Freephone becomes free to UK mobile phone users

Reaction to UK telecoms watchdog – Ofcom’s announcement

measures should make this a reality - abretti

After it has become obvious for many years that certain parts of the UK population only have mobile phones (not fixed/land lines), UK telecoms watchdog,  Ofcom, has finally reacted to unfair pricing policies from MNOs [Mobile Network Operators] and MVNOs [Mobile Virtual Network Operators]. As Ofcom CEO, Ed Richards,  said today [December 12th 2013], “Freephone will mean free for all consumers, and the cost of calling other services will be made clear. [UK] Telephone users will be able to see how much they’re paying, and where their money is going.” The news has been met with cautious approval from the likes of Marie-Louise Abretti, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com.

Abretti observed, “This is a welcome sign that Ofcom is taking consumer protection seriously.”

She continued, “If a number is ‘free’ then it should be free wherever you call from – and these measures should finally make this a reality.”

She also welcomed Ofcom’s new pricing structure. Consumers at the cost of a call per minute to the MNOs/MVNOs published ‘access charge’.

This should shed some light on the cost of making non-geographic calls – such as 0845 numbers.

Others praised the fact that Ofcom is actively encouraging public and not-for-profit bodies to use 03 numbers.

These 03 calls cost no more to call than a geographic (01 or 02) number, and must be included in a customers’ inclusive minutes or discount schemes.

GoMo News would dearly love Ofcom to instruct PhonePayPlus (the UK premium rate regulator) to insist that customer complaint lines should use 03 numbers, too.

The catch is that these long overdue changes won’t come in to effect until June 2015. So consumers face another 18 months of seeking out a landline to place free calls.

“At last mobile and landline users alike will have peace of mind that, when picking up their phones, they can have access to the public services which may be essential to their lives – without fear of high charges or confusion,” Abretti added.

Abretti warned, “However, making consumers aware of these changes is also vital to their success and value to consumers, so the fact that Ofcom will be working with providers to communicate and explain these from next year is also to be applauded.”

About Tony Dennis

Tony is currently Editor of GoMobile News. He's a veteran telecoms journalist who has previously worked for major printed and online titles. Follow him on Twitter @GoMoTweet.
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