The results of the survey on the quality of ‘118’ numbers reveal constant quality with respect to the old numbers

Paris, 30 November 2006

ARCEP is publishing today the results of its survey conducted in October-November 2006 on the quality of ‘118’ numbers for directory services. What is the situation one year after their introduction? Global quality has been maintained and the offer diversified.

ARCEP monitors the quality of directory services

In 2005, ARCEP began monitoring the quality of directory services in order to measure the effects of the replacement of the old numbers (12, 712, 612, 222, etc.) with ‘118’ numbers. Three studies have been conducted to date.

The first was conducted in October 2005, before the introduction of ‘118’ numbers in order to create a quality reference based on the performance of the old directory services numbers.

In March 2006 (prior to the closure of the old numbers), a second survey was conducted on the ‘118’ numbers available at the time. The numbers tested represented about 15% of the market and the results showed that the quality of the ‘118’ numbers was equivalent to that of the old numbers. However, this result had to be verified once the new numbers were well established, once the number 12 had been definitively closed on 3 April 2006.

And so, a third survey was held in October-November 2006 covering eighteen ‘118’ numbers. The purpose of this study, which was conducted by TNS-Sofres, was to identify any changes in quality following the establishment of ‘118’ numbers and the evolution of the market. We are publishing these results today.

The results of the study of October-November 2006: global service quality maintained

An examination of the results of this survey shows that the overall quality of directory services has been preserved since the opening of ‘118’ numbers in November 2005 and the closure of the old numbers in April 2006. However, some strong disparities do exist:

- First, the new services accessible via ‘118’ numbers are faster overall than those offered via the old numbers: the increase in speed observed in March 2006 is confirmed following the increase in the number of calls to the new numbers.

- Plus, the availability of ‘118’ numbers services continues to be excellent (98% availability on average), despite the increase in activity which led the numbers to handle many more calls than in the spring. This responsiveness is seen across the board for the most important numbers. However, it appears that some ‘118’ numbers suffer from lower availability and processing times which are significantly longer than the average.

- Last, concerning precision, the increase in use of the ‘118’ numbers after 3 April 2006 has led to a slight decline in the precision rates of several services which are used extensively by consumers. The market’s precision rate is 87% now compared with 88% for the ‘118’ numbers tested in March 2006.

Still, some numbers stand out for their improving precision rate, where as other, very well-known, numbers show a more noticeable decline.

The results of new players which have appeared on the scene since April 2006 are variable depending on the operator and the number; some services are more precise, but suffer from availability and speed problems, whereas others guarantee rapid access to their service although they don’t necessarily shine for their precision.

We should note that ARCEP’s survey does not evaluate the perceived quality of services and that the results need to be completed with other more subjective evaluations.

Market evolutions

One year after the introduction of ‘118’ numbers, the directory services market is concentrating around four main numbers, completed with other services—whether specialised or not—having more modest traffic. These other services stimulate the market and expand the range of services offered to consumers. In this respect, ARCEP points out that new ‘118’ numbers continue to be assigned and put in service.

This market will continue to evolve in coming months in order to adapt to new usages. The closure of the number ‘12’ and other old numbers led to a sharp drop in the number of calls (by about 27%), but use from cell phones is growing, giving consumers access to new functions (SMS, maps, etc.).

A new survey will be held in 2007

ARCEP will hold a fourth survey on the quality of directory services in 2007.

Linked documents

Smiley The survey is available for downloading on ARCEP’s web site (pdf - 113 Ko) Smiley Smiley

SmileyMajor ‘118’ number charges, and a review of their evolution, are available for consultation on the site: Smiley Smiley