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UK mobile phone firms escape call charge cuts

Oftel rules that existing levels of competition will bring down prices

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Mobile phone companies will not have to cut call charges to increase competition, Oftel decided yesterday. David Edmonds, director general of the telecomms watchdog, ruled out intervention to see call costs drop and stimulate the market. Edmonds said controls were unnecessary because competition between the major players was already pushing down tariffs. He said: "The four networks are providing such competition that despite the huge increase in demand for mobile phone services, prices have fallen and should continue to do so." The industry regulator noted that persistently high returns from Vodafone and Cellnet had resulted in complaints that prices were inflated. However, it said call prices from mobiles had fallen by two thirds between 1990 and 1998, despite rising demand. The Daily Telegraph today said that studies suggested Orange and One-2-One were both fattening their market share at the expense of Vodafone and Cellnet. ®

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