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Vonage calls for 'naked DSL'

Line rental charges too high

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Vonage is calling on BT to cut the cost of telephone line rental branding the charge "unfair". It claims people should be able to take just a DSL line without having to pay for a telephone service as well.

The broadband telephony outfit wants "naked DSL" to be available to broadband users so they can choose to subscribe to a VoIP service instead of a traditional fixed-line service.

And it believes subscribing to "naked DSL" should cost less in rental than being able to get broadband and a traditional voice service on the same line.

To back up its position Vonage has published research which found that two thirds of UK net users are unhappy about paying line rental to BT in addition to their broadband subscription.

"In the UK, by the end of this year, broadband subscribers will be paying a surcharge of £672m annually to BT in line rental on top of their broadband bill, no matter who their ISP is," said Vonage in a statement.

While Vonage accepts that the cost of renting a copper loop should not necessarily be free, it does believe the current £10.50 a month is too high.

"Broadband subscribers deserve the right to choose their broadband and telephone providers independently without being forced to pay for a telephone line they may never use," said Vonage UK MD Kerry Ritz.

"The broadband infrastructure will support a variety of services, one of which is telephony. Customers should be able to decide what services they want to 'plug' into their broadband network in the same way that they choose their electricity provider."

However, BT has rubbished Vonage's appeal claiming it has little grasp of the costs involved in supporting its nation-wide broadband network.

"We are aware that applications providers that don't contribute to the cost of building and supporting that ever improving broadband network have little appreciation of the economics involved," said a BT spokesman. "Our customers, however, do." ®

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