Bridging charges for conference calls come under attack

Companies are being charged excessive prices for traditional teleconferencing services, which is inhibiting the growth of the sector, say new players

Traditional suppliers of telephone conferencing services, such as BT, should ditch bridging charges that are ripping off firms to the tune of £30m a year, according to the mobile conferencing vendor Mobix.

In support of its argument the company points to a report, from the market research company Vanson Bourne, which suggests that while around 71 percent of UK executives make at least one conference call a week, 21 percent say they are put off from using mobiles for conference calls by the cost.

The mobile vendors believe the problem lies with the telcos who, they say, are taking two bites of the conferencing cake. This is because telcos usually impose a bridging charge for linking each user into a conference — which was initially as a means for suppliers to earn revenue — and now they also get a revenue share from numbers such as 0870.

According to Gary Andersen-Jones, Mobix vice-president of sales and marketing, "businesses are effectively being charged twice to make audio conference calls."

"It's not fair on businesses and it is inhibiting their ability to use the technology effectively and audio conferencing users are mostly unaware of the added costs of traditional conferencing but it must be hurting," he added.

And, as Anderson-Jones points out, the costs can quickly mount up in large or lengthy conferences. Typical charges are from 3p to 19p per minute per user for the bridging charge on top of the 8p or 9p per minute per user for the use of 0870 number.

BT declined to comment on the issue.