BT Accepts Oftel Proposals to Freeze Customer Bills

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THE TELECOMS giant BT yesterday accepted a package of proposals put forward by the telecoms regulator Oftel that will let rival companies offer identical services to consumers and will ensure the bills of its lowest-spending customers will not rise.

While the company said it did not like "every individual element" of the proposed package of measures, it said that, overall, "it balanced the needs of both BT's customers and shareholders".

Last month, Oftel ordered BT to offer a new wholesale line rental product to rivals on the same terms that it provides the product to its own consumer business, BT Retail.

The move means consumers will be able, for the first time, to pay for both line rental and calls from another telecoms operator, such as Centrica for example, under one bill.

BT said yesterday it had agreed to launch a new wholesale line rental product from 1 September with a "programme of enhancements" scheduled after that. The company also said Oftel's planned price control on its lowest spending 80 per cent of residential customers would come into play on 1 August.

"On average, customer bills will be reduced in real terms by the rate of inflation, which gives an appropriate balance between consumer protection and the flexibility needed by BT," it said. …