UK ad watchdog forces ISPs to simplify broadband pricing

Hidden costs and multiple monthly charges could get them into trouble.

TalkTalk announced just yesterday that, later this year, it would simplify its broadband prices by including line rental in the monthly costs. And now we know why. Sure, a single figure makes it easier to understand what you'll be paying each month, but it was hardly an altruistic move. It's almost as if TalkTalk knew that today, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was going to confirm new guidelines that effectively force internet service providers (ISPs) to make broadband contract pricing more transparent.

Initially proposed at the beginning of the year, the stricter guidelines will come into force at the end of October. All ISPs really need to do to play by the rules is to make costs clear -- clear enough that there's no chance of consumers feeling misled or confused. The ASA does recommend, however, that monthly prices be "all-inclusive," meaning no more separating broadband charges from line rental. Additionally, any upfront costs like installation fees need to be clearly shown, as well as the length of the contract and what the score is after introductory pricing deals expire. Basically, don't try to hide the true cost of the package and the ASA won't come knocking.