On 27 September 2012, the ACMA announced that it had completed consideration of submissions to the Telephone numbering: Future directions. That paper articulated the ACMA’s medium to long term vision for numbering in Australia. It proposed 24 specific changes which would apply a managed evolutionary approach to increase the flexibility and efficiency of numbering arrangements, and make pricing clearer for consumers.
- allow more flexible use of general numbers
- provide additional capacity for mobile numbers by removing unnecessary technical limitations in the specification of those numbers, in parallel with providing more capacity for mobiles in the 05 number range
- streamline the Numbering Plan to make numbering arrangements simpler and more transparent for consumers and providers
- introduce measures to improve number management and charging, including the removal of charges from carrier access codes, which will improve efficiency and remove an encourage development of new services
- maintain existing arrangements for premium services, to enable these to be easily identified by consumers
- make no change in the medium term for numbering of directory and information services, noting the continued development of online search engines and other market substitutes for directory and information services are fundamentally changing the way that people receive these services.
The changes will be adopted progressively and will provide consumers and telecommunications providers with more flexible arrangements.
The ACMA would like to take this opportunity to thank all stakeholders for their constructive involvement during the Numbering Work Program. Stakeholders will have further opportunities to provide specific feedback on individual changes through the statutory consultation process associated with those change as they are progressed.
During 2010 and 2011 the ACMA undertook a work program to examine the current arrangements for telephone numbers. The aim of the work program was to consider whether the arrangements were efficient and effective and what, if any, transitional arrangements might be necessary to implement to ensure they are suitable for the future.
The first stage of the work program involved releasing four consultation papers which examined a range of issues identified with the numbering arrangements.
- Consultation paper one - Structure of Australia’s telephone Numbering Plan. The related media release is also available.
- Consultation paper two - Customer location information and numbering data. The related media release is also available.
- Consultation paper three - Numbering: Allocation and charging of numbers. The related media release is also available.
- Consultation paper four - Numbering: Implications of research into consumer issues. The related media release is also available.
The ACMA is progressing its response to the Numbering Work Program in two phases: matters requiring action in the short term, and strategies to address issues in the medium and longer term.
- Numbering Variation 2012—understanding its effect on numbering (IFC 54/2011)
- Telecommunications Numbering Plan Variation 2012 (No. 1)
- Numbering variation 2011—understanding its effect on numbering (IFC 42/2011)
- Telecommunications Numbering Plan Variation 2011 (No. 2)
- Numbering: Calls to freephone and local rate numbers—The way forward (IFC 37/2011).
- Telephone numbering: Future directions paper (IFC 50/2011) - PDF (778 kb) or Word (.docx 747 kb) formats
- The related media release is also available
- Submissions have been received
- Response to submissions (Word (.docx 333 kb) or PDF (405 kb) formats)
- The related media release is also available.
Freephone and local rate numbers
On 11 October 2011 the ACMA published Numbering: Calls to freephone and local rate numbers—The way forward which set out the ACMA’s views on the future arrangements for call charges to freephone (1800) and local rate (13 and 1300) numbers. It proposed that the Numbering Plan be varied in such a way that:
- calls from mobile phones to freephone numbers are free of charge to the calling party, so that ‘free’ means free
- calls from mobile phones to local rate numbers are limited to the amount that a consumer would expect to pay for a local call from a fixed-line phone.
Nearly 100 substantive submissions and over 1000 form letters were received by the ACMA from peak bodies, telecommunications companies, users of freephone and local rate numbers, consumers, consumer advocates, not for profit organisations and government agencies. These submissions provided useful information which has informed the ACMA’s consideration of the options and their implementation impacts, particularly with respect to the expected costs of implementing any associated system, administrative and contract changes. The complete list of substantive submissions is available.
The submissions also highlighted the important steps industry has taken towards providing lower cost freephone and local rate access options, including offering some plans with unlimited freephone and local rate numbers and offering free access to specified services.
The ACMA has now undertaken a thorough consideration of the issues and examined regulatory and non regulatory options presented in feedback from consultations. The ACMA has decided to undertake public consultation on an amendment to the Telecommunications Numbering Plan 1997 that would see the proposals for freephone and local rate numbers that it proposed in October 2011 coming into force with a deferred commencement date of 1 January 2015.
In the ACMA’s view, this approach best meets the outcomes identified, allows sufficient time for contractual arrangements to be adjusted and provides certainty to both consumers and industry. The deferred implementation continues to provide opportunities for the development of innovative service that meet the needs of consumers. The period will be especially important to allow freephone and local rate subscribers and service providers time to implement changes.
The ACMA has released Response to submissions on freephone and local rate numbers (Word [.docx] or PDF formats) to assist stakeholders to understand the options that were considered by the ACMA in making its ‘in principle decision’ on freephone and local rate numbers. This document sets out the feedback received on the ACMA’s proposals and outlines other options which arose during the consultation.
The ACMA remains open to further dialogue about this issue, including consideration of innovative alternative solutions. Stakeholders are encouraged to provide any information on the costs or benefits of the approach they believe should be considered by the ACMA. Statutory consultation on an amendment to the Telecommunications Numbering Plan 1997 with respect to this approach is expected to occur later in 2012.