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192 switch-off not cheaper for punters

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Deregulation of the UK's directory enquiries (DQ) service has not led to cheaper services.

Which means that the gaggle of new 118 operators - who take over on Sunday once BT's 192 service is finally switched off - need to offer a rack of bolted-on extras to attract punters if they are to survive in the long run.

So says UK-based outfit Responsa, which, as it happens, is a supplier to the DQ industry.

"The fact is that directory services have not become cheaper as a result of deregulation," said Responsa marketing director, Steve Milligan, in a statement.

"That was certainly one of Oftel's aims. Assuming that prices may fall or at least level out over time, the next opportunity for 118 directory providers is to offer enhanced services to consumers thereby justifying the price positions.

"Failure to achieve this will result in heavy marketing investment and price as a key competitive leverage all of which will ultimately result in lower margins and consolidation of directory companies," he said.

According to some estimates around a billion calls are made to DQ services in the UK each year generating around £500 million in revenue.

Earlier this month Oftel reported that eight in ten people were aware that there are a range of new numbers for DQ services, with three in ten people already using the new 118 numbers. ®

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