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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

BT Cuts Charges, Offers Free Calls

LONDON -- British Telecommunications PLC said Thursday it was cutting charges for weekend calls and introducing a free call allowance for the first time in a new pricing system for residential customers in Britain.

The telecoms giant, which is fighting off competition from aggressive mobile phone companies, will cut the cost of British weekend calls by more than 30 percent to 2 pence (3.2 cents) per minute.

BT said its plans would also benefit Britain's growing army of Internet surfers.

BT said it would introduce "clear, simple low prices" and move away from complex discount schemes it has been operating.

From Oct. 1, residential customers will get free call time equivalent to three hours of local weekend calls a quarter, or pounds 1.80 ($2.89) in monetary terms.

Residential rental charges will go up by slightly more than 1 pence a day to pounds 27.77 a quarter.

BT also plans to launch what it describes as an all-in-one choice for residential customers called "BT Together" and priced at pounds 11.99 a month.

The package, to be launched Nov. 1, will give customers three times more call time and a reduction in many standard call prices.

"Under BT Together, customers will be able to surf the net for a full hour on weekday evenings or weekends, and still get change from 50 pence," said Bill Cockburn, group managing director of BT UK.

BT will also raise the price of the quarterly business exchange line rental by 85 pence to pounds 38.19 from Oct. 1.

The move by BT follows hard on the heels of an invitation by industry watchdog Oftel for public comment on current price controls on BT's residential telephone services.

Controls on BT services to residential subscribers are due to expire in 2001 and Oftel said it needed to review the situation in the light of increasing competition from other operators.

British Telecommunications PLC said Thursday it had completed its strategic and operational partnership with Japan Telecom Co. and U.S. giant AT&T Corp., which was first announced in April.

In the deal, BT and AT&T each acquired a 15 percent stake in Japan's No. 3 telecoms operator for a total pounds 1.2 billion ($1.93 billion), in the first wave of a global telecoms industry shake-up to reach Japan.