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BT and 3 urge Ofcom to slash cost of calls

Terminate the Rate, the campaign launched by mobile phone group 3 UK and telecoms giant BT, will today hand the communications watchdog a 114,000-strong petition calling for a cut to the cost of calling mobiles.

The campaign, which is backed by more than 60 organisations including The Post Office and Moneysupermarket.com, complains that it costs about 5p for each minute a call is made from a landline to a mobile, or to a mobile on a different network.

The charge is called the mobile termination rate (MTR), where the network of the mobile receiving a call charges the caller’s network a fee for carrying the call.

A spokesman for the campaign said: "The billions of minutes for which this fee is charged add up to billions of pounds for UK phone users each year."

The campaign wants regulator Ofcom to reduce the cost to a penny or less. The campaigners, who launched the petition in May, said the chares are "excessive and distort competition".

John Petter, managing director of consumer at BT Retail, said any reduction less than a penny would mean "continued unfairness and high prices for UK consumers and businesses".

Ofcom is currently reviewing mobile phone pricing levels for April 2011.

The Early Day Motion (EDM) introduced this year has also received the signatures of 258 MPs "making it one of the most widely supported EDMs on the parliamentary books". This comes after the European Commission recommended regulatory bodies take a new look at setting lower MTRs, earlier this year.

The Federation of Small Businesses and the National Union of Students also support the drive.