EU & Ofcom ensure talk is cheap

EU and Ofcom changes are afoot, transforming telephone numbers with the existing 08 prefix into newer 03 options. Despite subtle differences between EU and Ofcom aims, they share the views:

  • Calls to 03 numbers should be free from both landlines and mobiles
  • To allow consumer transparency of call tariffs, raising awareness of where their money gets spent
  • Providing a cohesive pricing structure is of utmost importance
  • Callers can use 03 UK-wide numbers at the same cost of using 01/02 numbers – encouraging access to essential customer service lines, complaint departments and helplines. In fact, Clause 41 of the EU Directive clearly states that, ‘a consumer contacting the trader must not be bound to pay more than the basic rate’.

In addition to directives listed by the EU, Ofcom has been establishing alternative NGN (non-geographic) numbers since 2010. This change got made, as they said, to, “simplify non-geographic numbers” – protecting callers from potential price confusion.

As of 26th June 2015 Ofcom’s legislation comes into play, which means 080s will be free from mobiles and landlines, plus numbers starting 08, 09 and 118 must be clearly priced.

Current legislation states, “Calls will cost x pence per minute from a BT line. Calls may vary from other landlines and calls from mobiles may cost considerably more.”

New legislation will read, “Calls will cost x pence per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.”

What do these changes mean for you and your business?

The majority of businesses will get affected, so the time to act is now. As changes occur, the cost of inbound 08 calls will increase.

However, early planning means you can also use 03 to your advantage.


  • You can enjoy the same functionality (plus new features) associated with other NGN options
  • Charge rates will conveniently tally with 01 & 02 area codes
  • A memorable single number will have an influential advertising impact on a national scale
  • Your national footprint will get increased through a point of contact which is not location-specific
  • Your callers will be reassured by the fact that they are not making an expensive call

Of course, there is a multitude of facilities linked to 03s too, these include:

Disaster recovery solutions (business continuity)

Real-time call statistics

Routing plans

Advanced call planning

Exceptions to the 03 rule

Despite most businesses being advised to adhere to the new legislation, there are some industries that do not have to conform. For example, if you are part of the travel, finance or general sales sector you may wish to stay with 08. Other industries exempt from the proposed ruling are:

  • Gambling (currently governed by the Gambling Act 2005)
  • Construction & sale of immovable property including building of new property
  • Residential lettings contracts
  • Timeshare contracts
  • Supply of consumables by regular roundsmen e.g. milkmen
  • Purchases from vending machines
  • Single telecom connections e.g. payphones & café internet connections

It’s important to note that not all lines have to get charged at a basic rate. However, basic rate lines should be just as prominently advertised for the benefit of callers.

Please don’t hesitate to ask for details – our experts will gladly discuss the many 03 and 08 options available.

Our Freephone number is 0330 3320 400