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Will 04 mobile numbers run out by 2017?

ACMA report says more number ranges needed to meet demand

Australian telecommunication service providers may have to create new mobile number ranges to replace the current '04' number which is in danger of running out, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

In its Telephone Numbering — Future Directions report, the regulatory body found that if contract service providers (CSPs) continued to apply for mobile numbers at the rate experienced over the 18 months to June 2011, then the current supply of numbers could be exhausted by 2017.

According to the report, there were 100 million numbers available under the 04 range with 50 per cent taken by 2011 which was 10 years earlier than previously forecasted.

“This planned scarcity can be readily overcome by using other number ranges for mobile phone services such as 06, 09 and most of the 05 range,” the report reads.

“ACMA will be consulting on options for this with the telecommunications industry in the coming months.”

The Future Directions report is part of a wider ACMA investigation into how the Australian Numbering Plan of 1997 should be updated so that mobile phone calls to 1800 would be free while calls to 1300 numbers would be reduced to the same rate as a fixed land line.

It also recommends reducing the range of numbers on issue, such as 017 for analogue service numbers, 016 for paging and 127 for testing and relaxing rules such as geographic restrictions on fixed numbers.

The report identified that future changes to both network and device technology may provide the opportunity to convert geographic, mobile and satellite service numbers into one general purpose range. Respondents to the report, such as Optus, agreed that demand was likely to remain high in the future and alternative number ranges should be explored.

The ACMA is seeking written submissions to the report’s recommendations with a deadline of 31 January 2012.

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