Less than two years after the UK had to learn new telephone codes, numbers across the land will change again. The numbering system proposed by Oftel will be effective from the year 2000.
The nationwide prefix 01 will replaced by 02, and be followed by another digit denoting the area. For instance London, which currently uses the codes 0181 or 0171, will be reunified as 020.
In Northern Ireland, where there is currently a variety of codes, there will be a uniform 028. Cardiff will be 029 while Portsmouth and Southampton will both change to 023. Each of the three codes will be followed by either an extra one or two digits depending on the locality. For example Cardiff will be 02920.
One proposal that will ease a few lives is a uniform way of numbering mobile services. At the moment they use random codes of 03, 04, 05, 08 and 09. Oftel proposes that all mobile, paging and personal numbers be allocated the 07 prefix by 2001.
Oftel also expects services such as freephone and local rate to migrate to the standard 08 range. However the EC is currently debating a Europe-wide freephone prefix which may differ from Oftel?s proposals.
The proposals are likely to anger the business community, which has already invested heavily in changing stationery and so on, to take into account Phone Day of April 1995. However, Oftel said it had proposed similar changes to these back in 1995, which it claims, if they had been implemented, would have avoided further changes for 01 numbers. ?This plan was rejected by customers. They made it very clear they valued the convenience of local dialling above the avoidance of change,? said Oftel director general, Don Cruickshank.
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