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A Year Ago: Internet tariffs must change - Oftel report

Oftel will, according to sources, recommend a new pricing structure for Internet connection next week designed to tackle a legal loophole that is clogging up UK networks
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

The telecommunications watchdog will propose a special tariff system for ISPs, understood to be below current rates, although "off peak" access may end. Oftel may also recommend higher charges for peak online times to achieve balanced pricing models. The source did not have details.

Errol Ziya, spokesman for CUT (Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications) said he welcomed the move as long as users see costs fall. "Anything that introduces new tariffs is of interest to us but for us a flat monthly rate is the crux of the matter," he said.

The Oftel report is designed to tackle ISPs use of 0345 numbers which provide a legal loophole that allows ISPs to share local call rates with telcos when using the 0345 prefix. Customers pay local call rates and get free access while the ISPs share 70 percent of call revenue with BT.

The number of free ISPs using the loophole has encouraged lengthy Internet calls which in turn have clogged networks. A situation that is "no longer appropriate," an Oftel spokesman said. Ziya remains sceptical about how the scheme benefits consumers: "BT are (sic) willing to share the honeypot with ISPs but not with customers," he said.

A BT spokeswoman said: "We will wait and see what the report actually says."

See what Rupert thinks of Oftel's plans in The Goodwins Perspective

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