Industry regulator Ofcom has set out proposals to ensure that new 01 and 02 phone numbers will continue to be available from all providers in all parts of the UK.
Currently, Ofcom allocates telephone numbers to around 300 communication providers free of charge in large blocks. These companies use the numbers to provide services to homes, businesses and other organisations.
The number of communication providers has increased over the last six years, leading to more competition and cheaper landline bills. This has meant both that demand from communication providers on Ofcom for the finite supply of blocks of phone numbers has increased significantly and that a large proportion of the phone numbers in the blocks are not being used.
There are enough numbers to supply homes and businesses from existing stocks. However, Ofcom has today proposed two steps to manage future demand for phone numbers from new and existing communications providers.
Importantly, Ofcom is not proposing any changes to existing phone numbers.
The proposals would allow consumers and businesses to continue to have a wide choice of providers of new phone lines in future:
Step one: Making more numbers available in some area codes
Under this proposal, people in some areas would need to dial the whole phone number, including the area code, when making local calls. Ofcom’s consumer research shows this to be the least disruptive option for making more numbers available.