Are telephone numbers important?
It is surprising how many people don’t understand the difference that the first two digits of a telephone number make to both the caller and the business being called. When someone dials a number, both the caller and the receiver have two concerns – will the call get through and how much will it cost me. Understanding the UK numbering scheme tells you all you need to know (almost).
Geographic numbers (those beginning 01 and 02) are delivered to physical addresses. These numbers are usually included in call packages so whilst not actually free, they are usually considered to be so for both the caller and the recipient. However, given that the call will terminate on a business’s PABX, if either the system or the telephone line to it has a fault, the call will not get through. More recently SIP has allowed these numbers to be treated differently. There is more on this later.
Personal numbers, beginning 07, for mobiles, pagers etc. may or may not be included in call packages, so they may actually cost the caller. As they terminate on a specific device, if that device develops a fault, the call will not get through.
Non-geographic numbers (beginning 08) do not directly terminate at a physical address so they can be manipulated by the telephone network. These are usually not included in call packages so would be considered costly numbers to call, even the “freephone” numbers 0800 and 0808 can be very expensive to call from mobiles. However, because the call path can be manipulated by the network, they give businesses additional features such as disaster recovery capabilities. Calls can be easily directed to other locations should there be a hardware failure at the primary destination. As a result of the extra capabilities of these numbers, the recipients may also be charged for incoming calls. Equally call costs could be higher with some non-geographic numbers allowing them to generate revenue for the recipient.
Premium rate numbers (beginning 09) should be avoided wherever possible because they can cost in excess of £2.50 per minute.
03 numbers were introduced to allow call paths to be handled in the same way as 08 numbers, but the calls would be included in calling packages, making the calls “free” to the caller. However, the recipient would usually pay to receive calls to 03 numbers.
Earlier we noted that SIP had changed the way geographic numbers are handled. In many ways SIP can significantly simplify things. With SIP you can get the best of both worlds. 01 and 02 numbers can be ported to the SIP network, this means that the recipient can benefit from the Disaster Recovery and other features of 08 numbers as well as allowing the caller to use their included minutes, hence making the calls “free”. Additionally, as SIP lines and number rentals are typically around 50% cheaper than standard fixed lines, the business can actually save money by using SIP numbers.
Whilst there are certainly technical caveats (please see our July Newsletter) we would always advise businesses to at least consider SIP for part of their line and number provision.
For more information, or how we can help with your Telephony requirements, please see our website.