Ofcom could force mobile networks to ensure users are not charged for calling 0800 numbers from their mobile phones.

The regulator has unveiled proposals to make all calls to 0800 numbers from mobiles free by 2012. A consultation into the proposals has just begun. Landline owners can currently call 0800 numbers for free, but mobile users are charged up to 40p per minute to call the same numbers.

Ofcom also wants to make pricing clearer when calling reality TV voting lines, such as those used by The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing. Research by the regulator revealed that Brits spent £1.9bn last year on calling 0800 number and voting lines.

"There is clear evidence of widespread uncertainty and confusion about the cost of calling these numbers. Consumers need to have far more transparency about the price they are going to pay for calls so that they can make more informed choices and so competition can work more effectively," said Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom.

"Making 0800 free from a mobile and giving people clarity about what they are paying for will improve transparency, improve competition and enhance trust in these important services."

See also: 91% of Britons own a mobile phone