Insights Ofcom consults on future regulation of telephone numbers


Ofcom has proposed amendments to the rules that govern the use of phone numbers in the UK.

Ofcom explains that mobile and online communications are increasing, and landline use is declining. The traditional landline telephone network in the UK, the public switched telephone network (PSTN), is coming to the end of its life and is gradually being replaced. Over the next few years, landline calls will be carried over more modern Internet Protocol (IP) networks, and landline telephone services will increasingly be delivered over broadband connections.

Against this backdrop, Ofcom is proposing to remove the obligation on phone companies to provide a “local dialling” facility, given the increased complexity of providing it on IP-based networks. Local dialling lets someone make a call from one landline to another landline in the same area without dialling the area code. Research has found that the value of local dialling for consumers has declined.

Ofcom is also proposing measures that would prohibit “cash for calls” schemes, which incur costs for the phone companies originating the calls, that could ultimately be passed on to their customers.

The consultation closes on 2 July 2021, and Ofcom plans to publish its decisions on these proposals later this year. To access the consultation, click here.