0870 Meltdown Predicted

Earning revenue on 0870 numbers is likely to cease next year as a result of an Ofcom shake-up of number translation services. If you’re an 0870 user, not only do you stand to lose this revenue stream, it’s widely anticipated that rental charges will be introduced enabling service providers to recoup some of their lost revenue. It is also likely that 0871 numbers will be re-classified as premium rate numbers at the same time.

Jacqui Brookes, CEO, Federation of Communication Services (FCS) told Comms Business Magazine that she has advised her members of the impending changes.

“Presently, Ofcom is consulting on changes to the number ranges 087 and 084. Among the proposals is to revert the cost of calling a 0870 number to the relevant national call rate. Many British businesses value the use of 0870 numbers because the number can be retained when the company moves premises. In addition businesses can generate income by a revenue share with their telecoms supplier each time a call to the 0870 number is made.

This and several other proposals for changing the management and regulation of “non-geographic numbers” are contained within the consultation document “Number Translation Services: A way forward” which can be found at www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/nts_forward.”

Matthew Sime, Director of Bury based NGN supplier Business Communications told Comms Business Magazine, “This is a very serious situation for companies like ourselves and our customers who have come to rely on the shared income from 0870 numbers. It is likely that many of these companies will go out of business or face serious financial difficulties.”
“There have been many complaints against 0870 numbers from people calling government departmental help lines which has raised the issue of shared revenues on to the Ofcom radar. We believe the changes are likely to be 18 months away and that discussions are still under way. It is possible that only Government bodies will be forced to change but wholesale change will affect hundreds, if not thousands of business’ in the UK.”

In the UK many companies have 0870 numbers as their main line. Number changes will cause them additional cost through having to change stationary and other materials bearing those numbers.