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August 17 2017 2:30 AM
Ireland's telecom regulator wants to phase out 1850 and 1890 numbers, saying there are too many 'low-cost' telephone prefix variations and that ordinary people are increasingly confused by differing charging structures.
It says that 1800 and 0818 prefixes should stay as a catch-all for numbers previously assigned for 1850, 1890 or 076.
The move could significantly disrupt marketing and advertising campaigns of Irish businesses that have based their brands around an 1850 or 1890 number. An Post's One Direct service created its main advertising campaign around a music jingle featuring its 1890 telephone number.
However, Comreg intends to give companies up to three years to adjust to its proposal of phasing out such 'non-geographic numbers' (NGN). The agency has said it will first carry out a public consultation on the matter.
"Retail tariffs for NGN calls are not sufficiently transparent and consumers often do not know, or are unable to forecast, the likely cost of a call to an NGN," said a spokesman for the regulatory agency.
"Many consumers do not understand the differences between the five classes of NGNs. Retail tariffs for NGN calls can be relatively high, particularly for calls made from mobile phones because most NGN calls are not included in consumers' bundles of call minutes."
Because of this, Comreg says, consumers "may avoid making calls to NGNs or do so only when given no other option. This means that the NGN platform is not working effectively for either the consumer or for the organisations using NGNs to provide services."