New national phone number plan unveiled

Telecommunications regulator Ofcom has said a further shake-up of the issue of telephone numbering system is needed.

The main change proposed is the introduction of a 03 "national" number for organisations with a UK-wide presence.

The regulator said that telephone numbers were a "finite resource" and that an increasing number of providers require Ofcom to allocate new number blocks. Additionally, new technologies, such as Voice over Internet Protocol services, and changes in demographics over time in some areas mean that Ofcom must ensure its approach to numbering is sufficiently flexible to adapt to future demand.

No changes to geographic telephone numbers are proposed, but Ofcom is proposing specific measures to reduce the need for such changes in the years ahead.

Ofcom Chief Executive Stephen Carter said: "Telephone numbers are at the heart of a well-functioning communications industry.

"From 01 to 09 we are proposing a planning framework that provides clearer consumer information and is future-proofed for growth."

Ofcom’s proposals cover six key areas:
  • A new country-wide 03 number range, which would be charged to the consumer at the same rate as calling a geographic number;
  • A new consumer protection test which would deny numbers to providers involved in telephone scams;
  • A new 06 number range for personalised number services to replace the current 070 personal numbers often confused with mobile numbers;
  • A simplification of the 08 range to help users identify chargeable services;
  • A simplification of the structure of 09 premium rate service numbers in a similar way to 08;
  • Introduction of a new allocation system to avoid changes to geographic numbers in the future.
Geographic numbers, the numbers linked to exchanges used for homes and businesses, are normally allocated to providers in blocks of ten thousand for each telephone exchange covering a specific area.

Ofcom also allocates the other kinds of numbers, such as mobile numbers or non-geographic numbers, when asked to do so by a provider.

The consultation on the proposals will close on May 4.


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

24 February 2005
NHS to be banned from using premium rate phone numbers
The Department of Health has announced plans to ban the NHS from using expensive phone numbers, which cost patients more to contact NHS services. Health Minister John Hutton announced that the NHS would be banned from using premium and national rates for healthcare services, such as GPs, from April.
16 August 2013
UK Tourism Hits Record Levels
The UK tourism sector has seen the highest record levels of spend and visitor numbers since 2008.
26 July 2006
Police numbers continue to rise
The number of police officers in England and Wales is continuing to rise, hitting a new high of 141,381, according to Home Office figures.
25 July 2005
Police numbers reach record levels
Police numbers in England and Wales have reached record high levels of more than 141,000, the Home Office has reported. The number of police officers has increased by more than 2,000 since March 2004 to 141,230.
21 October 2004
Despite Brown's pledge to downsize, civil service numbers rise
Civil service numbers have risen by 9,000 over the past six months, in spite of the chancellor's pledge that there would be swingeing cuts in staff numbers in an effort to save cash. According to today's statistics, the number of permanent civil servants stood at 523,580 in April. This was an increase of 8,920 or 1.7% on six months earlier.