Phone Numbers In Depth » Local rate calls

Local Rate Call Costs

What is the meaning of 'local rate'?

The old-fashioned term 'local rate' was originally used to describe the cheapest band of landline-to-landline call charges, which applied to calls made within a limited local area.

Today, the term is occasionally used to indicate that an advertised phone number will be charged at the same rate as a normal local call.

What do local rate calls cost?

Most phone companies no longer have a specific local rate and instead simply charge all calls to UK landlines at the same rate.

If you see a phone number starting with 01, 02 or 03 that is described as 'local rate' it is safe to assume that it will be charged at standard landline rates.

A few phone companies still offer further discounts on calls to landlines within specified geographic areas.

Are 0844 and 0845 numbers local rate?

No, all numbers starting with 084 or 087 are subject to a special two-part charging system. In most cases, the cost of calling such numbers will be considerably higher than calling a standard local landline.

Calls to 0845 numbers from landlines were usually charged at local rate when they were introduced in the late 1990s, but different phone companies soon adopted a variety of arbitrary rates for calls to such numbers that no longer mirrored the local rate.

Origins of the term local rate

Historically, phone companies charged different rates for landline phone calls, depending on the distance being covered by the call.

In the UK, landline calls were split into three bands:

  • Local: Calls within a specific local area. The country was subdivided into over 600 separate 'charging areas' and local rates were typically charged for calls made wholly within an area or between adjoining areas.
  • Regional: Calls outside the local area, but within a distance of 35 miles (56 km).
  • National: All long-distance calls of over 35 miles.

The regional rate was abolished by BT in 1999, followed by the scrapping of the distinction between local and national calls during 2004. From this point, UK landline-to-landline calls started being charged at the same rate regardless of location. Accordingly, the terms 'local rate' and 'national rate' have been largely meaningless since the year 2004.

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Calls charged at local rate - whatever THAT means