What are Non-Geographic Numbers (NGNs)?
Non-geographic numbers or NGNs are numbers that don’t have a particular area or location that they are associated with. In the UK, these numbers can start with 03 or 08 as opposed to 01 or 02 numbers that are based on a location and called geographic numbers.
- 118 numbers – used for services such as directory enquiries, these are heavily regulated and the most expensive type of NGNs. They are used under Ofcom’s regulations department called PhonepayPlus. Calls can be as little as 50p per minutes right through to several pounds per minute per call.
- 09 numbers – these are the next most expensive group of numbers and are also well regulated by Ofcom. Costs can be around £1 per minute and can be used for a range of services varying from charities to adult services and horoscope readings. Sometimes travel companies and technology companies use these for technical support helplines.
- 08 numbers – there are different types of 08 numbers including
- 0871 & 0872 – these rank third in terms of expense to call and also in terms of regulations. Since 2015 regulation changes, these can cost 13p per minute plus a variable access charge from your own phone company. 0870 numbers used to be the same but campaigns against them have made them rare.
- 0843 & 0844 – these are the 4th most expensive type of number with calls costing 7p per minute plus the variable access charge. However, most of your call cost is paid by the company you are calling under the rebate per minute system.
- 0845 – popular numbers that aren’t rebate giving so are a little cheaper than other options
- 0800 & 0808 – these are the freephone numbers that, since 2015, cost nothing to ring from landlines or mobiles. You may be charged if you ring them from overseas or from a payphone. Freephone numbers see the call charges reversed to the company offering the number so tend to be used by bigger companies that can handle the costs. Similarly, 0500 numbers are freephone but are being replaced by 080 numbers.
- 999 & 101 – emergency and non-emergency numbers. 101 calls can see a fixed fee of 15p per call for callers
- 111 – NHS non-emergency medical advice number
- 07 numbers – these are non-geographic numbers but are used for mobile phones, with the occasional phone company support using this number for customers to ring from mobile devices to query their account.
Geographic numbers are those that are associated with a specific area or region of the UK. Numbers that start with 01 and 02 are geographic numbers. Examples include:
- 020 – this is the number for Greater London so if someone has this number, they will live or be based in the London area (although there are exceptions)
- 0121 – this is the Birmingham code
- 0161 – this is the Manchester code
The top advantage is that these numbers can be easy to remember, especially for silver, gold or platinum numbers.
Another advantage is that they are less likely to change and this cuts down the cost of having to change this on all stationary and publications for a business. Also, if the business moves, they can retain an NGN regardless of where you move to and don’t have to incur extra charges changing the number on all paperwork.
Disadvantages of NGNs
There can be some quality issues due to the need to route the calls through extra networks. Geographic number calls tend to have the best sound quality as they go direct.
Calls can also take a little longer to connect as they are directed through extended routing. In most cases, this is only a few seconds delay and often isn’t noticeable but can lead to calls being dropped as someone thinks no-one is there.
This is the information from the government on call charges and phone numbers including ideas about call costs from landlines and mobiles
Call Costs Guide from Ofcom is a regularly updated tool with call costs and regulation data as well as service provider website links. It aims to help you understand the cost of any call
Cost of Calling – Guide to Call Costs is another overview of the types of costs associated with different numbers as well as pricing reference pages.