Personal numbering is the name for a virtual telephone number service that is found in a number of countries including the UK and Spain. Typically the national destination code used for this service is (0)70. This service has historically been poorly defined by Oftel and also Ofcom. In 2008, Ofcom has made an in depth study into the service and proposed keeping the service and not migrating it to 060.
The 070 service is based on the principle of a flexible virtual telephone number. Depending on the telecommunications service provider, these numbers are able to be remotely commanded, by Web, SMS or IVR to route calls to most international destinations, including mobiles. They are similar to follow-me numbers, but are able to be controlled remotely and push calls to the desired destination. For example, the UK number +44 70 0585 0070 is routed to an Inmarsat number, so that a subscriber can be reached anywhere on Earth just as if they were still in the United Kingdom. For the telephone numbering plan context of 070 numbers see Telephone numbers in the United Kingdom.
After protracted lobbying of Oftel throughout 1992, Stanford White (of Numbering Viewed Worldwide Ltd) and Will Goodall (of Goodall Personal Numbering Ltd, renamed FleXtel in 1994) were each licensed by the DTI (now BERR) in mid-1993, under section 7 of the Telecommunications Act 1984, to provide telecommunications services.
In 1995 the UK telecoms regulator, Oftel (now Ofcom), reserved the whole of the 070 range exclusively for personal numbering, imitating the USA area code 700 and ensuring adequate number availability for the future. This regulatory intervention was supported by FleXtel, despite having to migrate its existing customers from the old 0956 7xxxxx numbers to new 070 107x xxxx numbers. However, the old numbers were permitted to operate in parallel for over two years after the change.
070 early competition
FleXtel was the first to launch, closely followed by the Personal Number Company (now PNC Telecom ), initially run using Vodafone's GSM network. BT then entered the market with Flexinumber, followed by Redstone's Callsure service. The Personal Number Company later acquired BT's Flexinumber customer base and BT withdrew from the personal numbering market.
Increasing termination rate
In 2008, Ofcom acknowledged that although personal numbering delivers a valuable service to specialist applications, it continues to receive a bad press due to weak enforcement and very poor price transparency for call origination. These issues continue to challenge Ofcom in both the 070 and 08x ranges and the situation is an ongoing balance between tactical enforcement and strategic regulation.
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- Oftel (2001-05-01). "Restoring trust in Personal Numbering". Office of Telecommuncations. Archived from the original on 2004-05-08.
- Oftel (2004-01-16). "Personal Numbering - Guidance on the acceptable use of 070 Numbers". Office of Telecommunications. Archived from the original on 2004-04-17.
- Ofcom (2008-10-15). "Review of the 070 personal numbering range" (PDF). Office of Communications. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-07-20.
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