Thanks to the support of over 1000 organisations and individuals, Australians will soon be able to call essential services and small businesses on 13 and 1800 numbers for a fair price from a mobile phone.
In April 2012 the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) made an in-principal decision to put in place new arrangements so that from 1 January 2015 calls to 1800/13 numbers from mobile phones will be free or the cost of a local call. This exciting announcement was the result of over 18 months of lobbying by Fair Calls For All campaigners for an end to the high cost of calling 1800/13 number from mobiles.
Due to the complex nature of numbering arrangements, these reforms will take time. But what’s important is that we have this commitment from the regulator so we can work together, along with industry, to make them happen. The ACMA will now draft the changes to numbering regulation that are needed to deliver this important reform, and then undertake a formal statutory consultation.
The Fair Calls For All Campaign
Calls from landlines to 1800, 1300 and 13 numbers are free or the cost of a local call. Calls from mobiles are charged between 22 cents and $1.78 per minute. Organisations that operate these numbers also pay to receive your call. Charging people for 'freecalls' on mobile phones is disadvantaging those who can least afford it.
2010: the super-complaint
In 2010 ACCAN worked with the Financial Counselling Australia (then AFCCRA) and the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS). Our three organisations lodged Australia's first 'super-complaint' with the communications regulator (the ACMA) - "The Cost of a Free Call: Accessing 1800 and 13/1300 services from mobile phones." The ACMA did not formally responded to ACCAN, ACOSS and FCA's super-complaint but did include our concerns in their inquiry into Australia's Numbering Plan.
Working with Number Woman to provide Fair Calls For All
With no solution in sight, ACCAN needed a hero. We joined forces with Number Woman, a superhero with the power of connection. She uses 1800, 1300 and 13 numbers to rescue stranded motorists, connect kids with counsellors, let Gran claim her age pension and bring a locksmith to the door.
Number Woman helped us argue 1800, 1300 and 13 numbers should be charged at the same rates from mobiles and landlines because:
- The cost is too high for the growing number of mobile-only consumers;
- Businesses who want customers to contact them are unable to offer a freephone option for mobiles;
- Charges need to reflect the way people use phones in 2011 and beyond.
Lobbying the ACMA and industry to reform charges to 1800, 1300 and 13 numbers
ACCAN worked with organisations and consumers to explain why Fair Calls For All is important. Since May 2011, we’ve been lobbying individual telecommunications companies.
In July 2011 we submitted a paper to the ACMA that examined the issues 12 different consumer groups face when calling 1800, 1300 and 13 numbers from their mobile phones.
In October the communications regulator, the ACMA proposed to amend the Numbering Plan so that 1800 numbers will be free and 13 numbers cost about 30 cents when called from mobiles. The response to this announcement was overwhelming. The ACMA received over 1000 submissions in support of these amendments including submissions from peak bodies, government departments, small businesses and consumers. In April 2012 the ACMA confirmed that it will be changing the numbering plan to ensure all people pay a fair price for 13/1800 calls from mobile phones.
Click here to see a list of organisations that supported the Fair Calls For All campaign.
2010: ACCAN, FCA, ACOSS Super-Complaint
Read our Super-complaint to the ACMA [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 542.1 KB]
ACCAN Media release: No such thing as a free call for millions of mobile phone users
Sydney Morning Herald article: Mobile 'free call' racket 'puts lives at risk'
ACCAN submission: Structure of Australia's telephone numbering plan
2011: Fair Calls For All campaign launch with Number Woman
Read our campaign guide: Fair Calls For All.pdf [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 507.58 KB]
ACCAN media release: Australia’s newest superhero wants a telco to provide Fair Calls For All.
ACCAN media release: Government funds Lifeline calls but long-term 13/1800 solution needed
ACCAN submission: Implications of consumer research
ACCAN media release: Regulator commits to Fair Calls for mobile users
ACCAN submission: Freephone and local rate numbers: the way forward
ACCAN media release: Regulator commits to important 13/1800 number reform for mobile phones