Industry News - June/July 2014

News /

Here’s an overview of a few interesting developments to come from Ofcom over the last couple of months.

We can’t live without the internet or mobile phones – is this a surprising revelation?
Some recent research released by Ofcom has declared that UK consumers believe that they can’t do without the internet and mobile phones.

The study explored what type of communications services UK consumers would consider ‘essential’ in their day to day lives.

As the governing body for communications services, Ofcom's goal is to ensure that consumers are protected from abuse and treated fairly by providers.

Things like the internet and mobile phones have grown to be 'essential', so Ofcom will want to ensure that they are affordable, particularly for the most vulnerable in society.

The full news release can be found here.

(Source: Ofcom - 22nd July 2014)

Managing Northern Ireland telephone numbers

As with many resources, we can sometimes forget that we could run out of telephone numbers (at least based on the current way that Ofcom allocates them).

This is why every so often, Ofcom has to adjust how it allocates numbers and make more numbers available. They have recently published a statement setting out how they're going to ensure a sufficient supply of geographic telephone number blocks for allocation to communication providers in Northern Ireland.

In short they're going to:

  • allocate numbers to communications providers in blocks of 1,000, rather than 10,000, in the 028 area code which covers the whole of Northern Ireland; and
  • assign an additional two-digit range for local numbers in each of Belfast and Derrry/Londonderry, to meet greater demand for numbers in those areas: 028 96 for Belfast, adding to the existing 028 90 and 028 95 ranges; and 028 72 for Derry/Londonderry, adding to the existing 028 71 range.

The Numbering Plan (which outlines how telephone numbers should be used and how they're allocated) has been modified to reflect Ofcom's decisions. You can read their full statement about the modification here.

(Source: Ofcom - 8th July 2014)

TTNC can supply numbers in the Belfast 028 95 range and Derry/Londerry 028 71 range.

0500 numbers will be no more - does anyone care?

I'm sure that someone does care, but I can't imagine that many people will miss 0500 Freephone numbers. The reason Ofcom have decided to withdraw this range is because it's poorly recognised by consumers and has seen very low and declining use.

It didn't bring anything new to the table, particularly when it was operating in the same space as 0800 numbers which are much more familiar. And with these becoming free from mobiles in 2015, there's even less need for them.

Why wait until June 2017 to finally withdraw them? It's a transition period to provide affected organisations sufficient time to revise their promotional materials and communicate the change to their callers.

Ofcom's statement contains further details of the decision and plans for withdrawal, including details of 080 85 numbers for affected organisations to migrate to.

(Source: Ofcom - 3rd June 2014)

Mark Burcher