Ofcom update: 070 personal numbering range

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Ofcom has published a consultation reviewing the 070 personal numbering range, the review includes proposals to support current enforcement action being carried out by PhonepayPlus in relation to scams on the 070 range and requiring communications providers to publish their tariffs for calls to 070 numbers more prominently.

Review Summary (from Ofcom)
1. Numbers within the 070 range have been designated as Personal Numbers, available for the use of Personal Numbering Services (PNS). The formal definition of such services, as set out in the National Telephone Numbering Plan (the "Numbering Plan") is: "a service based on number translation that enables End-Users to be called or otherwise contacted, using a single personal telephone number, and to receive those calls or other communications at almost any telephone number, including Mobile Numbers."

1.2 Amongst the recommendations in Ofcom's review of telephone numbering (Safeguarding the future of numbers) in 2006, Ofcom stated its intention to close the 070 range and migrate users to the 06 range. This was based on a very high level of complaints in late 2005 that arose as a result of significant scamming activity on the range. We now need to make a final decision about whether it is appropriate to close the range, taking into account all relevant evidence, and if not, what other options are available. Therefore, we are carrying out this review to conduct a full assessment of any consumer detriment and in light of that, a cost-benefit analysis of options to address any detriment.

1.3 Ofcom and PhonepayPlus continue to receive complaints about the 070 range. Most of these complaints are concerned with scams, although some relate to the high pricing of calls to 070 numbers. Currently, the most prevalent scams are missed call scams where mobile phone users are left unsolicited "missed calls" encouraging them to call back an 070 number.

1.4 Since our review of telephone numbering in 2006, the number of complaints has significantly reduced and we have found that the use of 070 appears to be declining.

1.5 Given the continuing number of complaints regarding scams on 070 numbers, and the apparent characteristics of the range that enable these scams to exist, it remains important to carry out a review of the number range to decide the most appropriate and proportionate measures to address concerns about this range.

1.6 Our analysis of the consumer detriment and the costs and benefits of different options to address any consumer detriment leads us to conclude that closing the 070 number range as previously intended is not a proportionate response. Given our legal duty to provide end users with a migration path to another number allocation where a number range is closed, our analysis shows that the costs associated with migration significantly outweigh any benefits gained from closing the range.

1.7 We have therefore proposed a number of other measures which we consider proportionate in the light of the detriment that currently exists, these include:

  • supporting and monitoring current enforcement action being carried out by PhonepayPlus in relation to scams on the 070 range;
  • requiring originating communications providers to publish their tariffs for calls to 070 numbers more prominently and to make them easier to understand for consumers; and
  • amending guidance on the acceptable use of numbers in relation to compliance with General Condition 17 by ensuring Personal Numbering Service providers who provide 070 numbers to end users to carry out due diligence of sub-allocatees of personal numbers.

1.8 We are also formally consulting on the removal of the requirement for pre-call announcements on this range, which we requested operators to carry out in December 2007, due to their impact on alarm systems and associated risks to life and property.

More information

The consultation can be found at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/070options/

Mark Burcher