Non-geographic telephone numbers in the United Kingdom. Non-geographic numbers (NGNs) are telephone numbers not assigned to a geographic location. The owner may forward their NGN to any geographic, mobile, or international location.
Call costs depend on the prefix of the number called, not on the final destination. In the 1980s and 1990s, calls to NGNs were charged such that the caller was not financially disadvantaged. However, since deregulation of the telecoms market in the UK, call prices to geographic numbers have reduced and in many cases become part of an inclusive calls package.
With those changes, calls to NGNs became substantially more expensive than calling geographic numbers. Additionally, BT call prices for NGNs are currently capped by regulation. Calls from BT cost no more than the “premium”, whereas other landline providers and mobile operators add their markup.
Users of NGNs often advertise only the capped call price levied by BT, meaning that the true cost paid by non-BT customers and by mobile users isn’t advertised to many callers. Mobile users have always been heavily disadvantaged when calling 08 numbers.
PREFIX: Typical usage and costs
There are a variety of prefixes, each with specific usage and pricing regimes.
030x, 033x, 034x, 037x
03 numbers must (by law) cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers. This applies to all operators (including inclusion in any ‘free minutes’ from landlines and mobile phones).
Free from landline. Varies from mobiles, but generally from 10p to 25p/min. Calls to specific charities and helplines are free from most mobiles
The rates of calling these numbers are generally unknown, although they are charged by BT at around 5p/min. These numbers are generally used by companies that use a VoIP telephony service.
Varies but generally a premium rate and never included in call packages. These are premium rate numbers known as ‘follow-me’ or ‘personal’ numbers; formally, Personal Numbering Service (PNS). They are controversial as they can be confused for mobile numbers, and therefore the cost of calls to them may not be apparent to callers until they receive their bills
Varies, but generally a premium rate and never included in call packages. These can also be vodafone landline calls, which are charged at or near geographic rate.
074xx, 075xx, 07624, 077xx, 078xx, 079xx
Varies, generally up to 20p/min from landlines. From contract mobiles, these numbers are usable in inclusive minutes. These are mobile phone numbers. While the exact price to call these from landlines is not generally known, people generally understand that they will have to pay a slight premium to call these numbers.
Free from landline. Varies from mobiles, but generally from 10p to 25p/min. Calls to specific charities and helplines and to 0808 80 numbers are free from most mobiles. These are freephone numbers that are free to call from a landline. However, they are charged at a premium rate if phoned from a mobile.
0842, 0843, 0844, 0845, 0870, 0871, 0872, 0873
Varies – up to 5p/min (084x) and up to 10p/min (087x) from a BT landline, other landline providers may charge up to 20p/min. From mobiles, 0845 and 0870 numbers generally cost from 15p to 35p/min, other 084x numbers cost from 20p to 45p/min and other 087x numbers cost from 25p to 45p/min.
Some 0845 and 0870 (NTS) calls may be inclusive from some landline calling plans, but are almost never inclusive from mobiles. 0842, 0843, 0844, 0871, 0872 and 0873 numbers are never inclusive in call packages.
Premium Rate Services (PRS) (varies, but typically from 60p to more than 2 pounds per minute). These numbers are Premium Rate Services (PRS) and have many uses – competition lines, chat lines, technical support helplines and order lines. These numbers are regulated by PhonepayPlus.
Premium Rate Services (PRS) (varies, but typically from 60p to more than 2 pounds per minute). Adult entertainment services (SES). These numbers are not available for new allocations. New number ranges begin 098x. These numbers are regulated by PhonepayPlus.
Premium Rate Services (PRS) (varies, but typically from 60p to more than 2 pounds per minute). Adult entertainment services (SES). These numbers are used for adult services and are regulated by PhonepayPlus.
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