“Bah-Humbug To Christmas”, From BT

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BT increases line rental charge for second time in 18 months, from £10.50 to £11 per month. UK customers are set to pay an additional £83 million* per year from January 1 2006.

BT today hit customers with an unwanted Christmas present in the form of their second line rental hike in 18 months. This follows Ofcom’s announcement today that BT’s Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) product has finally met the “fit-for-purpose” criteria agreed between Ofcom and BT back in 2003. WLR allows BT’s competitors to offer customers a single bill for line rental as well as calls. One of the incentives for meeting these criteria was the relaxation by Ofcom on BT’s restrictions to modify the line rental price. BT has responded the same day by increasing their line rental cost by 50p per month.

This price increase applies to all of BT’s 13.8 million ‘Together Option 1’ customers, resulting in them paying a collective £83 million per year extra. This includes the 3.7 million customers that use alternative suppliers for their calls, but are still paying line rental to BT. BT previously increased line rental in June 2004 from £9.50 to £10.50, when they migrated all of their Standard tariff customers to ‘Together

Option 1’.

Jon Miller, Director at independent comparison and switching service ww.uSwitch.com comments: “This is a real blow for BT’s customers. With most of their competitors reducing their line rental costs, BT customers can feel justifiably aggrieved at having to pay extra while seemingly receiving nothing in return. This could prove to be the final straw for many BT customers who have already been thinking about switching, as lower line rental charges will clearly appeal to those who object to paying hefty upfront charges before even making a call. There are now an increasing number of providers in this market, offering alternative line rental to BT, such as household-names like Homecall, Onetel, the Post Office and TalkTalk. Customers can now shop around for savings on line rental as well as calls”

Notes to editors:

*http://www.btplc.com/News/Presentations/Financialpresentations/q205KPIs.pdf. BT Together Option 1. Cumulatively, over the course of a year, they will be paying £83 million more.

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Francisco Oliver
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