01.Mobile calls free
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced a new framework under which calls to 'free' (1800) numbers will be free from all phones.
Currently, mobile phone calls to 1800, 1300 and 13 numbers cost 22 cents to $1.78 per minute, despite these phone numbers being free or the cost of a local call from a landline.
Under the new framework, developed in consultation with the telco industry, calls from mobile phones to 1800 numbers will be free of charge but mobile operators will continue to charge for 13 and 1300 numbers.
However, telcos will release '13-Friendly’ mobile plans, that charge calls to these numbers against the allowance on the mobile plan, instead of billing them separately. Telcos will also implement an information campaign to let consumers consider whether a ‘13-friendly’ plan is appropriate for them when choosing their provider.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN
) has campaigned for all calls to free phone numbers to be free of charge. "ACCAN has been calling on the industry to provide a solution to this problem since 2010, and we ask that industry honour its own commitment to a January 2015 deadline," said ACCAN’s Teresa Corbin.
ACCAN has vowed to fight on for affordable phone calls to 13 and 1300 numbers. The 13 numbers were intended to be low cost for fixed line calls to services such as Centrelink, car breakdown services and insurance companies.
Ms Corbin said "The cost of calls to 13/1300 numbers can chew through pre-paid mobile plans, which are often favoured by lower income consumers… we urge consumers to look for alternate means when making mobile calls to business and government. Use local numbers, websites and apps and – from January 2015 - use 1800 numbers."