Major changes to the regulation of the main non-geographic number ranges will come into effect on 1st July 2015. Ofcom is introducing these regulations in a bid to make charges for NGCS more transparent for consumers. This follows research conducted by the regulator which concluded that a large proportion of consumers are unsure of how much calls to non-geographic numbers will cost.
Union Street has developed new functionality to enable our clients to manage these changes going forward and this functionality will be present in the soon to be released, version 2.6, of our aBILLity™ billing platform. Resellers will need to make their own preparations for the changes and, in some cases, to liaise with their end user customers who use these numbers.
The key changes are summarised as follows:
- Calls made by consumers to 080 and 116 numbers are to be free from all devices (including mobiles).
- A new “Unbundled Tariff” structure will apply to the 084, 087, 09 and 118 ranges (i.e. the retail charge paid by the end customer will be split into an Access Charge and a Service Charge).
- Ofcom has drawn up a series of rules on the Access Charge and the Service Charge which apply to both communication providers (CPs) and end-user customers.
- End user customers who use these ranges to receive calls must show the applicable Service Charge on all advertising and promotional material which includes the number.
- The applicable Access Charge must be included on customer bills.
Rules on the 03 range remain unchanged (i.e. charges for calls to these numbers are pegged to the CP’s geographic rates).
It is worth noting that the new regulations only relate to calls made by consumer customers. Business customers of any size will, at least for the moment, not be subject to the new regulations. However, even if a reseller has no consumer customers, there won’t really be a ‘do nothing’ option. At the bare minimum, resellers will need to implement new, industry agreed, dial codes and charge groups into their billing processes to cater for new charges from terminating communication providers which will apply to all customers, business and consumer alike.
For resellers that do provide NGCS to consumers, other preparations will need to be made, particularly with regard to the requirement for segmenting consumers’ call charges into separate service and access charges.
We believe that the reseller community is unaware of the risk these changes could bring in terms of lost revenue and margin and would therefore advise all resellers to make any necessary enquiries with their suppliers and begin preparations as soon as possible to ensure they are ready by the deadline.
For more information on non geographic call charges please see http://www.ukcalling.info/
Authored by Tony Cook, Managing Director for Union Street