BT cuts call cost to mobiles

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BRITISH TELECOMS yesterday said it would cut the cost of calling mobile phones from its fixed-line network by an average of more than 25 per cent as it complies with a ruling by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC).

The new rates will take effect from 30 April and will vary depending on the mobile network being called and the time of day.For example, the weekend rate for calling Cellnet numbers from a BT line will go down to 2p a minute (including VAT).

The move follows the MMC's ruling last December that BT and the UK's two largest mobile phone companies, Vodafone and Cellnet, must cut the prices they charge for calls between mobile and fixed phone customers by 25 per cent.

"The new lower prices reflect lower costs and reduced payments that BT has agreed with Cellnet and Vodafone following last year's inquiry by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission," a BT spokesman said.

All prices have been reduced, the wide variation in prices reflecting the termination rates that BT is charged by the mobile operators. The termination rates are set independently by the mobile operators, within the constraints set by the MMC.

Oftel, the telecoms regulator, referred the case to the MMC last year on concern the three were using their dominant market positions to keep mobile phone prices artificially high.

Competition has alreadyforced prices down. The cost of a daytime call from a BT line to a mobile phone will have halved over the past four years once the new rates are introduced.