Vodafone has claimed to be the first internet service provider to abolish line rental charges for new and existing customers of its fibre-optic broadband service.
However, critics have suggested that it is a cynical move as the line rental costs have merely been rolled into the monthly charge following pressure from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over misleading advertising claims. Other ISPs are likely to follow suit.
Vodafone said that the firm now offers a "transparent" and "easy to understand" price structure. Customers will still receive a home phone line, but not pay the current £18 monthly charge if they sign up for an 18-month contract.
The operator claimed that the dropping of line rental charges is an "industry first", and that the firm's Unlimited Fibre 38 offering is now the cheapest broadband package on the market compared with those offered by other major broadband providers.
It will cost new customers £25 per month all-in, while the Unlimited Fire 76 offering will cost £28 per month. The firm said that this is £349 cheaper than Sky's Fibre Unlimited Pro package, and £332 cheaper than BT Unlimited Infinity 2.
Glafkos Persianis, commercial director at Vodafone UK, said: "Giving our customers the opportunity to break free from hidden line rental charges is our way of letting our customers know that we are listening and that we are serious about providing them with the unlimited home broadband experience that they deserve.
"We started our journey into fibre optic home broadband just over a year ago and are delighted to show that we are a truly innovative and customer focused provider."
However, Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch.com, said that Vodafone isn't being as generous as it claims.
"To be clear, Vodafone isn’t really abolishing line rental charges, it’s simply combining the charge into its fibre pricing," he said.
"This is because broadband providers are under pressure from the ASA to change advertised pricing so customers see a cost per month that includes line rental, so Vodafone is stealing a march on its rivals.
"It won't be long before this way of pricing becomes the norm across the whole broadband market, although Vodafone should get a pat on the back for being the first to take the plunge.
"Compared to other fibre deals on the market, Unlimited Fibre Broadband 38 is competitive. The only frustrating thing is that it ties users into an 18-month contract - longer than the current standard."
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