VoIP drives demand for new phone numbers

The anticipated national demand for Voice over IP (VoIP) has led to the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) issuing new telephone numbers for regional Australia and several metropolitan areas including Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

The new numbers will be supplementary to those already in use, according to the Australian Communications Authority; however, the move may create issues for users of older telephony systems.

Robert Johnson, numbering manager for the ACA, said Australia is at the stage now where, based on number allocation patterns, demand for new numbers will outstrip supply in two years, and VoIP is driving that demand.

"Expected demand for VoIP is a major driver in the demand for new numbers," Johnson said.

"We have recently had carriers looking to offer those services around Australia which led to the increase in demand for numbers.

"There is no danger that zones will run out of numbers in less than 12 months, as we are issuing the numbers well in advance of the potential running-out period; as supply in an area runs down we top it up with more numbers."

Acting ACA chairman Dr Bob Horton said the introduction of the new numbers may mean older telephony systems have to be reprogrammed, adding that it is important for users to examine the changes and provide the ACA with feedback and suggestions.

"Introducing the new ranges may have implications for customer equipment and business telephone systems such as PABXs and key systems such as Commanders," Horton said.

"There may also be some confusion among consumers in using the new numbers, for example, someone who is used to using (03)5 in regional Victoria could find themselves using numbers starting with (03)4."

In September this year Telstra signed a deal with Lucent Technologies to provide software for VoIP services, and has announced plans to offer customers a VoIP-enabled network by mid 2005.

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