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BT landline-only customers set for further price protections

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More than a million BT landline-only customers are set for five more years of price protections as part of a voluntary commitment by the telecoms giant which is subject to consultation by the regulator.

In April 2018, BT agreed to cut its monthly line rental for landline-only customers by £7 – from £18.99 a month to £11.99 a month.

The commitment was for three years to March 2021, and also included a cap on any subsequent overall increases to line rental and call charges to inflation. Currently, these 1.2 million customers pay £12.14 a month.

The move came after the communications watchdog, Ofcom, said elderly and vulnerable landline-only customers have been getting “poor value for money” compared to those who buy bundles made up of landline, broadband and/or pay TV services.

BT’s monopoly in the landline-only market also allowed it to increase prices, even where wholesale costs were falling, without much risk of losing customers.

As the current commitments are due to end in three months, Ofcom has now launched a consultation to ensure the voice-only customers are protected.

BT has offered further voluntary commitments, including:

  • Continue with an inflation-linked cap on line rental and call charges for voice-only products. BT has also committed to an annual CPI+0% limit on prices for its Home Phone Saver product and a safeguard cap of CPI+2.5% for its line rental product.
  • Commitment for a further five years from March 2021 (so eight years in total).
  • Commitments apply to all voice-only products and services taken by customers, regardless of the technology used to deliver the service.
  • Commitments also apply to any new products or services introduced throughout the five-year commitment period that are offered on a voice-only basis.

Ofcom said it welcomed the further voluntary commitments and provisionally finds that “they would offer sufficient protections for these customers” but a consultation will run until 21 January 2021 with its final decision expected in March 2021.

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