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back to article Payback time for Ofcom on incoming call charges

The UK's competition commission has ruled that regulator Ofcom got the termination rates for mobile calls wrong, while the Competition Appeals Tribunal has decided that such mistakes should be acknowledged retrospectively. Ofcom caps the average rate that mobile operators charge for incoming phone calls - the termination rate - …

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A welcome surprise

It's a shock to see BT actually arguing to *lower* the costs imposed on us by telcos, for once; sadly, less of a shock to see Ofcom trying to keep them up. Even 4.4p/min is ridiculously expensive (more than an order of magnitude higher than BT and Virgin get for calls to landlines, for example), but a step in the right direction at least - and a far cry from the double-digit ripoff of recent years.

Ultimately, I want to see phone calls handled like Internet traffic with peering: the telcos just agree some points where they'll plug each other's networks together, traffic flows across that point, the end. Vodafone pays for Vodafone's network, BT pays for BT's. No, that will NOT "force" any of them to start charging for incoming calls, any more than BT charges us for incoming calls now (or indeed most outgoing calls): it can just be lumped in with line rental except for PAYG.

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Three?

They're going to have to drop pretty damned quickly for 3 which currently stand at 20p per minute for me compared to 9.5p per minute for all other operators. Which is why I never phone anyone on 3 because it seems bloody stupid that I can phone places on the other side of the world for less per minute (Australia for just over 8ppm ) than I can phone someone who might be in the next street.

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call me cynical

"BT complained that Ofcom based its figures on the amount the operators paid for their 3G licences, rather than what they're actually worth"

but surely they are worth, whatever someone was actually willing to pay for them, there's not much of a second hand trade in 3g licences.

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A welcome surprise

@ James. It's quite amazing given how much information is now available on this topic that people still keep comparing the mobile networks to the fixed networks when it comes to termination rates

The mobile networks have had to build out networks comparable to the fixed networks and then some, unless you can show me where BT's nationwide network of radio masts, remote base stations and power supplies are located all eating up significant capital and operational costs on an annual basis.

Or to put it another way BT only has to connect to all the homes and offices in the UK whereas the mobile operators cover that and all the spaces in between.

Then you need to consider that the mobile operators have had to achieve this in a far shorter timescale than the fixed networks and you start to realise why the mobile operators are entitled to a termination rate higher than that achieved by the fixed operators.

And that is what has happened, the CC and CAT have agreed that this is the case and determined the rates which happen to be lower than those determined by OFCOM. Some won't be happy, others will but for certain it will be a long time before parity is reached between the mobile and fixed operators.

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Free to USA "cell" phones"

So, how come it still costs us this termination fee? On my UK Sky landline package, I can call a land line OR cell phone in the USA for free, yet off peak calls to a UK mobile are about 5.5p per minute.

Something doesn't seem right there.

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@"they are worth, whatever someone was actually willing to pay for them"

So somebody who pays £10,000 for a car and discovers it is full of rust, engine is seized up, the roof leaks and the wheels are square can nevertheless take comfort that the car really IS worth £10,000 -- because the idiot was willing to pay it.

I don't think so. Its worth what somebody is prepared to pay for it TODAY, not what somebody was willing to pay for it yesterday.

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@Jon H re.USA Cell phones

But in the USA as in many places mobile users pay by the minute to receive mobile a call so the person you are calling is paying the termination charge.

Do you fancy that? I don't, though it would give me justification for swearing at cold sales calls! Which would increase!

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Stop

Its all rather academic

This has gone on for so long, its given all opertaors the time to enhance thie rip-off contract rates to re-coup any costs before they are enforced.

The current costs are just bloody ridiculous for a private user.

Contracts have tripled in monthly rental -for the same service and free minutes

I got when I paid £12 a month. Now they want £30 -£35

[insert expletive here]

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