The cost of calls to premium rate numbers will be capped as the regulator tries to protect consumers from rip-off call charges.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom has also acted to make freephone numbers (0800, 0808 and 116) free for consumers calling them from mobile phones – these numbers are already free to call from landlines.
To help consumers better understand the cost of calls, anyone operating a premium rate phone number will have to openly advertise the cost of the calls.
Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: “These changes will be the biggest for UK telephone customers in more than a decade. We expect them to restore people’s confidence in using phone services, and to increase competition.”
Under the new rules, numbers beginning 0800, 0808 and 166 – the so-called freephone numbers – will be free to call from mobiles and landlines. The service charge for premium rate (09) numbers will also be capped, helping to protect consumers from the risk of rogue operators imposing extremely high charges in future.
Consumers will now have the charges broken down, to show the cost of phoning the business and the cost from the phone provider. Ofcom said this will allow consumers to understand the charges better and compare prices among different providers.
The changes will be introduced in June 2015, to give companies time to adapt to the new changes.