04 could be no more as mobiles run out of numbers. And rather than fixed area access codes the future – by 2020 – will be dominated by ‘service’ numbers and IP addresses.
That’s according to the Australian Media & Communications Authority who say the regulation of telephone numbers based on voice services is now “broken.”

Emails and Internet Protocol services like Skype and Google Voice are “progressively supplementing” the significance of voice communications,  and this will become all the more pervasive as the NBN rollout draws nearer.

Fixed line services using area codes like 08 or 02 are in a slow decline (10.67m in 2009 to 10.59m ’10).

However, the majority (77%) of Australians continue to have both a mobile and a home phone in their household, although the number of mobiles is growing at a phenomenal rate, to the extent that 04 could soon be a dying breed.

Mobile service numbers were the only service types identified as having the potential to exhaust its capacity in the short to medium term.

If the level of mobile numbers behind handed continues at the rate experienced over the past 18 months, then the current supply of mobile numbers could be exhausted by 2017, the ACMA warns.

This  has happened 10 years earlier than forecasted although the Authority did say they would specify more numbers.

By the end of this year, more than 50% of Australian adults will own a smartphone – the second highest penetration in the world.


“Fundamental changes in networks and technologies, as well as profound changes in consumer behaviour and services, have put significant pressure on the regulatory arrangements for telephone numbers,” said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

The ACMA paper, Telephone Numbering: Future Directions, anticipates changes will be needed to Australia’s phone numbers including broad-based use of telephone numbers across multiple devices, enabling the same number to be used across a mobile, landline and IP telephone.

The degree to which numbers are specified according to the technology by which services are provided will also increase.

“I nonetheless anticipate that the ACMA will need to maintain an active evaluation and monitoring role in relation to numbering regulation into the future,” said Mr Chapman. 

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