What are NGNs, or NGN numbers? Business owners ask this question a lot because they’ve heard of NGNs and their benefits but don’t know what the acronym stands for. I come from a telecoms background, so I wrote this blog post to offer a comprehensive answer to this question.
What are NGNs? NGN is an acronym of non-geographic number. A non-geographic number is a number type not linked to any specific location.
Some examples of NGNs available to UK businesses are:
- 080 NGNs
- 09 NGNs
- 03 NGNs
These are just a few examples of NGNs available to UK businesses. While some NGNs are available to all businesses, certain numbers are only available to certain types of businesses. Read on to find out all you need to know about NGNs, including which NGNs are available to your business and how much each number costs on average.
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Types of Non-Geographic Number: A Comprehensive List
There are loads of non-geographic numbers available, all with different uses. This is a comprehensive list of NGNs. I’m also explaining how these numbers are used by businesses based in the UK.
The 03 number range is one of the most popular in the UK. Thousands of UK businesses use 03 numbers as an inexpensive alternative to 08 numbers. In June 2014, Ofcom made changes to the rules for 0870 and 0844 numbers. Businesses can no longer use 0870 and 0844 numbers for post-contract customer service (customers calling customer service lines could end up spending a fortune on a call when these numbers were used). This is a big reason for the 03 number range’s rise in popularity, as businesses must now offer a local-rate customer service line and therefore often use 03 numbers.
Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than calls to geographic numbers. Bundles with inclusive minutes to geo numbers must also include 03 numbers.
Calls to 03 numbers typically range from 2 to 10p per minute from landlines, while calls from mobiles can cost between 10 and 40p per minute. If you have a mobile or landline with inclusive minutes, calls to 03 numbers will not cost you anything.
The information I’ve detailed above applies to all of the following 03 prefixes:
030 numbers are not available to all businesses. 030 numbers are only available to not-for-profit organisations, charities and public bodies. These organisations use 030 numbers to offer business and domestic consumers a single point of contact across the entire country.
Some examples of organisations using 030 numbers are:
- The BBC
- The RSPCA
- Government departments
Although 070 numbers may look like mobile numbers, they’re actually personal non-geographic numbers. These numbers are available to offer the functionality on non-geo numbers to individuals.
Why do individuals use these numbers? Usually, people would use these numbers so they had a single contact number. With an 070 NGN, they can divert calls to their home, work or mobile phones as needed.
Small businesses and sole traders often use 070 numbers, so it’s not just individuals that use them. Small businesses and sole traders use 070s to easily manage incoming calls.
As you can imagine, 070 virtual numbers are extremely controversial. Previously, calls to these numbers would be charged at a premium rate. This could cause confusion since at first glance 070 numbers appear to be mobile numbers.
Since 1 October 2019, Ofcom capped the termination rate for calls to these numbers at the same rate as calls to UK numbers. This means phone providers can include calls to these numbers within monthly allowances, or charge them at the same rate as calling a mobile number.
The 08 range of NGN numbers are known as free-to-caller numbers. This type of number is exactly what it says on the tin: a number that is free to people calling a business.
Several helplines and government services make use of 0800 and 0808 numbers, such as Age UK and Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers are free from mobiles and landlines alike. From around 2005 onwards, mobile phone operators went through a period of charging callers to dial most freephone numbers. However, this changed with new Ofcom regulation in July 2015. Whether you’re using a landline or a mobile, you can dial these numbers free of charge.
With 0800 and 0808 numbers, the organisation receiving the calls pays the call costs. If you want to establish trust, 0800 and 0808 numbers are ideal. Callers know that these numbers are free-to-callers, so they’re more likely to phone your business if you’re using one, knowing that the call will be free.
Calling an 084 number will incur a cost for callers, as these numbers are not included in bundles. The cost of calling an 084 number is split into two charges: an access charge and a service charge.
The service charge differs depending on the organisation that you’re phoning. The access charge is decided by your phone company. The access charge is the fee that your phone company charge you for phoning 084 numbers.
Calls to 0843 and 0844 numbers from landlines are charged between 1 and 13p per minute. Calls from mobiles are typically charged between 40 and 55p per minute. The price varies based on the number phoned and the caller’s provider.
Calls to 0845 numbers are usually charged at between 1 and 10p per minute for callers using a landline. Calls from mobiles are again higher, usually 40 to 55p per minute.
As with the 084 numbers, calling these numbers will incur a cost for the caller. These numbers are also not included in bundles. The cost of calling an 087 NGN is split into an access charge and a service charge.
Calls to 087 numbers consist of a service charge of up to 13p per minute and /or 13p per call. This doesn’t include the access charge set by the caller’s communications provider. Typically, the access charge cost will range from 7p to 45p per minute depending on the caller’s provider.
To give an idea of how much a call to an 087 number typically costs, you can expect the call to cost the caller between 7 to 58p per minute. As consumers know that calls to 087 numbers are going to incur a cost, there’s a lack of inclination to phone these numbers unless it’s absolutely necessary for the caller.
118 non-geographic numbers are directory enquiry numbers. Calls to these numbers can be very expensive. Depending on the directory enquiry service and the phone company the consumer is calling from, the cost incurred can vary greatly.
Calls to 118 numbers can cost a one-off charge of up 10 £10.50, in addition to up to £5 per minute from a landline. From a mobile phone, some networks will charge a one-off charge of up to £6.98. In addition, charges can cost up to £5 per minute. Some networks charge on a per-minute basis, with charges ranging from £1.50 to £4.50 per minute.
To find out how much a call to a 118 number will charge, you can check the Uboss online facility here.
09 non-geographic numbers have various uses. These numbers are typically used for competitions, TV voting, chat lines and professional advice services amongst other things.
These premium rate numbers are regulated by the PSA (the Phone-paid Services Authority). Landline providers usually charge callers up to £2.60 per minute, whereas mobile networks usually charge between 50p and £2.55 per minute or per call.
These numbers can be very lucrative for businesses, particularly if you have an upcoming competition of some sort. With an enticing offer, you can receive a large number of calls and ultimately make a large sum of money.
Now we’ve covered the different types of non-geographic number, I’ve gone through a few related questions below. I get asked these questions a lot, so I thought it was worthwhile going over them.
What Are The Benefits of Using Non-Geographic Numbers?
Non-geographic numbers, and virtual numbers in general, have wide-ranging benefits. Originally, NGNs offered functionality that wasn’t available with standard landline numbers.
These are some of the main benefits of NGN numbers:
- Easy call routing: Calls to NGNs can be diverted to virtually any location. You can point your virtual number at a mobile or any other fixed number, such as a call centre.
- Location Neutrality: Are businesses with geographic numbers perceived to have a limited scope? I personally think so, and so do thousands of potential customers. With a non-geo number, your business isn’t associated with any particular location in the UK. Basically, they make your business look much larger.
- Increased Resilience: If you have a standard landline, there are circumstances where it might become unusable. NGNs allow for all incoming calls to be redirected to alternative fixed numbers whenever needed.
What Is A Geo Number?
Geo numbers are also known as geographic numbers. A geographic number is a number available in the UK where the first part of its structure is geographically significant. Geographic numbers always begin with the digits ’01’ and ’02’.
Consumers recognise geographic telephone numbers. Because of greater recognition, consumers will inherently trust geo numbers in a way that they don’t trust non-geographic numbers.
You can purchase geo numbers from several communications providers in the UK. Ofcom administers the numbers to communications providers, enabling them to provide services to businesses and domestic consumers.