BT to reduce cost of going on line

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THE COST of taking over a BT telephone line from a previous customer is to be cut by 60 per cent to pounds 9.99, writes Mary Fagan.

The reduction, which will cost BT about pounds 30m a year, is part of price cuts BT is forced to make by the industry regulator, Oftel.

The reduction applies from 3 October and affects customers who take over a line where there has been a break in the telephone service. The cost of a completely new connection remains pounds 99 plus VAT.

Michael Hepher, BT's group managing director, said: 'We now need to spend less to transfer phone service from one customer to another, because of our investment in modern digital telephone exchanges and streamlined working procedures.' He said almost 2 million people a year would benefit from the reduction in the fee.

Under the regulatory regime, BT must cap prices on its basket of basic services by inflation minus 7.5 percentage points. Oftel said this should result in price reductions of about pounds 400m over the regulatory year, which runs from the beginning of August.

At the beginning of the month BT announced about pounds 75m worth of cuts through a reduction in the charge for directory inquiries.

The Consumers Association recently attacked BT for announcing price cuts in a piecemeal way and for failing to make it clear that they are imposed by the regulator.

It said that the company manages to get the maximum possible publicity while delaying the implementation of the price cuts.