3 hands MTR petition to Ofcom


Terminate the Rate, the campaign launched by 3 and BT to lower mobile termination rates (MTRs), will today hand a petition with 114,000 signatures to Ofcom.

The petition calls on the regulator to reduce the rates networks charge each other to transfer calls from one network to another. 3 has claimed that the rates, currently at around 5p per minute, could be reduced to 1p or less. The reductions could then be passed onto consumer call rates.

The campaign is supported by around 60 organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses and MoneySupermarket.com. Additionally, 258 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion asking for MTRs to be reduced.

The submission of the petition comes as the campaign gears up for its second stage as Ofcom reviews pricing levels for April 2011.

3UK chief executive Kevin Russell (pictured right) said at a Westminster eForum event in London this month that high MTRs were stifling 3’s voice traffic and hindering its growth.

He said: “Once the T-Mobile/Orange merger goes ahead we will be subsidising the overall network by £3.5 million per month in termination rates. This organisation will be big enough to not have to be subsidised by us.”

BT Retail consumer managing director John Petter (pictured left) said: “114,000 people, 258 MPs and more than 60 organisations, businesses and councils have all joined the campaign for MTRs to be cut to a penny or less. Any reduction less than this will mean continued unfairness and high prices for UK consumers and businesses.

“This petition is only the first stage in an ongoing campaign to show how MTRs stifle competition and increase the cost of calling mobiles – our goal remains for them to be set according to what they actually cost.”

3 is also continuing the debate to lower mobile number porting (MNP) from two days to two hours, with Russell also addressing this topic at the Westminster eForum.

Ofcom reduced mobile number porting from five days to two days last year and is still consulting on reducing this to two hours, although all the networks but 3 are against this, claiming high implementation costs and risk to customer service levels.

Said Russell: “The current situation on mobile number portability is still poor from a competitive standpoint. If an operator (as a result of the T-Mobile and Orange merger) is going to have 40 per cent market share this needs to be fixed. It would cost 3 £800,000 to move towards two hour MNP. For other networks this would be significantly greater.”