Aussie mobiles to get '05' prefix by 2017

Australians will begin getting mobile numbers starting with "05" instead of "04" as of 2017, when supplies of numbers will begin to run out.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced plans to start issuing mobile numbers starting with 05 instead of 04 in 2017, as supply of numbers with the "04" prefix runs out.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said that the change is largely being driven by smartphones, tablets, mobile broadband and other devices that are eating up all of the 04 numbers, which will likely run out in 2017.

"Demand for mobile numbers is being driven by new technologies, like internet-capable smartphones, tablets and machine-to-machine communications," Chapman said. "The ACMA estimates an additional 100 million numbers will be needed to provide an adequate supply for more than 20 years."

A small subsection of "0550" numbers that were assigned for local, independent communications services will be removed from the 05 block of numbers over the next five years, following consultation with the affected parties, according to the ACMA.

The ACMA will also remove geographic boundary restrictions around five capital cities in Australia to allow providers to use geographic numbers across a wider area.