Phone bills could fall by pounds 80

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The Independent Online
Household telephone bills could fall by pounds 80 a year within five years following pricing proposals from the industry watchdog, Oftel. The clampdown by Don Cruickshank, director general of Oftel, comes in spite of BT's opposition and won approval from consumer groups.

Mr Cruickshank said prices could fall by up to 27 per cent in the four years from 1997. A typical household paying pounds 50 per quarter now could be paying pounds 20 less in 2001.

The proposals were attacked as "severe" by BT, which said controls may slash investment and cause more job losses.

Oftel expects price controls will be abandoned in 2001, when competition should be in place. The regulator said until that happens, he must listen to the concerns of consumers who have little choice other than BT.

A National Consumer Council spokeswoman said: "It is good that the regulator has not buckled under pressure to lift the overall cap on BT."

BT under pressure, page 20

Comment, page 21