UK Telephone Numbers and area codes
The telephone service in the United Kingdom was originally provided by private companies and local councils.
But by 1913 nearly all of them had been taken over by the Post Office.
Post Office Telecommunications was reorganised in the 1980s as British Telecommunications (British Telecom, or BT).
Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) was introduced in 1958 and this allowed a caller to bypass the local exchange operator and call another telephone directly.
Uniform exchange codes were allocated for every exchange in the country as STD was rolled out.
These exchange codes were originally based on two letters of the place name of the exchange, the letters becoming numbers according to their allocation on the telephone dial ('O', however, became a zero).
For example Aylesbury was given the STD code 0296, where the letter A can be found on the number 2 of the dial and the letter Y on the number 9.
Many current Telephone Area Codes still contain these original 2 numbers.
Telephone numbers in the UK public network today usually consist of 11 digits, the first few of which define the type of number -
see this list of prefixes.
There are several exceptions to this format including Directory Enquiries numbers.
- Geographic Area Code - a telephone number identifying a particular geographic area (see this list of telephone codes)
- Geographic Number - a telephone number, where part of its digit structure contains a geographic area code
- Local Call - a call made from one geographic number to another within a limited geographic area
- Local Number - a geographic number excluding the geographic area code
- National Call - a call made from one geographic number to another that is not a local call
- Non-Geographic Number - any public telephone network number other than a geographic number
(see Prefixes and Special Numbers)
- Mobile Number - a telephone number that is used to identify apparatus capable of being used while in motion
- Personal Number - a telephone number which allows a subscriber to receive calls at almost any telephone number
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