NGCS changes

As we’ve outlined before, July 1st 2015 sees Ofcom’s latest scheme come into effect and it means profound change for all CPs.

At the most simple level, they are seeking to make it easier for consumers to understand the cost of calling 08/09/118 numbers by splitting the current single charge that varies by provider into two. The actual cost will be these two added back together but they believe comparing two charges, one of which will not change across CPs, will be easier for consumers.

The two charges will be:

- The Access Charge will be set by and paid to the customer’s CP (i.e. you) and in turn to each link in the supply chain (i.e. us) just like the current single-charge. The relevant and sensible part of the change is that this charge must be shown prominently on your website and other promotional material (including advertising) which talks about call pricing. These must be uniform within a tariff, i.e. cannot change by time of day, day of week etc, and expressed in ‘pence per minute’.

- the Service Charge is set by the Range-holder/Terminating network and thus this should be identical for a given number range across all CPs in theory. You will need to ensure your customers advertise this charge where the number is featured so consumers know the Service Charge that will apply if they call it. They probably won’t know the Access Charge of course and will need to check that with their CP for the number concerned and add it to the advertised Service Charge to understand the total call cost.

Naturally, whilst we have commented on your obligations from this change it is only an expression of our opinion. It remains your responsibility to comply with Ofcom’s statement but we’re happy to give you our understanding of it. You might also find Ofcom’s consumer targeted UKCalling site helpful.

Over the year to date all Range-holders of non-geographic ranges have been asked to tell Ofcom what new Service Charge they wish to apply to each of their 08, 09 and 118/DQ ranges. Separately and more usefully, all interconnect agreements have had to adjust to accommodate the billing and settlement of them. This process, significantly between CP’s and BT, has nearly concluded and as of May 20th we have a mostly complete schedule of number ranges and their new Service Charge. We now need to process this (54k number ranges) ahead of July 1st.

In due course we will be in a position to confirm number ranges and their new Service Charge. This will be done through a normal rate update in the last week of June but we aim to get you an advanced schedule showing the new rates by mid-June if at all possible. We already display the charge-band for affected numbers in the rate description and will replace this with the appropriate new Service Charge code. The actual rate shown in both pricing sheets and CDRs will be a single rate, as it is now, which is an amalgam of the Service Charge and our Access Charge. Our Access Charge will be shown in our Ancillary Voice Services price sheet and will be 0.33ppm for 08 and 09 numbers. DQ will be confirmed in due course.

It is important to note that whilst there are constraints, every single 08/09 or 118 number range can potentially have a Service Charge that is radically different to the one implied in the previous call charge. It also means that any familiarity with the broad ranges of costs learned is out the window and the cost needs to be checked carefully.

For Simwood ranges we have nominated Service Charges equivalent to their current levels where possible which means out-payments will not change for 08 ranges.

Finally, it is worth highlighting that this is a major change, taking place in a short period of time. Whilst we’re concerned consumer’s familiarity with a range’s charge is now misplaced, there is also massive scope for operators to get it wrong. Some of the number ranges affected by this change already see huge levels of abuse (e.g. missed-call scams) and we fully expect the potential confusion to be capitalised on by more of this, coupled with simple arbitrage where operators have mis-priced. We’d therefore strongly recommend the use of our extensive fraud control measures to, for example, limit the call charge on a given call to what you expect and need it to be. Our rate sheets are published automatically so will correlate with what we bill you (we don’t simply send an email) and if in doubt you can check the rate that will apply for a call through our API.