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Is this fair or a con?

simon7685
Grafter
Posts: 50
Registered: 10-03-2009

Is this fair or a con?

Hi
This is my first post so here goes.
As I guess by now every Plusnet customer is aware of the recent changes made by them.  However on reading through all the information, I was shocked at the fact some areas get cheaper broadband than others, naive maybe but there you go.
So I went onto the plusnet site to see what ugrading to 'unlimited' broadband through Plusnet would cost me.  So I discovered I would have to pay £4 more than people living in a market 3 area because I was in a market 2 area, so I went further into this to find the definition of a market 3 area..............................By definition a market 3 area has more than 4 different ISP's including BT, or serves an area covering in excess of 10000 homes.
So the first thought was, how can that be fair?  I don't see why you should be penalised for where you choose to live which is in effect what the new pricing structure amounts to............................................
Then I thought well hang on a minute, my exchange has more than 4 ISP's and I am pretty sure it serves over 10,000 homes, so why am I classed as Market 2Huh?  So I emailed Customer Support to ask.  I also asked that why since Plusnet going unlimited, I was experiencing slower speeds when I was on Your Way Option 2 which is not supposed to be affected?
Standard answer was received about the speed problem, which I expected anyway.
The big shock came in the market 2 category.  I have it in writing that Plusnet accepts that my area has 4 or more ISP's available and meeting the criteria for market 3, OFCOM said it was a market 2 and Plusnet are leagally bound by this so it is a market 2 area and to take the matter up with OFCOM.  Now sorry if I sound a little cynical here but to me that sounds like a 'cop out'.  Plusnet hiding behind OFCOM and in doing so saving itself, or more importaantly earning itself lots of £4's for every customer who upgrades to unlimited, or joins.  Add to that the £6 difference for those on the value tariff and we are talking about a significant sum of money.
To my mind being subject to a pricing lottery based on postcode is one thing but then using something like this to make more profit is another.  Surely if Plusnt acknowledges and it does that my area qualifies as a market area 3 and meets the necessary criteria then they should charge a market area 3 tarrif?  It even states in its own FAQ's that if your area changes to a market 3 then your pricing changes as well.  However this would seem not to be the case.
I feel quite strongly about this, as in my mind Plusnet are ripping people off and taking them for fools and would welcme other members thughts  about this.  I am also contacting OFCOM about it and even BBC Watchdog.  I am sure they can get their teeth into it!  In the meantime I am now looking for a new ISP, after all there are more than 4 to choose from in my area, which for those wondering is Scarborough North Yorkshire.
All views welcome!
Simon
80 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,111
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?

The reason Plusnet are able to offer discounts to those on market 3 exchanges is because their wholesale cost for connections on such exchanges is cheaper. There certainly are anomalies in the market designations, but the unfortunate fact is that as long as OFCOM say it's a market 2 exchange (even if it shouldn't be), Plusnet will continue to have to pay the higher rate to their supplier (BT Wholesale) and must therefore charge you the higher price. So the people to complain about/to in this case are definitely OFCOM.
Superuser
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Registered: 06-04-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?

The whole point of it all is that the regulator (OFCOM) have always told BT Wholesale what they must charge for a number of different things. The main reason for this is so BT Wholesale can't drop it's prices to a point where it's not eccomomical for any LLU supplier to enable the exchange, and so continues BT's monopoly.  OFCOM have now said that exchanges that it classifies as Market 3 (which it gives the description that you gave, though I think it is an and in the middle not an or ie 4 suppliers and 10,000 properties) have sufficient competition in them that BT Wholesale can charge customers (ie the ISP's) whatever they like in those areas.  Plusnet have responded by passing the savings that they get for these exchanges onto their customers (but only on the new products).
I think OFCOM review the Markets exchanges are on every year or so it may be that it didn't meet the criteria at the last review (ie another LLU supplier has come to the exchange or extra properties built in your area), or OFCOM haven't classified it as Market 3 for some other reason that its not telling!
As Thomas said, if Plusnet where to give you the discount, since they would be paying the higher cost for your connection, they would make quite a loss on your connection and it wouldn't be worth them having you on the books.
Phil
Edit:  To answer your initial question, Is it fair, I'd say not particularly (I'm in a Market 3 exchange with 4 suppliers, but only 3000 properties), but I can see why OFCOM has done this.
simon7685
Grafter
Posts: 50
Registered: 10-03-2009

Re: Is this fair or a con?

Hi
Thanks for your comments on this, which I have taken on board.  I see what you mean about the 'wholesale price' but still feel that this is wrong.  If Plusnet are advertising reduced prices for market 3 areas then if your area qualifies that is what you should get.  It is the responsibility of Plusnet to negotiate its wholesale prices with BT and the end user should not suffer as a result.  By definition my area qualifies as a market 3 area, so from the point this occurs, the end user should get the cheaper cost, not be expected to wait until a new map is drawn up! 
With regard to comments that OFCOM is responsible, I have contacted OFCOM today.  I explained my question and to the avoidance of doubt read out the official Plusnet response I received, OFCOM were to say the least unhappy, for ease of reference the Plusnet response was;
3) I have looked into your Market 2 rating. You are completely correct in stating that you have 4+ providers in the area and therefore ought to be in Market 3. the market ratings are set by Ofcom, and we are legally bound to follow their regulations and costing systems. I would encourage you to contact them directly to look into this one for you.
OFCOM have told me that no ISP is legally bound by anything in their regulations, neither are OFCOM responsible for setting any costing system.  As far as OFCOM are concerned this is a blatant lie on Plusnet's part and as a result they have lodged an official complaint.  They have also put me in contact with a company called CISAS who they say will investigate Plusnet over this.  OFCOM were also in agreement with me that Plusnet are trying to hide behind the OFCOM banner.  The mere fact that Plusnet should lie to its customers is wholly unacceptable and is not what is expected. 
I remain in the belief that as I now live in a market 3 area, I should be entitled to their low cost broadband.  If as a result of the wholesale price Plusnet pay does not cover their costs then that is not my problem.  Plusnet advertises that if you live in a market 3 area you are entitled to these lower costs, I have asked the question and it has been confirmed by them that I am in such an area, so I should get the cheaper costs. 
Does ayone else have this problem, or any comments to make then please do.  I will continue to update this thread as things move on with this.
Simon
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,100
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?

As you seemed to have picked up the gauntlet on this one you may want to look at Broadband Pro.... interested to hear your thoughts.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?

You might like to read this http://www.samknows.com/broadband/news/ofcom-announces-deregulation-for-70-of-the-uk-broadband-marke...
Quote
Ofcom has today announced that it will deregulate 70% of the UK’s broadband market. The news was widely expected following the European Union green-lighting the process in February of this year.
The changes will see pricing restrictions placed upon BT Wholesale being removed in 1197 of the 5592 exchange areas. These “Market 3″ exchanges are those where there are four or more ‘principal’ operators capable of offering broadband services (Principal operators are deemed to be BT Wholesale, Virgin Media, Carphone Warehouse, Cable and Wireless, Orange, O2, Sky and Tiscali). A full definition of the different market areas can be found on page 32 of the 115 page
The point here is that OFCOM are being economical with the truth.
They define which exchanges are Market 3 and only those exchanges are freed from the regulatory control which restricts the prices which BT Wholesale charge the ISP's.
There is no way that Plusnet or indeed any ISP who uses BT Wholesale products are going to sell the end product at prices lower than cost.
The whole point is that although your exchange meets the Market 3 criteria OFCOM have not defined it as such and hence have not allowed BT Wholesale to reduce their pricing.
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?

The response you received from our support team is incorrect and I'll address that with them. While Ofcom allow market deregulation they don't set the pricing structures.
Basically due to the deregulation in areas that Ofcom have classified as Market 3 (your exchange is currently classed as Market 2) we receive lower wholesale prices and can therefore offer lower prices to our customers on these exchanges.
If your exchange changes to a Market 3 exchange and you then decide to switch to the new products, you'll receive the appropriate price, however at the moment your exchange is showing as Market 2. You can check this on a number of websites including SamKnows and Kitz.
There is also information on how the markets are defined at Kitz's site. http://www.kitz.co.uk/adsl/broadband_access_market.htm
If this post resolved your issue please click the 'This fixed my problem' button
 Chris Parr
 Plusnet Staff
Superuser
Superuser
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Registered: 06-04-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?

What do ofcom list your exchange as being? It's on their website somewhere. It is ofcom that puts exchanges in groups (ie the markets) and these are reviewed by them at certain times. I have a vague memory of the last list being produced in September, but may have that wrong. Just because your exchange meets the criteria doesn't automatically make it a market 3 exchange until ofcom say so. Plusnet where using an out of date list for the 1st day or 2, but updated it pretty quickly when it was pointed out. Plusnet or BTW can not change your exchange type. Only ofcom can.
Phil
itsme
Grafter
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Registered: 07-04-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?

Go here for the OFCOM document in question. Scarborough exchange is listed as Market 2 in this document. Also OFCOM had speculated on prices for different markets which can be found on page 105
itsme
Grafter
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Registered: 07-04-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?

Looking at the OFCOM definitions I believe that Scarborough is not a Market 3 exchange as the area does not have cable.
Like to know how this came about, did the local council stop Telewest or whoever it was at that time digging up the paths?
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?

Where does cable come into it, my exchange doesnt have cable but it is Market 3
itsme
Grafter
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Registered: 07-04-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?

Quote
Ofcom considers that a Principal Operator is any operator that is expected to provide
a material constraint in the market, either directly or indirectly. Ofcom identified a total
of eight Principal Operators; the incumbent operator BT, the cable operator Virgin
Media and six LLU operators (referred to as Principal LLU Operators). All of these
operators are active in the provision of wholesale broadband access services and all
have significant coverage of the UK (above 45 %).
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?

Quote from: itsme
Looking at the OFCOM definitions I believe that Scarborough is not a Market 3 exchange as the area does not have cable.
Like to know how this came about, did the local council stop Telewest or whoever it was at that time digging up the paths?

But why should Scarborough have cable? as I said mine does not and never has had, you can have any 4 of the others
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?



Line Check Results        Date: 18:03 - 10 Mar 09
Phone & Postcode search OK

Exchange Information
Exchange: Braintree. BT Code: EABNT
Location: Notley Road, CM7 3QD
Distance:- Direct:    794 metres
  (appx)* By Road: 2.41 km
  Status
ADSL enabled : June 29, 2001
DSL Max enabled: March 30, 2006
SDSL enabled : Not Enabled
21CN due : (PSTN) No Info
21CN WBC (Broadband) RFS date 29.09.09
Broadband Access Market Broadband Access† Market 3
Available ISPs Other Broadband Technology & LLU Providers
Although your exchange is BT owned, this does not limit you to just BT Broadband and a vast range of ISPs are able to supply you with adsl.
Available ISPs are too numerous to list, but some examples would be: Zen, Plusnet, IDNet, Enta, etc

The vast majority of UK ISPs use BTs exchange equipment to supply their broadband, for those ISPs you should use the information on the left.
The following is a list of providers offering an alternative service to BT Wholesale based broadband in your area.
LLU  
AOL Available
Be* Not available
C&W/Bulldog Available
Edge Telecom Not available
Homechoice Not available
Lumison Not available
NewNet Not available
Node4 Not available
O2 Not available
Orange Available 05.03.08
Pipex Not available
Smallworld Not available
Sky Not available
TalkTalk Available 23.12.06
Tiscali Not available
UK Online Not available
WB Internet Not available
Zen Not available
     
Cable  
Virgin Media Not available
Smallworld Media Not available
     
Wireless  
LTT Broadband Not available
EMnet Not available
Kijoma Not available
Now Wireless Not available
OnLincolnshire Not available
UrbanWimax Not available
   

BT Line Speed Estimation
Fixed ADSL:  2048 kbps (2 Mb)
DSL Max :  8000 kbps (8 Mb)
21CN WBC : Not Available
Important: The above figures are obtained from the BTw database, which is often conservative.
DSLmax speeds are best guess based on the surrounding area and cannot take into effect individual line conditions which may effect the result such as the type of equipment you use or other issues which may affect the Signal to Noise Ratio.
If you already have adsl then you may be interested in Max dsl speed calculator which may give a better indication of your lines capability.
RAG Test Results
Fixed: 1Mbps and 2Mbps available
radsl: 512Kbps and 256Kbps available
MAX: ADSL Max is available
TPON: No info in database
Check: The check identified another service on your line which may prevent you from ordering a new ADSL connection. Examples are : Existing adsl connection, DACs, LLU, TPON etc
 
  adsl 1 linecode : GGEC
  dslmax linecode: GEGEGEC
  Explanation of RAG codes.
†OFCOM Broadband Access Classification
Market 3: This exchange has 4 or more principal operators AND the exchange serves 10,000 or more premises. Exchange has been de-regulated.
Community Veteran
Posts: 38,251
Thanks: 937
Fixes: 56
Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: Is this fair or a con?

I don't think cable or otherwise comes into it except as another operator.
This is from my exchange which is Market 3