LONDON Dec 1 British telecoms regulator Ofcom
said it was concerned about the rising cost of telephone line
rental for customers who did not take broadband, particularly
elderly and vulnerable people who rely on the service.
Ofcom said all major landline providers had increased line
rental charges by between 28 percent and 41 percent in recent
years, despite the wholesale cost of providing the service
falling 25 percent.
Market leader BT and Virgin Media had the
highest line rental charges, it said, with TalkTalk and
Sky not far behind.
The increases were felt most acutely by customers who did
not take advantage of competition in the market for bundling
landlines with services such as broadband and pay-TV, it said.
Bundling has become more popular in recent years, with some
services such as broadband marketed as free in packages.
"We're particularly concerned for older and vulnerable
customers, who rely on their landline and are less likely to
change provider," Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom's competition group
director, said on Thursday.
"So we're reviewing this market to ensure these customers
are protected and getting value for money."
The regulator said it would examine whether measures were
needed to protect those customers, and it expected to publish a
consultation in early 2017.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton)