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Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 24 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make it his policy to ensure that consumers seeking to purchase home broadband services have the option of purchasing such services without voice services; and if he will make a statement. (253209)

[holding answer 2 February 2009]: I have been asked to reply.

There are no regulatory barriers preventing the development of broadband services without a voice service (‘naked DSL’) and nothing therefore preventing a commercial operator offering the service, indeed Virgin Media offer a broadband only service (‘naked cable’).

While some ADSL broadband customers may not want a traditional voice telephone service, they may still require the telephone line to deliver their broadband. Although a subscriber may no longer require a traditional voice telephone service there remains a cost to be met for the provision, maintenance and operation of the line. The majority of the line rental charge covers these costs.

Ofcom reports that over the past five years several operators have considered offering a broadband-only service. However, such a service has never been launched. Given the level of competition in this market and the fact that several operators have considered offering a broadband-only service it would appear that no operator has identified a commercial case for such a product.