The Daily Telegraph

Ofcom warns mobile firms over pushing up charges

- By Ben Woods

BT HAS been hit with a shot across the boughs by Ofcom after the regulator warned that mobile operators should not pursue irresponsi­ble price rises.

Ofcom said telecoms companies had a duty to help their customers withstand the economic turmoil caused by the soaring energy bills linked to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at the Connected Britain Conference, Lindsey Fussell, the network and communicat­ions director of Ofcom, said: “We face a generation­al crisis in the budgets of homes and businesses across the country.

“And while telecoms bills may only represent a fraction of household energy costs, every bill matters. Millions of people are struggling.

“We want companies to think very carefully about what is justified during an exceptiona­l period of hardship for many people.”

The warning comes as BT is poised to put prices up by inflation-plus 3.9pc from April for new and renewing customers. Philip Jansen, chief executive of

BT, said in July that the owner of mobile operator EE and the broadband infrastruc­ture builder Openreach will “absolutely” go ahead with the price increase given the economic pressures and the costs of upgrading UK’S connectivi­ty.

Ms Fussell added: “We believe companies have a duty to their customers, to recognise and respond to a unique economic climate. We expect them to meet that responsibi­lity. They can do so within their means, and without compromisi­ng on fair returns or continued investment.”

Mobile and internet providers are looking to increase bills to help meet the huge costs of rolling out faster 5G mobile connectivi­ty and ultra-fast broadband across Britain.

Vodafone and O2 are also among the telecoms companies that have clauses threatenin­g to push bills up by more than inflation in the spring. Ofcom research found that 2m households are struggling to afford broadband costs.

The Daily Telegraph revealed in July that Ofcom was stepping up its review into the billing practices of telecoms companies.

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