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Changes to making local calls in the 01202 area code for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Statement published 31|05|12

Summary

1.1 This statement concerns geographic telephone numbers (-1-) with the 01202 Bournemouth area code. Ofcom administers the UK's telephone numbers and seeks to ensure that sufficient numbers are available to allocate to communications providers ('CPs') so that they can provide a choice of services to local residents and businesses.

1.2 Geographic numbers are an increasingly scarce resource. We allocate these numbers in large blocks to CPs. Although the quantity of geographic numbers that CPs already hold in total exceeds likely demand from end-users, individual CPs nevertheless need new allocations of geographic numbers from time to time. Our forecast of CPs' demand shows that, unless we take action, we risk running out of geographic numbers to allocate to CPs in some areas. While this does not present a direct risk to the availability of numbers for consumers' use, a lack of number blocks for allocation to CPs could restrict the provision of services and deny local consumers the full benefits of competition. We therefore consulted (-2-) in November 2010, September 2011 and March 2012 on measures designed to ensure the ongoing availability of geographic numbers across the UK.

1.3 In September 2011 we decided that where an area with a four-digit area code (i.e. in the format 01XXX) needs more local numbers, we will increase supplies by closing local dialling in that area code when our existing supplies approach running out. This means that, from the date we make this change, fixed-line phone users in that area will need to dial the area code when making calls to phone numbers with the same area code (i.e. when making a 'local call'). This change in local dialling enables us to release new local numbers to CPs (-3-) without requiring any changes to existing phone numbers. Dialling local calls with the area code will not affect the price of the call.

The consultation on closing local dialling on 1 November 2012 in the 01202 Bournemouth area code

1.4 The 01202 Bournemouth area code is the first area code in which we will implement our policy for increasing the supply of numbers by closing local dialling. Demand for 01202 numbers is high and we forecast that we will run out of blocks of new 01202 numbers to allocate to CPs later this year unless we take action. We need to safeguard the future supply of landline numbers in the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch areas covered by the 01202 area code to ensure that a shortage of new numbers does not restrict the choice of telecoms providers and services available to local consumers and businesses.

1.5 In the March 2012 consultation we proposed closing local dialling in the 01202 area code on 1 November 2012. From that date, local callers would need to include the 01202 area code when dialling other 01202 numbers from fixed-line phones. We asked for views on the proposed date.

1.6 We have considered all submissions on this proposal. No issues were raised with the proposed date. Some respondents commented on related issues. They did not make any new points to affect our implementation of the policy decision made in September 2011 to close local dialling in four-digit area codes forecast to run out of available number blocks. We have decided, therefore, to proceed with our proposal to close local dialling from 1 November 2012 in the 01202 area code.

Next steps

1.7 This statement confirms 1 November 2012 as the date from which the whole number, including the 01202 area code, will need to be dialled when calling from one 01202 number to another from a fixed-line phone (this is already required when calling from a mobile phone).

1.8 We have modified the National Telephone Numbering Plan ('the Numbering Plan') (-4-) so that from 1 November 2012 CPs must withdraw the provision of the local dialling facility to their customers in the 01202 area code (there is a general requirement in the Numbering Plan to provide local dialling for geographic numbers).

1.9 Now the date for closing local dialling of 01202 numbers has been confirmed, Ofcom, CPs and other stakeholders can begin to communicate the need to dial the area code to residents and businesses. Consumer awareness campaigns are being designed to ensure that the change is communicated effectively in the local area. CPs will communicate with their customers directly and Ofcom will manage a wider community communication campaign in coordination with local stakeholders.

1.10 Looking beyond the 01202 area code, we forecast that a further six area codes will run out of available numbers to allocate to CPs by the end of 2016. They are Aberdeen (01224), Bradford (01274), Brighton (01273), Middlesbrough (01642), Milton Keynes (01908) and Stoke-on-Trent (01782).

1.11 Next year we expect to consult on a date for closing local dialling in some or all of these area codes, and on corresponding modifications to the Numbering Plan.

1.12 Further information on closing local dialling in the 01202 Bournemouth area code can be found on our website at www.ofcom.org.uk/dialthecode.

Footnotes:

  1.- Geographic telephone numbers so called because the first few digits following '01' and '02' provide geographic significance and associate the number with a particular UK location - are the numbers most widely used, recognised, valued and trusted by consumers. They are also referred to as 'landline' or 'fixed line' numbers, as they are the type of number used for residential and some businesses' fixed telephone lines.

  2.- Geographic telephone numbers: Safeguarding the future of geographic numbers: three documents published on 25 November 2010 ('the November 2010 consultation'), 7 September 2011 ('the September 2011 statement and consultation') and 20 March 2012 ('the March 2012 consultation'). All available at http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/geographic-telephone-numbers/.

  3.- We can create new supplies of local numbers by stopping the ability to dial a local number without the area code. Doing so will allow us to make new local numbers beginning with '0' and '1' available for use. For example, closing local dialling in the 01202 Bournemouth area code would make almost 200,000 new 01202 0XXXXX and 01202 1XXXXX numbers available for use. We cannot use such numbers while local calls are dialled without the area code because phone networks can confuse them with dialling codes which start with '0', or with numbers for certain services which start with '1', such as 150, 1471 and 118XXX.

  4.-http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/telecoms/numbering/numbering-plan.pdf

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