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Ofcom Accepts BT Proposal to Continue UK Landline Only Discount

Thursday, March 25th, 2021 (10:29 am) - Score 7,560
telephone uk red ringing broadband

As expected, Ofcom has today accepted last year’s proposal from BT, which saw the UK ISP voluntarily offer to continue the existing discount that they apply to consumers who take a landline-only phone service (i.e. cutting the monthly rental from £18.99 to £11.99 for lines without broadband attached).

The previous change, which was introduced in 2018 (here), followed the regulator’s previous market review, which found that landline-only customers had been “getting poor value for money compared to those who buy bundles of landline, broadband and/or pay-TV services.”

At the time BT responded by reducing the line rental charge for related users, while at the same time capping any subsequent overall increases for line rental and call charges to inflation for three years. But this comes to an end in March 2021 and in December 2020 BT made a commitment to continue this protection for a further 5 years.

After a short consultation Ofcom has now accepted the new offer from BT of further voluntary commitments to ensure continued protections for its voice-only customers until March 2026.

BT’s Voluntary Commitments

• BT will continue to apply an inflation-linked control (CPI+0%) on the basket of line rental and call charges for voice-only products. We believe a continuation of prices which remain flat in real terms is a proportionate, clear and timely way to continue to protect consumers. BT has also committed to an annual CPI+0% limit on prices for its Home Phone Saver product and a safeguard cap of CPI+2.5% for its line rental product.

• These commitments will last five years. This will provide certainty for customers for the next five years and allow us to reassess the right protections once the public switched telephone network (PSTN) switch-off has taken place, which is scheduled to be completed by December 2025.

• The commitments will apply to all BT branded voice-only products and services taken by its retail customers, regardless of the technology used to deliver the service. This will ensure that customers are protected, irrespective of the technology used to deliver the service. We think this is particularly important as customers are migrated to different technologies – such as ‘voice over internet protocol’ (VoIP) – as a result of PSTN switch-off.

• The commitments will also apply to any new products or services introduced throughout the five-year commitment period that are offered on a voice-only basis.

• BT will provide information to Ofcom on its compliance with the commitments on an annual basis. Compliance is an important part of monitoring voluntary commitments. BT will provide us with an externally audited annual compliance report, and it will also publish an annual compliance report on its website.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
15 Responses
  1. adslmax says:

    I will complaints to Ofcom about why they no longer have line rental saver discount anymore?

    LRS is a good way to saver cost!

    Oh by the way line rental has gone up 4.5%

    1. Kyle says:

      How can you complain to Ofcom, about them not selling a product? Do you complain, when a brand of cereal is discontinued?

  2. Optimist says:

    So customers who upgrade to broadband to will have to pay additional line rental on top of the internet service. Is this fair?

    1. Meadmodj says:

      Line rental and Voice access is included in BT Broadband products.
      BT is moving from PSTN to VoIP but the PSTN still needs to be paid for and increases as number of customers decreases.
      The only people who would pay extra is if they retain their BT PSTN service but utilise an alternative ISP.

      What BT should be considering is perhaps offering BT Digital Voice as a separate product but really those wanting a voice service with ISPs that do not provide it themselves should seek a VoIP alternative.

      The BT agreement to provide a discount is to protect those dependant such as the old or vulnerable on a voice only service

  3. Moses says:

    Why do people here in the UK continue wanting a phone line? when you can easily get a mobile phone like no one needs a phone line rental connected there home in this day age anymore, it is a complete waste of money.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Absolutely agree. Wonder why BT will realise people actually need real FTTP, not pretend “superfast” broadband that isn’t?

    2. Meadmodj says:

      Some don’t have access even to ADSL or mobile signal
      Prefer a fixed device (old or have a disability)
      Have devices (fall alarm, security) that are dependant on a PSTN line
      Live in remote areas prone to power outages

      The numbers are reducing but should not be dismissed

    3. Connor says:

      While I don’t need more want one if I were in a position where I didn’t have broadband my mobile phone would be useless with my shoddy indoor coverage which all mobile networks stipulate in their contract is not their problem.

    4. Billy Nomates says:

      I haven’t had a phone line since 2010. But then I’ve been going with Virgin Media since forever. I’ve got unlimited mobile calls, and since I need a mobile anyway, it doesn’t make sense for me to have a land line.

      I did have a VOIP phone a while ago, but again, not much need for that either.

    5. Just a thought says:

      1) it is a number for the household, deliveries don’t need to speak to me just someone in the house.
      2) if I’m in I will take your call if I’m out working, walking, driving I don’t want my mobile ringing from anyone other than close contacts
      3) if you are involved in a club or organisation it’s not your personal number you need to give out, less likely to be bothered when you are not available
      4) phone works regardless of position within house mobile you generally have to be upstairs near a window to get a signal
      5) wouldn’t dream of putting my personal number in a phone book.
      6) you don’t have to give every child in a house a device you have to protect from virus and uncontrolled internet access
      7) works in a power cut (or flat battery scenario)
      8) you know where it is when it rings
      9) it’s great quality for dial in to Zoom or Goto meetings and cheaper per minute deals
      10) it works with care link allowing the calling of emergency aid.

    6. Michael Humbles says:

      It’s a monopoly on a service hardly anyone uses. Why should I be charged for a “landline” now when my phone is connected to my router for this new “digital voice”. The Outreach box is redundant copper wire that I don’t use anymore, but I still have to pay for a “landline”. Rip off, Ofcom are useless. I just hope someone is brave enough or rich enough to bring a test case.

  4. Neil says:

    As someone with elderly parents who have a home help alarm they need a PSTN line, the alarms do not (currently) work with VoIP services. Even if my parents were to switch to FTTP they would still require a PSTN line until the likes of safe and sound update their terminals to work with VoIP.

  5. Mick says:

    My BT “superfast” broadband rarely gets above 38Mbps and is sitting at 28Mbps right now. I’m surprised Virgin haven’t taken all of BT’s business, where possible, as I was getting a solid 50Mbps+ four years ago. It took me a while but now I do like BT’s service but they really need to pull their fingers out. I could swap to Virgin very quickly with a minimum of fuss where I live. I see BT are dropping the ‘obligatory’ landline installation but I’m not certain the charges have been dropped.

  6. Kenneth Bushnell says:

    I applied to BT for BT basic+broadband what a run around promised the package but impossible to get and it seemed impossible to complain what cowboys

  7. Dave says:

    If they are dropping the line rental only cost then surely broadband and phone charges should do drop also

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