Big Number day, the scheme to shake up much of the UK's telephone numbering system, will proceed as planned despite the government urging a rethink.
Telecomms watchdog Oftel's handling of the planned number changes was blasted by a House of Commons select committee on trade and industry last month for ignoring customers' interests. (see Newswire 27 February)
Oftel plans to change codes for some national codes on 22 April, 2000, dubbed Big Number day. Customers in London, Cardiff, Northern Ireland, Portsmouth and Southampton will be affected. Mobile and premium rate codes will also be hit.
But Oftel confirmed today that the changes will go ahead as planned next April. Oftel said it would respond to allegations made by the select committee that the changes would be expensive for British business in a response to be published in the near future.
"It is clear that the scheduled changes to the numbering system must go ahead, and it is important for an early decision to remove uncertainty," said Oftel's director general, David Edmonds, in a statement.
"Oftel's primary aim is to ensure that there is sufficient capacity on the telephone network. It is my judgement that unless the scheduled changes to the present numbering scheme go ahead, these six areas will quite simply start to run out of telephone numbers by 2000," Edmonds added.
Over #20 million is being spent by operators publicising the Big Number campaign.
The campaign, "will now continue its work to publicise the action that businesses and consumers need to take in advance of and during parallel running of the old and new numbers from 1 June, 1999," said Edmonds.
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