This telecoms article is worth a read to find out more about the farcical sequence of events surrounding freephone 0800 numbers. |
To an outsider the UK regulator OFCOM could be perceived to have an impish sense of humour as they continually seem to move the goalposts with regards to freephone numbers.
BT were initially given 0800 for use as a freephone range last century . Those of us with a keen sense of history (and grey hair) will remember Mercury Communications back in the 90’s who were the “David” in the “David and Goliath” battle with BT. This is when we made calls on mobiles the size of a house brick.
Mercury were given the 0500 number range to use as freephone. Amazingly, there are still several 0500 numbers that are firmly fixed in the public’s memory banks. Think of BBC Radio Five Live and 0500 909 693 and Watchdog on 0500 600 700.
Early 0800 numbers had six digits after the 0800 prefix eg 0800 111 222. This meant that only a finite range was available from 0800 000 000 to 0800 999 999. That seemed OK several years ago but it then dawned on OFCOM that there might be a day when the range of 0800 numbers would be completely exhausted.
The stroke of genius was to make seven digits appear after the 0800 prefix eg 0800 111 2222. This increased the 0800 range by a factor of ten.
Not to be outdone OFCOM introduced an additional 08 prefix for freephone use which is 0808.
The cost of calling freephone numbers from a mobile has prompted OFCOM to unveil yet another range of numbers (the 03 range) which cost the same to call from a mobile as a landline. The 0300 and 0303 prefix can only be used by not for profit or public bodies but the 0333 and 0330 can be used by anyone.
Confused? You should be. OFCOM has a wide range of prefixes available but all the prefixes listed below are working freephone prefixes: 0500 0800 0808 0300 0303 0333 0330
Long live government intervention in the private sector!
The author of this article is Jemma Fox of The 0800 Number Company. Jemma is a leading authority on the subject of UK 0800 numbers. Jemma's website also covers other product lines including 0844 and 0845 numbers.
Related Articles -
0800 number, 0800numbers, freephone, ofcom, telecoms,