HC Deb 01 February 1999 vol 324 c512W
Mr. Hoyle

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to assist the establishment of free local telephone calls to encourage wider use of the Internet among small and medium enterprises. [68464]

Mr. Wills

Providing a local call service is not cost-free. Where free local calls are offered, this is usually tied to higher monthly standing charges. BT are free to package their tariffs as they wish as long as their overall prices fall within the price cap set by OFTEL. Other operators are not subject to this price cap. However, BT are not able to price their services below cost as this would be anti-competitive. Average UK business and consumer telecommunications prices as a whole (combining standing charges and call charges on various tariffs) are below US, EU or OECD averages.