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Landline charges could be scrapped for internet users


Broadband users could be exempted from landline rental charges if they do not use the service, under new proposals which are to be put forward by the Culture minister.

Currently, broadband customers need to pay around £18 a month landline rental in order to gain access to broadband.

However, Culture minister, Ed Vaizey has claimed that the charges are “outdated”, as one in five homeowners pay the charge to gain access to the internet, but do not make fixed line calls.

Mr Vaizey labelled the charges as an “analogue billing system in a digital world” and has invited several broadband providers for talks, including BT, Virgin, TalkTalk and Sky.

He claimed that under current pricing structures, customers are not always clear what they are paying for due to hidden costs.
As a result of this, he has welcomed suggestions for new, clearer pricing structures to be introduced on the basis customers that “can see what they are paying for”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently announced that communications regulator Ofcom will be introducing new rules around how broadband packages should be marketed. The new rules, which will be introduced in May, aim to make pricing clearer and easier to understand.

Business service improvements

The communications industry has come under scrutiny by regulators recently, as they will be required to make other service improvements. This includes an order from Ofcom that BT must install high-speed cables to businesses at a faster rate.

The demands were made because the average time to make a landline available to a business has increased from 40 to 48 days since 2011. Under the new rules, this will need to fall to 46 days by March 2017, and return to 40 days by 2018.

BT responded to these demands by accepting that they need to do more to improve these services, but claimed that the regulator did not provide recommendations that would help them “underpin service improvement”.

Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom’s competition director said: "These new rules will mean companies across the UK benefit from faster installations times, greater certainty about installation dates and fast repairs if things go wrong."

Additionally, Ofcom are planning to reduce the wholesale prices that BT charge for leased line services over the course of three years, and expect BT to pass on the reductions to their business customers.

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