PTA is working out on a mechanism which will enable mobile phone users to call toll free number for free of charge. Currently, toll free numbers (numbers starting with 0800) are not free for Mobile phone users.
A toll-free or freephone number is a special telephone number, in which the called party is usually charged the cost of the calls by the telephone operator, instead of calling party.
PTA had defined this mechanism, in which service providers use to pay for the calls made to toll-free numbers (on behalf of customer). However, any cross-network calls that involved inter-connect charges (Rs. 0.90 per min) were not borne by the service provider.
For the purpose, PTA has asked industry’s input on this matter, while proposing following options:
Option I – Service Provider Pays to Mobile Operators
In this option, the services providers (like PTCL) will pay origination charges equivalent to mobile termination rate (i.e. existing Rs. 0.90/min.) to mobile operators against toll-free calls originated from Mobile Numbers.
The cellular mobile operators will not be allowed to impose any charge on their subscribers, who can enjoy free calling to toll-free numbers.
However, the said regime will increase the costs of service providers (like PTCL) which may rationalize the charging from toll-free users (such as Banks) to cover their costs.
Option II – Toll-Free Number User (Banks) Pays to Mobile Operators via Service Providers
This option is similar to option one with the exception that the cost of mobile termination rate will be borne by users of toll-free numbers (i.e. the Bank) instead of service providers (like PTCL).
The rationale behind this approach is to facilitate the end-users by making calls to toll-free numbers free of cost (whether dialed from fixed-line or mobile networks) and to put the extra financial burden on the beneficiaries i.e. users of toll-free numbers (i.e. bank).