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UK Telecoms Come Up With Remedy for Number Shortage

By - Source: Ofcom | B 13 comments
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Dialing fingers at the ready!

UK telecoms watchdog Ofcom has announced a proposal that could change the way people dial landline numbers. Ofcom's proposal is an effort to free up new phone numbers where supplies are running low. Right now, people making local calls don't need to bother with an area code when dialing a number. However, this means that Ofcom can't allocate local numbers beginning with a zero or a one. This new change, affecting residents in five areas, would see folks having to dial the area code when dialing a local number.

"The number of communications providers has increased significantly over the last ten years, leading to more competition and cheaper landline bills for millions of homes and businesses. But it has also led to increased pressure on the supply of new phone numbers," said Ofcom in a statement. "Requiring landline callers to use the code locally is intended to safeguard the future supply of new landline numbers and avoid the need for more disruptive measures, such as changing existing phone numbers."

Ofcom is launching a consultation on the proposal and hopes to implement the change on October 1, 2014. The watch dog says Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (01202) have been operating off of the new system since last November without issue.

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  • 0 Hide
    mrmez , July 22, 2013 1:29 AM
    Wuuut?

    Little old Australia switched to 8 digit local phone numbers 15 years ago. 10 digits if you call another state.

    8 digits gives you a theoretical 100 million numbers (or 99,999,999 anyway)
    10 digits boosts that to an insane 10 billion numbers.
    That doesn't even look at the addition digits for international.
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , July 22, 2013 1:42 AM
    Most of us in Canada have switched to 10-digit dialing already. Perhaps it's time for rest of world to follow suit.
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 22, 2013 2:58 AM
    Uh, the UK has 11 digit numbers with 4 or 5 digits as a local prefix, Manchester is 0161, Derby 01332, followed by its 7 or 6 digit local number - Australia can afford to have fewer digits because it has half the population of the UK and nowhere near the number of business lines. London alone probably has more phones than Australia, same with Canada. For such a large landmasses those 2 countries are barely inhabited with less than 60 million between then.
  • 0 Hide
    cozmium , July 22, 2013 3:11 AM
    I used to live in Southampton which was once 0703, then 01703 in the mid 90s, then in 2000 ish, 02380. The latter was just pointlessly different. The change with adding a 1 was no problem though, and tbh they could easily just add another digit again rather than try and find more complicated solutions.
  • -1 Hide
    __-_-_-__ , July 22, 2013 4:02 AM
    in developed countries like mine we have 9 digit numbers since 20 years ago.
  • 2 Hide
    contentsmayvary , July 22, 2013 4:18 AM
    People seem to be missing the point here... The UK already uses 11-digit numbers. The issue is whether you need to dial the area code or not when you are dialling a local number. Currently, you don't need to for almost all areas.
  • 2 Hide
    contentsmayvary , July 22, 2013 4:22 AM
    (Continued) And although the "ideal" solution would be to add a couple of digits to the front of all local numbers, that's going to be a huge logistical nightmare. Making everyone in the country change their local phone number wouldn't go down too well...
  • 1 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 22, 2013 4:42 AM
    Cmv, you have a brain and understand telecoms, everyone else just go back to watching American Gladiators
  • 2 Hide
    lamorpa , July 22, 2013 6:32 AM
    eddieroolz: "Most of us in Canada have switched to 10-digit dialing already. Perhaps it's time for rest of world to follow suit."

    Good one. "follow"? LOL.
  • -1 Hide
    memadmax , July 22, 2013 12:16 PM
    Quote:
    Most of us in Canada have switched to 10-digit dialing already. Perhaps it's time for rest of world to follow suit.


    Last I checked my phone number was #-###-###-####....
    Wow, how many numbers is that? And don't give me crap about the symbol...

  • 0 Hide
    mrmez , July 22, 2013 6:14 PM
    Quote:
    ...Australia can afford to have fewer digits because it has half the population of the UK and nowhere near the number of business lines. London alone probably has more phones than Australia...


    Aus actually has closer to 1/3 the population of the UK.
    With a 10 digit phone number, UK gets ~161 unique phone numbers per person, regardless of wether they are a newborn, or 100 years old.

    Is that not enough?
  • 0 Hide
    mapesdhs , July 23, 2013 3:27 AM

    contentsmayvary makes some valid points. Having lived in a variety of places
    in the UK, from urban to an island village, I get the impression that for some
    communities the ability to dial a local number without the area code in part
    helps define their sense of localness, ie. it forms part of the culture, though
    perhaps without their being that aware of it. More relevant to rural areas and
    islands of course. On an island where I used to live, any local number is just
    6 digits. I suspect if they had to start dialing the full 11 digits instead, there'd
    be an outcry.

    Mind you, it's likely a generational thing. Younger people who mostly use
    smartphones will be used to dialing a full number most of the time anyway
    (or they just use an icon or predefined hot key, etc.), so I doubt they'd
    care much about any change.

    Brits can be oddly sensitive about this sort of thing, or at least those
    who are of greater age. We like to hang on to things that help reinforce
    what is probably a false sense of localness, when in reality the world
    has long since moved on. Mind you, this may be partly what makes the
    UK so appealing to tourists, who knows.

    Ian.

  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 23, 2013 4:22 AM
    Mrmez, just because 11 digits gives you a theoretical number does not mean that is how many numbers are available. Must start with zero for an internal UK based call, that reduces the number by x10, all cell phones begin 07, premium rate non-geographic begin 08 or 09, currently all geographic numbers are restricted to 01, 02 or 03 - adding additional national prefix numbers means assigning new numbers to whole populations and that costs money and causes chaos. Now we are adding geographic numbers to Skype accounts so the number can reduce further. So within a single local area number are only 9 usable digits and that includes Greater London which apart from the huge population also has some of the most densely concentrated business and government usage anywhere in the world. It is not hard to see London having 100 million numbers and that figure can only go up. But being an expert in telecoms you already know this.