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ComReg is introducing measures that will reduce the costs for businesses and charities offering ‘1800’ Freephone numbers to users of their services. 

Calls to 1800 Freephone numbers are free to the caller, but it has been very costly for business and organisations who offer services and helplines over such numbers to provide such services. 

ComReg said this was partly due to high operator-to-operator charges levied by telephone network operators. 

The regulator said it will set the rates that network operators can charge to originate a call to an 1800 Freephone number to a maximum of 0.87 cent per minute from a fixed network or 1.62 cent per minute from a mobile network. 

1800 Freephone numbers had previously been as high as 34 cents per minute.

These new rates will come into effect from May 1. 

ComReg said up to 280 million calls are made every year to Non-geographic Numbers (NGNs) on average.

It is anticipated that the reduction in price will allow more organisations to offer 1800 Freephone numbers to their customers and callers – especially those who offer important services and helplines, the telecommunications regulator said. 

Transparency and consistency around the rates for 1800 Freephone numbers will bring clarity to the market and allow organisations to compare 1800 offers, it added.

ComReg Chairperson and Commissioner Garrett Blaney said that 1800 Freephone numbers provide access to important services for many people in Ireland, from mental health and child protection helplines, as well as banking and other customer service helplines.  

He said that ComReg has undertaken an extensive analysis of Non-geographic Numbers (NGNs), including 1800 Freephone numbers, which showed that an estimated 44% of organisations would consider using NGNs in future if the organisation costs reduced. 

“By making 1800 Freephone numbers a more cost-effective option, we hope that we will see more organisations use this NGN range which will allow their callers to access services for free,” Mr Blaney added.

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