Calling a mobile phone from a fixed line will soon be cheaper thanks to a ruling by telecoms watchdog Ofcom.
Soon it will be cheaper to call one of these from your home
Wholesale rates that mobile phone companies charge landline operators for connecting calls to their networks will fall by 30% over a six-month period.
The move will affect mobile operators, Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile and Orange.
A spokesman for Ofcom said BT and other landline companies would have to pass on the cuts to its customers in the form of cheaper fixed-line phone bills.
One of the three planned cuts has already taken place and the other two are expected between September this year and March 2005.
This decision to impose cuts followed a probe by Ofcom's predecessor Oftel dating back to 1998 which
concluded that so-called termination charges - the
cost of connecting incoming calls to mobile networks - were too steep.
Vodafone and O2 will cut their call termination charges to 5.63 pence from 8 pence per minute during the six month period between September and March 2005.
At the same time, T-Mobile and Orange will cut rates to 6.31 pence per minute from 9.5 pence.
"No one in the industry sees any reason why the next two cuts shouldn't be passed on to customers as well," said a spokesman for Ofcom.
The charges will remain in place until March 2006, but will not apply to new high-speed third-generation (3G) networks.
The news of potential cuts in phone bills drew a mixed reaction from the National Consumer Council (NCC), which had been campaigning against "rip-off" termination charges.
"We're glad to see that NCC's campaigning has paid off and Ofcom has finally decided to press ahead with cuts," said Diane Gaston, head of corporate affairs at the NCC.
"However it is bad news that Ofcom has stopped short of regulating the call termination charges levied by 3G operators on calls from fixed line and other mobile networks," she added.
"As the 3G market expands, people won't know if they are calling a 2G or 3G network, and this is where termination charges will hit callers - especially those who use landlines, often older people and those on low incomes."