Vodafone hides line rental, simplifies broadband costs

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/ollo)

Vodafone claims to have taken an industry lead in removing the line rental from their fiber broadband packages to modernise and make costs much clearer for customers, but it's not quite as it seems.

The various fees required in taking out a broadband package is often confusing to customers, according to the Advertising Standards Authority. As someone who's just moved and is looking for a new package myself, I can fully appreciate how people end up paying a lot more than it first appears. 

Among the biggest culprits is line rental which is often mentioned in the small print but is not always obvious whether it's applicable. For an increasing number of people who have little need for a landline phone, they appear to be paying a 'hire' cost for a line they don't need, unaware the fee is required to cover the upkeep of the network. 

Ofcom market research conducted in 2016 suggested that 73% of those with a landline phone at home said that they used it for internet access, with 45% stating that internet access was the most important reason for having a landline. 

"As part of the new, transparent and easy to understand home broadband pricing structure, customers will still receive a home phone service - there is just no charge for the line rental. Often seen as an unexpected, underused and expensive addition to a broadband package broadband users are required to pay for landline connections to receive broadband internet access which is why the hassle of paying for the cost of line rental has been removed," Vodafone wrote in a press release. 

The new packages claim to offer both fiber broadband and landline access without a line rental fee – but if you're being supplied with a landline then you'll be paying a fee even if you're not seeing it separately on your bill. Rather than abolishing the line rental, Vodafone is hiding it within the monthly cost. 

Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch.com, says: “To be clear, Vodafone isn’t really abolishing line rental charges, it’s simply combining the charge into its fibre pricing. This is because broadband providers are under pressure from Government and Ofcom to change advertised pricing so customers see a cost per month that includes line rental, so Vodafone is stealing a march on its rivals." 

Vodafone should be praised for providing a much clearer monthly cost to perplexed customers, but the claim of abolishing line rental is not quite true. 

The claim of being the first broadband provider to get rid of the line rental fee is also not completely factual. Virgin Media owns its own fibre network and has incorporated the cost of its upkeep – similar to what Vodafone is doing – for quite some time. 

“Compared to other fibre deals on the market, Unlimited Fibre Broadband 38 is competitive, with the only frustrating thing being that it ties users into an 18-month contract - longer than the current standard,” says Taylor-Gibson. 

Do you think it's time we saw the back of the line rental fee? Let us know in the comments.

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