Mobile users can call 0800 numbers and any other 080 number for free from Wednesday, as part of a massive shakeup to the telecoms industry by the regulator.
The change means it no longer costs those using mobiles up to 40p/min to call 'freephone' numbers. Until the change, most 0800 numbers were only free to call from landlines.
Initially when they first launched many mobile operators didn't charge for calling 'freephone' numbers, but over the years all the major providers then decided to start charging for them.
MoneySavingExpert has long campaigned for 'freephone' numbers to be genuinely free for all those who call them. Many who've historically used them to contact Government departments and the NHS, for instance, complained about the extra charge.
Ofcom has confirmed the change will cover all numbers beginning with 080 – including override providers, which supply alternative cheap numbers for calls to international and non-geographic numbers.
The change on 080 number charging comes alongside a raft of new rules on call pricing, which are intended to make charges to 08, 09 and 118 numbers more transparent. But the cost of many calls to 084 and 087 numbers has actually gone up at the same time, our research has found – see the 0845 and 0870 number price hike warning MSE news story for full info.
What about 0500 numbers?
This is a legacy freephone landline number – the 0500 number will be withdrawn from use from June 2017 as providers move to 08085 numbers instead. But calls from mobiles to these numbers may still be charged until then.
Is anything changing for 116 numbers?
These are special public service numbers used to call the Samaritans or missing people helplines. These are already free to call from landlines but until now service providers were able to charge those calling from mobiles for these calls. From Wednesday, calls to these numbers from mobiles now have to be free.