“We have been receiving complaints from consumers for a while about the rates charged and the lack of transparency of calls to 05 numbers. And companies with 05 numbers themselves have complained to us time and again that their end customers often do not know how much it costs to call them at the 05 number,” Georg Serentschy, Managing Director of RTR, commented in describing the issue. “We have urged the telecommunications industry repeatedly to make changes in this regard, but to no avail. Therefore, we have taken the consequences and are introducing new regulations for all network operators for the benefit of consumers by amending the Communications Parameters, Fees and Value-Added Services Ordinance 2009 (KEM-V 2009).”
New: compulsory notification when charges for 05 numbers differ from fixed-line numbers
The central item of the amendment to the KEM-V, which will be under discussion beginning today, is more stringent regulations governing rates for calls to numbers beginning with 05 (i.e. private networks). In the future, callers must be notified when the charges for a 05 number are higher than for a fixed-line number, regardless of whether they are calling from a fixed-line or mobile network.
This specifically means that, if the particular operator has not chosen to apply the same rate to fixed-line and 05 numbers in their product scheme, the network operator must advise the caller of the rate, before the connection is established and free of charge.
Georg Serentschy illustrated the new provision with an example: “If a caller has chosen a rate scheme including 1,000 free minutes, whereas these 1,000 minutes include only calls to fixed-line numbers and not to 05 numbers; that caller must be notified when calling a 05 number. Such a message might be worded ‘This call is not included in your free minutes.’ This step allows operators to continue offering flexible products and rates while at the same time ensuring that consumers are always aware of the rates they have to pay.”
1488 – a new short number for pharmacy services
In the amended ordinance, the new, easy-to-remember short number of 1488 is being introduced for pharmacy services. The number can be dialled to obtain information on which pharmacies are open outside the regular shop hours or it can be used as a hotline providing information about pharmaceuticals. “It is in the interests of the public that this information be provided, and the new service will benefit the general public. We hope that the Austrian Chamber of Pharmacists will indeed take advantage of this opportunity,” the Managing Director of Austria’s regulatory authority added emphasizing the significance of this service.
The proposal for the amendment will be under public discussion until 13 September 2010 and can be viewed (in German) on the RTR website under “Konsultation zum Entwurf der 2. Novelle der KEM-V 2009”. The amended ordinance is expected to enter into force at the beginning of October 2010.
Purpose of 05 numbers
Using 05 numbers, or private networks in general, offers a number of advantages to companies with more than one business location. Callers from anywhere in Austria can reach the company at one and the same phone number. Thus, unlike a fixed-line number for instance, the 05 number is not tied to any specific geographic location.