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Is Orange's free broadband really free?

Free broadband customers now offered paid-for service, and must also pay for premium-rate support
Written by Richard Thurston, Contributor on

Those tempted by Orange's promise of free broadband for its mobile customers may find they end up paying more than they expect.

The mobile operator has updated its free broadband offering, by offering broadband which isn't actually free. Users clicking on "Broadband is Free" on the company's website are now presented with an additional choice of paying for a more powerful connection.

Orange launched its "real" free broadband service in May this year, shortly after Carphone Warehouse announced its free connections. Users signing a £30-a-month phone contract with Orange — typically one of its "animal" packages — are granted a free broadband line.

But now Orange has invented a paid alternative. Any customer wanting more than 2Mbps in speed, or 2GB in downloads each month, must pay an extra £5 a month for their broadband connection, on top of their mobile phone rental. To rub salt into the wound, Orange has also started billing users of the real "free" package 50p a minute to report faults. Users paying for their broadband are saved the premium charge.

Although the company gives out an 0870 (national rate) number for technical enquiries, customers needing to report a service or equipment fault are cut off after being played a recorded message saying they must redial on a premium-rate number. Customers are warned that they have to pay up to £10 for the call, which "will take no longer than 20 minutes".

Carphone Warehouse responds to faults on a cheaper, national-rate number.

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