Two companies have responded aggressively to British Telecommunications plc cuts in international call tariffs starting what looks set to be a battle over the lucrative market. Energis, the fledgling telecommunications group owned by the National Grid Group Plc, is claiming the lowest tariffs ever offered, after it slashed international charges to five destinations from the UK. Alongside price cuts to 200 other destinations, telephone calls to the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, France and the US will now cost 10 pence per minute – beating British Telecom’s similar charges by up to 42%, said Energis. The competitive pricing strategy is part of the companies new World Link package and, says the company, is its first real assault on the international telephone call duopoly between British Telecom and Cable and Wireless Plc’s Mercury unit. Per minute calls to Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland have been cut to 14 pence; to Australia, Finland and New Zealand they now cost 20 pence; to Hong Kong and Singapore 30 pence and to Japan 35 pence. Nynex Cablecomms Plc, which covers residential as well as business customers, also cut its rate in response to British Telecom’s cuts. Now, says the company, cuts to its pricing will result in an average saving of 25% over British Telecom prices for both sets of customers. Nynex says a five minute business rate day time call to France or Germany will cost its users 83.45 pence compared with 12.95 pence for British Telecom users. British Telecom cut the costs of calls to 33 destinations by between 10% and 37% earlier this year. Last week, both Mercury Communications and Ionica Ltd also cut charges. The current round of price cutting follows the UK government’s action of issuing international access to 44 companies – forcing British Telecom and Mercury to compete with other companies for the first time.