BT ISDN Pricing

So far, BT have charged 400 GBP for ISDN line installation, and around 80 GBP per quarter rental. They justify this price, which is much higher than other European PTTs, by saying that the overall cost of running an ISDN line, including line charges, is cheaper. The rental prices are equivalent to two business line rentals, although they charge this for all ISDN users, regardless of domestic or business usage. Their International price comparisons are made on this basis (so don't believe them, either).

BT have proposed a revised price schedule: install drops from 400 to 200, but quarterly rental goes up to about 130 GBP. Basically, it is a price increase (well disguised). However, BT have presented this in such a way that Oftel have objected, thus giving BT an extra year before they will have to lower prices. Note that even with this mockery going on, call charges are the same for ISDN as for normal phone calls (inside the UK), which actually makes BT the cheapest in Europe, even with the ludicrous install and rent charges.

Personally, I believe that BT should use some common sense, and compare costs for the same data throughput with POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) lines. ISDN is then significantly more expensive in the UK, whereas in France (and I think Germany as well) ISDN is actually cheaper than POTS. There are many other uses for ISDN than just digital data transfer, and I suspect they look to these uses first.

ConnectionQuarterly RentalAnnual AllowancePeriodAnd Then...
Start Up#199#133.75#1052 years#230
Fast Start#500#133.75#3551 year#230
Low Start#400#88.00---
Business POTS#116.33#41.12---
Home POTS#116.33#25.69---

Call Charges

Calls to all UK numbers are charged at the normal BT voice call rate.

International calls are the same as voice calls, but go over voice lines and may not be suitable for data. To make an international ISDN call, you have to dial 000 instead of 00, and then you are charged at international ISDN rates which are much higher. You also have to consider compatability between PTT ISDN switch equipment, which can cause problems.


Most normal BT extras are not available for ISDN; of the ones which are:

Multiple Subscriber Numbering#20.00#10.00
Calling Line Identification#10.00#3.40
Call Diversion#10.00#3.40
Permanent Call Barring#13.00-

German ISDN Charges

It is interesting to compare BT pricing with the figures they use in Germany. European Telecoms prices in general are still very monopoly oriented (i.e. a total rip-off). But for ISDN, they have adopted prices to encourage their users to take the technology. BT claim (correctly, but rather dubiously) that moderate usage levels would cancel out the savings from installation.

Information supplied by Ingmar Camphausen:

the cheapest basic rate for an EURO-ISDN line is about DEM 45,- per month (2,66 DEM = 1 GBP) It comprises two B-channels, network terminator (seems to be standardized, as one would expect with such a name [Euro...] :-)

To get this installed from the German TELEKOM AG (only supplier/monopolist until 1998), you'll have to pay an installation fee of DEM 100 if they don't have to send a technician to your appartment to install it (re-use of POT wiring), or DEM 200 if the technician has to come and do some work in your rooms.

The monthly EuroISDN fee is not cheaper than those for one POTline, but to be fair, you have to compare the ISDN price with the price for two POT lines, for this is what you get with the ISDN: one POT line costs you ~ DEM 25 per month, i.e. it's cheaper than EuroISDN, but if you need two numbers/lines (e.g. for fax & phone), you are better off using ISDN (albeit the money you'd have to spend for ISDN-enabled hardware, like a small ISDN PBX etc.) as far as the monthly fees are concerned. And you get the better throughput with ISDN (64 kbit/s vs. 33,6) as kind of "bonus"... :-)

So in Germany, ISDN isn't cheaper than one mean POTS, but cheaper than two old-style telephone lines.

In the same format as my BT price table for easy comparison:

ConnectionQuarterly RentalAnnual AllowancePeriodAnd Then...
Standard#37.59 - #75.18#50.75---
Home POTS#37.59 - # 75.18#28.19---

Words and design by:
Paul Lynch
Last updated: 14 February 1997.

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