A recent study conducted by BroadBandChoices revealed that over 10% of Britain's Internet users are basically being penalised for where they happen to live. In essence, households are subjected to a post code lottery that often means some users pay double what others living close to them pay. Often, this is combined with much slower services.
Apparently, millions of users are paying between £60 and £70 per year more than their close neighbours, simply because cheaper deals and faster speeds have not been made available within their post code area.
According to the study, some users in Calverton, Nottinghamshire, are paying a minimum of £5 more than neighbours 65 yards down the road. The 'privilege' of paying more is rewarded with download speeds that barely reach a third of the speeds achieved by those paying less.
Geographical areas mean some users have a choice of 10 or more broadband suppliers, while others are lucky if they can choose between five providers. Due to this, some can get services at £2/ month (obviously added to their basic land-line fees), while others have to fork out £8 or more.
This is largely due to the fact that large providers like TalkTalk and Sky, for example, have been placing their own equipment into some telephone exchanges, which were previously monopolised by BT. Where this has been done, faster download speeds, cheaper deals and fewer download caps are available.
The problem is, these companies are targeting mostly affluent residential areas, where it is likely that they will get more customers than in less affluent regions. As a result, a two-tier service is developing.
Some users in Scarrow Hill, Cumbria (near Brampton), for instance, are forced to settle for a meagre choice of providers, inferior speeds and higher payments (an extra £5/ month) than people living yards away.
Herefordshire is particularly bad, with users paying a minimum of £5.47/ month for download speeds of just 12.3 Mbps. This is second only to the Rutland area, where users pay a minimum of £5.99/ month.
Manchester, on the other hand, showed the best results. Here, users typically have a choice of around 12 providers, average speeds for downloads are 28 Mbps, and prices range around £2.99/ month.
Southern users usually have a choice of 10 providers, as opposed to an average of 11 in the north of the country, but download speeds tend to be a little faster in the south.
A price comparison conducted by Guardian Money revealed that Great Chishill currently enjoys the cheapest broadband thanks to Plusnet's £6.49/ 12 months half-price offer. This offer does, however, have a download cap of 10 Gb/ month. In Central Cambridge, uncapped services are offered at £2/ month by Tesco.
According to experts, it is time broadband providers did something about this unacceptable situation and made it possible for all users everywhere to enjoy the same choice of services and speeds at the same prices.