Ofcom has published new proposals designed to simplify calls to ‘non-geographic’ numbers. If they become law, calls to 0800 telephone numbers would be free from all fixed-line and mobile phones in the UK.
The proposals are designed to resolve confusion about how much it costs to call organisations that use UK telephone numbers beginning with 03, 08, 09 and 118.
As well as mobile phone calls to 0800 numbers becoming free for consumers, Ofcom also wants telephone companies to publish a standard charge for calls to other 08 numbers along with 09 and 118 numbers.
Numbers that begin 080 and 116 would be free from all telephones, while 08, 09 and 118 numbers would have a standardised structure that detailed the charge made by the phone company and the additional ‘premium’ charge paid to the company being called. Each network provider would publish a set ‘access charge’ for these numbers. As a result, vague announcements that “calls may cost considerably more on a mobile” would be replaced by “This call will cost you xx pence per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.”
Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom, said “Consumers are often confused about how much they will pay to call these number ranges. Under our proposals, people will have much clearer information and there will be greater competition on prices. By making calls to 0800 numbers free from all phones, we will clear up any uncertainty about making calls, especially from mobiles, to the benefit of consumers and service providers alike.”
Responses to the proposal are requested by 27th June 2012, with Ofcom intending to make a final decision on the new rules by early 2013.