Ofcom mandates 40% reduction in UK mobile termination rates by 2017

Ofcom ordered UK mobile operators to slash mobile termination rates (MTRs) by around 40 per cent over the next two years, some nine months after opening a consultation into the move.

The UK regulator confirmed that maximum MTRs will drop from £0.826 (€1.14/$1.20) per minute at present to £0.661 per minute from May 1 2015, and continue to drop through 2016 (£0.490) and 2017 (£0.475).

Ovum analyst Matthew Howett told the UK's Daily Mail newspaper that the regulator's decision is good news for the country's consumers, with older users set to reap the greatest benefits due to their greater tendency to use fixed-line phones to call mobile devices. Landline phones bear the brunt of current MTRs, Howett noted.

Ofcom revealed its MTR plans a day after fining BT £800,000 for failing to launch an upgraded text-to-voice service for customers with hearing or speech impediments on time.

BT and other operators were required to launch improved services in April 2014. However, BT failed to get its service up and running until September, the regulator said. While Ofcom accepted that BT hit technical problems with the quality of emergency calls placed using its text-to-speech service, it noted that BT had 18 months to prepare for the April 2014 deadline.

Claudio Pollack, director of Ofcom's Consumer and Content Group, said the size of the BT fine "reflects the importance of providing an improved text relay service to its customers with hearing and speech impairments."

The BT fine came a matter of days after the operator's rivals called on Ofcom to break up the former incumbent by separating its Openreach infrastructure division, as part of a regular Ofcom review into the UK's digital communications market.

Rivals including TalkTalk argue that the wholesale structure provided by BT is not fit for purpose, despite the cost of wholesale access falling in the decade following the last Ofcom digital market review.

For more:
- see Ofcom's MTR statement [PDF]
- view the regulator's BT announcement
- read this Daily Mail article

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