Skip to main content

Telephone Services

Volume 501: debated on Thursday 26 November 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of measures to regulate telephone numbers with (a) 0844, (b) 0845, (c) 0870 and (d) 0871 prefixes; and if he will make a statement. (300850)

The Government have made no recent assessments as the independent regulator Ofcom has responsibility for telephone numbers in the UK.

Ofcom, in 2006, strengthened its price publication rules, requiring operators to make it easier for consumers to find out about the cost of calling 08 numbers. Operators are now required to state maximum charges for calls to 08 numbers in promotional material and also to specify whether 08 calls are included in call packages.

Calls to 0845 numbers are often charged at a small premium from fixed networks. For instance, BT's maximum charge for an 0845 call is 3.867p per minute (including VAT) but most BT customers pay no more than 1.9p per minute. There are also signs that competition is exerting downward pressure on prices. Earlier this year, BT included 0845 in its calling plans on the same basis as 01, 02 and 03 numbers and at least one other operator has since followed BT's lead.