1.1 This is the final report of an economic experiment conducted for Ofcom by London Economics (LE), in collaboration with Professor Steffen Huck and Dr. Brian Wallace of University College London, into differing ways of presenting call charge information for non-geographic numbers to consumers.
1.2 This research has been published as part of our ongoing strategic review of non-geographic numbers. We published our first consultation of this review in December 2010 (-1-). That consultation outlined our concerns about how the current system for non-geographic calls is serving citizens and consumers. We noted that the current system appeared to lead to a high level of consumer confusion which had implications for pricing, innovation, and service delivery, including delivery of essential services, for non-geographic calls.
1.3 The consultation considered options for changes to regulation surrounding non-geographic calls including options for rules governing the level of call charges and the way in which those charges are presented to consumers.
1.4 The objective of this economic experiment is to assist Ofcom in further developing our understanding as to how callers might respond to the main options we considered in the December consultation to reform the current regime. The experiment tests the reaction of individuals to different models of charge presentation and price rules with the aim of identifying which options offer the best prospect of addressing our concerns about the consumer experience. The experiment also offers some insights into what key features any changes should include.
1.5 This research is part of a range of additional evidence-gathering we are undertaking as part of our strategic review. Where possible, we intend to publish other stand-alone research reports as and when they are completed and ahead of our next consultation in this review.
1.6 We intend to publish our next consultation early in 2012. This will discuss options for how any new pricing structures might be implemented and our proposed timetable for competing the review and implementation.
1.7 The full research report is available below.