This document concerns geographic telephone numbers - fixed-line telephone numbers that begin with the digits 01 and 02. They are widely recognised, valued and trusted by consumers. Ofcom administers this national resource and seeks to ensure that sufficient numbers are available to allocate to communications providers (CPs) so that they can provide a choice of services to consumers.
Geographic numbers are an increasingly scarce resource. Although the combined quantity of geographic numbers that CPs already hold exceeds likely demand from end-users, individual CPs nevertheless need new allocations of geographic numbers from time to time. Our current forecast of CPs demand shows that, unless we take action, we risk running out of geographic numbers to allocate to CPs in some areas. In November 2010, we proposed some changes to the way we manage the allocation of geographic numbers, and launched a public consultation. The fundamental aim of the proposed changes was to ensure that consumers future choice of providers of phone services will not be constrained by the availability of geographic phone numbers.
In this document we conclude one part of that consultation, and set out our decision about how we will make available new geographic telephone numbers in some areas of the UK in the coming years. Fixed-line phone users in those areas will need to dial the area code when making local calls in order to enable us to release the new numbers for use. This will not require any changes to existing phone numbers or affect the cost of the call.
We are also consulting further on some measures to enhance the effective and efficient use of geographic telephone numbers that were proposed in November, which included a pilot charging scheme for geographic numbers and measures to strengthen our administrative processes.
The purpose of this document is to:
- set out and explain our decision on creating new supplies of geographic numbers in areas where more numbers are required;
- present for further consultation some revisions to our proposal to charge CPs for certain geographic numbers they hold; and
- set out how we intend to take forward changes we propose to some administrative processes which we use to allocate geographic numbers to CPs.