Feeds

Ofcom mulls popular number charge

New plans to cut line wastage

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

Ofcom is considering charging companies which want numbers in popular area codes, and getting rid of local phone dialling to eke out the existing number ranges.

The two measures are open to consultation until February next year. They are designed to provide more local phone numbers - which are running critically short - by encouraging companies to apply only for what they need and hand back what they're not using, while increasing the quantity of numbers available by making everyone dial an area code for every call.

That would allow local phone numbers to start with "0" and "1", something they can't do at present as "01" and "02" are always area codes under the existing system. But Ofcom reckons that with more than 300 communication providers being allocated numbers there's a lot of wastage going on - for technical reasons the minimum allocation is often 1000 numbers, so companies are sitting on lots of numbers they're not using.

The best way to get those numbers back, according to Ofcom, is to make the companies pay for numbers in the more popular area codes. That should provide them with an incentive to aggregate their customers, and share number blocks with other providers.

It's possible to imagine a provider with only two customers, but in separate 1000-number blocks (one acquired through acquisition of a competitor, for example) that provider can't hand back either block without changing a customer number, and has no incentive to do so. Once those numbers have a financial value the provider might push both customers into one block, or even sub-let a couple of numbers from a competitor and return 2,000 numbers to Ofcom.

Getting everyone to dial area codes might prove more controversial to end users, though the same condition already applies to mobile phones and most users seem to have got the hang of that (though it was a big deal in the early days).

The fact is there aren't enough numbers, with suitable area codes, to go around - but if you've a better way to spread them out then Ofcom will be delighted to hear from you. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.