Important changes to NGN access charges
As of 1st July 2015, Ofcom are making changes to the way consumers are charged for calling service numbers (08, 09 & 118 numbers).
Why are Ofcom Making Changes?
Research which Ofcom carried out has shown that consumers are confused about how much it costs to call these types of numbers. The changes being introduced are designed to make the costs transparent, easier to understand and hopefully encourage consumers to use them without fear of bill shock.
What are the Changes?
There are 2 key changes:
1. Freephone numbers (0800 and 0808) will become free to call from mobiles, as well as landlines.
2. The cost to call 084, 087, 09 & 118 numbers will be split into two parts:
a) an access charge, which will be stipulated by the caller’s phone supplier, and
b) a service charge, which will be promoted by the organisation offering the service.
Adding these two costs together results in the total charge that will be made to the caller per minute for the duration of the call. For example, if the service charge is 25ppm, the owner of the 08, 09 or 118 needs to advise the charge as “Calls cost 25ppm plus your phone company’s access charge” – the phone company’s access charge is also set and advertised by them – assuming this is 20ppm, this gives clear visibility to the caller that they will pay 45ppm for making the call.
How this affects your Business
If you own a UK Service number (084, 087, 09 or 118 number) this change will mean that as of 1st July 2015 the cost of receiving an incoming call will increase substantially.
Any business that operates a Freephone number may see an increase in their inbound call charges, as making calls to Freephone numbers from mobiles will become truly free of charge. This is expected to result in an increase of mobile users using Freephone numbers.
What you need to do?
Any business who publishes an 084, 087, 09 or 118 number WILL BE REQUIRED to clearly advertise the cost of calling them in a way that is compliant with Ofcom regulations. This must be done as of 1st July 2015.
This means that wherever the telephone number is advertised, the service charge must be clearly displayed in a prominent position. The service charge cost for calls made to your number is stated on the OFCOM website: Ofcom Service Charge Master Sheet.
Whilst this may be daunting, there is a solution that can help you to avoid this increase in costs. By moving your 080X number over to an 03 alternative, you can avoid the charges that are soon to be attributed to a Freephone number.
Moving to an 03 telephone prefix has a number of benefits for your business including:
- Financial stability in line with current 080X costs
- 03 numbers are unaffected by the changes on the 1st July 2015
- 03 numbers are widely used by both fixed and mobile callers
- Most mobile networks include 03 numbers in their bundles minute tariffs
You can also move your 084X number to an 034X number for the same benefits.
The new access and service charges will not apply to calls from payphones, as these are charged differently. It may not be possible to call all service numbers from payphones – particularly those that have a higher cost per minute, or those with a higher one-off service charge.
When the new system comes into effect on 1 July 2015, companies and organisations that provide services using 084, 087, 09 or 118 numbers will be required to communicate the charges clearly.
Wherever they advertise or promote one of these services, they must ensure that the service charge is displayed in a prominent position, and in close proximity to the telephone number.
0500 numbers are not part of these changes and calls from mobiles to these numbers may still be charged for. Ofcom has decided that the 0500 number range will be withdrawn from use in 2017.
The new arrangements do not require any telephone numbers to change. None of the companies offering services on service numbers will be required to change their number. Of course, businesses and public organisations remain free to move to a new number if they wish.
How we can help?
If you are interested in a UK Service Number through Opus, please email our customer service department at firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively call 020 8545 8200
For more information about this or any of our news items please call us on 0800 316 7566.