Millions misdial as mobile phone numbers change

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The Independent Online

Nearly a third of all people calling mobile phones dialled the wrong code yesterday as UK phone numbers were subjected to yet another change.

Nearly a third of all people calling mobile phones dialled the wrong code yesterday as UK phone numbers were subjected to yet another change.

From yesterday, anyone dialling a mobile number beginning with 03, 04, 05, 08 or 09 was politely told to redial using 07 in front of the old code. At least 28 per cent of callers dialled the wrong code, according to the Big Number Change, which was responsible for co-ordinating the switch. Many were confused by the fact that the code change was more complicated than justputting a 7 before the old number.

The number switch has also been criticised by businesses who are angry at a change so soon after the fixed-line codes for cities such as London and Cardiff were altered. However, Oftel, the telecoms regulator, said the switch was necessary, otherwise the networks would have run out of numbers.

The phone watchdog added that the recorded message telling callers that the code had changed would remain in place for at least a year. "No one anticipated that growth in mobile phones would be so great," added a spokeswoman. "Obviously there have been misdials, but we have not received any direct complaints."

The temporary confusion has cheered those fed up with hearing irritating, high-pitched mobile phone jingles. And they have a new weapon at hand: a battery-powered box about the size of a cigarette packet that blocks mobile signals within 200m. The jammers are being used by diners and restaurateurs to ensure lunch is not disturbed by the theme tune from Mission Impossible. The Radiocommunications Agency has banned their sale in the UK without special Government approval. But they can still be bought over the internet at a cost of between £175 and £500.

Companies are also selling detectors that can hunt down a mobile phone from 100ft away if it is switched on, and which then sound an alarm or signal security guards. These were installed in India's parliament buildings after President K R Narayanan's opening address earlier this year was disturbed at least six times by the ringing of mobile phones.

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