A Guide to Hosting Ofcom-allocated Number Ranges for UK Communication Providers.
All telephone numbers within the UK are allocated and managed by the communications regulator, Ofcom. Ofcom has stipulated that providers of a PECN (Public Electronic Communications Network) or PECS (Public Electronic Communications Service) can be allocated telephone numbers, and both of these terms are clearly defined in Section 32 of the Communications Act 2003.
Once you have established if your organisation is eligible to apply for number ranges from Ofcom, there are a number of application forms (S1 – S10) that cover specific number ranges across the whole spectrum. These forms require that you must select the numbers that you wish to obtain (1st and 2nd choice) from The National Numbering Scheme, stipulate the nature of the service that is to be run on the number ranges, as well as the date that you plan to introduce the numbers to service. It is important to note that you are not able to apply for ranges over 6 months prior to the proposed number activation date.
As part of the application process, Ofcom will request specific information from you about your organisation in order to determine whether you are a PECN or a PECS, and it is recommended that you supply Ofcom with a network diagram in order to assist them with their assessment your eligibility. Once Ofcom receive the application, it is typically processed within 3 weeks and the numbers will be allocated (subject to availability) to your organisation.
After Ofcom have allocated the numbers to you, the numbers will need to be data built by all of the main Originating Communication Provders (OCPs) (BT, Virgin etc) in order for people to actually be able to dial them, and have the calls routed to your network. This process typically takes between 30 and 40 days for area code numbers (numbers that begin 01 / 02) and 40 to 60 days for non geographic numbers (numbers beginning 08, 03 and 09).
Alternatives to applying for your own number ranges
Whilst It isn’t always possible for a provider to apply for their own number ranges due to the fact that they don’t have an interconnect with network operator, there are alternatives. Switch partitioning services such as Teleswitch from Nexbridge Communications allow such providers to take a partition of one of their switches to host their own number ranges on, or take a sub allocation of the numbers that have been allocated to Nexbridge. Nexbridge also offer a service whereby they can apply for number ranges on your behalf to be hosted on a partition with them in exchange for a time related fee.