Householders in Aberdeen will have to use the five-figure area dialling code from their landlines – even when making a local call – under new proposals put forward by Ofcom.
The change will allow Ofcom to allocate local numbers beginning with a “zero” or a “one” and create thousands of new numbers.
The city, where the local dialling code is 01224, is one of five areas of the UK where supplies of new telephone numbers are running low.
Previously, Ofcom has changed the phone numbers of huge swathes of residents – by adding a digit or a prefix – to create extra numbers. However, its latest tack, which has already been pioneered in one dialling code region of southern England – is aimed at reducing disruption and causing extra expense for consumers and businesses.
In addition to residents of Aberdeen – where it is expected 118,547 households comprising around 238,000 people will have to adhere to the new rules – those living in Bradford, Brighton, Middlesbrough and Milton Keynes will also be affected.
“The number of communications providers has increased significantly over the last ten years, leading to more competition and cheaper landline bills for millions of homes and businesses. But it has also led to increased pressure on the supply of new phone number,” Ofcom said in a statement.
Those who dial without the area code after the change would hear a recorded message asking them to redial and include it.
The measure, which will ensure that the exchange would not interpret numbers beginning with a zero or one as mobile calls or a directory enquiries number, was first implemented in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole in November last year.
Research carried out by Ofcom at the time found that 81 per cent of local residents there were aware of the planned change, and 94 per cent said they were not concerned by it.
Aberdeen councillor Graeme Lawrence welcomed the proposals but warned that some older people could find the new system difficult.
“Aberdeen is an expanding place so there is bound to be a demand for extra numbers,” he said. “There are bound to be some people who complain about this – especially people who are set in their ways and have dialled numbers the same for years.”
The new rules will be under consultation until 13 September 2013. Ofcom expects to publish its decision in a statement later in the autumn and the new rules are likely to come into force in October next year.