November 26th 2014
Changes-geo

As we approach the frosty, festive period, summer may feel a million miles away – but June 2015 will be here before we know it! And, with it, will come some pretty significant changes to the way non-geographic call services are operated here in the UK.

We wanted to put together a short article which explains these changes and what they might mean to our customers.

Background

What are non-geographic call services?
As the name suggests, they’re numbers which aren’t linked to a specific location – essentially, 03, 05, 07, 08, 09, 116 and 118 numbers. These are widely used by a range of organisations including businesses, central and local government, charity and statutory bodies, and consumers use them for a wide range of activities. Ofcom report that consumers paid around £1.9 billion calling these numbers in 2009, accounting for 12% of the total traffic volume.

Ofcom did some research and it turned out that many people were actually confused about how much it cost to call these numbers, despite how widely they were (and still are) used. How often do we hear statements, like “Calls cost 20p per minute from a BT landline. Other landlines may vary and calls from mobiles may cost considerably more.” This lack of clarity means people have sometimes avoided using them – a situation Ofcom were keen to correct.

Ofcom’s policy review led to a number of decisions which are aimed to simplify these charges, making it easier for consumers to know exactly how much they’re paying for calls, and who receives the money.

We’ve outlined the most significant regulatory changes below – these will come into effect on a single day this coming summer, which is expected to be 26th June 2015.

Free Means Free

All consumer calls to Freephone numbers will be free, regardless of whether they’re made via landline or mobile.

Previously, operators have been allowed to charge for these calls. The new system means 0800, 0808 and 116 numbers will be free for everybody.

Call costs will be split for some 08, 09 and 118 numbers

In an attempt to clarify how much calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers actually cost, the charges will be split into two separate components:
Access Charge – this is paid to the phone company originating the call, and charged in pence per minute.
Service Charge – this is the rest of the call charge, decided by the organisation being called, again, charged in pence per minute.

These changes apply to both mobile and landlines, across the UK with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Costs will need to be clearly advertised

To minimise the confusion to consumers, businesses will need to clearly advertise the costs of calling their service on all online and letterhead material. This will be your responsibility as

What does this all mean for you?

Well, since calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers will now be free from mobiles, the cost of delivering that call to your service will increase as the provider will pay the origination cost.

Ofcom has set a maximum service charge that can apply to a particular number range, which is as follows:

084: 7p a minute
087: 13p a minute

And, as mentioned above, most importantly, you’ll need to communicate your costs clearly to your customers.

You can find out more about the changes here at the following links, and feel free to drop us an e-mail if you have any questions.
http://www.ukcalling.info/whats-happening
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/telecoms/policy/non-geo-call-services/