Consultation: Protecting voice-only landline telephone customers

  • Start: 10 December 2020
  • Status: Closed
  • End: 21 January 2021

In this document, we set out our proposed approach to ensuring continued protections for voice-only customers.

The prices that these customers pay for their voice-only service have been protected since 1 April 2018 through voluntary commitments from BT which we accepted in 2017. As well as an initial price cut of £7 to line rental, BT also capped overall increases to line rental and call charges at the rate of inflation (CPI) for three years. These voluntary commitments will expire on 31 March 2021.

We continue to believe that price protection for voice-only customers remains necessary to address our previous concerns from our last review in 2017, which included lack of competition in the market and poor value for money for this group of customers. BT has now made another offer of further voluntary commitments, which are:

  • Continue with an inflation-linked control (CPI+0%) on the basket of 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 duration of five years.
  • 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 5-year commitment period that are offered on a voice-only basis.
  • BT to provide information to Ofcom on its compliance with the commitments on an annual basis.

We welcome the further voluntary commitments BT has offered, which build on the foundations of the previous protections. We have carefully considered these commitments and our provisional view is that they would offer sufficient protections for these customers, reflecting current market conditions. We propose to accept the commitments.

We ask for stakeholders to respond to this consultation by 21 January 2021. Once we have considered representations, we expect to issue a statement of our decision in March, ahead of the expiry of the existing commitments.

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