Guidance on OFCOM’s “Service Charges” Changes

All of our Virtual Interconnect customers have received contact from OFCOM relating to the ongoing unbundling of non-geographic call charges. This is the latest guidance we can offer to assist with this.

The changes will affect all 084/087/09 and 118 numbers and require the entire industry to change billing systems. The ultimate goal is that charges will be broken down into the “Service Charge” (set by the terminating Communications Provider, and available for sharing with the Service Provider) and the “Access Charge” set by the originating Communications Provider. The Service Charge will be consistent and the Access Charge will vary. OFCOM’s logic is that by giving consumers two prices to compare between operators, they can more easily understand the cost of calling, than with he present system of a single bundled call cost. The request from OFCOM in the last few days is for Range Holders to update them on what Service Charges they wish to levy on assigned ranges.

Unfortunately, this is not yet possible. The requirement is that Communications Providers have billing systems able to accommodate 80 distinct Service Charges, and thus these must be agreed with sufficient consensus amongst industry to be useful. This has not yet happened and thus any Service Charges nominated at this stage may not be possible. We therefore recommend customers resist the urge to reply to OFCOM’s request at this stage and we hope that the industry and OFCOM may reach consensus on the available 80 price-points before the 31st October deadline when CPs must provide their preferred price-points.

For guidance, industry engaged external consultants to arrive at a consensus list of the 80 price points and the current proposals are:

Pence per minute (PPM): 0 – 13p inclusive, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 36, 40, 45, 46, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 90, 95, 99, 100, 110, 120, 145, 150, 155, 180, 200, 220, 250, 300, 360 (45 PPs in total)

Pence per call (PPC): 5, 10, 15, 25, 30, 35, 40, 48, 50, 70, 75, 100, 145, 150, 200, 250, 300, 400, 500, 600 (20 PPs in total)

PPC + PPM (from start of call): 77 + 155, 80 + 25 and 5 DQ Confidential Price Points (7 PPs in total )

PPC + PPM (after 60 seconds): 0 + 250, 5 + 5, 10 + 10, 40 + 40, 70 + 70, 150 + 150, 200 + 200, 445 + 257, (8 PPs in total)

We will issue further guidance once these (or an alternative) are agreed and the process for migration to them is more clear.