Re: Fraud (or reasonable facsimile thereof)
So the Commentards above would be happy, if they had been over billed by a Telco, that the refund of the over payment should go to the court and not them?
That really is NOT the same thing.
In this case the telcos bought the bandwidth at the advertised (though possibly excessive) asking price, and paid the price asked. That's not overbilling, just overcharging (yes, the two are different, and yes, it DOES matter).
Overbilling is what happens when the customer agrees a price but is then billed for more -- in that case the customer should refuse to pay the extra, and should certainly get a refund if the billed amount was paid. The customer has a contract for a sale at an agreed price, and the supplier has broken the contract by charging more.
The fuss here is because Ofcom increased the prices charged (as it is entitled to do) and the telcos didn't like the amount of the increase. These charges are basically a form of government (in the guise of Ofcom) tax on the use of the specified bandwidth, and tax rates do vary. There is (as far as I can see) no contract here to prescribe the increases that may be applied, so I don't see what business any of this is of the courts.
Giving away 218 Mega-Quids of taxpayers' money doesn't seem like a very bright idea, especially when the recipients are old enough and ugly enough to do without the charity.