LONDON Feb 28 British telecoms regulator Ofcom
said it planned to force BT to cut its bills by at least
5 pounds a month for those customers that only take a landline,
seeking to protect elderly and vulnerable people who rely on the
Ofcom said more than 2 million people who buy only a
landline telephone service would see their prices come down
towards levels last seen in 2009, after deciding that the market
was not working properly.
It said it would also propose safeguards to prevent BT, the
country's dominant telecoms provider, from hiking its line
rental and landline call costs by more than inflation in future.
"Line rental has been going up, even as providers' costs
come down," Ofcom Chief Executive Sharon White said. "This hurts
people who rely on their landline the most, and are less likely
to shop around for a better deal. We think that's unacceptable."
In recent years Britain's communications market has evolved
to allow customers to buy several services - TV, broadband and
telephony - in one package. That has allowed firms to provide a
range of different offers, but the price of the landline-only
service has gradually risen.
Ofcom believes that those customers most likely to take just
a landline are the elderly or vulnerable who rely on the service
and who are unlikely to shop around for a better deal.
Under its plan, those BT customers with only a landline will
see their bill fall from 18.99 pounds per month to 13.99 pounds.
Ofcom said it would consult the industry on its plan in a
review that closes on May 9.
(Reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by Paul Sandle)