Posted on: 4th December 2023, by Magrathea
For anyone that has worked in telecoms for a while won’t be surprised to hear that Ofcom have released a little flurry of consultations in the run up to the holiday season. The ones most relevant to our clients are likely to be these:
- A call for inputs on the current providers of ADR schemes (responses due 10th January)
- A consultation on proposals to transfer the regulatory functions currently with the PSA over to Ofcom (responses due 23rd January)
- A consultation on revenue sharing on number (responses due 2nd February
We suspect that revenue sharing will be the main topic of interest to our clients so here is a brief summary so you can ponder on it over your mince pies.
Future of telephone numbers – revenue sharing
This consultation looks to rectify any inconsistencies in the current rules around revenue sharing, this is one of a few topics that Ofcom are addressing as part of the wider ‘future of telephone numbers’ review they kicked off in 2019.
It’s key to note that ‘revenue sharing’ for the purposes of this consultation refers to when a communication provider shares part of the termination revenue either directly or indirectly with the called or the calling party. And ‘revenue’ can take the form of credit, vouchers, services and so on.
Ofcom propose to clarify that revenue sharing is not allowed on 01/02, 03, 055, 056, 070 and 076 ranges. We think the majority of clients are already aware of the limitations on this ranges and so don’t expect much push back on this attempt to tidy up the rule book.
Next, they look at 084 and 087 ranges which have always been used as a mechanism for micropayments, usually in the form of revenue going to the called party to pay for services. Ofcom are not proposing to change this, however they do propose to prohibit revenue sharing with the calling party. This is to remove any chance of incentive to artificially generate calls in order to profit from the activity.
Unfortunately, Ofcom are still not taking this opportunity to introduce a cap on access charges associated with calls to 084 and 087 numbers. It has always been our opinion that the excessively high access charges introduced by many providers when these numbers are dialled has created a degree of mistrust and bill shock for consumers, and undermines the value of these ranges that support micropayments and enable many other services to function.
Premium rate (09) and DQ (118) numbers escape any changes. Ofcom view them essentially the same as 084/087 but don’t immediately see the need to prohibit revenue share with the calling party as these expensive to call numbers are rarely used in ‘cash for calls’ schemes (because they aren’t included in bundles) so the opportunity to abuse them is far less.
And finally, they look at 07 mobile numbers. Again they propose to leave them unchanged but note they should be treated the same as 01/02 numbers in practice. The reason they are not taking the additional step of explicitly banning revenue share is they recognise a potential impact on SMS/MMS services and do not have enough data to support a change. They do ask questions of providers to try and understand what impact any changes might have in case they want to consult on changes in the future.
A link to the full consultation can be found here
If you would like to discuss any of these topics with us or flag any concerns you would like to incorporate in our response please do get in touch. Otherwise we will update you if we get any more gifts from Ofcom in time for the festive season!