London is a global city with an ever growing population and to keep up with demand Ofcom is making a further 10 million landline numbers available through the introduction of the ‘0204’ area code.
The capital is currently served by 0207 and 0208, both introduced in 2000, and 0203, which was launched in 2005. There are just one million numbers left and the regulator believes supply could be exhausted in the next 12 months.
Although use is declining due to the popularity of mobile phone calls, over-the-top (OTT) services like WhatsApp and Skype, 44 billion minutes of calls are made every year on a landline phone.
The majority of broadband connections are powered by a landline that requires a phone number.
Area codes came into effect in the 1950s are were originally formed composed of ‘01’ followed by two digits determined by the location and another digit.
London initially had the 01 code until 1990 when it was replaced by ‘071’ for inner London and ‘081’ for outer London. In 1994 all UK area codes received an ‘01’ prefix to make it clear that the number was a landline, resulting in ‘0171’ and ‘0181’. An overhaul to the system in 2000 saw the ‘020’ prefix replace all existing phone numbers in London.
Ofcom will start accepting applications for ‘(020)4’ numbers for telecoms companies from 1st October, and expect the new numbers to start being allocated to customers from December 2019.
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