British fixed line incumbent BT has revealed that it will raise the cost of calls for residential customers by up to 5% from 5 December 2011, the second increase this year. According to the BBC, while the cost of calling a mobile phone number will remain unchanged, daytime calls to fixed line numbers will increase from GBP0.076 (USD0.12) to GBP0.0795 per minute, while evening call costs will rise from GBP0.01 to GBP0.0105 per minute; call set-up fees will also increase, to GBP0.131 from GBP0.125 when the new pricing regime is introduced. Further, BT has also confirmed that the cost of line rental will rise, and from 5 December it will cost customers GBP14.60 per month instead of the GBP13.90 that is currently charged. The telco has, however, said that fixed line prices will now be frozen until 2013, although it issued no such guarantee regarding the cost of calling mobile numbers.
The decision has prompted criticism, with Michael Phillips, product director at UK price comparison website Homephonechoices.co.uk noting: ‘While BT’s price increases of 5% or less may be in line with inflation, it will prove very unpopular with households who are already feeling the pinch.’ BT has countered such claims by arguing that many of its customers had seen a fall in costs, after moving on to specific call packages, while a BT spokesman also noted: ‘A report from Ofcom shows the UK has lower prices than the USA, Spain, Germany, France and Italy. The UK market is highly competitive.’