UK Telecoms Come Up With Remedy for Number Shortage

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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  • mrmez

    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.
  • eddieroolz
    Most of us in Canada have switched to 10-digit dialing already. Perhaps it's time for rest of world to follow suit.
  • back_by_demand
    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.