Cellnet fires shot in phone price war

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THE PRICE wars in the mobile telephone market are set to intensify with the launch later this month of a budget tariff by Cellnet, the operator owned by BT and Securicor.

Cellnet's Budget Plan will allow users to make 200 minutes of off-peak call or 100 minutes of peak calls for a set monthly fee of pounds 45. The calls can be local or national.

Subscribers who make full use of the allowed minutes will save 8 per cent on the normal business call rates. Should they exceed the limit they pay for calls at the normal rate of 10p or 25p a minute depending on the time of day.

Vodafone, Cellnet's main rival, already has a scheme under which customers on the digital network pay less when making calls within a pre-ordained local area. Direct comparisons between tariff packages are now impossible to make as the number of offerings from different operators become increasingly complex.

Some mobile charges have fallen by a third over the past year as competition has intensified. Vodafone, Cellnet's rival, said in June that mobile telephone companies could not afford to cut prices further this year. At that time Cellnet agreed.

An industry source said that Cellnet was using the new tariff to attract business customers to its digital network.