01 January 2000

Oftel’s recently launched online guide to telecoms prices [www.phonebills.org] ran into flak from some of the national dailies for allegedly 'being too commercial' with its plan to charge telecoms companies a fee to have their prices published on the comparative site.

Initially, the site gives details only of the tariffs of BT and the three main cable companies - Cable & Wire-less, NTL and Telewest. However, the regulator aims to expand the service to include the legion of smaller companies, mainly ‘resellers’, who offer access to BT lines at cheaper rates.. This, says the watchdog, would necessitate the opening of a large call centre to service consumer enquiries and advice on which operator to choose. Oftel director-general David Edmonds defended the move as 'A positive step forward for the indus-try and for consumers ... the first time the industry has co-operated to provide comparable information on prices'.