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Cheaper mobile phone calls!

Now here's some unadulterated good news. Telecoms operator Ofcom has announced that it's ordering the UK's mobile phone networks to reduce their 'termination charges' - the fee they charge other mobile netowrks for connecting calls from their users - by up to 80% over the next four years.

'Termiwhatnow?' we hear you cry. Allow us to explain. You know how calling another mobile network is often more expensive, or uses more of your 'minutes', than calling a landline or person on teh same network? That's because of the termination charge. If I dial a friend on Orange from my Vodafone phone, say, Orange charges Vodafone a fee - around 4p - to connect the call from Vodafone's servers to theirs. Vodafone passes this cost on to me, by charging more per minute for cross-network calls (though we're sure they take the opportunity to earn a fast buck too).

Now, Ofcom has said termination charges should be no more than 0.69p. That should mean an overall reduction in calling rates. Nowadays many people have a deal that bundles cross-network calls in with all other calls, but hopefully the total minutes-per-pound you get will go up. Ofcom has been clear they expect the savings to be passed on to customers.

In the long run, of course, this will all be irrelevant. The next-generation LTE 4G networks we'll transition to in the next few years will treat voice as data, and connect everything over the internet. But then, in the long run we'll all be dead, right?

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