Geographic telephone numbers

Published: 25 November 2010
Consultation closes: 18 February 2011
Status: Closed (pending statement)

Telephone numbers are fundamental to how residential consumers and businesses use and access telecommunications services.

They are a critical national resource. Geographic numbers are fixed-line telephone numbers that begin with the digits '01' and '02'. They are widely recognised, valued and trusted by consumers.

Ofcom is responsible for administering this essential resource and for ensuring that sufficient numbers are available for us to allocate to communications providers ('CPs') so that they can provide a choice of services to consumers.

This consultation invites your views on changes we are proposing to make to how we manage geographic numbers. The proposals are designed to maintain our ability to meet CPs' future requirements for geographic numbers in all areas of the UK. Importantly, this document does not propose changes to any geographic telephone numbers currently in use. Nor is there a risk that numbers will not be available to meet consumers' needs.

The fundamental aim of our proposals is to ensure that consumers' choice of CPs will not be restricted when they want new phone services. Competition has driven many of the benefits that users of telecommunication services currently enjoy. Our proposals are designed to ensure that competition is not constrained in future by the availability of geographic numbers. At the same time, we intend to limit the impact on consumers of measures that may be needed to maintain such unrestricted choice. We propose to achieve this by implementing new mechanisms to manage the allocation and use of telephone numbers.

If, subject to this consultation, we go ahead with our proposals, they would mean, that:

  • phone users in some areas would need to dial the area code when making local calls from fixed-line phones at some point in the future. This would create more numbers in the areas concerned, by allowing use of numbers in which the first digit after the area code is either '0' or '1';
  • CPs would pay, initially in a pilot scheme, for geographic numbers allocated to them in area codes where there are particular concerns about scarcity. The purpose of doing this would be to increase CPs' incentives to use geographic numbers efficiently, and hence to reduce the need to create more numbers in some areas; and
  • we would strengthen our administrative procedures for allocating geographic numbers to CPs and for following up on their use.


Back to top