RTR assigns special numbers for short message services, defines consumer-friendly rate regulations

Number range (0)901-(0-9): Rate information encoded in number itself - Consumer protection by means of "ordering" expensive short message services (SMS) - (0)8282 numbers: "normal" SMS rate

Press release dated 4 May 2002

The Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications (RTR GmbH) is now assigning special numbers in the (0)901 and (0)8282 ranges for Short Message Services (SMS) and voice services which charge a fixed amount per call or message (event-based charging). Consumer-friendly SMS rate regulations have been introduced for these services as well as other premium rate services.

"In assigning these "new" numbers and the accompanying rate regulations, which are transparent and consumer-friendly, RTR has created great possibilities for new and innovative services", comments Heinrich Otruba, Managing Director at RTR. "Now it is up to market participants, who have wanted these possibilities within the numbering plan for quite some time, to use their creativity."

Number range (0)901-(0-9): Rate information revealed in the number itself

In the case of short messages sent to numbers in the (0)901-0 to (0)901-9 range, the rate information is revealed by the number itself. Thus the customer will know at first glance how much a short message will cost when sent to one of those services. If (0)901 is followed by the number 01, the message will cost 10 euro cents; if it is followed by the number 02, the message will cost 20 euro cents and, similarly, the number 09 translates into 90 euro cents. These amounts are fixed and charged only once for each short message (event-based charging).

If premium rate voice services are offered using these numbers, the rate can be "read" from the telephone number in the same way. In contrast to the premium rate services offered to date, the rates are charged per call: One call to a (0)901-03 number, for example, will then cost 30 euro cents regardless of duration.

Consumer protection by means of "ordering" expensive short message services

If the costs of sending a short message exceed 90 cents, which is possible in the (0)901 range and in the premium rate services ranges (0)900 and (0)930, the customer has to give express consent in order to use the service. The provider informs the customer via SMS (offer message), and if the customer agrees with the rate mentioned in the message s/he confirms by means of a confirmation message. The service is only considered to be ordered and is only charged to the customer once the confirmation message is received. Furthermore, RTR recommends a maximum rate limit of EUR 10.00 for short message services in the number range for service with non-standard pricing.

For event-based voice services in the (0)901 number range, a fixed amount - independent of the call's duration - is charged per call. Information on the rates applicable to each call is to be provided to the customer free of charge in the first 10 seconds of connection time.

(0)8282 numbers: Services with "normal" SMS rates

Starting now, RTR will also be assigning numbers in the (0)8282 range, which is reserved exclusively for short message services. Short messages to (0)8282 numbers are charged at the operator's "normal" SMS rate. In such cases, no additional rate information has to be provided to the customer as it is part of each operator's usual rate information.

Consumers can send short messages to (0)800 numbers free of charge, as is the case with voice calls to those numbers.

RTR is responsible for the assignment and administration of national numbers in Austria. For more information on these topics, please visit our web site at http://www.rtr.at.