Who I am, not where I am

The migration to non-geographic numbers

Major changes to the UK’s telephone networks are likely in the near future, given radical shifts in the way that consumers communicate.  Two key shifts relate to an increasing preference for Over the Top (OTT) messaging via mobile and a dramatic decline in fixed landline usage.  This is forcing a move from traditional PSTN telephone networks to IP technology. 


The coincidental effect of this is a move away from the use of numbers to indicate geographic location.  Traditionally, landline numbers have been strongly linked to local areas, with the first few digits of the number being associated with a geographic area code.  Gradually, as PTSN migrates to IP networks, the significance and relevance of area codes and their location reduces.

Younger people in particular now consider that a number identifies them, irrespective of where they are, and are either unaware or don't care that codes identify the geographic location of the person or organisation being called.

Small businesses, especially with catchment areas that are tied to specific geographic location, will gradually have to adapt by making their location and locality known to customers in other ways. 

The upshot of this is number codes will no longer tie them to a specific location.

Find out more: 

The Future of Telephone Numbering: a qualitative research study, Futuresight for Ofcom, 2019.

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