Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
UK telephone numbering plan
The telephone service in the United Kingdom was originally provided by private companies and local city councils. But by 1912/1913  all except the telephone service of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire and Guernsey had been bought out by the Post Office. Post Office Telephones also operated telephone services in Jersey and the Isle of Man until 1969 when the islands took over responsibility for their own postal and telephone services.
Post Office Telephones was reorganised in 1980/1981  as British Telecommunications (British Telecom, or BT), and was the first nationalised industry to be privatised by the Conservative government. The Hull Telephone Department was itself sold by Hull City Council as Kingston Communications in the late 1990s and celebrated its centenary in 2004.
Introduction of Area Codes
Area codes were first introduced in 1958 , allowing a caller to call another telephone direct instead of via a manual telephone exchange, a process known as Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD), although the process was not completed until 1979 . The four-digit codes were originally assigned based on two letters of the respective place's name and the corresponding numbers on a telephone keypad. For example Aylesbury was given the STD code 0296, where the letter A can be found on the number 2 and the letter Y on the number 9. The letter O became a zero (except in placenames beginning with O), such as Bournemouth: 0202 - 20 = BO. However as more and more places were given STD codes this system became unworkable. The use of alphabetic exchange (area) codes was abandoned in the 1960s.
Calls to Ireland
Until the late 1980s, calls to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland were made using the code 0001. This was discontinued, so that all calls to the Republic from the UK had to be dialled in the international format using the international access code (since 1995 00) and country code (353).
However, calls from Northern Ireland to the Republic continue to be charged at UK national or local rates.
The Director system was put in place in six cities, including London, where only a 2 or 3 digit code was used for the city, followed by a 3 digit code, represented by letters, to identify the local exchange. These were
01 London 021 Birmingham (2 = B) 031 Edinburgh (3 = E) 041 Glasgow (4 = G) 051 Liverpool (5 = L) 061 Manchester (6 = M) 091 Newcastle upon Tyne (introduced mid-1980s, also included Durham)
071 inner London 081 outer London
On 'PhONE Day', April 16, 1995, the digit '1' was inserted into area codes, for example, central London's 071 became 0171. This was with a view to reorganising the numbering plan, so that the first two digits would indicate the type of service called:
01 Geographic area codes 02 New geographic area codes 03 Geographic area code expansion 04 Reserved for future use 05 Corporate numbering 06 Corporate numbering expansion 07 Mobile phones, pagers and personal numbering 08 Freephone and shared cost 09 Premium rate- similar to US 1 900 number range
The international access code also changed on 'PhONE Day', from 010 to 00. Five new area codes were introduced for cities that were running low on phone numbers - and a digit was prepended to each number.
Leeds 0113 2xx xxxx (was 0532 xxx xxx - 53 = LE) Sheffield 0114 2xx xxxx (was 0742 xxx xxx - 74 = SH) Nottingham 0115 9xx xxxx (was 0602 xxx xxx - 60 = NO) Leicester 0116 2xx xxxx (was 0533 xxx xxx - 53 = LE) Bristol 0117 9xx xxxx (was 0272 xxx xxx - 27 = BR)
Inner London 020 7xxx xxxx (was 0171 xxx xxxx) Outer London 020 8xxx xxxx (was 0181 xxx xxxx) 020 3xxx xxxx (next phase of numbers which will be released London-wide from 2005)
Southampton 023 80xx xxxx (was 01703 xxx xxx - 70 = SO) Portsmouth 023 92xx xxxx (was 01705 xxx xxx - 70 = PO) Coventry 024 76xx xxxx (was 01203 xxx xxx - 20 = CO) Cardiff 029 20xx xxxx (was 01222 xxx xxx - 22 = CA)
Also, all Northern Ireland numbers were moved into the single area code 028.
The leading '0' of an area code is called the trunk code. All calls within the same area code and geographically adjacent codes are local calls, more distant calls are charged at the national rate. Following the changes in 1995, 2000 and 2001, the numbering range in use is as follows:
- 01xxx xxxxxx - the most common geographical number format, a four digit area code and six digit subscriber number, e.g:
- 01x1 xxx xxxx - the geographical number format for the larger cities, a three digit area code, with a seven digit subscriber number where the first three digits identifies an area within the city.
0121 Birmingham (2 = B) 0131 Edinburgh(3 = E) 0141 Glasgow(4 = G) 0151 Liverpool(5 = L) 0161 Manchester(6 = M) 0171 used for inner London until 2000 0181 used for outer London until 2000 0191 Newcastle upon Tyne
- 011x xxx xxxx - the geographical number format for a second tier of large cities, a three digit area code, with a seven digit subscriber number, e.g:
0113 Leeds 0114 Sheffield 0115 Nottingham 0116 Leicester 0117 Bristol 0118 Reading phased in between 1996 and 1998
- 02x xxxx xxxx - the geographical number format for areas which had run out of spare numbers using six or seven digit numbers, a two digit area code with an 8-digit subscriber number, e.g:
020 London 023 South Hampshire (Southampton and Portsmouth) 024 Coventry 028 Northern Ireland (Belfast 028 90xx xxxx, Derry 028 71xx xxxx) (8 = U for Ulster) 029 Cardiff (may become code for Wales) (9 = W for Wales)
- 05x xxxx xxxx - Reserved for Corporate Numbering.
055 xxxx xxxx Used by BT for its Broadband Voice service. 056 xxxx xxxx Allocated by Ofcom for Voice over Internet Protocol services.
The 0500 range was previously used for some freephone services, of which some remain,
e.g., 0500 909693 the phone-in number for BBC Radio Five Live.
- 07xxx xxxxxx - mobile phones, pagers and personal numbering. Individual mobile phone companies are allocated different ranges within the 077xx, 078xx and 079xx area codes. Changes to mobile numbers were mostly straight replacements, e.g. Vodafone customers on the 0378 block became 07778.
070xx Personal Numbering 076xx Pagers 077xx Mobile Phones (former 03xx and 04xx - Vodafone and Cellnet) 078xx Mobile Phones (former 05xx, 06xx and 08xx - Vodafone and Cellnet) 079xx Mobile phones (former 09xx - mostly Orange)
- 08xx -- Non-Geographic Fixed-Rate, or Special Rate Services, e.g.
0800 xxx xxxx or 0800 xxx xxx Free Phone 0845 xxx xxxx Local Rate 0870 xxx xxxx National Rate 0844 xxx xxxx Fixed Special Local Rate 0871 xxx xxxx Fixed Special National Rate
- 09xxx xxxxxx - Premium Rate Services (No Maximum Call Rate).
The Crown Dependencies of the Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, etc.) and the Isle of Man are not, strictly speaking, parts of the UK, but as a legacy of their postal and telephone services being operated by the GPO in the UK until 1969, they continue to form part of the UK numbering plan, using the following ranges:
01481 Fixed Line (48 = GU) 07781 Mobile Phones and Pagers
01534 Fixed Line (53 = JE) 07797 Mobile Phones and Pagers
- Isle of Man
01624 Fixed Line (62 = MA) 07624 Mobile Phones and Pagers
On the Isle of Man, both fixed and mobile phone numbers can be dialled locally in the six-digit format.
Although calls from the UK to these islands are charged at the same rate as those to geographic numbers in the UK, calls to the Channel Islands may be excluded from calling plans offering unlimited UK fixed line calls.
Ofcom has also reserved certain number ranges for use in television dramas and films, so as to avoid the risk of people having their telephone numbers displayed, and receiving unwanted calls. This is similar to the use of fictitious telephone numbers in the United States with the digits '555'. In most of the large cities with three-digit area codes a range of numbers is reserved, usually all the numbers starting with the digits '4960'. For fictitious numbers in other areas the area code 01632 is reserved; this code is not in use, although 0632 was used for Newcastle upon Tyne until the late 1980s (63 = NE). There are also reserved ranges for fictitious mobile, free and premium rate numbers.
Special Service Numbers
The few telephone numbers which are less than eleven digits long are mostly in the 0845 range, e.g. 0800 1111 the national ChildLine helpline, and 0845 4647 for NHS Direct medical advice. There are also codes for use with Caller ID, known in the UK as 'Caller Display':
141 Number Withhold (when normally released) 1470 Number Release (when normally withheld) 1471 Call Return (caller may press '3' to return call on hearing number)
The UK has two emergency numbers - the traditional 999, which is still widely used, and the EU standard 112, which can be used in all member states of the European Union. Both 999 and 112 are used to contact all emergency services: the Police, Fire Service, Ambulance Service, Mountain Rescue, Coastguard and Cave Rescue.
The operator is obtained via 100, while directory enquiries, formerly 192 is now provided by different companies in the 118xxx range e.g. 118 500, 118 888.
Most telephone companies offer a speaking clock service on 123, although mobile networks typically allocate services such as voicemail or customer services to this number.
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