Time runs out for old London phone codes

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The Independent Online

This time, your number really is up - at least if you live in London. At midnight, the old London dialling codes 0171 and 0181 were taken out of service.

This time, your number really is up - at least if you live in London. At midnight, the old London dialling codes 0171 and 0181 were taken out of service.

Up to five million mobile phone users are expected to have to reprogram their phones, and tens of thousands of calls will now be diverted to a recording saying that the codes have changed.

Another 2.5 million fax owners still have the old codes programmed into their machines' memories, according to research by Big Number, a campaign to ease the switchover.

In a change instituted by the telecoms watchdog Oftel, first begun in April, all London numbers now begin with 020, followed by an eight-digit number, beginning with either 7 or 8, depending on the old code. Authorities are concerned that only 80 per cent of London calls are using the new codes.

The change is the third in London in the past 10 years, but Oftel has said the latest switch will provide sufficient new numbers for many years to come.

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