Landline rental charges could be scrapped under new proposals

Monthly rental landline charges for householders could be scrapped if the landline isn't being used, according to proposals set out by the culture minister.

Ed Vaizey wants consumers to only pay for services they use and has described the current system as “outdated and an analogue billing system in a digital world”. Currently, one in five people do not make calls from a landline but they are still forced to pay for the connection.

The proposals come after the regulator, Ofcom, published a review of the state of the market and found that further clarity was needed on the price structure of broadband packages which the minister hopes to rectify by inviting the leading broadband companies for discussions, including BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky.

The review also highlighted competition issues concerning the installation and management of leased lines, connections used by large companies, and broadband operators. It stated that more needed to be done to make these lines faster and cheaper.

The minister hopes that by suggesting this proposal, better transparency over costs will happen while also accepting that the broadband products could become more expensive.

Mr Vaizey said: "If the companies come up with a different pricing structure, that is fine, as long as consumers can see what they are paying for."

A spokesman for BT said that it welcomed the discussion over the clarity over charges stating: "Anyone using broadband uses a landline. I think the focus is more about ensuring transparency around charges when companies advertise their broadband packages.

"BT is happy to meet with the minister and other players in the industry to discuss ways of making charges clearer for consumers."

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