back to article How to stop worrying and enjoy paying for incoming calls

Termination fees - the money paid to a receiving network for connecting a call - are for the chop. The question is what, if anything, will replace them; moreover, will ordinary punters ever even notice they're paying to receive calls? Ofcom recently announced it was going to take a good look at the question of termination fees, …

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Alert

Beware those 07 numbers ...

They're not just mobile numbers... In particular is numbers starting 070. They're premium-rate numbers (under the heading 'personal' for some odd reason...) and will cost you an arm and a leg to call - especially from a mobile!

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Those who claim....

"Those who claim they'll never pay to receive calls will, if the price is right - they just don't want to accept that they would."

No, I really just would not pay to receive calls.

If this was the case, I'd constantly have it divert to my voicemail or Skype.

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Easy Solution

In most cases we tend to follow the Americans.

Why not have a uniform termination charge irrespective of the type of network?

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bogus analogy

I don't accept the analogy used here. Skype customers do not pay anything extra for each call received: they pay a standard charge to their ISP for the ability to receive calls. This is not the same as paying an amount on a per-call basis. The current arrangement is more like a marriage than a cheap hooker!

Spam callers will be jumping for joy if this proposal is ever accepted. It is not always easy to screen calls.

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Ooooh, controversial!

Tackling the "White Hot Fury"TM (use it if you like, I don't care! ;) of the El Reg massive.

Actually a very good article, but I do have two questions. Would it stop the telco's (especially the mobile one's) gouging the consumer for all they're worth? And what do you do about unsolicited phone calls and text messages?

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Stop

Regulation?

"Removing all regulation is considered too dangerous as it would give the largest players too much power"

Whatever happened to capitalism. Remove all regulations and if your not happy that the large players have too much power then use the smaller companies. Either way competition will restore balance in the end.

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this is bollocks

Number portability is marketing ploy nothing else - who really wants it.

The cost of termination is rubbish also. All the mobile companies except for 3 have sufficient customers calling the other networks that at settlement time the cost to the initiating carrier is nil. Only 3 has to pay as they have so few customers. They could remove the termination charge completely and it would not affect the carriers at all.

This is just ofcom being blow hards - again. Who is actually behind it? Ofcom have never done anything on their own - they are just not bright enough

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It's not inevitable

Anyone who has to pay for an incoming junk call/wrong number when abrod knows that paying for incoming calls is unacceptable. The sooner netwroks realise that paying each other great sums of money that tend to cancel each other out just to fatten artificially balance sheets and slip a bit of invisible profit on the better. Let's have free access and an honest estimate what, if anything, it would actually cost operators.

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Paris Hilton

The analogy with VoIP termination is ridiculous

So if I have an ADSL line and I get VoIP I already pay for termination ? I also pay for e-mail termination then. And I pay for web site termination as web sites are displayed on my PC ...

The journalist has actually blindly followed what some illuminated guy from a mobile operator told him without even questioning what termination fees really mean ...

The next to come with such journalism: SMS termination fees. Because we haven't noticed that even if may not block incoming SMSs we are actually getting them, so it should be considered fair that we pay for incoming SMSs.

Or maybe a radio link termination fee, because we get signaling from the network ...

To Paris, because even she would understand why termination fees are not any good

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the skype argument if flawed

for sevral reasions

1 a lot of pepol do not pay by the bit if you have a unlimited contract or one with a absurdile hi limite then you are not paying any extra for reciving skype calls it is like sayign that we are all ready paying for reciving calls cos we pay a £per mounth for our phone contract

2 as the girlfriend in your story would say there is a diffrence between 0.06p (what I currentey pay per mb on my expencive bb contract and 5p (what even thje cheepest oprator is likley to charge me per call recived

3 if you say we pay for every bit we download (prapsh we do and we do not notice it) I wander how much I (more precicley my employer) is paying to view the anoying flash adverts on el reg? and maby I should kick up a fuss about it?

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What are the disadvantages of removing termination fees?

If all carriers were told: You must accept all incoming calls without charging but in return all your outgoing calls would be treated the same way?

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Flame

depends on who's calling

The problem with paying to receive calls is that you don't have as much control. I have no problem with paying to receive a call from my girlfriend or my mom or my friends. I also have no problems with businesses paying to receive calls from customers, but to have to pay for every "sorry, wrong number" or telemarketing (phone spam) or phone survey call I receive, that's just too much.

Something like this would lead to me only answering the phone when know the person who's calling and I'm really sure I want to talk to them. I can see problems here due to ignoring (potentially important) calls from numbers not on my whitelist.

Another problem is that, say I need to call someone who has a prepaid account, I can't unless they actually have sufficient credit on their account to receive my call.

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Termination a Good thing?

A good Article.

Thats always the problem with the general public and 'The Media', they do not understand what is going on. (That is the general uninformed media not tech heads like El Reg) Data is in most cases considered 'Free' because there is no cost at point of delivery.

Termination charges would certainly spice up competition as it will bring the true charges down and make charges more transparent. There would obviously be loads of Hype but maybe, for once, Ofcom could be a bit more savvy with their handling and marketing of the proposals. I guess it would also mean users actually thinking about answering that phone call and cut down on those un-solicited sales calls. Or would the host carrier be able to not charge you for an incoming sales call from themselves as it is on their own network, could they then sell that 'free call' as a chargeable call to the marketing agencies? Hopefully the DPA would cover that abuse!

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Flkawed Argument re: VOIP

The idea that incoming calls use up my bandwidth quota relies on the fact that I have one, and that it is small enough for me to care.

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Stop

A crazy idea

Why not just scrap termination fees and mandate that telecoms providers must terminate incoming calls, they can make their money from the fees they charge for outgoing calls.

A bit like the Severn bridge, instead of paying £2.50 each way they charge you £5 going into Wales and free to leave.

Unless all of the users of your network don't make calls you will still make your money, How asymmetric is the usage of mobile networks?

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Stop

Misses the point...

I use my mobile phone a fair bit for my business, the number is on my business cards and clients are invited to give me a call anytime. I get at least 3-4 spam calls a day from other companies wanting to sell me their services, completely ignoring my TPS entry for this phone.

The former I'd grudgingly pay for, the latter I'd strongly object to paying for. If someone wants to dial a mobile phone number to spam me services then they should foot every penny of the cost.

Also "people increasingly want one phone number that never changes". Do they? A mobile number is very distinctive and sets people up to accept the mindset that they are calling a less reliable technology than wired lines, may get cut off unexpectedly or catch someone in a hurry who might be a bit more abrupt in giving a "call you back later, on the train" then cutting you off.

I use Skype regularly for calling friends, my wife does as well, this has NEVER resulted in me coming close to my broadband usage cap. The bandwidth used is effectively so trivial compared to my cap that it is free for all intents and purposes.

Enough of the rubbish. Keep it as it is, if someone wants to call me, let them pay the cost of the call; if they don't want to pay, no-one is forcing them to call. Conversely, why should I have to pay to find out if I want to speak to whoever is calling me?

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Anonymous Coward

Divert

If I had my phone on divert and answered the call on another phone, would I pay the pickup call twice?

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Poi

lol

I c what you did there Dr. StrangeLove

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omg

Not quite...

I think you've missed the point slightly. Paying for receiving calls you wanted to receive is not unreasonable, it's paying to receive adverts, surveys, wrong numbers, and other junk that is unreasonable.

Unfortunately there often no way of knowing whether you wanted to receive a call until you've answered it.

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Phone spam here we come.

I get almost no voice spam on my mobile (in Japan) because they have to pay. If termination charges move over to me paying instead of the caller paying, I'll get shit loads of sales assholes calling me. I think it is importnat to keep the cost on person initiating the call or else it will be exploted.

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positives and negatives

I can see positives and negatives to this. Firstly, once we have to pay for receiving calls we will start hunting for those networks that have the lowest fees, which should bring the prices down, and might boost sales of Wi-Fi phones and increase the availability of Wi-Fi networks which would have lower termination fees.

On the other hand, once you have to pay, all those telemarketing calls and so on cost you money. Who wants to pay to hear about the latest offer on double glazing?

Unless they can solve the problem of unsolicited calls it's going to face a huge uphill struggle.

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I'll gladly pay

to receive calls if the price is zero. If someone wants to use up my time blethering on the phone, they can bloody well pay for it.

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Sorry, still no

I like the suggestion that on Skype calls you are using your bandwidth, which is in effect costing you for receiving calls, so many are already doing this. Yes, the reason no one cares is because you have so much bandwidth to use, so you NEVER pay for the actual bandwidth.

If we're going to equate that logic to mobile tariffs, if O2 are going to give me a tariff where I have to pay to receive calls, but I get a 45,000 minutes a month free (think about it), than fine - that I can handle.

Also, if we're gonna get stupid about what you technically "pay" for when receiving VoIP or any other types of call; I value my time quite highly, so technically I'm "paying" with my time to receive calls, so yes, I've been doing it all along, silly me.

I've said it once, I'll say it again - sod off with paying to receive. I'll never adopt it.

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Flame

Sorry, but you are wrong

I will never willingly pay to receive a call.

A phone call is an act of volition.

You make a call when you want to speak to someone.

Therefore, since you are initiating the process, you can pay for it.

This has nothing to do with what the networks or OFCOM think or want.

It is about how we perceive that phone call.

I recently got some calls from some agencies (I'm jobhunting) but I didn't know them from Adam before the call.

I would almost certainly have declined those calls if I'd had to pay for them as they could have been sales drones pushing new phones or double glazing.

Billing for incoming calls will DRASTICALLY reduce the number of completed calls and will hurt the phone companies badly. It will also massively reduce phone usage.

Yes, we probably pay more for our cellphones than the USA, but then again we pay more for sodding everything so why should they be different?

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Anonymous Coward

Why not

scrap call charges altogether and get the telcos to charge us by the word!! Second thoughts my wife will run up a 10k bill in no time.

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Max
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No, no, no, no, no!

1) I am American and moved here last summer, so I have experience with both situations. Mobile phone rates are by far MUCH cheaper for the consumer when one does not have to pay for an incoming call. A good example is in business, where dialing someone's mobile from a landline at the office gets twice as expensive once the mobile receiver has to pay up.

2) The cost of re-regulation will be passed on to the consumer and we will need to start again from the top. Meaning that it will cost lots of money for these companies to switch their policies, and since they of course won't do it for free, Joe twelve pack will again get the royal screw job.

3) After a couple years the prices will have gone down a bit once we all have funded the regulation switchover, but it will still not be beneficial to the end consumer. Maybe they should take a poll: How many people would rather (a) Be able to switch their landline number to their mobile number to their VoIP willy-nilly and pay a premium for it, or (b) Pay NOTHING when receiving a call.

4) Premium 08 numbers from mobile phones will still cost just as much.

I could go on and on...

The phone companies get to f*ck our wallets up so much already, why is Ofcom making it easier?

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Well possibly...

If the price was sufficiently small that you don't notice it, for instance, taken from the 'free' minutes you're given every month. Then it would, as you say, be like Skype, or like paying for YouTube videos with your download limit. Fine.

However, I'm a PAYG customer, so people calling me will eat my credit, which translates to real, noticeable wonga. What about that?

Ideology? No. I just don't like people taking my money.

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Flame

Tail wagging the dog

So the tens of millions of people who use mobile and fixed line phones need to change the basis of their billing and absorb the costs of cold calls over which they have no control just so that the few tens of thousands of VOIP users don't need to pay for call forwarding? How does that make sense?

There is the additional problem that inevitably mobile providers won't pass the cost savings on to us by lowering the cost of making calls but they will bill us for receiving them so this is going to be an excuse to hike prices just like metrification was.

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Dead Vulture

Armchair Economic Idiocy

"It would be interesting to know how many of those who swear they would never pay to receive a call happily use Skype."

It would also be interesting to know how many of those who swear they would never pay to watch a TV program happily purchase a television to watch it on.

There's a difference between per-instance usage charges and overall "cost". People are against usage charges they have no (or little) control over such a paying to receive each call. People are not complaining about having to pay for phone service in the first place (e.g. by buying a phone or getting a contract). There's no reason to get confused about this and confound the two things.

Using Skype on an existing DSL line costs nothing compared to not using Skype on the line. That's what people mean when they say Skype is "free". Not "free" in that you don't have to subscribe to an ISP to use it, don't have to own a computer, don't have some "DSL opportunity cost" (or indeed a human opportunity cost from answering the phone) etc. "Free" as in no charged incremental cost per occurrence. "Free" as in you're not going to wake up tomorrow with a bill from Skype.

Equally, I pay line rental on my BT phone, but that doesn't mean I'm "paying for incoming calls", because I don't get a higher bill the more incoming calls occur.

Which is good since 20-30% of my incoming calls are from people marketing stuff to me; often my bank calling with no good reason, or someone even more annoying. Maybe a telephone survey. Crap like this.

Which is why no-one wants incremental costs associated with incoming calls.

Do you get it now?

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Nonsense.

how many people actually use skype anyway? % ?

I want to call someone, I pay for it. Someone wants to call me, they pay for it.

End of.

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Flame

I still wouldn't pay...

I certainly wouldn't pay to receive calls, and i don't use skype for any purpose...

I have paid for an internet connection without transfer limits, and i do use SIP based services mostly to make calls rather than receive them. Receiving calls is done through a BT landline connected to an Asterisk box, I can pick up calls remotely if i am connected to a wifi network, and i can configure it to forward to my mobile (my choice, my cost) on certain criteria.

I would NOT permit an unknown third party to trigger anything that costs me money, and i am strongly opposed to paying to receive calls purely based on that. The scope for abuse is just too high, why should i pay to receive calls from hostile parties, marketing calls and misdialed numbers? These people should be paying me for wasting my time.

And if you reduce the cost to the caller, this type of call will only increase, unscrupulous marketing companies won't care that you have to pay more, lowering their costs will just cause them to make more calls (with autodialers etc).

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The price is right!

"Those who claim they'll never pay to receive calls will, if the price is right - they just don't want to accept that they would"

The price is right right now. Nothing, nada, zilch.

The whole idea is just plain wrong.

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Dan
Silver badge
Stop

@Those who claim....

"If this was the case, I'd constantly have it divert to my voicemail or Skype."

If you diverted your phone to Skype, you'd have to pay for the diversion to your Skype number and you'd have to pay for SkypeIn.

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The Solution

I've got it!

In order to stop the phone spam all phone numbers need to be premium rate numbers charging £2 a minute, but with a white list of people who don't pay to call you. So, you put your friends and family on the white list, and if someone calls who you do want to speak to you press a key and they get white listed too, therefore the only people you do charge are those making unsolicited and unwanted calls.

viola, no more phone spam, or an extra source of income.

With that in place creating a market where there is pressure to lower termination charges out to work.

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Flame

A whole new kind of abuse

Joe Montana reminded me of something. If receiving threatening calls from an angry ex, stalker, local drug dealer* etc. may seem bad now. You just wait till you have to pay for the privilege.

*Admittedly your friendly local drug dealer would just stab you, since he probably doesn't know how to use a phone.

< /Daily Mailism>

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Unhappy

That really was a very third rate analogy

So skype users pay for receiving calls.

Well if you want to get that obtuse about it I pay for receiving calls by having to recharge my phone more often (and electricity isn't free you know), and also in wear and tear on my phone (case wearremoving it from my pocket, button wear answering the call, speaker & microphone wear.

As for the one number nonsence, do I want one number to rule them all, no, I don't want my home number to follow me, as it will be a bit hard for my wife to answer the bloody house phone if it's decided to follow my mobile.

Seems to me one number to rule them all is yet another case of marketing people (OK theyre not really people theyre really cockroaches from some distant planet in Edgar suits) trying to tell us what we want

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not quite true

Fair enough that terminations charges level the playing field for the companies but it leaves customers wide open to scams where someone calls you and you have no real choice but pay if you accept the call. Does that then mean that you never pick up if it's a "no number" or a number that is not in your phone book? That doesn't exactly lend itself well to practical use. It's the *customers* ofcom should be thinking of, not the companies! Let's get some perspective here!

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The Skype argument...

doesn't mention how many people don't use Skype because it doesn't have "termination fees". I suspect that people on PAYG broadband packages don't use Skype.

I can understand some of the arguments regarding number porting etc, but I honestly don't care about porting my house number to my mobile. Further to that, landline numbers are geographic, and if we start making mobiles geographic, it'll only give the mobile operators more ways to charge us. Local calls will be cheap and part of our minute bundles, but oh, you want to call Wales from Scotland? That'll be extra!

I'd rather keep the system the way it is.

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Heart

Paying to receive calls can be good

In some ways when i'm using a mobile (local simcard) in the US/Canada I quite like the fact that I have to pay to receive calls because it gives me a great excuse to get out of talking to people I don't want to, either the "I think my credit is about..." (slides battery off phone) or simply the "I'm paying for this, so fuck off".

The ability to be that rude and abrupt to people is worth the few extra pennies, in my mind!

More realistically - how about a system where the first 30 seconds of any call are free, and after that you start paying fees to receive the call. Enough time to get rid of calls you don't want to accept.

Jolyon

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Dead Vulture

Letters...

Arrrrrggggghhhhh

I make a call - I pay for it. You call me, you pay for it. Anything else is madness.

I'm pretty sure that there aren't many people who care that they have an 07 number for their mobile and an 01 or 02 number for their home. Certainly not enough to overcome the widespread hate of paying to recieve calls

This smacks to me of the regulator and phone companies dreaming up new services that consumers don't really care about (e.g. what percentage of the mobile phone owning population want wifi enables VoIP on their phone - I bet it's in single digits) wanting to change the rules so they can foist the new services on us.

Anyone remember the massive amounts spent on 3G? Now, what percentage of the mobile owning public (that's everyone, not just people who read El Reg) regularly use the 3G service? Again, bet the figure is small and nowhere near enough to justify the huge amounts spent.

Paying

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three?

anyone on 3 mobile will never have to pay for calls - their network would have to be capable of allowing them first...

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Stop

False analogy.

I pay a subscription to Virgin Media to provide me with a phone line.

I pay this irrespective of whether I make a call or not. I consider this in no small part "paying to receive calls".

This is similar to Skype -- I pay Virgin for my broadband connection, and I use Skype. I have paid for using Skype.

However, metering my incoming calls is entirely different. I have no control over these.

Furthermore, if I'm paying to make calls and I'm paying to receive calls, what the hell is my line rental paying for? The *potential* to make and receive calls? No dice, mate. I pay you for a service. If the operator wants my business, they need me to have a line. Paying for a line with no bundled services is like charging an entrance fee at a bookshop -- don't you want me to buy stuff?

So I'm opposed to pay-to-receive, but if it happens they'd better kill line rental charges.

(Thus challenging the economics of "free" mobile phones with an X-month contract.)

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Ash

Solution

PAYG SIM, Wireless enabled phone, TruPhone and Fring use only. Don't even give out your SIM mobile number.

If the Man is going to screw the punter, the punter will screw the Man.

Screening calls is easy, too; Let it go to voicemail.

You ALWAYS pay for convenience. Maybe it's time to take a little inconvenience to get some decent market pressure back in the game.

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Gold badge

This is supposed to *help* VOIP?

How exactly?

I'm aiming at those who've suggested that this entire pig's ear benefits VOIP.

Currently I use a UK-based VOIP service (and it's not Skhype). I pay per second (at a miserly rate) for calls I make to fixed, mobile, international, non-geographic and premium rate numbers. Calls to other VOIP users are, of course, free.

People can call me. I have a number attached to my VOIP service and, get this, it's free. Costs me absolutely sweet Fanny Adams. This has puzzled me for some time, but I now understand why, my VOIP provider is picking up the termination fee and it's subsidising my possesion of said number. No big, it's a non-geographic, UK "local" number and costs stuff-all to ring anyhow (well a bloody site less than calling me on my fixed line, I don't live in Blighty).

In the new, Ofcom mandated world, I can foresee my having to pay a monthly fee for the privilege of having an incoming number attached to my VOIP service. That's not a benefit in my book.

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I'd just like to add...

...my voice to the chorus pointing out that Bill Ray's VoIP analogy is fundamentally broken, that I DO NOT WANT my home phone number following me to my mobile and I DO NOT WANT to pay to receive calls over which I have no control. I call, I pay. You call, you pay. The suggestion that we should pay to receive calls is rank idiocy.

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Gates Horns

It's called line rental.

To most of us, that ADSL payment is effectively part of the line rental for VoIP services, particularly since I'd like to think most of us are on flat-rate services of one sort or another. Receiving a call does *not* cost us money, because the bill we get for that month is the same whether we receive it or not unless it just happens to be the final few packets which push us over some usage threshold, which is very unlikely.

I think termination fees for all devices should be the same, either the fraction of a penny per minute BT and Virgin get now for landline calls, or zero, as for a lot of Internet traffic at peering points. I don't think incoming calls should cost anyone: the (trivial) cost of terminating incoming calls should be recovered through line rental except on pre-pay phones. The present termination fees are insanely high, to the extent that one operator pays customers to receive incoming calls; the idea that cutting these would require charging for incoming calls instead really needs to be killed off. BT doesn't charge me to receive landline calls, even though it gets two orders of magnitude less payment from my callers than those calling my Vodafone line!

(Bill, because he knows all about big companies screwing people with hidden charges.)

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paying for receiving phone calls

I am not sure if the comparison between paying for receiving skype calls and paying for receiving phone calls can be made that easily.

Of course I pay for Skype calls, but I know what I spend because of the flat fee I pay to my provider, no matter what bandwith I use.

Is this what mobile phone providers would do in the future? Include the charge for receiving phone calls in the monthly flat fee? What about pay as you go contracts?

I am sure mobile phone providers would charge a per minute price, just the same way they do as if you left the country and receive a phone call.

The difference betwen receiving a Skype call and a roaming call: With Skype I know it does not make me bankrupt.

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Alert

@Tom Mason

That will never fly. No large organization (government, telephone network, ISP, etc. ) will ever give the ordinary person that kind of power.

You have to remember that as far as they are concerned you are simply a cash cow to be milked. No farmer ever gave his herd to right to choose.

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Rubbish analogy

I'm just throwing in here to say the analogy is poor. Sure it might cost me some data but I'm on unlimited package so I don't really care. If 02 were to let me use my phone however I wished for as long as I wished for £20 a month, just like my ISP does with my internet connection, I'd be a very happy bunny.

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Unhappy

Never mind phone termination.

Using Bill's logic I have just realised I am paying for vast sums for incoming postal mail, including junk mail. These house things 'aint cheap you know.

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