA’s chief executive, Guy Parker, said: “We recognise the importance of broadband services to people's lives at work and at home. The findings of our research, and other factors we took into account, showed the way prices have been presented in broadband ads is likely to confuse and mislead customers. This new tougher approach has been developed to make sure consumers are not misled and get the information they need to make well-informed choices.”
Now, Vodafone, who only began offering fixed line home broadband services in October last year, have become the first provider to officially take the ASA’s advice on board.
From now on, under the new pricing scheme, broadband customers will be offered a home phone line for free, without having to pay £18 per month in a addition to the cost of the actual package. The price for the broadband service will be increased in order to consume what was the separate line rental cost, but Vodafone have assured that their prices will still be cheaper than others on the market.
Vodafone’s broadband packages will begin at £22 per month for mobile customers, or £25 for fixed line home broadband customers, going up to £28 per month for a high speed (76mb/s) connection. This top speed package will, according to Vodafone, cost £332 less than rival BT’s over a 12 month period. Vodafone’s new pricing will be available to customers who take out an 18 month contract.
Paolo Pescatore of market research firm CSS Insight said that the move was a good one for Vodafone, but that it may not quite be enough for them to compete wholly with other providers, given the lack of content (such as TV) that they offer.
He said: "Vodafone's lack of content still represents a huge headache for the company as all of its rivals are bundling entertainment, movies and sports with their broadband deals.
"We are moving into a key period when all multiplay providers are trying to entice subscribers with attractive promotions ahead of the new Premier League football season.
"We are expecting a busy second half of the year with Sky's entry into mobile, Vodafone's debut in TV and Virgin Media's new set-top box. "