In February 2015, Ofcom announced regulatory changes in relation to the charging of Non Geographic Numbers (NGN) in order to simplify the charging structure.
This comes as a result of an Ofcom consultation. These changes were implemented on 1st July 2015. The changes affect call pricing for 084, 087, 09, 118 and Freephone calls.
Calls from mobiles made to Freephone numbers have been free since 1st July 2015. Freephone number operators will be charged with an additional fee for receiving calls from mobile networks.
The service charge is set by the Range Holder of the NGN. The access charge is set by the organisation billing for calls to the NGN. This charge is not regulated by Ofcom and is a single access charge set at a Tariff level. This means that the total charge will be the sum of the service charge and the access charge (Service charge + Access charge = Total charge).
0845 and 0870 numbers have also been changed in this pricing update. 0845 and 0870 numbers have been allocated their service charges by the Range Holder. This means that a call to an 0845 number may be priced differently depending on who owns the Range Holder.
Ofcom has stipulated the maximum service charge that can apply for each of the following number ranges;
084 – 7p per minute MAX
087 – 13p per minute MAX
09 – £3.60 per minute OR £6 per call MAX
A Brief Overview of the Consultation:
- One access charge per tariff package, for calls to all unbundled non-geographic number ranges, though the access charge may be included in a bundle of inclusive minutes for some or all non-geographic numbers.
- The Access Charge to be set as a simple ‘pence per minute’ rate.
- Each individual 084, 087, 09 or 118 number to have a single Service Charge that applies to calls to that number from all fixed and mobile phones.
- With the exception of 118, there will be caps on the maximum rate of the Service Charge, according to the unbundled non-geographic number range. For example, the cap on the rate of the Service Charge for numbers in the 084 ranges will be 7p (incl. VAT) and the cap for numbers in the 087 range will be 13p (incl. VAT).
- Phone companies to publicise the amount of the Access Charge for each tariff package they offer consumers.
- Organisations and service providers to include their Service Charge whenever the number is presented (i.e. in advertising and marketing).
0500 numbers are not included in this consultation. Although 070, 076, 055 and 056 numbers weren’t included in the consultation, it is likely that an additional consultation will be taken to review these further.
Will calls to 0800/0808 and 116 will be free to call from mobiles?
Since 1st July 2015, calls from mobiles to Freephone numbers are free. Freephone number operators will be charged an additional fee for receiving calls from mobile networks. 0500 numbers are excluded from the scope of NGCS.
What about 0845 and 0870 numbers?
0845 and 0870 numbers are now allocated their service charges by the range holder and therefore a call to a 0845 number owned by operator 1 may be priced differently to a call to a 0845 number owned by a different range holder.
Are 070, 076, 055 and 056 numbers affected?
Ofcom did not include these ranges in this review but it is likely a further consultation will be undertaken to review these.
What about 0500 numbers?
0500 numbers are not included in the consultation. A secondary consultation was published by Ofcom and from 2017 the 050x numbers will be withdrawn.
What about 03 numbers?
There is no change on the pricing for calls to and from 03 numbers as part of the NGCS review.
Does this affect calls from mobiles to NGNs?
Yes. The changes apply to mobile, fixed and IP calls.
Where can I find the official guidance?
Ofcom have created the UK Calling website to help consumers and businesses understand the changes: http://www.ukcalling.info/.
The OFCOM Master list of Service Charges can be found at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/numbering/index.htm#service.
The NGCS review and final statement: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/simplifying-non-geo-no/final-statement.