A common trap with mobile phone plans is that calls to so-called 'free' numbers (those starting with 1800) aren't free at all — that only happens with landlines. The good news? The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has pledged to introduce legislative changes that will ensure those numbers can be called at landline cost (free or an untimed local call) from any mobile. The bad news? Legislative and process changes mean it won't happen until January 1 2015 at the earliest.
Picture by Cory Doctorow
A handful of providers already include 13 numbers (which are charged on landlines at untimed local call rates) and 1800 numbers in their existing "unlimited" plans (ones that spring to mind include Amaysim, Boost and Red Bull). However, many others charge them at high rates, which is a major nuisance if you're stuck on hold waiting for someone to answer.
Following industry consultation, ACMA says it is prepared to make changes that will eliminate that distinction:
The changes are designed to make calls from mobiles to freephone 1800 numbers free and calls from mobiles to 13/1300 local rate numbers cost no more than a caller would expect to pay from a fixed service.
There will be further consultation on the plan later this year, so don't be surprised if rollout gets delayed even further. It will definitely be a welcome improvement when it happens. In the meantime, if you often use these numbers, consider changing providers or using an app like 13save