BT cuts landline-to-mobile rates

The communications and IT firm says its price cuts are in response to the credit crunch, but a BT executive has also suggested people downgrade their mobile contracts

BT is cutting its charges for calling mobile phones from landlines, claiming the price reduction is a response to the credit crunch.

On Thursday, the communications and IT firm launched its Mobile Saver scheme, which is free to sign up for, and which cuts the per-minute charge for calling mobile from landlines from 9p to 7.5p. BT is trying to pitch the offer at those customers who use pay-as-you-go mobile phones to call other mobiles even when they could be using a landline.

Although they are now being extended to any BT customer with a 12-month contract, the new rates have already been available to Anytime Plan customers.

"In the credit crunch, everyone is looking for ways to save money," said John Petter, BT's consumer business chief, in a statement. "One of the easiest ways is to make calls to mobiles with your landline instead of your mobile. We know customers appreciate the convenience of their mobile handset, but modern landline phones can store scores of numbers in the same way as a mobile, or they can be transferred from your mobile if your phone has a SIM card reader."

According to Petter, contract mobile rates are "up to 40 percent more than Mobile Saver rates", while pay-as-you-go mobile rates are even more expensive. "Our research also indicates that four in 10 contract mobile customers only use half of their inclusive minutes, so customers should give some thought to trading down to a smaller bundle of mobile minutes," he suggested.

Petter also criticised the termination rates that mobile operators charge each other for connecting calls between their networks. Such charges are also levied on landline-based calls made to mobile phones. "BT is supporting the European Union's efforts to make calling a mobile cheaper by cutting the excessive termination rates that mobile companies impose for using their networks," he said.

BT's model has been changing over recent years, as the company concentrates more on its IT services and wholesale telephony business, and less on its legacy landline business. This is partly the result of an increase in the use of mobile phones in preference to landlines. On Friday, however, a BT spokesperson denied that the latest price cuts were the result of any particularly steep drop in landline usage.

"For the past few years, it's no secret that our traditional business has been in decline, in terms of landline usage and revenues," the spokesperson told ZDNet UK. "That is always a feature of our results, but I certainly wouldn't say that we're seeing an acceleration of that decline."