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THE new director-general of Oftel, the telecoms watchdog, yesterday threatened telephone operators with regulatory sanctions if they did not agree to publish their prices so that they could be easily compared. "Many customers are baffled by the complexity of the tariff material that they currently receive," David Edmonds said in his first speech since taking over the job from Don Cruickshank earlier this year. "Their ability to compare performance is limited." He said the publication of comparative data on call charges should be a priority in the telecommunications sector, adding that the regulator would force companies into the move "if necessary".

Mr Edmonds added that the Government's Green Paper on utilities regulation suggested ways in which performance indicators could be used. "I believe ... we can give customers a much more intelligible understanding of comparative performance - and price."