BT cleared for line rental hike

No immediate action from Ofcom

Ofcom is to take no immediate action against BT for putting up the cost of line rental for an estimated nine million consumers in the UK. The communications regulator had launched an "urgent" investigation into allegations that its new phone tariffs - which included the scrapping of its standard rate line rental - were anti-competitive.

Although Ofcom launched an investigation under the Competition Act at the end of March, the regulator said it would make an initial ruling within four weeks. Had BT been out of line, the regulator could have forced BT to cease or reverse the proposed new tariffs.

Today, though, Ofcom said it would not be taking any action against the UK's dominant telco: "In relation to its Competition Act investigation into changes to BT's BT Together tariffs, Ofcom has today announced that, having reviewed the case for interim measures, on the evidence currently available it has decided not to seek such measures. Ofcom is continuing its wider investigation of the issues in order to reach its final conclusions."

Centrica - one of the companies that lodged an official complaint with BT - was disappointed that Ofcom had failed to act. Said Ian El-Mokadem, MD of Centrica Telecommunications: "It's a shame that Ofcom appears to be allowing BT to put their prices up to around 9 million customers without giving them a choice.

"Many consumers may be being penalised by BT, but we have chosen to implement dramatic prices cuts through our One.Tel brand that more than neutralise any increase in BT charges and offer guaranteed savings for choosing the competition," he added.

No one from Ofcom or BT was available for comment at the time of writing. ®

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