Plans to introduce local area code dialling in places next year where numbers are very scarce
UK telecom regulator Ofcom has outlined plans to safeguard the future supply of landline numbers across the UK.
As per the new plans, users can continue with existing phone numbers, while changing their service provider of choice, according to Ofcom.
Ofcom said that it will introduce local area code dialling in places next year where numbers are very scarce to manage future demand for phone numbers from new and existing communications providers.
Following this, Ofcom will be able to make more numbers available in those areas, which Ofcom believes to be the least disruptive option for homes and businesses.
According to Ofcom, these measures are expected to be needed first in Bournemouth by mid 2012.
Similar changes are also expected to be required in Brighton and Hove (01273), Aberdeen (01224), Milton Keynes (01908), Bradford (01274) and Cambridge (01223) by 2016, says Ofcom.
Communications providers will be brought into picture along with Ofcom to inform local communities well in advance of the need to use the code.
According to new plans, a pilot scheme is proposed by Ofcom to charge communications providers for local numbers in some areas to encourage their efficient use.
Under the scheme, Ofcom proposes to charge communication providers 10p per phone number per year in around 30 areas (out of a total of 610 areas) where numbers are most scarce.
The telecom regulator said the charge would be applied to numbers that have already been allocated to communication providers as well as to future allocations.
The scheme aims to encourage communications providers to consider their plans carefully before applying for new bulk allocations of phone numbers and incentivise the return of unused numbers to Ofcom.
In addition to improve the application process for phone numbers, Ofcom is working to reclaim numbers not being used by communications providers.
According to recent audit by Ofcom, communications providers have handed back over 69 million unused landline numbers to the telecom regulator.
Ofcom said it plans to launch the pilot scheme with final area codes in early next year, and review it around two years after implementation.