UK telecoms regulator Ofcom says it’ll simplify fixed-line and mobile phone call charges from 2015. There’ll be clearer pricing for ‘non-geographic’ numbers that start 08, 09 and 118. In addition, calls that begin 080 will always be free from mobile phones as well as from landlines.
The new rules will mean that the cost of calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers will be broken down into an ‘access charge’ to their phone company plus a ‘service charge’ to the organisation being called. The access charge will be set by the individual mobile or fixed-line phone company and will be made clear to customers when they sign a new contract.
At the moment, mobile customers are often unaware of specific charges when they call these non-standard numbers. Instead, they may be given a general warning that “calls from mobiles may cost considerably more” than calling from a BT line.
Under the new rules, they’ll see a message that makes the charges clearer. For example, “Calls will cost x pence per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.”
The changes will come into effect on 26th June 2015, three years after Ofcom’s consultation started. At the same time, consumer calls to ‘freephone’ 0800, 0808 and 116 numbers will become free from mobile phones as well as from landlines.
Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom, said “These changes will be the biggest for UK telephone customers in more than a decade. We expect them to restore people’s confidence in using phone services, and to increase competition. Freephone will mean free for all consumers, and the cost of calling other services will be made clear. Telephone users will be able to see how much they’re paying, and where their money is going.”
Although these changes will only be a legal requirement from residential (non-business) lines, Ofcom says it expects businesses to be offered the same benefits.