Briefs: U.K. proposes ending telecom price control

March 21, 2006

British telecom regulators Tuesday proposed bring retail price controls to an end this summer.

The Office of Communications said the proposed change was made possible by increased competition and new technology in the telecom sector that had cut the average cost of a phone call in half since 1996.

"Ofcom believes it is now appropriate to consider allowing existing retail price controls to lapse as increasingly effective competition between providers continues to drive down costs to consumers," the agency said in its announcement. "These developments are also taking place against a background of continued growth in the market for mobile services."

The changes in the market cited by Ofcom include a sharp growth in cell-phone usage as well as the advent of Voice over Internet Protocol telephony and the provision of broadband products over increasingly unbundling of local loops.

If the price controls are indeed ended on Aug. 1, Ofcom said it would keep some protections in place for "vulnerable groups" and would require pricing assurances for key BT services, including line rental.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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