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Media Release: Lowering the cost of calling Non-Geographic Numbers

86% OF CONSUMERS NOT AWARE OF HOW MUCH TELEPHONE SERVICES AND HELPLINES COST TO CALL, SAYS TELECOMS REGULATOR

  • From 1 December 2019, new retail tariffs for calls to Non-Geographic Numbers (or NGNs) will come into force;
  • NGNs are phone numbers beginning with 1800, 1850, 1890, 0818, and 076, often used by businesses, charities, and other organisations to deliver services like helplines, public services, and banking.
  • When calling from landlines or mobiles, NGNs will cost no more to call than regular landlines and will be included in call bundles;
  • 86% of consumers are not able to estimate the cost of calling NGNs and 61% of consumers call NGNs reluctantly;
  • New measures by telecoms regulator ComReg will reduce ‘bill shock’ and increase consumer understanding of charges for NGN calls;
  • Commissioner and Chair of ComReg, Garrett Blaney: “The introduction of this new charging regime for calling these phone numbers is the first step towards creating a simpler NGN system that consumers can trust and have greater confidence in using.”

 

The body responsible for the regulation of the electronic communications sector in Ireland, ComReg, is making consumers aware of new tariffs for making calls to Non-Geographic Numbers (or NGNs) that will come into effect this Sunday, 1 December 2019.
NGNs are phone numbers beginning with 1800, 1850, 1890, 0818, and 076, often used by businesses, charities, and other organisations to deliver services like helplines, public services, and banking.
In 2018, ComReg announced changes to the charging regime for NGNs in Ireland that will come into effect from 1 December 2019. On average, around 280 million calls are made annually to these numbers.
This move by the regulator comes after in-depth research into consumer behaviours and attitudes towards NGNs. ComReg found that 86% of consumers were unable to estimate the costs when making calls to NGNs.

 

The confusion around NGNs runs deep and despite 1800 NGNs being free to call (called “Freephone”), 37% of consumers thought that the caller pays to call these numbers.
The new measures will mean that phone calls to 1850, 1890, 0818, and 076 numbers will cost no more than a landline call, will be charged per minute and will now be in-bundle where landline calls are included in a consumer’s price plan.
1800 numbers are and will remain free to call.
For many organisations, business and charities, NGNs offer an essential means of communication for their customers and users to access and connect with their services; however, the lack of understanding around charges means that many consumers have been avoiding using these numbers.
Garrett Blaney, Commissioner at ComReg said “We saw a real issue with the way NGNs were perceived by Irish consumers, who were avoiding using these contact numbers over fears of high costs and worrying about what impact this would have on their phone bill.
“To address these concerns, both ComReg and telecoms operators have worked extensively together over the last number of months to introduce measures to improve NGNs in Ireland. The introduction of this new charging regime for calling these phone numbers is the first step towards creating a system that consumers can trust and have greater confidence in using.”

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