Ofcom Confirms 056 Numbers for VoIP Services, Begins New Consultation

Ofcom, the UK’s telecoms regulator has confirmed that voice over IP services will use the 056 prefix, first reported here in February.

The new prefix will give all VoIP users a fixed number, so will be able to place calls with subscribers who have signed up for different VoIP services. It will also allow non-VoIP subscribers to make calls to VoIP numbers.

Ofcom are leaving the assignment of numbers down to VoIP providers. 056 numbers will not be geographic, as was originally feared, meaning that subscribers can be contacted wherever they are. Having a geographic VoIP number makes about as much sense as a geographic mobile number, and we’re glad someone saw sense.

Stephen Carter, Ofcom Chief Executive said “Broadband voice services are a new and emerging market. Our first task as regulator is to keep out of the way.” In this spirit, Ofcom has begun a new consultation to receive input on what needs to be done to protect the users of this nascent industry. Traditional telephone companies have number of regulations to comply with before they can offer a service to the public, such as ensuring access to the emergency services, and Ofcom wishes to explore what subset of these obligations should be applied to VoIP providers.

New Voice Services – A Plain English Summary

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?