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Oftel to force BT to cut cost of Web calls

But don't hold your breath -- it'll be a long time coming

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BT is to come under mounting pressure from the telecoms regulator, Oftel, to cut the cost of Net access in the UK. But before anyone gets too excited, it will be at least two-and-a-half years before any agreed cuts would be introduced. Oftel has just started its review of a new pricing formula for BT's virtual monopoly, a spokesman said today. One of the things Oftel will examine is the increase in traffic -- and the massive shot in the arm it gives BT -- generated by the astounding growth of Internet use in the UK. A report in today's Guardian quotes another Oftel representative who said: "The forthcoming review of BT's price controls will consider a wide range of issues, including the impact that growth of Internet traffic has had on the levels of BT's profits. "The review will also look at forecasts for future growth in calls to the Internet and the revenue this could generate for BT. "Another important consideration will be the level of current and future competition in the various markets that BT operates in, including Internet access." Earlier this month BT announced it made £136 profit a second. According to BT's own figures, the number of local calls made during the last year has doubled and that increase is down to Net use and this figure could double again to 40 per cent as more and more people hook up to the Net. ®

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