Rocky start for new UK phone codes

According to The Big Number campaign – a telecoms industry steering group which is communicating the changes – one in three Londoners went through to a recorded announcement on Saturday morning informing them they had dialled incorrectly. In Northern Ireland there was also some congestion during the busiest times.

However, by mid afternoon on Saturday, only one in five Londoners dialled incorrectly and callers in Cardiff, Coventry, Portsmouth and Southampton experienced far fewer problems.

The group said the level of misdials was what it had expected and that the networks had little difficulty dealing with calls.

The campaign group has, however, alerted businesses to a new danger – a switchboard bug that could affect companies using alternative network routing (ANR). ANR is a facility which enables switchboards to choose between different phone companies for local, national and international calls.

The group warns that a company’s switchboard with ANR will need to be programmed to handle the new numbers, otherwise numbers with the new 02 area code will not go through.

Reports that 999 callers in Portsmouth had their details passed onto police with the old phone codes because BT failed to update its systems have been denied by the telco, the Big Number campaign group and Portsmouth police.

Inspector Mark Wise, who was on duty in the control room at the weekend, said: “Contrary to reports in some sections of the media, the change in telephone codes in Portsmouth and Southampton is not causing a problem for constabulary. The emergency or 999 system is working quickly and efficiently.”

A BT spokesman said he did not know where the story had come from as the company had not received any reported problems.

For businesses that have not updated their systems, here is a list of companies offering software tools: Number Master offers an information cleaning product that automatically converts old phone number data held within company databases to the new numbers.

Fusion Data Services offers a free software package on its website to do translations on contacts held in Microsoft Outlook.

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