British Telecom (BT) is reported to be owed “tens of millions of pounds” by the UK’s five mobile operators following a ruling on mobile termination rates. According to a Guardian report, the judgement by the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) covers disputes between BT and the mobile operators, as well as between new entrant 3 and rival operators Orange and O2, that took place in 2006 when all the mobile operators tried to raise prices before a fresh set of regulatory caps were imposed. The CAT ruled that prices should have been lower and repayments will have to be made. BT is reported to be the main beneficiary.

The report notes that the ruling sets a “significant precedent” as the tribunal prepares to rule on the much wider issue of mobile termination rates this year. It claims that decision could potentially lead to major reductions in the cost of calling a mobile phone and herald the introduction of ‘all you can talk’ packages seen in the US and Germany. BT has long argued that the charges mobile networks levy on each other and fixed-line operators to call mobiles are too high, stating that consumers are being overcharged by £1 billion a year. Yesterday Jeff Richardson, BT Retail’s director of strategy, said: “BT is very pleased with the [CAT] result and sees it as an important step on the route to lower and fairer termination mobile rates.” EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding has suggested rates should come down by 70 percent to €0.025 or less, potentially opening the way to unlimited calling packages.