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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 07:28 GMT 08:28 UK
BT to cut call charges
Talking for hours will cost much less
Telecoms giant BT Group has said it will cut call charges on its most popular household rate, BT Together, from June.

The UK's leading phone network said the reductions will make it up to 20 times cheaper than its main rivals.

The company will scrap charging per minute for all evening and weekend calls and make distance irrelevant, offering just one rate for UK and local calls.

Under the new payment scheme, BT Together customers will pay just six pence for up to an hour of calls anywhere in the UK.

But rivals hit back after the announcement and accused BT of using unfair price comparisons.

Gavin Patterson, managing director of Telewest Broadband, said: "This is yet another example of BT waking from its cosy slumber and attempting to follow our lead - but they are hardly ringing the changes with this announcement.

'Misleading' rivals

BT's reductions are designed to help the company to hold on to its market share in the face of fierce competition.

Rival groups such as British Gas and NTL have been eating into BT's former monopoly of 19 million domestic customers.

The competition increased further this week when Carphone Warehouse announced a partnership with supermarket chain Sainsbury's to offer fixed-line residential and mobile phone services later this year.

But Angus Porter, managing director of BT's retail consumer division, suggested rival offerings were not always what they seem.

"Claims by some competitors of savings over BT are often just plain misleading.

"They are based on comparisons with our standard rate, which is only for customers for whom it would be economic to be on a fixed call package."

The real deal

The new BT Together, which launches on 1 June, will allow customers to choose one of three pricing options.

All three are intended to offer reductions on the price of local and national calls in the evenings and at weekends.

"Today's changes make it possible for customers to spot the real deal," said Mr Porter.

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