PSA proposes extension of regulatory requirements to all call connection services and strengthens requirements
The Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) has opened a consultation on revised Special conditions for ICSS – third-party services that connect or signpost callers to popular helplines via a premium-rate number.
The proposals are intended to improve the information about these services that is given to consumers, both in search results and on service websites, to make it clearer that they are third parties and that calls via an ICSS may be more expensive than calling the desired number directly.
These proposals follow changes in January 2019 to extend the scope of Ofcom’s Premium Rate Service Condition to include all ICSS within the definition of controlled premium rate services. This extended PSA regulation to all ICSS irrespective of the number range they are operating on. This consultation proposes that the PSA’s Special conditions for ICSS should apply to all ICSS, regardless of number range.
The consultation is open until 10th June 2019. Respondents are advised to use the new PSA consultations response form, available from the PSA website.
Ofcom has today set the annual licence fees that mobile operators will pay for 900 and 1800 MHZ spectrum, from 31 January 2019.
The operators use these spectrum bands to provide mobile voice and data services, using a mix of 2G, 3G and 4G technologies.
In June, Ofcom published a consultation on the proposed licence fees that should apply for these spectrum bands. Following consideration of the responses, they have concluded that the appropriate ALFs for these bands (expressed in April 2018 prices) are:
- 1.093m per MHz of 900 MHz spectrum; and
- £0.805m per MHz of 1800 MHz spectrum
Ofcom are also consulting on the level of annual licence fees that should apply for the 40 MHz of spectrum in the 3.4 GHz band, and 80 MHz in the 3.6 GHz band, that are licensed to UK Broadband, which is owned by Hutchison 3G UK Limited.
Ofcom have proposed that the fees for both 3.4 GHz and 3.6 GHz spectrum would be £0.358m per MHz. The consultation runs until 11 February 2019.
People who call directory enquiry services will be protected from high prices under a new price cap on 118 phone numbers, announced by Ofcom today.
Ofcom have been concerned about directory enquiry prices rising steeply. Some providers charge almost £20 for an average 90-second call. The price charged by the most popular service – 118 118 – for a 90-second call is now £11.23.
Although there are cheaper services available, Ofcom’s research shows that consumers tend to call the numbers they most easily remember.
And while the number of calls being made to 118 services has been falling by around 40% every year, more than a million people in the UK – many of them elderly – still use these services.
The cost of calling many of these services is now well above what people expect to pay. Ofcom’s research estimates that around 450,000 consumers a year are paying £2.4m in total more than they expect for these calls, with some struggling to pay their bills.
So Ofcom is stepping in, by capping the maximum amount a 118 service can charge at £3.65 per 90 seconds. This will bring prices back to 2012 levels, and closer to what people expect to pay.
To allow providers time to adjust their prices and billing systems, the price cap will come into force on 1 April 2019.
A news release is available.
Ofcom have stated that phone users will be protected from high charges for calling ‘070’ numbers – which are often mistaken for mobiles, but cost much more to call.
Ofcom will be placing a cap on 070 numbers which will be aligned with the existing cap set by Ofcom for calls to mobile numbers – currently around 0.5 pence per minute.
Before the new price cap is introduced, providers who offer 070 number services may need to change the way they run their businesses, to comply with the new rules. This may include changing their billing systems and contacting their customers, or even moving to a different number range. So there will be a 12-month implementation period to make these changes before the new price cap comes into effect.
Full details from the Ofcom press release is available for information
Ofcom has today published a draft statement on the regulation of telephone numbers beginning with 070, following a review of this market.
070 numbers are designed to be used as a ‘follow me’ service, where calls are diverted from one number to another, so the person being called can keep their own number private.
Ofcom has found that 070 numbers are often mistaken for mobile numbers, which can lead to bill shock, as the prices for calling these numbers are usually much higher than they are for calling a mobile number.
Ofcom have provisionally decided to set a cap on the wholesale termination charge for calls to 070 numbers, which would be aligned with the existing regulated cap set by Ofcom for mobile numbers – currently around 0.5 pence per minute.