UK wide 03 numbers

03 and 055 Numbers

Ever since PhoneDay changed all the area codes in the UK to start 01, we have had the opportunity of having new numbering blocks. After 01 came 02 for place like London (020) and Northern Ireland (028). Now we finally have numbers starting 03.

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More about 03 Numbers

03 numbers are not premium rate or expensive to call. In fact OFCOM have made it a rule that all telcos must charge no more than they would for normal 01 or 02 numbers and they must include 03 numbers in the same call packages as they do for 01 and 02 numbers.

03 numbers are not like 0845 or 0870 which were always meant to be local and national, but retained their high prices as normal calls got much cheaper. The rules are clear that they are treated like normal numbers to call.

Whilst 03 numbers work like 01 and 02 numbers there is no geographic area associated with them, they are UK-wide.

Why? you may ask! Well, for normal geographic area codes starting 01 and 02 a telco needs a block of numbers. We have blocks in over 600 area codes covering the whole of the UK. But there are hundreds of telcos each getting a block of at least 1000 numbers in each area code. This is very wasteful and means we are running out. With 03 each telco gets one block which covers the whole country and only when that is full do they get another. The 03 number space is vast and allows every telco to have as many numbers as they need for many years to come.

Many companies offering services nationally have no real need for a local number and so 03 are ideal. They are cheaper to run than 0800 but not ripping off customers like 0870 or premium numbers.

Even individuals would like to have a number that does not change when they move house, and 03 numbers are ideal for that.

More about 055 Numbers

Ever since PhoneDay changed all the area codes in the UK to start 01, we have had the opportunity of having new numbering blocks. One of the new blocks that was created was numbers starting 055. These are corporate numbers.

The idea is simple, and a good idea. Basically a business could get a number block itself, and then negotiate with carriers to have the calls delivered to them. However the way OFCOM have done it means they are almost useless now. Which is a shame.

There are several issues:-

  • The business can set whatever rate they like, so different numbers could have wildly different prices for similar numbers
  • The business can only set what it requires as an interconnect price, there is no way to set the retail price for people calling the numbers. So a business cannot say the cost of calling if they want to, and the cost could vary wildly from operator to operator
  • Partly because of the above and partly because of the confusion over 0845, 0870 and premium rate calls, the public have no confidence in the cost of calling an 055 number. It is proving hard to convince people 03 numbers are not expensive so 055 numbers have no chance.
  • OFCOM won't actually allow business to get corporate number blocks! They can only be obtained from telcos, but can be for the business's exclusive use. Whilst becoming a telco to get a number block is not hard, if you do that then why not get 03 or even geographic numbers instead. One of the whole points of corporate numbering is independence from any one telco. If you have to get the block from a telco you are tied to them in one way or another forever.

So all in all there is little point now. If you want a big block independent of a telco you simply become a telco, and in that case you can just get 03 numbers or geographic numbers like London (020), or whatever you like.

We have an 055 block, and we'll happily get an 055 block for any customer that wants them. We have set the price the same as 03 numbers, but that only really works for calls from BT as other telcos charge all sorts of odd rates. All of our phones internally have 055 numbers, but externally we use 03 numbers and 01344 numbers.

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