Premium Rate Numbers are telephone numbers for telephone calls during which certain services are provided, and for which prices higher than are usually charged. Unlike a normal call, part of the call charge is paid to the service provider, thus enabling businesses to be funded via calls. While the billing is different, calls are usually routed in the same way as they are for a toll-free telephone number, regardless of the location and area code used. These telephone numbers are usually allocated from a national telephone numbering plan in a way which makes them stand out from other numbers. Telephone companies typically offer blocking services to allow telephone customers to prevent access to these number ranges from their telephones. In some jurisdictions, telephone companies are required by law to offer such blocking.
Entertainment, education and tech support are a very common use of Premium Rate Numbers. Other services include directory enquiries, weather forecasts, competitions and voting (especially relating to television shows). Diplomatic services, such as the US embassy in London or the UK Embassy in Washington, have also charged premium rates for calls from the general public.
In some European countries it is common for organizations to operate customer service lines on Premium Rate Numbers using prefixes that fall outside the scope of the country’s Premium Rate Number regulations. Therefore, in contrast to North America where customer service numbers are typically free of charge to the caller, consumers in some European countries often pay a premium above the cost of a normal telephone call.
As an alternative to official Premium Rate Numbers, International Premium rate Numbers are being used in countries where domestic Premium Rate Numbers are not available for some reason. The great advantage of International Premium Rate Numbers is their accessibility. Domestic Premium Rate Numbers are always accessible only from the country of their origin whereas International Premium Rate Numbers are accessible from almost all over the world. WPT is currently offering over 500 different terminations of International Premium rate Numbers.