Centrica, the power and roadside services conglomerate, is moving into consumer telecommunications with a plan to dramatically undercut the current tariff of dominant provider, British Telecommunications.

Spearheading the attack with its powerful British Gas brand, the new venture will be known as British Gas Communications. It claims it will offer savings of one third on local calls, 50% on national rates and up to 75% on international calls according to destination. BGC expects to sign one million customers by the end of 2001 – around five per cent of all UK residential phone users.

Centrica, which is investing £150 million in the business, says it will lead to greater competition and customer choice. Says BGC director of marketing Ian El-Mokadem: "Nearly eight million households in the UK don't realise they have a choice of phone supplier and millions more are not benefiting from the savings on offer."

Partnering Centrica in the venture are Cable & Wireless and Torch, the latter providing the service’s land line technology, while the Vodafone network will host BGC’s mobile service.

News source: The Times (London)