At the moment users are charged up to 21p a minute to make calls to so-called freephone numbers that start with 0800.
Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom (pictured), also said that customers were often confused about how much they pay to call various number ranges, with businesses, public services and other organisations using 03, 08, 09 and 118 numbers.
“Under our proposals, people will have much clearer information and there will be greater competition on prices,” Richards said, “By making calls to 0800 numbers free from all phones, we will clear up any uncertainty about making calls, especially from mobiles.”
The new proposals will also clarify and simplify the charges associated with 08, 09 and 118 numbers to avoid any customer confusion.
Ofcom said its own research showed that many people don’t trust ‘non-geographic’ numbers or know how much they cost, resulting in fewer calls to these services.
Currently, callers are told: “This call will cost you X pence per minute on a BT line, calls may vary on other landlines and cost considerably more on a mobile.” Under the new structure, Ofcom expects call cost descriptions to follow the format: “This call will cost you X pence per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.”
Ofcom’s proposals follow new powers that were introduced to the Communications Act in May 2011, as a result of revised European telecoms legislation.