BT wins Supreme Court ruling over mobile network charges

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Ruling over prices on 08 numbers could mean UK operators are forced to pay back tens of millions of pounds.

BT is set to make a multimillion pound windfall after securing a court ruling forcing mobile operators to pay extra for 0800 and 0845 numbers.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against an appeal filed by the parent companies of Vodafone, EE, Three and O2, who were trying to block changes to the pricing of calls from “non-geographic” 08 numbers.

A BT statement said: “We will now start proceedings to recover the money that has been refunded to the mobile operators since the Court of Appeal ruling. We will also be pursuing claims for further termination charges subsequent to that ruling.

“Such pricing was designed to benefit U.K. consumers by incentivizing the mobile operators to lower their retail prices.”

Initially, Ofcom ruled that BT’s ladder pricing could have a negative affect on consumers after it was challenged by the mobile operators. This decision was overturned by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) who said Ofcom had no right to intervene in an unregulated market.

The CAT decision challenged in 2012 but today the Supreme Court definitively ruled in favour of BT’s right to structure its own tariffs. In their ruling, the court said that Ofcom had taken the incorrect approach when making the initial decision.

A statement from Vodafone on the ruling said: “We note the decision of the Supreme Court today and will be reviewing the judgement in more detail before making further submissions regarding implementation of the judgement when the time comes.”

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