Ofcom to withdraw 0500 range

Ofcom to withdraw 0500 range

Ofcom has announced that it is to withdraw the 0500 freephone range within the next three years, amid low and declining use.

The regulator said that withdrawing the underused line would help to better serve the interests of consumers, as well as organisations that use non-geographic numbers.

It added that the withdrawal would take place on June 3rd 2017, with companies given a total of three years to ensure they are prepared for the change by revising promotional materials and ensuring they make their callers aware of the alterations.

The 0500 is one of two Freephone ranges that are currently being used in the UK, alongside the more well-known 080 range. Calls to 0500 numbers are generally free from fixed lines, but are usually charged on mobiles.

Created in 1982, the 0500 range has been closed for new allocations since 1997/98, although those that were signed up before then were able to carry on using the service.

Vodafone were main the operator to be using most of the available 0500 numbers, although many have since been ported and are now managed by other communications providers.

However, when compared to the 080 line, the 0500 range has had a far lower rate of consumer recognitions and low, declining use.

That has caused Ofcom to reach the decision to end the use of the line.

It said in a statement: "We have decided that it is appropriate to withdraw the 0500 range as we consider that it would be more effective, appropriate and proportionate in meeting our policy objectives and satisfying our duties than the alternatives."

The regulator stated that it would be particularly effective in addressing the poor level of awareness and understanding towards 0500 numbers, the lack of efficient use of these numbers and the long-term decline in the use of the range by service providers.

It added that withdrawal would be the best way of making all non-geographic numbering and pricing more intuitive for consumers.