Carphone Warehouse has caught the industry by surprise with its broadband offer; free, fast, with the usual modem and the rest bundled in. Sounds too good to be true, but we’ve been here before.
Ten years ago we early adopters accessed the internet over very slow dial-up connections (we’re talking 14.4kbs; 570 times slower or thereabouts than Talk Talk’s 8mbs). And we paid about £15 per month plus the cost of a local phone call (another five pence per minute peak rate). It was mad. But the web was exciting, even then.
Freeserve changed all that. Dixons did a deal with telecommunications company who agreed to share revenue from the local phone call. That meant the £15 a month fee could go and the internet was free. Well not really. You didn’t pay your internet service provider (ISP) anything, but you still had the phone call. Some said it wouldn’t work. My ISP wrote to everyone telling us it wasn’t viable. They’re not an ISP anymore.
Talk Talk from Carphone Warehouse will also change everything. Once the early adopters have paid for the research, development and infrastructure, the day-to-day cost of providing internet access is miniscule. Today’s consumers are used to change and adopt new technology incredibly quickly. And the regulator says BT must let companies like Carphone Warehouse install their own kit at BT exchanges and take ownership of phone lines. That means Talk Talk doesn’t have to rent a line from BT; they can offer free internet.
All you have to do is sign up for their telephone service. Soon all ISPs will work like Talk Talk from Carphone Warehouse. (And by the way, you get free phone calls to UK landlines and 28 other countries too.)