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Ofcom Wants 0800 Numbers to be Free to Call from Mobile Phones

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The fear of calling 0800 numbers from your mobile could soon be banished, as UK regulating body Ofcom has proposed that calls to such numbers be free for all UK phones, including mobiles.

0800 numbers are classed as “Freephone” numbers, and when calling from a UK landline they are indeed free, but when calling from a mobile phone the charges are significantly different, with most UK networks charging between 15 and 21 pence per minute.

Ofcom’s proposal hopes to make both 0800 and 116 numbers free to call from all UK mobiles as well as bringing clarification on the costs of calling other 08 numbers, such as the 0845 and 0870 numbers associated with call centres and big businesses. Ofcom’s statement reads:

Callers are not able to understand how much the call costs as opposed to the cost of the service being provided via the call,

Under Ofcom’s proposals, consumers will in future be presented with clear, transparent information on both.”

At present the only UK provider that tells its customers how much they’re being charged per minute for calling these numbers is BT, and Ofcom feels it’s about time everybody had the chance to be informed before going ahead with the call.

When calling 0845 numbers the caller is often informed how much the call will cost per minute from a BT line and that charges may vary for callers using other providers. Ofcom wants this to change, so in the future we could be hearing a message similar to “This call will cost you X pence per minute plus your phone company’s access charge” before we proceed with the call.

The aim of the proposition is to create fair competition between phone providers in the UK – both landline and mobile – thus benefitting the consumer with cheaper prices.

Consumers are often confused about how much they will pay to call these number ranges,” said Ed Richards, Chief Eexecutive of Ofcom. “Under our proposals, people will have much clearer information and there will be greater competition on prices.

By making calls to 0800 numbers free from all phones, we will clear up any uncertainty about making calls, especially from mobiles, to the benefit of consumers and service providers alike.”

The proposal is now entering what’s known as the consultation period, where it will be reviewed and various possibilities will be examined. Ofcom hopes that the rules will change for calling 0800 and other similar numbers early on in 2013.

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