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Ofcom number charging scheme may hurt small VoIP providers
Wednesday 08 May 2013 09:43:53 by Andrew Ferguson

Moves by Ofcom to make number porting and availability more effecient has the potential to reduce the level of competition in the UK, by making it harder for the smaller VoIP and telephone providers to compete against the larger operators. The move which has been building for some time, but started with charges being levied on 1st April is a pilot scheme that will see 10p per number per year charged to telephone companies, and with the smallest number block being 1,000 numbers, the pilot is only implementing the charging in 30 area codes initially.

The charges look small almost irrelevant, but as Adrian Kennard highlights in his blog on this issue, with around 650 codes to be able to offer all UK area codes, the outlay would be £65,000 per year if the pilot is extended to the whole UK. Importantly, this is before you even have any paying customers and the cost is not for numbers in actual use, but for the telco just owning the number block, so if they have 10 customers or 10,000 the cost is the same. Prior to this pilot the blocks were free.

While there is a need to encourage providers to not hold onto number blocks unnecessarily, the ability for small operators to embark on the VoIP route and offer innovative solutions may be limited by this charging model.


Posted by Al1264 over 4 years ago
Is there no scope for reselling of smaller blocks?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
Just another sign that ofcom are looking after the incumbent and not the customers or any progress in the UK. Does anyone know how many ex BT employees Ofcom has in its ranks and how many have vested interests or is it just an old boys network?
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
@cd - anything constructive to say? Are you aware of the number allocation process in the UK?
Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago
This is ridiculous... They are effectively taking out all the small players in one fell swoop... Question is though, what about the numbers already in use? Are we going to lose those? Will they suddenly become very expensive? UUUGGGHHH
Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago
@Somerset. I am wholeheartedly behind CD's comment... I completely agree with her comment...
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Numbers in use, yes the blocks a provider has in the pilot areas are being charged for.

The RevK blog has a much deeper analysis
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
How else do they manage the allocation of numbers, which are a fixed resource?

Part of the problem is that Ofcom allocated 10k number blocks to new providers and then realised it was a bad idea.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
So this was known about in July last year and nobody realised the issue until now.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
Also 'making a limited quantity of 100-
number blocks available for allocation'.
Posted by rscott over 4 years ago
It would appear the consultation discussed 100 number blocks, but the document issued 27th March (just before the start on 1st April!) only mentions charging in 1,000 number blocks.
Posted by TheGuv over 4 years ago
Charging makes sense given the saturation of number blocks and forced moves by OfCom (for example 0551 was recalled forcing VoIP providers to make changes to a different number range).

Whilst I understand concerns raised the likes of CD show a lack of understanding of this part of IP industry.
Posted by Northwind over 4 years ago
Frankly I'm locked-in already as *certain* small VOIP providers have no published process for outbound humber porting. OFCOM grants them something like two years to complete it after the customer requests.

So anything that fixes that is good. I don't mind paying a bit more if I have the option of moving when my provider unilaterally increases charges or changes terms.
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