New measures to cut costs for businesses using 1800 numbers

Charities welcome ComReg move to set the rates that network operators can charge

The costs of providing services on 1800 numbers are due, in part, to high operator-to-operator charges.

The costs of providing services on 1800 numbers are due, in part, to high operator-to-operator charges.

 

New measures are to be introduced to cut the costs for businesses and charities offering 1800 numbers to users of their services.

The measures have been introduced by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), which is the national regulatory authority for the electronic communications sector.

Calls to 1800 numbers are free to the caller but, for business and organisations who offer services and helplines over 1800 numbers, it has been very costly to provide such services on 1800 numbers.

The costs of providing services on 1800 numbers are due, in part, to high operator-to-operator charges levied by telephone network operators.

ComReg has decided to set the rates that network operators can charge to originate a call to an 1800 number to a maximum of 0.87 cent per minute from fixed network or 1.62 cent per minute from a mobile network.

These new rates will be effective from May 1st. The rates comprise a significant part of the costs charged to organisations using 1800 numbers and had previously been as high as 34 cent per minute.

ComReg chairman Garrett Blaney said 1800 numbers “provide access to important services for many people in Ireland, from mental health and child protection helplines, through to banking and other customer service helplines”.

He added: “ComReg has undertaken an extensive analysis of non-geographic numbers [NGNs], including 1800 numbers, which showed that an estimated 44 per cent of organisations would consider using NGNs in future if the organisation costs reduced.

“By making 1800 Freephone numbers a more cost-effective option, we hope that we will see more organisations use this NGN range which will allow their callers to access services for free.”

Charities Institute Ireland chief executive Liz Hughes welcomed the move. “Many of our member charities provide helplines for some of the most vulnerable people in Irish society and to individuals who need advice and support in challenging circumstances,” she said.

“It is essential that these services can be provided as cost effectively as possible, for both the organisation and the caller. This move will allow more charities to use numbers, making these vital services even more accessible for those that need them most.”