Telecoms regulator Ofcom has published a consultation on tackling confusion over the cost of calling non-geographic UK telephone numbers from mobiles and landlines. Non-geographic numbers are those that don’t have an area code, such as numbers beginning with 03, 08, 09 and 118. One in eight of all UK calls made last year was to one of these number ranges, costing consumers around £1.9 billion.
It’s suggesting standardising and simplifying how a wide range of non-geographic numbers are priced. For example, under the proposals calls to 0800 numbers would be free from mobiles. At the moment some mobile networks allow certain 0800 calls to be free while others charge up to 40p a minute.
Ofcom’s proposals would define several categories of numbers:
01, 02 and 03 – all charged at standard national geographic rates,
07 - mobile rates,
0800 - free from landlines and mobiles,
0843, 0844, 0845 and 0871, 0872, 0873 – charged at a ‘business rate’ that’s lower than premium-rate calls, and
090, 091, 098 – charged at a premium rate.
There’d also be clearer charges for calling 118 directory enquiry services.
Ofcom is asking for comments by 5th March 2011. It then plans to implement its proposals over the next two years, subject to planned changes to the Communications Act being introduced next May.