Non-geographic calls – services statement
- Ofcom’s statement “Simplifying Non-Geographic Numbers“ was published in December 2013.
- All changes will come into effect June 2015 (the effective date).
- From the effective date, all calls to 080 and 116 are to be free-to-caller from all devices (both fixed and mobile). Although the new regulation applies to calls made by consumers (which in this context does not include businesses), Ofcom has stated that it expects that “CPs are likely to voluntarily offer these calls free of charge to businesses as well“. This appears to be based on its decision to extend the “080 and 116 Access Condition“ to calls made by business customers (see 4 below), which effectively removes any commercial justification for charging to business callers.
- Ofcom acknowledges that making calls to 080 and 116 free-to-caller will result in increased costs for businesses (“Service Providers“ in Ofcom’s terms) who use 080 ranges for inbound services. However, Ofcom has introduced a new “080 and 116 Access Condition“ to ensure that charges by Terminating Communications Providers (TCPs) for terminating 080 and 116 calls are fair. Ofcom has also changed its original decision so that the condition applies to all calls (i.e. from both consumers and businesses).
- The 03 range remains unchanged (i.e. calls are pegged to geographic rates).
- From the effective date, a new “Unbundled Tariff“ structure will apply to the 084, 087, 09 and 118 ranges (i.e. the retail charge paid by the end customer will be split into an Access Charge and Service Charge).
- The Access Charge (AC) is the tariff charged by the originating CP (OCP) to its customers for originating the call.
The following rules will apply to the AC:
- A single AC per tariff package must be applied across all the unbundled ranges;
- However, CPs can choose which ranges are included in call bundle allowances e.g. include 084 and/or 087 but exclude 09;
- The AC must be expressed as a simple “pence per minute“ rate;
- The OCP must publish its AC(s) on its price lists (preferably on its website).
- The Service Charge (SC) is the tariff charged by the TCP, which may also be shared with the “Service Provider“ customer (i.e. the end customer using the number for inbound calls).
The following rules apply to the SC:
- A single SC must be applied to each 084, 087 and 09 range which then applies to calls from all devices.
- Ofcom has set caps on the SC for each range (except 118) – 5.883p (ex vat) for 084 and 10.883p for 087 ranges, £5 per call and £3 per minute for calls to 09 ranges (also ex vat).
- Ofcom is introducing a new “Non-Provider Numbering Condition“ which requires that the Service Provider (end customer) must show the applicable SC on all advertising and promotional material which includes the number – using the following wording provided by Ofcom:
“This call will cost you X pence per minute plus your phone company’s access charge“
- Compliance with these regulations will be monitored by the ASA and PhonepayPlus (depending on the range and the cost of the call).
- A new Numbering Management System will be implemented by Ofcom which will include the SC for each number range and serve as a single point of reference for service charges.
- Changes to General Condition 12 will require the inclusion of the “applicable access charge“ on customer bills.
- Changes will be required to CPs published codes of practice for Premium Rate Services, NTS Calls, calls to 0870 numbers and calls to Personal Numbers which are a requirement under General Condition 14.
- Ofcom has recently launched a website www.ukcalling.info to raise awareness of the changes.