DotEcon has been commissioned by ComReg (the Irish Telecommunications regulator) to conduct research, data gathering and modelling to assist with its strategic review of Non-Geographic Numbers (NGNs).
ComReg’s project aims to gather and analyse information that will allow it to assess potential concerns in relation to five classes of NGNs in Ireland (1800, 1850, 1890, 0818 and 076) at the retail level.
DotEcon will conduct a data gathering exercise including a data request to telecoms operators in Ireland. Together with findings from a survey of consumers, businesses and service providers using these numbers the data will be used to:
- assess the extent to which customers call each NGNs class;
- provide an assessment of market dynamics and a description of the wholesale supply chain; and
- construct a revenue allocation model (i.e. follow revenue flows in outline through the value chain).
Our findings will be used to prepare a report for ComReg that will feed into a Call For Inputs expected to be published in Q3 2016. DotEcon will analyse the data gathered to assess whether there is scope for, or observed, consumer harm, and where relevant, present recommendations of potential remedies that ComReg could impose.
Non-geographical numbers provide an important platform for the delivery of a great variety of different services. These include teleconference services, help lines, customer support numbers, response numbers to support marketing campaigns, product help desks, information services, international calling services and so on. NGNs include freephone numbers and numbers where the caller contributes to the cost of providing the service to varying degrees and are used by companies, public sector bodies and charities to deliver services.
Against this background, there have been difficulties in a number of countries, with some originating networks setting high retail prices for calls to NGNs, in effect grabbing margin at the expense of other parties further down the value chain. This may leave consumers confused about what they expect to pay if calling an NGN and lead to reduced call volumes.
In turn, this may undermine the utility of the platform to service providers in providing a universally accessible shop-front for their services available to callers across all networks. Reduced incentives to provide services over the platform may then further reduce calling volumes, leading to a vicious circle.