London is to get 10 million more landline phone numbers this year to meet rising demand fuelled by new homes and offices.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom announced on Friday that it is introducing a new (020)4 number range for the capital. The city, whose dialling code is 020, currently has 30 million phone numbers allocated across the existing (020)3, 7 and 8 ranges, Ofcom said.
But new homes and offices being built across London are fuelling demand for landline phone numbers, with fewer than a million within the old ranges left to be handed out to phone companies, it added.
The regulator said these will be used up within a year as it distributes 30,000 London numbers each week.
It will start accepting applications for (020)4 numbers from telecoms companies from October and expects the new numbers to start being allocated to customers from December.
Liz Greenberg, head of numbering at Ofcom, added: ‘We’re seeing growing need for 020 numbers, as London expands and new homes and offices are built.
‘These 10 million new numbers will allow us to meet demand and help keep the capital connected.’ UK customers still spend 44 billion minutes making landline calls every year, Ofcom said.
Although usage is declining most home broadband connections rely on a landline which needs a number, it added.
In 1958 London was allocated the code 01, which remained until 1990 when it was replaced by two codes – 071 for inner London numbers, and 081 for outer London, Ofcom said.
Five years later, all UK area codes gained a ‘1’ after the ‘0’ to make it clear it was a landline number, and the capital’s codes changed to 0171 and 0181, it added.
In 2000, the UK’s phone numbers were reorganised through the ‘Big Number Change’ when London was given a single area code of 020 and the inner and outer London divide was removed, the regulator said.