Oftel set to ease BT price curbs
Monday 03 June 1996
Mr Cruickshank is expected to propose abolishing controls on the prices charged to large business customers and relax the limits on how much domestic bills can be increased by.
But he is likely to insist that the new price control formula is "indivisible" from general powers he is seeking to curb any anti-competitive behaviour by BT as the market is deregulated.
BT will be referred automatically to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission if it refuses to agree to a new anti-competitive clause being written into its licence.
BT is presently not allowed to raise charges by more than inflation less 7.5 percentage points. In March, Mr Cruickshank proposed price rises should be capped at RPI less 5-9 per cent for the four years from July 1997. At the top end of the range that would have cut the average domestic bill by pounds 50 a year.
He is thought to have been persuaded by industry-wide representations that to set the price cap so tightly would prevent rival operators entering the market, thereby stifling competition.
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