Ofcom has stated that it plans to force BT to reduce landline-only bills by at least £5 a month. About 2.3 million BT customers would benefit from this rate cut.
The communications regulator conducted an overall review of the telecommunications market and found that millions of customers are experiencing unfair price hikes in line rental fees. Most of those impacted are elderly customers and other vulnerable populations who typically have been with the same provider for decades. Ofcom found that landline-only rates have increased anywhere from 25% to 49% depending on the company providing the service, while wholesale rates have decreased by 26% during the same recent period.
Ofcom’s plan would not affect landline rates that are part of bundled services. The regulator also proposed that future landline-only rate increases could not exceed the rate of inflation.
Sharon White, Ofcom’s CEO, said: “Line rental has been going up, even as providers’ costs come down. This hurts people who rely on their landline the most and are less likely to shop around for a better deal. We think that’s unacceptable. So, we plan to cut BT’s charge for customers who take only a landline to ensure that vulnerable customers get the value they deserve.”
BT issued this response to Ofcom’s plans: “We will respond to Ofcom’s consultation fully when we have considered the detail. We take our responsibilities in this area very seriously and, unlike other companies, have many customers on special tariffs for socially excluded or vulnerable customers, including BT Basic, which still costs just £5.10 a month for line rental and calls, and Home Phone Saver.”
Ofcom is accepting comments on its proposed rate reduction until 9 May.