Are landline prices too high? Telecoms regulator Ofcom is set to launch a new consultation to find out, it announced this morning.
We're getting better value for money from our telecoms services in recent years - but that may not be the case for those who pay for good old-fashioned line rental on its own. That's mostly elderly and vulnerable people, Ofcom says, so a probe into the situation is pretty important.
Its research showed that all major landline providers have introduced price increases on line rental in recent years, going up by as much as 41% in some cases. Our own research found that the average live rental cost rose by 56% between 2009 and 2015.
A huge part of why that happened is because of broadband: providers were able to advertise broadband at incredibly cheap prices, then hide a not-so-cheap line rental cost that was also required. That's all been reformed now, thanks to a recent ASA ruling, but those folks who only want line rental are still forced to shell out a lot.
So, Ofcom's going to review whether measures are needed to protect that particular group of customers.
Ofcom competition group director Jonathan Oxley said: "Our evidence shows that landline providers have been raising the price of line rental, even as their costs have been coming down.
"We're particularly concerned for older and vulnerable customers, who rely on their landline and are less likely to change provider. So we're reviewing this market to ensure these customers are protected and getting value for money."
The consultation closes on 28 February 2017.