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Oftel acts to cut UK Net access charges

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Oftel has published proposals that could see the cost of unmetered dial-up access fall in the UK.

The telecoms regulator today announced plans to impose the cut on BT claiming that it now had sufficient data to make an accurate calculation of BT's costs and, therefore, the appropriate wholesale price.

Up until now the cost for BT's wholesale unmetered Net access product – FRIACO – was based on estimates.

In a statement Oftel chief David Edmonds said: "Oftel believes that there is room for a seven per cent cut in BT's wholesale charge for unmetered Internet access, and operators should ultimately be able to pass some or all of this saving on to their customers.

"Cuts in BT's charges for FRIACO will mean UK consumers will continue to enjoy some of the cheapest prices in Europe for Internet access."

But BT said it would resist the proposals. A spokesman for BT said that the proposed cuts were not unexpected but believes the seven per cent reduction is too high.

And he said that the figures compiled by Oftel were based on data that is out of date.

Privately, BT is also concerned that any significant reduction in the cost of unmetered dial-up access will make it even less attractive for punters to move to broadband services.

That's despite the fact that the telco is due to announce "substantial" wholesale price reductions for its ADSL services.

A spokeswoman for Freeserve said she welcomed the news but needed to look at the detail before making any further comment. ®

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