History Of The Reverse Charge Calls Industry In Australia
In 1967 an American telecommunications company rolled out the first 1800 number. This would impact positively on the reverse charge calls industry. By automating the calls through the introduction of 1800 numbers, the workload in processing the calls would be reduced. The company was AT&T. The company initiated several firsts in the telecommunications industry in the USA.
Automated Reverse Charge Calls
It was not always the case that reverse charge calls were automated. The person making the reverse charge call (Party A) would call a telecommunications provider and speak to an operator. The operator would take your name and the number of the person (Party B) you wanted to call. The operator would call the Party B and ask if they would accept the call and pay the charges. On agreement the operator would connect Party A and Party B and the call would proceed. The charges for the reverse charge call would appear on Party B’s monthly home phone account. This of course was to fixed lines only. (Landlines or home phones are also referred to as fixed lines). This process was very laborious! Totally labour intensive.
The Call Volume of Reverse Charge Calls
Reverse charge calls were numerous. The operators were overwhelmed because it took a lot of time to process the volume of reverse charge calls. That company with the introduction of 1800 numbers solved their problem. 1800 numbers have always been an indicator that the call to a fixed line is free. The ‘intelligence’ behind these 1800 numbers allowed a reverse charge call to proceed automatically. This lessened the load of the reverse charge calls volume undertaken by the operator. The introduction of 1800 numbers, although slow to become popular, transformed the reverse charge call industry. Business and industry generally, took up 1800 numbers in a significant way. This phenomenon also contributed to improving connectivity between business and consumers. Products and services were able to be marketed more successfully because of improved communication.
So What Happened In Australia With The Reverse Charge Call Industry?
The telecommunications industry leader in Australia is Telstra. Telstra has had a few name changes and shake ups but it was that company that did all the reverse charge calls in the laborious way described above. However, all industry inventions, innovations, practices and procedures from other countries (particularly the USA) end up being adopted here. So Telstra after seeing the massive advantages of the implementation of 1800 numbers in the USA, also implemented the 1800 numbers here.
The 1800 Number Prefix
The 1800 numbers were made available to industry generally. Telstra used them in the reverse charge calls industry. Telstra also used other number formations. But now it is generally regarded that a reverse charge call number has a 1800 prefix which denotes that it is a free call. And it should be that way. If you are making a reverse charge call then you obviously do not have the money to make a call to an operator.
Telstra had the monopoly in this arena. It had its universal obligations to meet:
which was to provide in all ways efficient and effective communications ability to the people of Australia.
1800 Reverse Charge Call Numbers
One event in 2000 turned the reverse charge calls industry upside down. 1800 Reverse (a memorable phonename) started a reverse charge call service to fixed lines. With heavy television advertising and using well known sports and movie stars, 1800 Reverse grabbed the major part of the reverse charge call business in Australia. At the time (and still today) 1800 Reverse has an arrangement with Telstra to bill the reverse charge call to a fixed line to the person’s monthly fixed line bill. In terms of telephony devices, that is what most people had in 2000…a fixed line. 1800 Reverse became a listed company (ASX:REF) called Reverse Corp. They held their strong position for a long time. The REF shares sky rocketed with tens of millions of dollars spent on reverse charge calls.
With mobile phones becoming increasingly popular, another operator started 1800 Mumdad. 1800 Mumdad implemented reverse charge calls to mobile phones. This was a first. 1800 Mumdad held a good part of that market until 1800 Reverse also commenced billing to mobile phones.
1800 Mumdad and 1800 Reverse were able to bill to mobile phones because of the advent of some significant technologies. The main one being premium sms billing.
The issue of zero rating from a mobile phone to a 1800 number was not yet widespread. Zero rating only existed via special arrangements made with specific carriers. The reverse charge calls industry was evolving into a very interesting arena.
Along the way 1800 PHONEHOME entered the reverse charge calls industry. 1800 PHONEHOME introduced some price competition with their catch cry of “Save a Buck or Two!”
On the one hand there was 1800 Reverse that had the major share of reverse charge calls to fixed lines. On the other hand there was the innovative 1800 Mumdad who initiated reverse charge calls to mobiles. 1800 Mumdad held their ground for a long time. And probably still does in terms of the major share of reverse charge calls to mobiles.
Free Calls From Mobiles To 1800 Numbers
One major event leveled the playing field in 2014. All the three phonename reverse charge call services benefited from the ACMA and mobile carriers agreeing to self regulate and free rate calls to 1800 numbers from mobiles. Only fixed lines could call a 1800 number for free.
Now all the three players 1800 Reverse, 1800 Mumdad and 1800 PHONEHOME compete equally in the reverse charge calls to mobiles arena. Previously, only some carriers allowed free rating to 1800 numbers for some of the reverse charge call services.
What Does The Future Hold For The Reverse Charge Calls Industry
In brief, voice commoditisation essentially means that voice or talk is becoming cheaper and cheaper. Additionally, carriers charge up their plans with plenty of talk minutes. Furthermore, it’s largely about data now. Also ‘free talk’ apps abound. (They are not really free because they use data). Social media platforms are springing up everywhere. Free texting apps etc are a dime a dozen. In conclusion, it does seem that the reverse charge calls industry could one day just disappear. With unlimited data plans and wide spread wifi hot spots, it seems that reverse charge calls will just be a thing of the past.