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Eurobites: UK Broadband Customers Stung by 'Loyalty Penalties'

Paul Rainford
4/11/2017
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Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: disaster recovery in the cloud; Nokia does NG-PON with NBN; BT reinvents the customer experience; EE recruits.

  • It's not quite in the United Airlines league, but there's some bad PR afoot today for UK broadband providers. A study by Citizens Advice, a consumer rights organization, has revealed that people on the cheapest broadband deals face an average price rise of £113 (US$140) a year once their introductory, fixed-term deal ends, a hike that amounts, in the words of Citizens Advice, to a "loyalty penalty." The worst offender is BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), which cranks up its monthly tariff by 67% to £40.99 ($51) after the initial 12 months, though Sky (NYSE, London: SKY) isn't far behind, foisting a 53% increase on those choosing not to switch. Only Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) comes out of this well, with no monthly increase whatsoever after the initial 12 months. If UK broadband providers want to be seen as just another utility supplier, they're going the right way about it -- such loyalty penalties have long been a feature of the gas and electricity supply market.

  • Cloud services company UKCloud has launched Disaster Recovery to the Cloud [that's enough clouds -- Ed.], a recovery offering aimed squarely at public sector organizations. The solution offers government departments and the like a back-up plan in the event of their local data center suffering an outage.

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is claiming success in a trial of its NG-PON fiber solution at its lab in Melbourne with NBN Co Ltd. , the organization behind Australia's troubled nationwide broadband project. According to the Finnish vendor, the trial achieved aggregate broadband speeds of 102 Gbit/s on a single fiber and demonstrated the dynamic provisioning of bandwidth to cope with surging data demand from both residential and business customers. (See Australia's NBN Cost Blowout.)

  • Also in the lab, sort of, is BT. The UK incumbent has opened its first "customer experience lab," which sets out to "reinvent" the call center. The project is being carried out in cahoots with students from Dundee's Abertay Business School. Perhaps one of the things they should examine is whether the phrase "your call is important to us" has any place in the modern world.

  • Meanwhile, perhaps with the above in mind, BT-owned mobile operator EE is looking to hire more than 800 call center workers across the UK, with positions in North Tyneside, Merthyr Tydfil, Darlington, Greenock, Plymouth and Doxford up for grabs. EE has made a lot of noise about it being the first UK mobile operator to "onshore" all its customer service calls back to the UK and Ireland after unsuccessful experiments with cheaper foreign workers.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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