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March 14, 1988

OFTEL CALLED IN TO REFEREE BRITISH TELECOM PRICE INCREASES

By CBR Staff Writer

British Telecommunications Plc has run into a barrage of complaints from users about recent price hikes, and user groups are asking the watchdog Office of Telecommunications to impose stricter price controls. The Telecommunications Users’ Association has submitted a report to Oftel making recommendations for future rules and further claimed that Telecom’s March 1 price increases for inland private circuits totalled a swingeing 10% on average, contrary to Telecom’s suggestion that they amounted to half that sum. The Association, which represents mainly business users, is now preparing another paper for Oftel with sample evidence to substantiate its claim. An official at the user lobby said that its findings on the 10% rise had been confirmed by a nameless firm of management consultants which is expected to publish the results of its survey shortly. The Association also argued in its report that Telecom should have to keep its prices to four or five percentage points below the retail price index because Telecom’s progress in efficiency and cost control has not matched that of other big businesses. Oftel is currently sifting through 70-odd user responses as part of a major review of British Telecom’s pricing structure that is to be negotiated later this year.

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