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Last chance to vote to cut phone termination rates

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Updated The Terminate The Rate campaign launched by BT and 3 is approaching 70,000 signatures, on the last day for those who want to put their name to the campaign to reduce the amount their operator charges for incoming mobile calls.

The 70,000 members of the public that have signed the petition have been joined by various charities and 198 MPs. They are backing the attempt to get the amount that mobile network operators charge for incoming calls reduced down to around a penny a minute.

The rates currently charged by network operators are set by the UK regulator Ofcom, whose consultation on the matter closes today. The campaign is accordingly about to close to new signatories, which is why the campaign is so keen to gather the last few names.

Historically, the rate is set in negotiation with the network operators, and the larger companies exchange notes as their customers call each other's networks. But fixed-only-operators like BT obviously pay out a lot more than they receive (fixed line termination rates are already well below a penny) and as a smaller operator 3 also suffers disproportionately, though it does get a higher rate to reflect that.

The petition is careful to ask for a low rate, not the abolition of the rate entirely, as that would lead to the US model where punters have to pay (from their bundled minutes) to receive calls - something that the UK public would have a hard time accepting.

The campaign argues that reducing the rate to a few pence would mean cheaper calls for everyone, which is nice, but with terminations contributing 14 pence of every pound generated from mobile-to-mobile calls, one has to wonder where else the operators would get that revenue from. Perhaps they would just content themselves with lower profits for the good of the people. ®

Update: Terminate the Rate have been in touch to say that they're keeping the petition open, in the hope of reaching 100,000 signatures and 'cos Ofcom is pretty laid back about deadlines apparently - so if you want to have your say then there's still time.

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