Personal numbering

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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.[1] In 2008, Ofcom has made an in depth study into the service and proposed keeping the service and not migrating it to 060.[2]

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.


In 1991 AT&T ran a trial[3] which led, in 1992, to the AT&T EasyReach 700 service[4][5][6] of follow-me numbers, on area code 700 in the North American Numbering Plan.

Early days[edit]

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,[7] to provide telecommunications services.

The UK's first commercial personal numbering service was launched by FleXtel in December 1993,[8] by piggy-backing onto the Mercury One2One GSM network on the old One2One 09567 range.[9]

070 introduction[edit]

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[edit]

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.[10] The Personal Number Company later acquired BT's Flexinumber customer base[11] and BT withdrew from the personal numbering market.[12]

070 scams[edit]

Increasing termination rate[edit]

Due to changes in the market in the mid '90s, largely driven by Redstone, Orange and Vodafone increasing termination rates to premium rate levels, the 070 range has become dogged by scams.

Oftel's response[edit]

In 2001 Oftel consulted[13] on the introduction of Personal Numbering guidelines[14] and banning end user call revenue share.

Ofcom's response[edit]

In 2008, Ofcom acknowledged that although personal numbering delivers a valuable service to specialist applications,[15] 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.[16]


  1. ^ Ofcom (2009-02-27). "Personal Numbering - Guidance on the acceptable use of 070 numbers". Office of Communications. Archived from the original on 2009-03-03. 
  2. ^ Ofcom (2008-10-15). "Review of the 070 personal numbering range". Office of Communications. Archived from the original on 2008-10-18. 
  3. ^ Bensley, John (1998-03-01). "700 Personal Numbering Trials in the USA". Papers. TeleScapes. Archived from the original on 2000-08-15. 
  4. ^ "Lifetime Telephone Numbers". New York Times. 1992-04-29. Archived from the original on 2009-07-13. 
  5. ^ "AT&T announces Easy Reach 700". 1992-05-02. Archived from the original on 1996-12-02. 
  6. ^ "The 700 Club". Time. 1992-05-11. Archived from the original on 2008-03-09. 
  7. ^ Parliament (1984). "Telecommunications Act 1984". Acts and Statutes. The Stationery Office. Archived from the original on 2006-09-28. 
  8. ^ "Small Company Launches Caller Pays Service". Financial Times. 1993-12-02. Archived from the original on 2012-10-19. 
  9. ^ "09567 Flextel classic". 1996-05-12. Archived from the original on 1996-12-20. 
  10. ^ "Redstone's Callsure Service" (PDF). Redstone plc. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-08-28. 
  11. ^ "PNC PLC acquires BT Wholesale-Flexinumber". 2000-08-07. Retrieved 2013-01-18. [dead link]
  12. ^ BT (2000-10-19). "BT closes Flexinumber". Services and Prices. British Telecommunications plc. Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. 
  13. ^ Oftel (2001-05-01). "Restoring trust in Personal Numbering". Office of Telecommuncations. Archived from the original on 2004-05-08. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ Ofcom (2008-10-15). "Review of the 070 personal numbering range" (PDF). Office of Communications. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-07-20. 
  16. ^ FleXtel. "Working with Ofcom for Consumer Empowerment". FleXtel Ltd. Archived from the original on 2012-10-19. 

See also[edit]