The Week: Of 13s and 000s

New research by ACMA reveals issues with mobile calls to 13 numbers, while the Department of Communication launches a review of the Triple Zero Operator.

Issues with 13 Numbers

New research by the Australia Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has revealed that about a third of Australians have held off making a 13 or 1300 call on their mobile in the last year due to fears of cost.

It is also revealed that many customers have no idea what the actual costs are. Many mobile users believed the calls to be free, or at a fixed rate (they're a fixed cost on landlines only), while many weren't sure if 13 calls were even included in their current plan.

For the record, on most plans calls to 13 are treated as timed calls like any other 'national' call, and are included in your plan value. There are exceptions, however, and it pays to be sure!

While on the face of it this seems like the last serious issue imaginable, in certain cases it can be crucial. 13 numbers are often used by businesses to provide a single point of entry for call centres, via an easily remembered number. Taxi companies use them, as do pizza delivery chains, among many, many others.

More importantly, so do government departments, such as Centrelink, as well as mental health and disability services. Unfortunately the ACMA did not determine how many of those unmade calls were for important issues, or how many simple resulted in an unordered pizza. Hopefully it was few.

There is a continuing campaign to charge 13 (and 1300) calls at a fixed rate even for mobiles, as they are for landlines. After all, this was the original intention behind the scheme: calls are charged a small flat rate (typically 30c), while the true cost of the call is borne by the business etc.

The ACMA's full report can be found here. (Fair warning - it's pretty dreary reading, as you'd expect 25 pages about 13 calls patterns might be.)


Review of the National Triple Zero (000) Operator

The Department of Communications has announced a review into the future direction of Australia's National Triple Zero (000) Operator. As you're no doubt aware, the 000 operator provides a centralised service whereby calling Triple Zero from anywhere in Australia allows immediate referral to relevant emergency services.

The review will examine future directions for this service, including the possibility of expanding it beyond voice-only. The submission portion of the review only runs until August 22, 2014, so if you'd like to make a submission there isn't much time.

Further information - including the Terms of Reference, Discussion Paper, and an online survey - can be found at the Dept of Communications website.