UK telephone code misconceptions
Widespread UK telephone code misconceptions, in particular brought on by the Big Number Change in , have been reported by regulator Ofcom since publication of a report it commissioned in The telephone area code for most of Greater London and some surrounding areas is , not "", "" or "". A study was commissioned in which found that only 13 per cent of respondents. What to do next. If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit. Contacts for common benefits are listed below. Carer's Allowance. Call 08Email [email protected] Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance. Call.
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Widespread UK telephone code misconceptions , in particular brought on by the Big Number Change in , have been reported by regulator Ofcom since publication of a report it commissioned in The telephone area code for most of Greater London and some surrounding areas is , not "", "" or "". Other area codes with similarly widespread misconceptions about the correct area code include Bristol , Cardiff , Coventry , Leeds , Leicester , Northern Ireland , Nottingham , Portsmouth , Reading , Sheffield and Southampton.
Owing to the marked increase in demand for telephone numbers to be available for allocation since the s, the United Kingdom's telephone numbering system has been restructured several times on both a national and regional level, resulting in several modifications to the way British telephone numbers are written.
As a consequence of these changes, many people were left with a misunderstanding of how the system of area codes and local numbers operates. A standard United Kingdom fixed telephone number i. The STD Subscriber Trunk Dialling code indicates the geographical area of the number, and is dialled before the local number. For the majority of calls dialled within the same area, the trunk prefix and area code need not be dialled, but are ignored if they are.
Owing to number-capacity constraints, fixed line callers in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch must dial the full STD code even when calling local numbers. Specifically, the requirement to dial the full number allowed for numbers to be allocated in which the first digit after the area code begins with a zero or a one. This change makes about , new numbers available for each area code in which the change has been made.
Until STD was introduced, only telephone operators could connect calls over the trunks long-distance links between major exchanges. A subscriber would have to dial 0 for the operator and then request a long-distance call.
As STD was introduced area by area the meaning of the 0 changed; it was now the trunk prefix used to raise a call automatically to the trunk dialling level, what telephone companies now call a National call.
The new code of was introduced for calling an operator. The leading 0 is not part of an area code, [ citation needed ] which is why international callers dialling into the UK must not dial it. The area code plus local number can have varying total and composite digit lengths, for historical and operational reasons, but as a rule they do not exceed 11 digits in combined length.
Problems may occur for the reader when this spacing or formatting is incorrectly applied by the publisher. Relatively few subscribers could dial trunk calls, so the 01 code was not generally included as part of the published telephone number. In the early s, London telephones still had exchange names so the first three letters had to be dialled before the four-digit local number, e.
ABB ey London Transport. In the mids, All Figure Numbers AFNs were introduced in London and five other large cities because the number of meaningful letter combinations was becoming exhausted and the letters mapped to the numbers in a slightly different way to the USA, which would be problematic for international dialling. Callers in London were still instructed to dial only the seven digits those after the hyphen when calling other London numbers because a charging error would result if the 01 code were dialled, with the call being charged as a national call rather than a local call; the same principle applied for local calls within the other AFN areas.
This restriction was eventually phased out as exchanges were modernised and the STD code was shown in brackets to standardise with the format used in non-AFN areas, e. Canterbury In May , the single London area was split into two areas because of increased demand. Inner London was given the code , such as , and the rest A local number eg could then be used twice within London - once in and again in The local numbers remained as seven digits.
This doubled the numbers available for London, but it also meant that a caller, though within London, might have had to dial the area code to reach another 'London' number.
To free up more numbers across the UK for future use, on Easter Sunday , 16 April dubbed " PhONEday " , an extra digit "1" was inserted after the initial zero into all except five geographical area codes nationwide, so inner and outer London became and respectively — for example At the same time, those five other places gained a brand new x area code. The town of Reading later was allocated an x code to replace its former code as available numbers quickly became scarce after PhONEday, being done in stages between and Further increased demand for telephone numbers in London led to the need for more number-space; rather than again split area codes, it was decided to merge the and area codes back into one but add an extra digit to the start of each London local number, thus increasing the available numbers by a factor of Notes: 0xxx xxxx , 1xxx xxxx, and x xxxx ranges not available for local numbers.
From 1 June , the new code for London was introduced to replace the and codes, re-unifying the London telephone area under one code as it had been under the 01 area code. All the previous seven-digit numbers had a 7 or 8 prefixed to them:. From 1 June London numbers could additionally be dialled with the new 8 digit number but it had to be preceded by the area new code or international equivalent. From 22 April the and codes stopped working and callers dialling an number from another number could omit the in keeping with local dialling historically.
The following diagram shows the history of London's code, starting with the original unified 01 code and ending with the reunified code:. Although London was only divided for ten years, and has since been reunited for much longer, people still frequently quote and write London numbers as if the city and surrounding suburbs were still split up into central and suburban areas by saying and writing "" and "".
However, it is incorrect to place the pause as shown because if the local number is incorrectly dialled on a landline from within London as just , as it had been in the past, it will not be connected because the first digit is now missing. On the day of the changeover, one in three callers failed to correctly use eight-digit local dialling. Possible causes for the misunderstanding include the confusion created during the period from 1 June to 22 April , where it was not possible to dial eight-digit local numbers; the fact that people had become very much accustomed to the audio rhythm of a four-digit area code from hearing the old codes, "" and "" repeated previously ; and that incorrectly formatted caller ID data continues to be transmitted on some telephone networks even as of Also, many users are unaware that there is any local dialling procedure, [ citation needed ] probably because of the increasing popularity of mobile phones, from which the full national number must always be dialled.
Numerous examples of incorrectly formatted telephone numbers may still be seen in and around London, including signwriting on shop-fronts and commercial vehicles, and in newspaper advertisements. The incorrectly placed pauses are also heard in speech everywhere: in radio and television advertisements, and said by office workers misquoting their office numbers as " xxx xxxx". While some clear publicity explaining the change was produced,  BT's directory-assistance service quoted the codes incorrectly and, until November , their online phonebook still incorrectly showed "" as "London Inner" and "" as "London Outer".
A television advertisement for the mobile telephony provider O2 promoted a service that allows a user to select two area codes they can call for a reduced price; it also incorrectly showed and as different "area codes". Outside London, in the areas that had newly assigned x codes in the s, many mistakenly believed that the added digit necessary to lengthen the subscriber number to seven digits was part of their new area code, largely because these places originally had traditional area codes being non- Director areas and, as a result, many misquoted their numbers in the xx xxxxxx format, rather than in the correct x xxx xxxx format.
In Reading, the confusion was furthered by the fact that dual running of the original and new codes was possible during the migration period, so it was possible to continue dialling the number locally in the six-digit format until , when seven-digit numbers became mandatory. Because of this, many mistook the added 9 as being part of the new area code, rather than the subscriber number.
Following the migration, new numbers beginning with 3xx, 4xx, 91x and 90x began to be issued. Confusion is also caused by exchange automated changed number announcements where the voice synthesiser assumes that all area codes have four digits and places the spoken pause incorrectly.
From June , new local numbers in London with an initial "3" like began to be allocated. Owing to the lingering confusion, people unaware of the correct format are beginning to assume erroneously that there is now a new London code, "". Even some local and national newspapers have given this misinformation. This call connects to 73xx xxxx ignoring the final digit instead of to the expected number. The digit 3 was chosen to minimise nuisance calls: [ citation needed ] on seeing an unfamiliar 'x' code, some callers would assume that it was an old pre-PhONEday code and would mistakenly 'correct' it to x.
The geographical significance of the "7" or "8" has been lost with regard to new number issuance so that, for example, some newly allocated numbers in central London now begin with "8". Although the problem is most prevalent in London, similar misconceptions also affect other area codes which were created as a result of PhONEday and the Big Number Change.
The inconvenience of the possible misconceptions subsequently became more significant and apparent, for example in Bristol with the issuing of new numbers within the code area where initially all numbers were revised such that their local 7-digit string began with 9. From new numbers began to be issued whose local 7-digit string began with a number other than 9, starting with 3xx-xxxx:. The United Kingdom adopts an open dialling plan for area codes within its public switched telephone network.
Therefore, all area codes have a preceding "0" when dialling from within the United Kingdom. When dialling a UK number from abroad, the zero must be omitted. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Confusion over telephone numbers in the United Kingdom. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Office of Communications.
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