The UK regulator, Ofcom, has proposed cuts in interconnection fees (also known as mobile termination rates), the wholesale charges that operators make to connect calls to each others’ networks. It has unveiled plans to cut the rate in stages from 4.3 pence ($0.065) per minute to 0.005 pence per minute by 2015. “As rates fall and operators adapt, consumers will benefit from cheaper calls and competition in both the UK fixed telecoms and mobile markets,” Ofcom said.
The cuts will likely please fixed operator BT and small mobile operator 3, who both teamed on a campaign to get the rate either cut or dropped entirely. Smaller mobile operators tend to pay more in mobile termination rates as their users are likely to spend more time communicating with other networks than their own. The UK’s larger operators – Vodafone, O2, Orange and T-Mobile – face losing out on up to £1 billion in revenue according to reports. Ian Scales of Telecom TV demands, “Why not take it to zero?” But the Guardian is skeptic, “This is only a proposal from Ofcom so there will be an awful lot of lobbying from the four big networks, not least of the potential Conservative government, to reduce the severity of the price cuts.”