Ofcom evaluates past decisions to learn from them and improve future policy making. This is an evaluation of our decision in December 2013 to make significant changes to the regulation of calls to non-geographic numbers. The changes came into force in July 2015.
There were two parts to the changes:
- making 080 numbers free from mobiles as well as landline telephones; and
- introducing a new “unbundled tariff” structure for calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers.
What we found
Some aspects of the reforms worked well. In particular:
- Overall, making 080 numbers free to callers from mobiles as well as fixed telephones appears to have been successful in raising the proportion of calls to these numbers from mobiles, as we expected. This allows 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 does not appear to have 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. We had expected the unbundled tariff to lead to a reduction in prices and for volumes to be higher than they otherwise would be. There was no change in the gradually upward trend in 118 prices
Read the assessment in full
‘020’ became the Geographic Area Dialling Code for London in 1998 with the purpose of increasing the numbering capacity to meet demand. However, available numbers beginning with a ‘7’ or an ‘8’ are now nearing exhaustion - and in the summer of 2005 a new sub range, beginning with a ‘3’, will be opened up (i.e. (020) 3XXX XXX). All existing numbers beginning with a ‘7’ or an ’8’ will remain unchanged.
Significant improvement in general accuracy levels across the DQ market with 95% of calls to 118 services resulting in the exact number or an acceptable alternative being given, and 90% being given the exact number.
While spontaneous awareness of DQ providers/numbers has fallen overall, it has increased amongst DQ users. Prompted awareness is unchanged.
Market research to assess the impact of the introduction of (020) 3 numbers, and to inform the development of Ofcom's communications campaign. November 2004.
This report provides an overview of the key findings of residential and SME consumer awareness and perceptions of London dialling codes, taken from surveys conducted in August 2004.
In its 2004/05 Annual Plan, Ofcom stated that one of its key operating priorities was to carry out further monitoring and review of the performance of 118 directory enquiry (DQ) services in conjunction with the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS). Ofcom supports Oftelís decision to liberalise the DQ market, but recognises that this is an area which has attracted a significant level of attention and criticism from the media, consumer groups and the public particularly after the legacy 192 and 153 numbers were switched off on 24 August 2003.
Evaluation of Directory Enquiries services (PDF, 251.6 KB)
Ofcom and ICSTIS research; May 2004