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Out: 192… In: 118 - How ready is your company for looming DQ overhaul?

"Very," say newbies... "Not very," says BT
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

"Very," say newbies... "Not very," says BT

Oftel has made a final push to inform users of the move away from 192 to six-digit numbers starting with 118 for director enquiries (DQ) services. The regulator has cited a study showing 80 per cent of consumers are now aware there are various 118 options, which is important, as the old 192 number will stop working for DQ from Sunday 24 August. BT, the DQ incumbent, will provide a recorded message on a single alternative to 192, rotating services from different providers including its own 118 500 option. Separately, BT has said its rolling monthly research of 3,200 people shows 70 per cent of people are still quoting 192 as the DQ number. Paul Elliott, BT Directories chief executive, said in a statement: "We expect most people to switch at the last possible moment and this is bound to lead to confusion and irritation, as callers will have to make at least three phone calls before they get the number they want." However, Oftel's figures show up to 30 per cent of users are already dialling 118 prefixed numbers, which has been welcomed by new entrants. The Number 118 118, a Cardiff-based arm of a successful US DQ company, has put out a statement saying BT's assessment of 118 knowledge is "not the case" and that it believes "awareness is very high and we are very pleased with the progress of deregulation so far". It points out that in other countries where DQ liberalisation has already occurred, typically only around 10 per cent of users had tried a new service before the old one was turned off. A number of new entrants, as well as established telcos, have entered the DQ fray. One such provider, Cable and Wireless, has today advised businesses to weigh up their 118 choices to avoid "uncontrolled spaghetti spending". C&W provides various 118 numbers, including some for branded virtual telcos. Its research, carried out by ICM, says 89 per cent of consumers welcome the end of 192 and three-quarters look forward to advanced DQ possibilities including access to cinema times, travel timetables and other information services. Although many organisations have known about the switch since last year, some are yet to change PBX settings or work out the best option. Earlier this year silicon.com reported on how to strike a deal to get DQ discounts by sticking with one provider. C&W has published a guide to liberalised DQ, available at its website. Oftel's impartial advice can be found at www.newdirectoryenquiries.com or www.111info.org.uk.
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