* Changes to Non-Geographic Call Services (NGCS)

As a provider of Non-Geographic Call Services (NGCS) there are some important changes that Comtact need to make you aware of.   Significant regulatory changes affecting non-geographic numbers are due to come into effect on the 1st July 2015. Ofcom’s reforms are intended to promote price transparency for consumers and should also provide greater commercial certainty and predictability for companies and organisations that use NGCS.

What’s changing?
Ofcom has reviewed the rules governing non-geographic calls services delivered to consumers using telephone numbers beginning with 050, 08, 09, 116 and 118, and have decided to make a number of changes.

Ofcom’s decisions mean that from July 2015:

• Calls to 080 and 116 numbers will be free from both fixed and mobile telephones. This will involve the called party operating the freephone number picking up the costs of the calls.

• A new ‘unbundled tariff’ structure will be introduced to numbers beginning with 084, 087, 09 or 118. This structure involves the separation of call charges into:

• An access charge set by the phone company originating the call
• A service charge set by the phone company terminating the call on behalf of the company operating the service on that number (a bank, for example).

• Under this ‘unbundled’ model, phone companies will be responsible for setting the access charge for each customer, making it clear to customers on their bills and informing new customers of the charge when they sign up to a contract.

• Separately, users of Inbound services – the party being contacted – will be required to specify their service charge wherever they advertise or communicate it. The service charge will be the same across all phone networks.

• 0845 ranges are being aligned to the 084x and 0870 ranges aligned to the 087x service charge price points.

• Finally, 050x numbers will be withdrawn from 2017, but this service and the associated pricing structure will remain unchanged until then and does not have to be free to the caller.

Example of future call cost advice vs. current call cost advice

• Current call cost Advice: call 08440001234 – Calls cost 5p per minute from a BT landline; charges from other operators will vary and calls from mobiles will be considerably more

• Future call cost advice – call 08440001234 – this call costs 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

How will the changes impact a user of Inbound services

• From 1st July 2015, 0800, 0808 and 116 calls made from mobiles will be free to the caller – just like they are today from fixed lines. So if you offer freephone numbers, the cost of delivering the call to your service will increase, as the provider now pays the origination cost from a mobile.

• If you use numbers beginning 084 or 087, you are required, as the user of Inbound services, to ensure you clearly communicate the service charge to your callers.

• The new charging system (the access and service charges) applies to calls made from consumer fixed and mobile phones; however, it is expected many business customers will anticipate the same treatment.

It’s important to note that all service charge price points are set by the original number range holders. If a number has been previously ported to us, the price point will align to the original range holder’s pricing decision – so we’ll have no control over these service charges.

What choice of numbers do you have?

From 1st July 2015, each 084 and 087 numbers will have a single service charge that applies to calls to that number from all fixed and mobile phones. Ofcom has set the maximum service charge that can apply to particular number ranges (including VAT):

• 084 = 7p per minute maximum
• 087 = 13p per minute maximum
• 09 * = £3.60 per minute or £6.00 per call maximum

*Comtact does not provide 09 services; this information is provided for completeness.

If you have a strong preference for a particular service charge, other than the one assigned to your current number(s), you can consider taking a new number with the appropriate service charge. Or you may want to use alternative service numbers we offer in the following basic rate and free to caller ranges:

• 01 and 02 geographic
• 03
• 080

Caller Prices

• It’s not possible to accurately summarise pricing from multiple operators, and all prices are subject to change.

• From 1st July 2015, originating operators won’t be able to have a connection charge on non-geographic numbers and will have to adopt a ‘pence a minute’ access charge. The access charge must be a ‘pence a minute’ charge, it can be included in a bundle but must be included for all NGCS ranges.

• If you use Inbound Services, it’s your responsibility to ensure the cost of the service charge is clearly advertised when you promote these contact numbers. As an example, a statement along the lines of ‘Calls will cost 5p per minute plus your telephone company’s Access Charge’ is likely to be considered to be compliant – but we recommend you seek individual advice from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Companies using 0871/2/3 contact numbers should remember that an alternative ‘basic rate’ number must be provided for customer services.

From the 1st July 2015, companies that use NGCS services will be subject to monitoring by the Advertising Standards Agency and PhonepayPlus.

If you would like further support regarding these changes please don’t hesitate to contact us – 03452 76 88 86 or email: