UK government puts pressure on operators to lower mobile bills

Bosses of the UKs four mobile network operators were summoned to meet Prime Minister David Cameron this week as the UK coalition government attempts to prove it is making efforts to bring down the cost of living amid soaring energy prices.

According to the Guardian, BT, Virgin, BSkyB and TalkTalk also joined EE, Telefónica's O2 UK, Vodafone UK and 3 UK at a summit hosted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

"The coalition are recognising that they are losing the energy debate and they need to change the narrative," an unnamed industry source told the Guardian. "What they would really like is for people to set limits on phone bills in the way that credit card companies already do. Their main thrust seems to be bill shock."

Following the talks on Thursday, the culture secretary Maria Miller promised to work with operators to protect customers from unfair charges, the Financial Times reported.

Helen Goodman, the opposition Labour party's communications spokeswoman, told the FT that UK households spend an average £97.62 ($157 or €116) per month on telecoms services, including £32.21 on mobile bills and £10.78 on Internet. "Yet mobile companies are getting £150 million of taxpayers' money for the Mobile Infrastructure Project, and BT is getting £1.2 billion in public money for their broadband programme," Goodman added.

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom recently introduced new rules to make life easier for mobile consumers by allowing them to switch operators mid-contract without incurring a penalty if prices go up. The regulator also plans to review 3G coverage in the country after its latest figures show shockingly low levels of coverage for 3G data services on Britain's roads.

For more:
- see this Guardian article
- see this FT article (sub. req.)

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