ACMA Media Release 101- 20 December 2012
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) has started a
public consultation process to identify the best way to achieve the following
- To make calls from mobile phones to freephone (1800) numbers free;
- To make calls from mobile phones to local rate numbers (13/1300)
numbers cost no more than a caller would pay for a local call from a fixed
- For these changes to be in effect by 1 January 2015.
A consultation paper released today seeks comment and feedback on two
different options. Both would see a variation of the Telecommunications
Numbering Plan 1997 (the Numbering Plan) to ensure that calls from mobile
phones to freephone (1800) numbers would be free.
For calls to local rate (13/1300) numbers, one option would limit the cost
by varying the Numbering Plan. The other option involves a range of industry
initiatives that would see the development and promotion of mobile phone
service plans in which the cost of calls to local rate numbers would be
incorporated into the included value allowances of those plans.
'Industry support for free calls from mobile phones to freephone (1800)
numbers is an important step towards meeting the objectives that the ACMA
announced in April 2012,' said ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman.
'The ACMA looks forward to working constructively with stakeholders to
identify the best approach to ensuring that the Numbering Plan reflects the
changing use of telecommunications services such as calling local rate
(13/1300) numbers from mobile phones, while also improving price transparency
for consumers,' Mr Chapman added.
submissions on the matters raised in the paper are welcome. The deadline is
close of business, 28 February 2013.
Submissions should be sent either by email to email@example.com or by post to
Manager, Telecommunications Licensing, Numbering and Submarine Cables Section,
Australian Communications and Media Authority, PO Box 13112, Law Courts,
Melbourne, Victoria, 8010
Further background information is available below. Emma Rossi, Media
Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) has conducted
an extensive review and consultation program about telephone numbering
arrangements over the past two years.
For the ACMA, the review has been a vital component of its approach to
telecommunications reform and is its response to issues raised by consumers and
industry through the ACMA's Numbering Advisory Committee. These issues reflect
the deep changes in industry structures, service offers and consumer behaviour
that have occurred since the Telecommunications Numbering Plan 1997 (the
Numbering Plan) was made.
The review's vision is to make numbering flexible, so that new technologies,
uses and potential markets can be more readily accommodated as they emerge.
A number of issues identified by the ACMA were addressed in December 2011
and July 2012 through variations to the Numbering Plan. They
- providing additional flexibility for the use of general (geographic)
numbers within capital cities
- removing unused services types and redundant legislation from the
- ensuring additional capacity for the ever-expanding demand for mobile
One of the more significant issues examined by the ACMA has been the
charging arrangements for calls from mobile phones to telephone services
commencing with 1800, 13 and 1300. These services are known as 'freephone' and
'local rate services' and are used by businesses to provide a single inbound
number on which their customers can call them.
Calls from fixed phone services can be made to freephone services for free
and to local rate numbers for the cost of local call. In contrast, calls from
mobile services to freephone and local rate numbers are generally charged on a
timed basis. This can lead to high costs for long calls, including those where
the caller is placed on hold for extended periods. The increasing proportion of
consumers who use their mobile phone as their primary or sole communications
service potentially makes this a large and growing issue for many
In April 2012, the ACMA announced that it would prepare an amendment to the
Numbering Plan to make calls from mobiles phones to freephone numbers free. The
amendment would also mean that calls from mobile phones to local rate numbers
would cost no more than a caller would pay for a local call from a fixed
telephone (see Option A in the consultation paper). The ACMA also announced
that it would welcome other proposals from industry which would have the same
effect for consumers. An industry proposal was put to the ACMA in November 2012
by Communications Alliance and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications
Association (see Option B in the consultation paper). The ACMA is now
conducting a consultation process about both options.
The broad intention behind the ACMA's review of arrangements for calls to
freephone and local rate numbers is:
- for the Numbering Plan to reflect changing consumer use of
- for the numbering arrangements to reflect the legislative intent,
including the objects of the Numbering Plan
- to improve price transparency for consumers.