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People living in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch will soon have to dial the 01202 area code to make a local call, Ofcom has confirmed.
Ofcom has proposed that this change comes into effect on 1 November 2012, subject to consultation.
It is designed to safeguard the future supply of landline numbers in the Bournemouth area and avoid the need to change existing phone numbers.The supply of new landline numbers also ensures that consumers and businesses continue to enjoy the widest choice of telecoms providers.
The cost of calls will not be affected by dialling the code.Bournemouth will be the first area in the UK to have to dial the area code.The area that uses the 01202 dialling code is one of a small number of places in the UK where telephone numbers are in short supply.
Ofcom is working with telecoms providers, the local council, local consumer and business groups and charities to inform the local Bournemouth community well in advance of the need to dial the code.
At the moment, when making a local call it is not necessary to use the area code. But this prevents Ofcom from allocating local numbers beginning with a 0 or 1 - such as 01202 075 362 or 01273 118 903. This is because if a local resident dialled 075 362 or 118 903, for example, omitting the 01202 code, the network would think they were dialling a mobile number (075) or directory enquiries number (118) rather than a local Bournemouth number.
However, using the code for local calls enables Ofcom to introduce many more numbers without this confusion.
Currently, Ofcom allocates 01 and 02 telephone numbers to around 300 telecoms providers across the UK free of charge in large blocks.These companies then use the numbers to provide services to homes, businesses and other organisations. The number of telecoms providers has increased significantly over the last eight years, leading to more competition and cheaper landline bills for millions of homes and businesses. But it has also led to increased pressure on the supply of phone numbers as well as some telecoms providers holding a significant quantity of unused numbers.
Ofcom is also looking at a number of other ways to tackle this problem, including increasing the supply of numbers in certain areas like Bournemouth.
Ofcom expects that similar changes may also be required in Aberdeen (01224), Brighton and Hove (01273), Bradford (01274) and Middlesbrough (01642) by 2015.