Premium phone charges are set to drop under new Ofcom rules

Jessica Morris
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Ofcom says increased competition should drive down charges (Source: Getty)

Charges to premium phone lines are set to get a little bit cheaper under sweeping changes to be introduced in July by communications regulator Ofcom.

The new rules will affect phone numbers beginning with 08, 09 or 118 which are typically used by customer service and information lines as well as by directory enquiries.

From the 1 July onward charges for calls to these non-geographic numbers will be split into an "access" fee from the telecoms provider, and a second "service" fee from by organisation that's being called.

Joe Smithies, senior associate at Ofcom, told Radio 5 Live that the ensuing transparency will encourage competition, resulting in lower prices:

All companies have had to come up with an access charge, where they've never had to do that before, they've never had to tell you how much they are taking from the cost of a call, they've never had to standardise it.

There is some experimentation... but I think what we will see over time is that the market is so competitive in this country that prices will move down.

Consumers have long struggled with confusion surrounding the pricing of calls to non-geographic numbers, leading to a lack of confidence and trust in such services.

This can mean they make fewer calls and even put off making an important call to a bank or other organisation.

It's being introduced as part of a broader overhaul which includes making calls to 0800, 0808 and 116 numbers free from mobiles as well as landlines, and capping the highest premium rates charged on 09 numbers.

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