C&W touts wholesale line rental

Single billing

UK telco Cable & Wireless (C&W) has begun offering its 100,000 business customers the chance to get all their fixed line telco services on one bill.

With wholesale line rental (WLR), businesses can pay for their calls and line rental in one single bill as opposed to having to pay for calls (to C&W) and line rental (to BT) separately.

C&W reckons its lines and calls package will offer businesses simplified billing and lower call charges by cutting BT out of the billing loop.

C&W is also offering the single billing option to its retail telco partners (such as Tesco and the Post Office) so that they, in turn can offer their residential phone customers phone services (Carrier Pre Selection) and line rental in one bill.

In December BT appointed a director of WLR to liaise with the industry and regulator Ofcom over the development of a genuine wholesale voice telephony service.

The appointment of Rob Sanders, who's been with BT for 11 years, as BT's "WLR Czar" is meant to show that the telco is serious about competition.

Critics says that WLR is too costly for rival operators and plagued by administrative difficulties. They claim the service is not yet fully automated and relies too heavily on outdated BT manual processes that sare unable to cope with the mass market adoption of WLR.

In its response last week to Ofcom's telecoms review, BT said it would "ensure that WLR is demonstrably fit for purpose with effective operational performance and an increased margin enabling rapid consumer take-up".

According to the latest stats from regulator Ofcom, there were 630,000 WLR lines at the end of September 2004, up from 480,000 in June. ®

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