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Non-Geographic Phone Numbers - Ofcom Changes from July 1st 2015

May 2015: Non-geographic Number Changes

NON-GEOGRAPHIC NUMBERS ARE CHANGING

From July 1st 2015:

Freephone numbers will be free to call from mobiles.
Charges for some non-geographic numbers will be simplified.

To improve clarity for consumers Ofcom have changed usage charges when calling non-geographic numbers starting with 080, 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers. For some time the confusion over charges to non-geographic numbers has resulted in a reluctance of consumers to call these numbers, thereby reducing market confidence.

Freephone

Freephone numbers (0800/0808) will be free to call from all phones - landline and mobile. This will reduce the confusion and improve usage by consumers.

Currently calls to Freephone numbers from mobile phones cost between 14p and 40p per minute, with a required announcement warning of the charges prior to connection. From July 1st mobile providers will be able to charge the business using the Freephone number at a 'fair and reasonable' rate, just as now occurs with landlines. Consequently Freephone numbers are likely to increase in cost, dependent on the number of inbound calls from mobile phones.

Call Charge Changes

The changes mean that consumers calling a non-geographic number starting 084, 087, 09 or 118 from a UK residential landline or mobile phone (excluding the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands) will be able to view the breakdown cost of the call. This will be the sum of 2 charges:

Access Charge: Set by and paid to the caller's telecoms provider.

Service Charge: Set by and paid to the organisation that is being called, along with the provider of the non-geographic number. There is no differentiation between mobile and landline phones, nor any consideration given to the provider of the non-geographic number - the charge is set by the organisation alone.

Caps have been put in place for the various non-geographic number ranges:

  • 084 - 7p per minute or per call.
  • 087 - 13p per minute or per call.
  • 09 - £3 per minute and £5 per call.
  • 118 - no cap.

Charge Display

From July 1st all business advertising, printed material, web presence etc. must display the Service Charge associated with the advertised non-geographic number. For example:

"Call charged at 12p per minute, plus your phone provider's access charge."

The Alternative

You may wish to consider an alternative to providing consumers a Freephone number, rather than face increased bills for receiving calls, including those from mobiles (typically you will be charged about 4.5ppm to receive calls).

You may consider a different number range if there are concerns that increased transparency of costs will stop consumers calling an 084 or 087 number.*

A good option here is an 03 number - see below.

*Worth noting: It has been policy for some time that the cost of calling these numbers should be made clear, and as such the impending increased transparency may actually reduce the cost of calls, since the Access Charge will be clearly understood by consumers and companies will be less likely to inflate it.

03 Numbers

There is a general acceptance of 03 numbers within the UK community, with an understanding that they're charged at the standard network rate and can be called using bundled minutes, in the same way as 01 and 02 calls.

As such currently 51% of calls to 03 originate from mobiles.

03 numbers provide organisations with a single point of contact without consumers paying extra to call them.

With the increasing cost to provide a customer friendly Freephone number, the uptake of 03 by organisations is expected to increase dramatically.

Now is the time to consider moving your organisation's point of contact to an 03 number. X-on can assist you with this process, with memorable silver and gold numbers available to improve your phone presence.

Contact Sales

Call X-on Sales on 0333 332 0000 for more information on migrating to 03 soon.