While numbers starting 071 to 075 and 077 to 079 are mobile numbers and generally count towards inclusive allowances, numbers starting 070 are defined as Personal Numbers and currently attract much higher call charges and do not count towards inclusive allowances. In some cases, calls to 070 numbers are effectively charged at premium rates.
All that is about to change.
From 1 October 2019, Ofcom has directed that the "termination rate" (aka wholesale rate) for numbers starting 070 will be reduced to be the same as that for calls to UK mobile numbers. This means a reduction from around 40p (£0.40) per minute to less than 0.48p (£0.0048) per minute.
The practical effect of this will be to allow retail providers to offer inclusive calls to personal numbers starting 070 on the same basis as calls to UK mobile numbers, or otherwise charge calls to personal numbers at the same rate as calls to UK mobile numbers.
Providers of 070 numbers will have to change their business model. Currently, an 070 number can be used to forward calls onwards to almost anywhere in the world and it is the caller that pays the additional fees for that. From 1 October 2019, it will be the user of the 070 number that will be responsible for paying for the call forwarding, not the caller.
This move should see cheaper calls to personal numbers starting 070 and the eradication of a variety of scams on this number range, not least the Wangiri scam. It will also make identity fraud more difficult.
Currently, 070 numbers are effectively untraceable call-forwarding numbers with no record of who they are registered to other than the telephone number of where the calls are forwarded to. This could be an unregistered mobile number in a far-flung country.
The requirement for the number user to start paying the call-forwarding fees means the user now has a traceable financial path and may need to provide ID to set up those payments.
As these changes are now only three weeks away, announcements should start to appear soon. These will be from two main sources. One will be from providers of 070 numbers detailing the changes as to how these numbers will work and how they will be paid for. The other will be retail landline and mobile providers updating their tariff sheets with new call charge rates as well as changes to the list of prefixes that count towards inclusive allowances.
Landline and mobile providers already offer inclusive calls to UK geographic numbers starting 01 and 02 and to non-geographic numbers starting 03. Many providers also offer inclusive calls to UK mobile numbers starting 071 to 075 and 077 to 079. From 1 October 2019, providers should be able to offer inclusive calls to personal numbers starting 070. Deals usually exclude landline and mobile numbers allocated in the Channel Isles or Isle of Man, and that will likely continue to be the case for some considerable time.
Calls to numbers starting 080 and 116 are free-to-caller on landlines and mobiles.
Calls to numbers starting 084, 087, 09 and 118 are premium rate. Callers pay an Access Charge to the benefit of their own phone provider and a Service Charge to the benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider. The premium is the additional Service Charge. Usage of these numbers is now banned for most purposes.
The changes to 070 numbers are another step in Ofcom's long running review of non-geographic call services (NGCS). Previous steps have made multiple changes to numbers starting 03, 080, 084, 087, 09, 116 and 118, among others. Very few anomalies remain. Future steps may include changes to the 055, 056 and 076 number ranges, all of which incur non-standard call charges (but are not premium rate). The 0500 range was discontinued several years ago.
Ofcom has recently made a number of updates and corrections to their call charges page at:
In particular, the section for 070 numbers now includes the additional wording:
"From 1 October 2019, we will cap wholesale charges for connecting calls to 070 numbers. We expect this will allow phone companies to price calls to these numbers or include them in call allowances in the same way that they do for calls to mobiles."