Feeds

Ofcom proposes to free BT from price controls

Competition rules

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

BT could be free to charge what it likes for phone services such as line rental and call charges if proposals to scrap 22 years of price controls get the go-ahead. Regulator Ofcom says there is now sufficient competition in the UK's telecoms sector to release BT from its price constraints and allow the market to work without regulatory intervention.

Ofcom claims that average call prices have fallen by more than half over the last ten years and that more than 10m households use telcos other than BT for their phone calls. It also points to the increased take-up of VoIP and local loop unbundling as further signs of improved competition in the UK.

"Given this, Ofcom believes it is now appropriate to consider allowing existing retail price controls to lapse as increasingly effective competition between providers continues to drive down costs to consumers," the regulator said today. "These developments are also taking place against a background of continued growth in the market for mobile services."

Although Ofcom wants to see a free for all, its proposals include some measure of protection for vulnerable groups that would stay in place until the end of 2007. If adopted, the changes would come into force from 1 August.

"More than 20 years on, sustained competition, informed customers and the rapid growth of new technology provide the necessary environment for substantial deregulation," Ofcom chief exec Stephen Carter said.

However, there are already mutterings that the decision to lift regulation on BT has come too soon and that consumers could lose out in the long run. Indeed, Ofcom will have to ensure that its deregulation of the telecoms industry is handled better than the liberalisation of the director enquiries (DQ) industry.

Last year the National Audit Office (NAO) said the regulator made a hash of deregulating the UK's service, leaving punters paying more for a service they're using less.

The report added that Ofcom could not "yet demonstrate that, overall, consumers have benefited from liberalisation". ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.