TELEPHONE users in Aberdeen will be the first in Scotland who will have to dial the entire area code to make a local landline call from next year to help free up new numbers in areas where demand is outstripping supplies.
Ofcom today announced that the new dialling system will come into force in the Granite City from 1 October, 2014.
Similar measures will also be introduced in Bradford, Brighton, Middlesbrough and Milton Keynes where the supply of new telephone numbers is running low due to high demand.
Callers in Aberdeen will have to dial the 01224 area code every time they make a local call.
An Ofcom spokesman said: “We forecast that we will exhaust our existing supplies of geographic telephone numbers in the Aberdeen (01224), Bradford (01274), Brighton (01273), Middlesbrough (01642) and Milton Keynes (01908) area codes in the period July 2015 to October 2016 unless we take action. We need to safeguard the future of supply of landline numbers in the Five Area Codes to ensure that a shortage of new numbers does not restrict the choice of communications providers (CPs) and services available to local consumers and businesses.
“The change will come into effect on 1 October 2014 and will require the whole phone number, including the area code, to be dialled when making local calls from a landline in any of the Five Area Codes, in the same way that such calls are currently made from a mobile phone. Dialling a local call with the area code will not affect the price of the call.
“The change is necessary in order to make sure that the choice of providers and services available to consumers and businesses local to the Five Area Codes will not be constrained by shortages of new phone numbers. “
He continued: “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 numbers.”
“Our forecast of CPs’ demand shows that, unless we take action, we risk running out of geographic numbers to allocate to CPs in some areas, including the Five Area Codes. While this does not present a direct risk to the availability of numbers for consumers’ use, a lack of number blocks for allocation to CPs could restrict the provision of services and deny local consumers the full benefits of competition.”
The spokesman added: “Our current forecasts show that, after making the change in the Five Area Codes, 25 other four-digit area codes are likely to need new supplies of numbers over the next 10 years.we will consult when proposing changes in those other area codes, but our general intention is to close local dialling in several areas at the same time every few years, in order to facilitate clear communication to consumers and cost-effective implementation.”
The cost of calls will not be affected, and those who dial without the area code after the change will hear a recorded message asking them to include it.