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Ofcom Plans to simplify UK phone numbers

Today the BBC have reported that Ofcom, the UK’s telecoms regulatory body are putting in place a number of plans to simplify the system of ‘non geographic’ UK phone numbers which start 03, 08 & 09. The advance of telecommunications in the UK has seen a whole host of complicated premium rate number and charging structures outside of the regular area codes that were first used in the UK. Ofcoms own guide on these numbers runs in at around 3 pages so it has been clear for some time that this would need to a reform at some point. Research lead by Markham Sivak of Ofcom suggests that a great number of people in the UK are put off from making vital phone calls due to fears of high costs, some of which from these premium rate numbers are as much as £2.60 per minute with no real way of distinguishing them from truly free services from charities and non-profits. In his reform, Mr Sivak suggests that “It is time to tidy it all up at once, not to make lots of little changes” even though it is believed that these reforms will take up to a year to implement. The greatest pressure to make these changes comes from the general public who are confused by the charging structure and often underestimate the charges that they will incur with some numbers being free at different times of the day or varying costs if the number is being called by a mobile.

Why have premium rate numbers?

The costs of premium rate numbers were initially designed to offset the costs of providing the service, such as certain helplines, however recently a great deal of companies charge high, per minute costs to make a profit and to run a profitable business which will certainly be upset over these proposed changes.

Ofcoms Proposals

Under Ofcoms proposals the charging structure would be split into two distinct sections so that users could clearly see what they would be paying and where the money is going alongside a mandatory notification at the beginning of the call to notify the user how much the call would cost per minute. Consultation of the proposed strategy is planned to end on the 28th May and be fully implemented by 2015. If you would like to know more visit Ofcoms website by clicking here or view the full article on the BBC website here.

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