Wanadoo have always strived to be at the front of the UK’s broadband industry. They were one of the first ISP’s to provide unlimited dialup, the first ISP to provide 1mb broadband at under £20 a month and this summer are trialling a method to provide broadband without having to own a BT phone line in a technique called Local Loop Unbundling.
Wanadoo in the UK started in 2001 when the French company took over the already popular Freeserve. Freeserve was created by the Dixon’s Group in 1998, back in the days of a 56kbps pay per minute dialup connection. Even back then they were the cheapest ISP around.
If Wanadoo’s large investment in LLU proves successful, BT stand to lose a lot of their customers. LLU will provide a decent alternative to BT’s standard ADSL at a much cheaper price. Costs to implement LLU have dropped significantly in the UK to a stage where many ISPs are seeing it as the way forward, although it is already used by a small number of ISPs, Wanadoo will be the first to bring it to the mass market. LLU would allow users cheaper or, more likely, faster internet, allowing users better services such as live video on demand and internet telephony.
Being the thorn in BT’s side for some time now, Wanadoo have constantly been upgrading their existing network. Recently they doubled their standard 1mbps package to 2mbps, with BT mirroring the change to avoid losing customers. Both BT and Wanadoo implement a monthly cap on their customer’s bandwidth, BT limit their users to 1 GB but Wanadoo’s is double that at 2 GB a month. Wanadoo currently have 0.7 million broadband users while BT has 1.7 million people subscribed to one of their broadband packages. Wanadoo have announced their ambition to match BT’s 1.7 million by 2008.
Wanadoo currently offer services of 2mbps broadband with a maximum limit of 30 GB on their premium package, they also offer Pay As You Go and unlimited 56k dialup. The fastest broadband offered by their competitors in the UK is currently 8mbps unlimited broadband. With a Wanadoo Broadband connection you don’t pay any connection costs, receive a free modem and a bonus of 6 months free local calls on your phone line.
Unfortunately Wanadoo don’t have such a good reputation with their customers. ISP’s are legendarily known to have poor customer support and Wanadoo is no different. They also enforce their monthly caps by cutting off customers or limiting users who have inadvertently and without knowing gone over their limit. Their services are also not strangers to a bit of down-time.
The future of Wanadoo hangs in the balance, as last month the French company that owns Wanadoo and also the Orange mobile phone operator revealed that it is going to scrap the Wanadoo name in favour of Orange. Their poor reputation could explain the desire to re-brand with an internationally known and trusted name, with the added possibility of cross-market opportunities. Starting early next year all Wanadoo customers will be having their email address’s changed. The French company Télécom spent £20 million renaming Freeserve, saying that Wanadoo boasted “power, passion and dynamism”. The cost of re-branding again will be around £135 million in the first year, although they plan to break even by the end of 2007.
About The Author
Neil Shevlin is the owner of UK Cheap Broadband which is a great place to find broadband links, resources and articles.
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