Premium-rate telephone numbers are telephone numbers for telephone calls during which certain services are provided, and for which prices higher than normal are charged. Unlike a normal call, part of the call charge is paid to the service provider, thus enabling businesses to be funded via the calls. While the billing is different, calls are usually routed the same way they are for a toll-free telephone number, being anywhere despite the area code used. These telephone numbers are usually allocated from a national telephone numbering plan in such a way that they are easily distinguished 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 states, telephone companies are required by state law to offer such blocking.
In the United Kingdom, these numbers are issued to service providers through the regulatory body PhonepayPlus (originally known as ICSTIS, the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services) to ensure certain community standards are adhered to both in terms of content and price. Charges are presented as part of the normal telephone bill.
Other UK numbers -- notably 0870 and 0871 -- are also charged at higher than standard rates. These have not technically been classed as premium rate numbers, but due to public disquiet over the charges, particularly for 0870, the regulations and prices for these numbers are being changed: 0871 is to be reclassified as premium rate, with all the regulations this status entails, while 0870 is still under review, though price and regulatory changes have both been suggested.