BT Wins U.K. Supreme Court Case Over Mobile-Network Charges

BT Group Plc won a ruling from the U.K. Supreme Court allowing it to set the prices it charges mobile network operators for putting calls from the networks through to BT fixed lines.

The U.K. Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal filed by Vodafone Group Plc, Everything Everywhere Ltd., Telefonica S.A. and Hutchison 3G UK Holdings Ltd., which were trying to block price changes for calls that originate from “non-geographic” numbers that have 08 prefixes.

While today’s ruling is the latest in a long-running legal dispute over BT’s charges for putting mobile operator calls through to its network, it’s unlikely to have major financial repercussions. London based BT said the decision should be worth in the low tens of millions of pounds to the company.

“It’s created noise, but it’s not financially of substance,” said Guy Peddy, head of TMT Research at Macquarie Group.

The mobile-phone operators said they will review the judgment in more detail.

“Further administrative and legal steps will be taken by the parties,” EE said in a statement following the decision.

In 2009, BT introduced ladder pricing, initially for 0800 calls, but they were subsequently extended to 0845 and 0870 calls.

Lower courts disagreed over whether BT was able to change its price structure with regulator Ofcom originally siding with the wireless phone companies. The Court of Appeal also ruled against BT in 2012.

“Such pricing was designed to benefit U.K. consumers by incentivizing the mobile operators to lower their retail prices,” BT said in a statement.

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