The end of the phone number is in sight

April 24, 2009 at 9:00 am 4 comments

We’ve been without our phone numbers for a month.

We’ve survived.


We moved offices a month ago, to a new glass and steel building, as befits our new sharper cutting edge image .

Our new office in 3 Hardman St (photo by jaikdean)

Our new office in 3 Hardman St (photo by jaikdean)



Moving involved switching both ISP and phone suppliers. Our old ISP (Progressive networks) and our new  ISP (TalkInternet) liaised with a bit of help from me to ensure that  our 255 IP addresses moved in a few minutes. 


I watched the process in BGPlay – Here are a couple of snapshots


Our routes via  Progressive Networks (before)

Our routes via Progressive Networks (before)

Our routes via TalkInternet

Our routes via TalkInternet (after)




In contrast, our old telco (lets call them ‘Beardie Media’) has miserably failed to transfer our phone numbers.

This is despite the statutory duty to port numbers between providers and having had 2 months to do it.

The reason Beardie Media give is “It is all Big Telecom’s fault”  This is odd, because we haven’t been a Big Telecom customer for 5 years, our new provider is not Big Telecom either. 

The way number portability works in the UK is that a number is managed by one provider for ever. It may be used on other provider’s networks, but it is dependent on the original issuer of the number. 

Beardie Media are struggling to port out the numbers we ported in from Big Telecom to Beardie  years ago. Big Telecom are perfectly happy to move the numbers when they get the correct paperwork from Beardie and our new VoIP supplier. The people who are dragging their heels are Beardie. 

Coincidentally (or not) they continue to charge us rent for lines we can’t use into a building we now no longer occupy, threatening that if we disconnect, then we loose all rights to the numbers.

How have we managed without our numbers? Pretty well thanks. All of our current consultancy customers have Skype, and seem perfectly happy to use it. I doubt that many of them will ever go back to using the PSTN to contact us.

We have had more trouble with our startup ( where we are selling a service that provides a gateway between the internet and the PSTN. The existing customers were unaffected, but it has made it harder to get new business.

To work around that we have used VoIP to route the web generated calls to the single working phone we have in the office an analog device on our fax line.

My conclusion from this experience is that telco inflexibility is killing the phone number and with it the landline.

Phone numbers are a thing of the past.


Entry filed under: media, startup, Uncategorized, VoIP. Tags: , .

The post-telecom era – still undefined but less fuzzy. The. best. job. ever. – build Skype 2.0 in a year.

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Georgia Brown  |  April 24, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Wooooo great (measured) rant!

    I will continue to rattle cages until our numbers truely are ported!

  • 2. Fred  |  April 29, 2009 at 2:14 am

    In the US the same type of situation exists. Unfortunately the voip companies are no faster nor are they willing to cooperate in the porting process when they are the ones losing the business. A customer who isn’t happy and attempts to port back to POTS might just as well get a new number.
    VoIP technology

  • 3. babyis60  |  April 29, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Fred – it is interesting that the situation is no better in the land of the free 🙂

    I explicitly asked our new VoIP provider if we would be able to port the numbers out later. They said yes.

    I don’t know if that works when a provider goes broke, but our regulator (ofcom) is looking into that I think.

  • […] user ‘identifier’ will be for cloud communications. It won’t be a number- see my blog on the death of numbers , there are a few other possible candidates […]


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