Telecoms regulator Ofcom has confirmed it will be releasing a new set of landline phone numbers later this year to ensure homes and businesses in London can remain connected.
The organisation noted that as the country’s capital expands, demand for new lines in homes and offices is growing at a rate of 30,000 a week. At this pace, current allocations will run out of available numbers in less than a year.
It is therefore set to introduce a new batch of numbers that will begin with (020) 4 in order to address this issue and add to the existing London code ranges of (020) 3, 7 and 8.
The regulator will accept applications for the new numbers from telecoms companies in batches of 10,000 from October 1st, with Ofcom expecting the new numbers to start being allocated to customers from December 2019.
Some ten million new combinations will be made available through the new prefix, adding to the 30 million that are already available and in use on the (020) 3, 7 and 8 ranges.
Liz Greenberg, head of numbering at Ofcom, said: “We’re seeing growing need for 020 numbers, as London expands and new homes and offices are built. These ten million new numbers will allow us to meet demand and help keep the capital connected.”
Although usage of landline phones is declining across the UK, Ofcom noted that customers still spend 44 billion minutes every year making landline calls.
Business users will still need to make heavy use of landlines, and the new batch of London-designated geographical numbers could be hugely useful to firms around the UK who wish to gain a recognisable London-based number via technologies like VoIP. The regulator also said new numbers will still be necessary for many broadband connections.
The area code 020 has been used across the capital since 2000, replacing 0171 and 0181. However, a study conducted by the regulator five years later found there was still a widespread misconception among Londoners that the city had two area codes – 0207 and 0208. Only 13 per cent of people correctly identified 020 as being London’s single area code without prompting.