ACM: oversight of use of premium-rate telephone numbers continues to be necessary


Strict oversight of the use of premium-rate numbers continues to be necessary. That is one of the conclusions that the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) draws in its Number Issuance Monitor, which ACM published today.

Rules governing premium-rate numbers

ACM conducts oversight over the use of premium-rate numbers. In the policy rule ‘Assignment and withdrawal of premium-rate numbers’, ACM has clarified that directory assistance services and payment services using per-minute rates do not fit the intended use of numbers in the 0900 series and 0909 series. Based on that rule, ACM assigned fewer premium-rate numbers, and 22 numbers were withdrawn in 2018. In addition, ACM in 2018 started withdrawing numbers that are not in use. Consequently, the number of assigned phone numbers is expected to drop further over the next few months.

Henk Don, Member of the Board of ACM, comments: ‘We still regularly see that such numbers are not used for the right purposes. As a result, people may pay more than necessary, because they unintendedly call a directory assistance service instead of a direct number. Or they pay without having been provided a service. ACM deals with such practices.'

Oversight of mobile phone numbers continues to be necessary despite fall in issuance

The issuance percentage of mobile phone numbers is high: 90.3%. The number of issued numbers has slightly fallen over the past two years as a result of targeted enforcement actions by ACM. The telecom market is evolving rapidly, and thus requires mobile phone numbers (in the 06 series) for new applications. If such applications became eligible for mobile phone numbers, it would mean that the pressure on mobile phone numbers would rise again further. In order to reduce that pressure, ACM will continue to conduct strict oversight over the correct use of those numbers, and it will withdraw unused number blocks.

The end of ISDN is in sight

ACM expects the ISDN2/PSTN network to be disconnected in 2020. PSTN and ISDN together make up the system of traditional telephony, which is more and more often replaced by VoIP telephony. In 2021, the ISDN15/30 network will also be disconnected. With the end of this network, the curtain will also fall for a number of services and thereto-related numbers.

Furthermore, the end of pager services is also in sight. The spectrum license will expire in 2020, and the number of users is low and falling. The numbers that are now in use for pager services can, in the future, be reserved for and assigned to other services.

The end of the telex era

As a result of competition from more modern technologies, the last number owner returned its numbers to ACM in 2017. No new telex numbers were issued in 2018. For the future, ACM no longer expects any applications for such numbers.