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Ofcom's 116 discussions confirm El Reg advice

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Ofcom has decided to whom the EU-standardised 116 vexation numbers will connect, and it's just about what El Reg predicted this time last year.

Numbers starting 116 are to be standard across Europe, for services that don't constitute emergencies but are still socially important. So, following a year's consideration and consolation, Ofcom has decreed that 116 111 will connect callers to ChildLine, 116 123 goes through to the Samaritans while 116 000 connects to the Missing People charity.

It was October 2008 when Ofcom first proposed asking the Cabinet Office to set up advisory committees, one for each number, to consider to whom callers should be connected. At that time we suggested that ChildLine and the Samaritans might be good choices - we were unaware of the Missing People charity at the time - but it's taken a year's consideration and discussion for the regulator to reach the same conclusion.

Ofcom has also, as predicted, mandated that calls to all three numbers be free to the caller, even if that caller is on a mobile phone. Hopefully they'll also be excluded from itemised-billing lists, as calls to ChildLine's existing number already are, for obvious reasons.

Ofcom is trying to set in place a process, into which the next load of "116 xxx" numbers can be slotted. But 12 months to come up with a plan that took an El Reg reporter two minutes is really pushing the envelope. ®

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