Phone Numbers

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United Kingdom - UK

Non-geographical telephone numbers in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, non-geographic numbers (NGNs) are telephone numbers available for private sale which, rather than being assigned to a particular telephone line or circuit, provide callers with a contact number which gives no indication as to the geographical location of the line being called. The owner of the number can retarget the NGN to any other telephone number including mobile, international and even other NGNs at any time therefore enabling them to take their calls on the move or at various locations at different times or simultaneously. NGNs which cost more than 50p (UK) to call are classed as premium rate numbers and usually begin '09'.

Prefix - Cost info - Typical usage
03xx - Geographic call rate - 03 numbers must (by law) cost the same as landline calls for all operators (including inclusion in any 'free minutes').

These have been assigned by Ofcom to replace old 084x and 087x services which are not considered appropriate for revenue share. 030 numbers are for use by Government, Councils, public services, non-profit organisations, and charities. 033 numbers are for use by any organisation. 034 and 037 numbers are for organisations wishing to migrate from the equivalent 084 and 0871 number ranges.

0500 - Free from landline
Varies from mobile - These are older Mercury (now Cable & Wireless) freephone numbers, and are being deprecated in favour of 0800 or 0808 numbers.
055, 056 - The rates of calling these numbers are generally unknown, although they are charged by BT at around 5p/min. - These numbers are generally used by companies that use a VoIP telephony service.
070 - Varies - These are premium rate numbers known as 'follow-me' or 'personal' numbers; formally, Personal Numbering Service (PNS). They are considered to be controversial as they can be confused for mobile numbers, and therefore the cost of calls to them may not be apparent to callers until they receive their bills. Ofcom is looking at moving this range to the 06x range to avoid such confusion.
076xx - Varies - These are pager numbers. They are two types:

Fixed call cost pagers (CPP - calling party pays) where the subscriber pays a fixed rate for their service and thus the caller pays a premium fixed rate (some operators charge a fixed rate plus a rate per minute). Subscription pagers which are cheaper to call and charged at 'regional' rates (their landline equivalents no longer exist). These usually cost slightly more than an equivalent landline call.

075xx, 07624, 077xx, 078xx, 079xx - Varies - These are mobile phone numbers. While the exact price to call these from landlines isn't generally known, people understand that they will have to pay a slight premium to call these numbers. Beware that calls to Jersey, Guernsey, and Isle of Man mobile telephone numbers may cost more than calls to standard UK mobiles.
080x - Free from landline
Varies from mobile - These are freephone numbers that are free to call from a landline. However, they may be charged at a premium rate if phoned from a mobile.
0842, 0843, 0844, 0845, 0870, 0871, 0872, 0873 - Varies – between 0.49p/min (0845) and up to 10p/min (0871) from a BT landline.

Some 0845 and 0870 calls may be inclusive depending on calling plan, so aren't charged to call.

- Companies, other entities, government departments
09xx - Premium rate (varies) - These numbers are premium rate and have many uses - competition lines, chat lines, technical support helplines and order lines.
editHistory of numbers

edit0845 prefix

0845 numbers were formerly known as 0345 numbers, which were operated by BT and were described as "Lo-call" numbers (play on the word "local"). 0845 numbers were until 2004 charged at the same rate as local calls (numbers with the same area code). The rates for "local" and "national" were later replaced by a single rate for calls to UK geographic numbers, which are now generally cheaper than calls to 0845 numbers. Mercury Communications, now Cable and Wireless, operated a similar scheme using the 0645 code. When the 0345 and 0645 codes were abolished, 0345 numbers were prefixed with 7 to become 0845 7xx xxxx and 0645 numbers were prefixed with 9 to become 0845 9xx xxxx. There are also other prefixes for different 0845 number providers.

edit0870 prefix

The 0870 code was originally introduced as 0990, the code formerly used for Ascot, when it was subsumed into 0344 (Bracknell). 0990 numbers were originally six-digit, and when 0870 was brought in to replace 0990, the six-digit numbers were prefixed with a 5 to make 0870 5xx xxxx. Mercury Communications (now Cable & Wireless) had a similar scheme, with its numbers beginning with 0541. Like 0990, they were also renumbered into the 0870 scheme, with the numbers becoming 0870 1xx xxxx. Other operators (such as Vodafone) also had national rate codes and were renumbered in a similar way.

editRevenue sharing

When calling 0844, 0845, 0870 and 0871 numbers, part of the cost of the call is paid to the recipient; this is known as “revenue sharing”.

When originally introduced in 1996, calls to 0845 and 0870 number from BT lines were charged at the same rate as local and national calls respectively. Since that time the telecommunications market in the UK has changed substantially, with BT facing competition from new entrants into the market such as the Post Office and Talk Talk and increasing usage of mobile phones. As a result of this, and the introduction of monthly price plans which include calls to national numbers but not 0845, 0870 or other non-geographic numbers, it is sometimes considerably more expensive to call a non-geographic number than standard national 01 or 02 numbers.

editHandling of NGN calls

In the simplest case, the NGN is translated into a regular geographic number. This number is then routed by the exchange in the normal way.

Other routing features include routing by time of day, location of caller, day of week, capacity, etc. For example, time of day might be used if the UK call centre is closed, but another geographic call centre (in India for example) is open. This would prevent people having to ring back when the UK call centre was open.

edit0845 prefix information


0845 numbers are typically used by the service departments of businesses and public sector organisations.

For example, suppose a large retail chain has stores throughout the country. It advertises a single phone number (0845). Customers across the country call this one number, but the call could be answered at their local store, according to the origin of the call.

Another use of 0845 is for call-financed services. The owner of the 0845 number in some cases receives income from calls received, with which they can partly or wholly finance their service, or even make a profit. Some dial-up ISPs receive their income in this way, with no need for separate billing of customers.

Charges paid by the caller for 0845 calls are set by each phone company individually. Charges can vary greatly, especially when the call originates from a UK mobile, payphone or a non-UK number. They can often be prohibitively expensive when called from payphones and mobiles because discounts and bundled minutes seldom apply.

editCall costs

editFrom UK landlines

The cost of calling an 0845 number is sometimes cheaper than calling a geographic 01 or 02 number. However, as 0845 is not generally included in call plans offering inclusive calls, use of 0845 usually means customers pay more to make the calls. BT however do allow free calls to 0845 numbers at the same times as customers get inclusive calls under their calling plan.
Prices include VAT.
Operator - Connection Charge - Daytime / per min - Evening / per min - Weekend / per min - Date checked
BT[ 2 - 3.864p - 0.978p - 0.978p - June 2009 * [ 3 -
SkypeOut[ 4 - 8.4p - 8.4p - 8.4p - 30 May 2008
Virgin Media[ 5 - 11p - 10p - 10p - 10p - 10 May 2010
Vonage[ 6 - 28p - 28p - 2p - 30 May 2008

editFrom UK mobiles

The charges shown generally apply to calls from pre-paid mobile plans ("pay-as-you-go") with VAT included.
  • The charges may be lower on post-pay ("pay monthly") plans, but can be more expensive on other mobile providers.
  • The monthly minutes (sometimes called free minutes) included in price plans generally do not apply to 0845 numbers, which are charged separately.
  • Operator - Cost/min - Date checked
    BT - 20p[ 7 - 30 December 2007
    dot - 20p[ 8 - 30 December 2007
    3 - 15p[ 9 - 30 December 2007
    O2 - 20-25p[ 10 - 10 May 2010
    Orange - 40p[ 11 - 12 April 2010
    TalkTalk - 35p[ 12 - 30 December 2007
    Tesco - 20p[ 13 - 30 December 2007
    T-Mobile - 40p[ 14 - 26 March 2009
    Virgin - 10p[ 5 - 30 December 2007
    Vodafone - 25p[ 15 - / 20p[ 16 - 29 January 2010
    edit0870 prefix information

    editCall costs

    editFrom UK landlines

    The cost of calling an 0870 number is usually higher than calling a geographic 01 or 02 number. 0870 is not generally included in call plans offering "free national calls". BT however do allow free calls to 0870 numbers at the same times as customers get inclusive calls under their calling plan.
    Prices include VAT.
    Operator - Connect Charge - Day per min - Eve per min - Weekend per min - Date checked
    BT[ 2 - 5.88p/Free - 1.47p/Free - 5.88p/1.47p/Free - 18 Feb 2009 *
    SkypeOut[ 4 - 11.8p - 11.8p - 11.8p - 7 September 2008
    Virgin Media[ 5 - 11p - 10p - 10p - 10p - 10 May 2010
    Vonage[ 6 - 10p - 28 cent - 28 cent - 1 July 2008
    *Depending on calling plan.

    editFrom UK mobiles

    The charges shown generally apply to calls from pre-paid mobile plans ("pay-as-you-go") with VAT included.
  • The charges may be lower on post-pay ("pay monthly") plans, but can be more expensive on other mobile providers.
  • The monthly minutes (sometimes called free minutes) included in price plans generally do not apply to 0870 numbers, which are charged separately.
  • Operator - Cost/min - Date checked
    BT - tba[ 7 - 30 December 2007
    dot - tba[ 8 - 30 December 2007
    3 - 15p[ 9 - 1 July 2008
    O2 - 20-25p[ 10 - 10 May 2010
    Orange - 40p[ 11 - 12 April 2010
    TalkTalk - 35p[ 12 - 30 December 2007
    Tesco - 20p[ 13 - 30 December 2007
    T-Mobile - "Call 150"[ 14 - 30 December 2007
    Virgin - 15p[ 5 - 1 July 2008
    Vodafone - 15p[ 17 - 1 July 2008


    Ofcom originally announced that from February 2008, revenue sharing on the 0870 number range would no longer be allowed, and that a new range of non-geographic numbers will be made available to service providers in the 03 numbers range, known as UK-wide numbers , for those organisations who require a national presence, but who do not wish to charge premiums to consumers for contacting them. Ofcom also were going to permit the higher rate of charge for 0870 numbers to continue provided that there was an announcement before the call (Pre-Call Announcement, or PAC). However, since that announcement Ofcom has changed its decision, because of Health and Safety implications[ 18 - and more importantly due to strong lobbying and pressure from the Telecoms industry, who stood to lose significant revenue from unwitting phone users, Ofcom has now postponed any changes with regard to 0870 number range. It seems this may be because they now intend to move 0870 numbers under the regulation of PhonepayPlus as with 0871, to continue as Premium numbers with call queuing permitted ]. Originally Ofcom had announced that call tariffs for 0870 were going to change to being the same as for geographic numbers, unless there was a PAC, but now for the foreseeable future this will not be so. The call tariffs and call discounts for 03 numbers will be the same as if the consumer was calling a geographic (01 or 02) number. The new 03 numbers range is also intentionally numerically next to the existing geographic number ranges.[ 19 -

    It remains to be seen which organisations will move to the new 03 numbers range and how many will migrate to the 0844, 0845 or 0871 number ranges, as some have already been doing, to continue receiving Premiums with call queuing permitted. Any migration will now be delayed until Ofcom have announced their new decision for the 0870 number range.

    On 30 April 2010, Ofcom announced a new, wide-ranging review of all non-geographic call services [ 20 - .

    editCalling from abroad

    When calling from outside the UK, many operators charge the call as a "Premium Rate Service" or "Mobile call" (sic). Examples: AT&T[ 21 - , CommuniTel[ 22 - , SkypeOut[ 4 - . The result in most cases is that the cost of calling a non-geographic number from outside the UK is significantly more than the cost of calling a UK geographic number (e.g. +44 20 for London) plus the cost of a non-geographic call within the UK. The increased charge is levied by the UK partner onto the non-UK operator and passed directly to the caller.

    With many pre-paid phonecards, calls to non-geographic numbers are blocked.[ 23 - Either the UK partner does not connect the inbound call or the phonecard provider does not accept the charge levied by the UK operator.

    editViews on non-geographic numbers


    An attraction of these numbers to clients is that in owning these numbers is that call queuing is permitted whilst per minute revenue is being generated, which can allow call centres particularly to generate very large amounts of revenue with high call volumes. Questions have been asked in the UK House of Commons concerning the amount of revenue which the UK government is generating from using call queuing on non-geographic numbers[ 24 - .

    There is increasing consumer opposition to non-geographic numbers due to the per minute revenue sharing, most of all because call queuing is permitted whilst charging and thus revenue generation continues. This is because the public have become increasingly aware of the per minute revenue sharing with non-geographic numbers. (The public is clearly aware of the situation with overt 09 Premium rate numbers, where prices have to be clearly indicated, and on which call queuing is specifically prohibited). There has been increasing media coverage[ 25 - [ 26 - which has raised awareness of this.

    During debates in the House of Commons, a number of Members of Parliament have criticised the use of 0845 numbers to provide access to government services, such as at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)[ 27 - . The criticism is in the general case that taxpayers are already financing government services via taxation, and in the specific case of DWP that callers might be for example benefit claimaints with limited financial means. The DWP is in the process of migrating from 0845 numbers to 0800 or 03 numbers.[ 28 - . In addition the Department of Health is currently undertaking a public consultation on banning 084 numbers in NHS services.2

    Some consumers have sought ways of avoiding calling non-geographic numbers by instead calling a non-advertised geographic number.[ 29 - [ 30 - Local-rate alternatives to non-geographic numbers can often be found through extensive online searches.


    - - This section does not cite any references or sources .
    Please help by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2008
    An organisation may prefer a non-geographic number over a geographic number for several reasons.
    Publications . It enables the organisation to publish a convenient, single number (e.g. on stationery, vehicles, advertisements) rather than, say, a list for different cities, or different numbers for in hours and out of hours. Materials showing the number can be reused across the country. Changes to these numbers are rarer than changes in a range of geographic numbers dubious.
  • Revenue . The charge paid by the caller finances the forwarding of the call to the appropriate destination. Additionally, if sufficient volume is attained, the organisation receives a share of the call charge. This is ideal for surreptitious transfer of some business costs onto the customer.
  • Call volumes and/or revenue would decrease if the true costs were known to callers, so strategies have been developed to hide them.
    Misleading descriptions such as "Local Rate" "Lo-call" and "National Rate" can be applied with impunity - (falsely) suggesting call costs are the same as local/national calls to 01 or 02 numbers.
  • Numerical association can be applied - 0844 and 0843 numbers, sounding similar to 0845, share the (false) perception that charges are "local rate," despite even higher costs. (A analogous situation exists for 0871, 0872, and 0873 numbers, through comparison with the better known 0870.
  • Routing . The operator can provide tools for managing large volumes of incoming calls. Calls can be routed to call centres in different parts of the country depending on a number of factors such as the origin of the call, the available capacity or the time of day. The caller is less likely to encounter a busy signal and have to re-dial.
    Some people and businesses support the use of non-geographic numbers because they can be cheap to call. For example, 0500 and 080x numbers are free to call for the caller, but the receiver has to pay for the call. The new 03 numbers range is usually the same cost as landline calls, although an intermediate rate is charged where the caller is on a tariff that still has local and national rates.

    These numbers are most useful and beneficial when used for enhanced routing call handling services, and also so that the same number can be kept if a business moves office or have to alter the destination number. This can be achieved through normal geographic numbers too, but the initial cost of equipment and ongoing service costs to do this can be higher, and no revenue is returned (unlike with 084x and 087x numbers).

    Personal Numbering - Guidance on the acceptable use of 070 numbers
    ^ a b BT Price list (pdf)
    ^ a b c SkypeOut Price list
    ^ a b c d Virgin Media Price list
    ^ a b Vonage Price list
    ^ a b BT Mobile Price list
    ^ a b dot mobile Price FAQ
    ^ a b 3 Price list (pdf)
    ^ a b O2 Price list
    ^ a b Orange Price list (pdf)
    ^ a b TalkTalk Price list
    ^ a b Tesco Mobile price list
    ^ a b T-Mobile price plan
    Vodafone PAYG price list
    Vodafone pay monthly price list
    Vodafone price list
    "Health and Safety implications". Ofcom. 2007-11-14. .
    "Telephone Numbering - Safeguarding the future of numbers". Ofcom. 2006-07-27. .
    AT&T price list
    CommuniTel price list
    Terms and conditions, Alpha Telecom House of Commons publication.
    Levene, Tony (2005-03-26). "Calls that are a big earner". London: The Guardian .,13283,1445767,00.html .
    "Your number's up, webmaster tells the 0870 rip-off firms". The Daily Mail . 2006-10-05. .
    "House of Commons debates, Jobcentre Plus (Telecoms Charges)". 2007-10-08. .
    " - This site lists many well-known companies, and their equivalent geographic numbers. Alternatives listed for 0800, 0808, 0844, 0845, 0870 and 0871 numbers.". .
    Tony Levene (2005-03-26). "Calls that are a big earner". London: The Guardian. .
    References from Non-geographical_telephone_numbers_in_the_United_Kingdom"
    Categories: Telephone numbers in the United Kingdom
    phone numbers United-Kingdom 2017