Page last updated at 09:20 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Massive call for mobile rate cut

T-shirts show number of signatories (3)
MTR reduction would lower costs from both landlines and mobiles

A campaign to lower charges for mobile phone calls between networks will hand telecoms watchdog Ofcom a petition with 114,259 signatures on Wednesday.

The Terminate the Rate campaign wants to see mobile termination rates (MTRs) slashed to reflect actual costs.

These rates are what mobile network operators charge to handle other networks' traffic.

Signatories, including 258 MPs and 60 businesses, are calling for the rates to be slashed from 5p to less than 1p.

The campaign was launched by groups including BT and mobile network 3. While charging MTRs generates some revenue for networks, they stand to gain from a reduction because they can offer more competitive prices to their customers.

The 258 MPs weighing in on the matter have signed an Early Day Motion in Parliament in another call for MTR reduction.

MTRs are said to comprise 14p of every pound spent on mobile call charges, and have long been the subject of scrutiny from Ofcom.

Ofcom outlined a programme in 2007 to address the rates, saying they would fall by about 25% by 2011. In May, it began a consultation to look into rates for the period from 2011 to 2015.

Though MTRs have been falling year on year, campaigners argue the charges are still far higher than the actual costs to mobile network operators.

The European Commission in May also called for regulators across Europe to cut the rates in order to drive competition.

"This petition is only the first stage in an ongoing campaign to show how MTRs stifle competition and increase the cost of calling mobiles," said John Petter of BT Retail.

"Our goal remains for them to be set according to what they actually cost."

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