Getting our phone numbers in order

Getting our phone numbers in order

Summary: Voice over IP has always challenged the convention of phone numbering plans. This week ACMA made a slight change to the rules, but there's a lot more to do.


Voice over IP has always challenged the convention of phone numbering plans. This week ACMA made a slight change to the rules, but there's a lot more to do.

Until now carriage service providers (CSPs) had to ensure they issued numbers to customers in the appropriate geographic area. Not everyone followed the rules. Major players like Skype have a limited stock of number ranges, so if you lived in Port Macquarie you'd probably get issued a Sydney number.

As of this week, says Robert Johnson, ACMA's manager for telecommunications, licensing, numbering and submarine cables, the geographic constraint no longer exists. A CSP can offer numbers outside a customer's own local area, provided they are made aware of the consequences.

The reason people want out-of-area numbers is, of course, to reduce the cost of calls. But if we're all busy trying to avoid tolls by acquiring extra phone numbers, doesn't that make a mockery of the current numbering and tariff structure?

The simple answer would be a single, fixed-line, low-cost number range. That's been tried. The 0550 range was designed for precisely this purpose, but it failed because no agreement was reached on what charge should be made to originate and terminate these calls. John Lindsay, Internode's general manager Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, says carriers couldn't agree on who would get paid what and so many just refused to connect the calls.

We look at all these issues in this week's Twisted Wire and ask whether the National Broadband Network could simplify things. Surely it's the great white hope for a standard, flat rate for the carriage of fixed-line voice calls.

Maybe. But Andrew Cox, director of Channels and Marketing at IP Systems, says the numbering system might have a new lease of life — handling next-generation communications services, like video to video calling. Just when we thought the whole affair couldn't get any more complicated!

Running time: 30 minutes

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Government AU, Telcos, Unified Comms


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Long before VOIP at the time that it was decided everyone had to be "upgraded" to 10-digit phone numbers, there was the perfect opportunity to get numbers to match other geographic references, e.g., NSW Post codes 2xxx, phone numbers 02 xxxx xxxx, radio calls signs 2xxx FM etc. So why is Queensland 07 when it should have been changed to 04 along with other states that are out of "sync", and mobiles put into 08 and/or 09 ???

    The FACT is that I can register my OWN choice of telephone number simply as an ID on SKYPE and that's going to mess-up the allocation of phone numbers because if someone is assigned the same number by a VOIP provider, who is going to receive the call? The registrant (me) or the subscriber through a provider like ENGIN?

    Secondly, if I moved way out into the bush to get away from certain relatives, I would want to be allocated an (02) 88xx xxxx type number just so that my geographic location remained private!
  • Voicemail is one service that ensures there will be no important calls to be missed since you can customize answering rule to route calls to voicemail when telephone is not available to take calls. Many people say that the only reason behind the popularity of VoIP is that of low price. I don't agree this. The unique features offered by the VoIP service providers are another source of attraction for anyone. Many people switch to VoIP just because of its features. I have a connection of
    Avereen Gen