Ofcom consults on future of UK telephone numbers

26 Apr 2021

With British telecoms regulator Ofcom saying that the way phone numbers in the UK are used is changing – citing the increased use of mobile and online communication, and a decline in fixed line use as key factors – it has announced a consultation on the future of telephone numbers.

Ofcom first outlined a proposed approach to its review of the National Telephone Numbering Plan back in an initial consultation launched in 2019. Now, in the next stage of the review process, the watchdog has set out specific proposals to amend the Numbering Plan and is calling feedback on these proposals by a deadline of 2 July 2021.

In terms of Ofcom’s key proposals, the first would see it remove the obligation on telecoms providers to provide a ‘local dialling’ facility, which allows users to let someone make a call from one landline to another in the same area without dialling the area code. According to the regulator, its research has found that the value of local dialling for consumers has declined, while it said given the increased complexity of providing it on IP-based networks, it considered a requirement to provide this facility ‘is no longer justified’. Meanwhile the two other key proposals comprise: plans to ban direct and indirect sharing of revenue with any calling party for all geographic and non-geographic numbers; and the maintaining of existing rules on area codes corresponding to a particular location.

According to Ofcom, it plans to issue a statement on the matter in ‘autumn 2021’, setting out its decisions on the proposals on geographic numbers and prohibiting the sharing of revenue with calling parties in the Numbering Plan. Meanwhile, it said it will continue its review to ensure that our numbering rules promote consumer confidence, and in the next stage of the process expects to examine the future role for 084 and 087 non-geographic numbers.

United Kingdom, Ofcom