Ofcom evaluation of the 2015 pricing reforms for calls to non-geographic numbersJulia Ofori-Addo
Ofcom has published an evaluation of changes it made in 2015 to the regulation of calls to non-geographic numbers.
There are two parts to the changes:
- making 080 numbers free from mobiles as well as landline telephones
- introducing a new “unbundled tariff” structure for calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers
Some aspects of the reforms worked well. In particular:
- Overall, making 080 numbers free to callers from mobiles as well as fixed telephones has been successful in raising the proportion of calls to these numbers from mobiles, allowing service providers to offer free calls to all consumers and has particular benefit for people who only have a mobile, and no landline.
- The unbundled tariff was expected to reduce disputes between originating and terminating communications providers over terminating wholesale charges, and there have been no relevant disputes to Ofcom since the introduction of the unbundled tariff. These disputes, and subsequent appeals, had previously created significant costs and uncertainty for communications providers.
However, the unbundled tariff was not successful in delivering more important expected outcomes:
- Overall awareness and understanding have not significantly improved, especially for 084 and 087 numbers.
- The price of calling 084 and 087 numbers increased and volumes were probably lower than they would have been without the reforms.
- Ofcom expected the unbundled tariff to lead to a reduction in prices and for volumes to be higher than they otherwise would be.