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Landline-only BT customers to get £5 a month off their phone bills

Tuesday, February 28th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

BT customers who only have a landline phone service will see their bills cut by at least £5 a month under plans announced by Ofcom today.

Landline-only customers – often elderly or vulnerable people who’ve been with the same provider for decades – are currently getting poor value for money.

These customers are particularly affected by line rental price hikes and miss out on the competitive deals offered to those who take bundled phone, TV and broadband services.

Ofcom said providers have increased their line rental charges by between 25% and 49% in recent years, despite the underlying wholesale cost of providing a landline service falling by around 26%.

The regulator has today announced its intention to cut the cost of BT’s line rental by at least £5 a month for people with standalone landline contracts.

This would mean customers currently paying £18.99 a month for line rental would pay no more than £13.99, bringing the cost to levels last seen in 2009.

Ofcom also wants to introduce safeguards to stop BT increasing line rental prices and call costs by more than inflation.

Sharon White, Ofcom’s chief executive, said: “Line rental has been going up, even as providers’ costs come down.

“This hurts people who rely on their landline the most and are less likely to shop around for a better deal. We think that’s unacceptable.

“So we plan to cut BT’s charge for customers who only take a landline, to ensure that vulnerable customers get the value they deserve.”

'Special tariffs'

Nearly 80%, or 2.3m, of the UK’s 2.9m landline-only customers are with BT. Ofcom believes the company’s market power has allowed it to increase prices without much risk of losing customers, with other providers following its pricing lead.

Should Ofcom cut the cost of BT’s line rental for landline-only customers, other providers are expected to follow suit.

Ofcom is currently consulting on the changes as part of a review of standalone landline services that closes on 9 May.

A BT spokesperson said: “We will respond to Ofcom’s consultation fully when we have considered the detail.

"We take our responsibilities in this area very seriously and, unlike other companies, have many customers on special tariffs for socially excluded or vulnerable customers, including BT Basic, which still costs just £5.10 a month for line rental and calls, and Home Phone Saver.

“Recently, we have frozen the cost of line rental for all of our customers who take a BT phone line.

"We have also been improving the service we provide and customers have benefitted from our multi-million pound investments in a faster fault repair service, the launch of our free nuisance calls prevention service BT Call Protect and bringing call centre work back from India to the UK.”

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