Here's a little telephony mystery for you - can you find out how much your phone provider charges for 056 calls?
Way back in the mists of time - 2004 - Ofcom decreed that "Voice over Broadband" was going to be the next big thing. VoB (which is like VoIP, but specifically tied to a broadband line) would receive the prefix
In that document, they suggested a price cap of 5 pence per minute - considerably lower than other services - in order to stimulate the market. It was big news at the time:
Nowadays, 056 numbers are known as Location Independent Electronic Communications Services. If you sign up for a VoIP / SIP service you can probably get one for free. But no one knows how much they cost to call.
Ofcom say that 056 numbers are prohibited from revenue sharing, so they should be cheaper to call than, say, 070 numbers.
Mind you, they also say:
Take-up of 055 and 056 remains low and the numbers are rarely seen
This has led to a slightly strange situation where costs to call 056 numbers are really hard to find.
GiffGaff are the only company I could find which make it easy to see the costs - 8p/minute. And they're not included in bundles.
EE charge 40p/minute on PAYG. There's no info on contract prices.
O2 list all 05 numbers as 55p/minute.
Three rather vaguely say they're 10.2p to 15.3p/minute. But, again, nothing on contract.
Vodafone's advisors thought it cost 65p connection charges and 55p/min. Then said premium rate. But were unable to point me to a published price guide.
In the end, I spoke to Vodafone, EE, and Three - none of them could confirm how much an 056 number costs to call!
I also tried finding the costs out from a bunch of MVNOs, none of them published the prices, nor could their customer service reps tell me. This is almost certainly in breach of term C2 of Ofcom's General Conditions.
Except Smarty - who say that they're out of bundle 12.9p/minute.
I emailed Ofcom who, in fairness, replied back quickly:
I should clarify that the cost for calls to 056 numbers are charged at a non-standard rate, so we cannot advise about the cost. However, we would expect providers to be able to tell you what they would charge for calls to certain number ranges.
If you are unhappy with the information given to you by your provider about the call costs, I recommend taking the steps outlined within their complaint’s procedure.
A Crowdsourced Experiment!
Would you care to take part in an experiment? I'd like you to give me a call on:
It should play one minute of music and automatically hang up. If you could please tell me how much it costs to call, what network you're on, and whether you're contract or PAYG. It might be the case that 056 is counted as one of your inclusive minutes - that would also be useful information.
Stick your network and costs in the comments section please, or fill in this form: