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RTR issues new ordinance introducing ‘short numbers with an asterisk (*)’ for toll-free services

The fourth amendment to the Communications Parameters, Fees and Value-Added Services Ordinance 2009 (KEM-V 2009) takes effect on Friday, 15 November 2013. This amendment introduces ‘short public numbers with an asterisk’ for the provision of toll-free services.

“A major advantage of short numbers is that they are easy to remember and consequently also easier to advertise. The regulatory authority is thus responding to a request by the industry and service providers by introducing short public numbers, labelled with an asterisk, for the provision of toll-free services,” Georg Serentschy, CEO of RTR’s Telecommunications and Postal Services Division, explained as the underlying reasons for the amendment. “An example of such a short number would be ‘*4321’. The asterisk is part of the number and is dialled as a digit. Calls made to short numbers with an asterisk are free of charge,” Serentschy elaborated.

The new number range is also suitable for phone numbers referred to as ‘vanity numbers’. With such numbers, each digit is replaced by the letter shown on the phone keypad. An example would be ‘*9436’ which, in advertising, could also appear as ‘*WIEN*’. Words with three or more letters may be used. “While this way of depicting phone numbers is frequently used in North America, the market will decide on its acceptance in Austria. In any case, we are providing the market participants with the necessary framework,” Serentschy added.

“To ensure that each market participant has an equal opportunity to select their desired numbers when the new range is introduced, the principle of first-come first-served will apply only after one month. After the ordinance becomes effective, all applications submitted within the first month will be considered as having been filed simultaneously. During this period, the numbers will be assigned by lot.” Serentschy stated, explaining the allocation method.

The amendment to the KEM-V can be viewed by following the link below. It has also been published in the federal government’s Legal Information Service (RIS):

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