Mobile, pager and personal numbers
UK telephone numbers beginning '07' are used for mobile devices and for personal numbering. Also once known collectively as the 'find me anywhere' range of numbers, they are often more expensive to call than fixed, landline numbers beginning 01, 02 or 03.
070 - personal numbers
These are numbers allocated to an individual or business, who can use them to redirect incoming calls to any phone they wish, as and when they choose.
As an example, an individual could configure their 070 number to forward calls to their work phone in the daytime, but connect to their home phone in the evening. They can also be used to sequentially 'hunt' for an individual by ringing different phones in sequence or simultaneously.
A wide range of charges are in use for these numbers, from zero charge to 50p/minute or more.
071 to 079 - mobile devices
Numbers beginning 071, 072, 073, 074, 075, 07624, 077, 078 or 079 are for mobile phones in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man. All other numbers beginning with 076 are reserved for pagers.
The first five or six digits of a number are normally enough to show which company first issued the number. However, as customers can retain their number when moving between phone companies, it is not a reliable indicator of which provider they currently use.
Charges for calling mobiles and pagers
Calls to UK mobile phones are often included in call allowances or bundled talktime. If you do not get inclusive calls to mobiles, have used up your allowance, or are calling at a time of day when you do not get free calls, typical charges are:
|Phone company||Typical UK mobile call cost||Check details|
|BT||6p-12p per minute||All tariffs|
|EE||30p-40p per minute||All tariffs|
|KC (Hull)||9p-27p per minute||All tariffs|
|O2||35p-40p per minute||All tariffs|
|Sky Talk||13p per minute||All tariffs|
|TalkTalk||12p-20p per minute||All tariffs|
|Three||3p-35p per minute||All tariffs|
|Virgin Media||10p-32p per minute||All tariffs|
|Virgin Mobile||35p-40p per minute||Pay monthly | PAYG|
|Vodafone||30p-45p per minute||Pay monthly | PAYG|
Prices are for residential customers as of March 2015 and intended as a guide only. Connection fees and minimum charges often apply.
Calls from the UK to mobile phones in Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are often charged at a higher rate than calls within the UK, despite using very similar numbers.
Additionally, higher rates may be charged on calls to certain smaller networks or specialised services. If calling an unfamiliar number for the first time, it is advisable to confirm the cost directly with your phone company before calling.
History and notes
As mobile phones slowly came into limited mainstream use during the late 1980s and early 1990s, they were issued with ten-digit numbers across a variety of different prefixes. The UK's telephone numbering system had been planned almost exclusively around landline use, requiring mobiles and other new services to be slotted in to whatever spare capacity remained. In practice this meant using a mixture of spare or reclaimed prefixes that were indistinguishable from landline area codes. For example, 0389, 0422 and 0838 were landline area codes for Dumbarton, Halifax and Dalmally, but 0390, 0421 and 0839 were among the 30-plus prefixes in use for mobiles. This was confusing and also put a tight limit on the supply of numbers.
In 1994, the nationwide 'Phoneday' renumbering changed all landline area codes to start with '01' and started a national transition from ten- to eleven-digit phone numbers. There was no immediate change to mobile phone numbers, but millions of spare numbers starting with digits 02 to 09 were created for future use.
From 1997, the first batches of modern-style 11-digit mobile phone numbers starting with 07 began to be issued to all new customers. The 07 range was shared between mobiles, pagers and personal numbering with mobiles specifically concentrated in the batches of numbers starting 077, 078 and 079.
Remaining older mobile numbers not starting with 07 were finally withdrawn in April 2001, after customers were transferred to equivalent new-style numbers. From this point, all standard mobile phones in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man had eleven-digit numbers starting with 07.
In recent years, demand for mobile phones, mobile internet and other devices has led to continuing high demand for mobile phone numbers. Despite allowing a total of 300 million numbers, the original allocation of 077, 078 and 079 numbers was nearly exhausted by late 2006. With the neighbouring 076 range reserved mainly for pagers, regulator Ofcom started issuing a further block of 100 million numbers starting with 075.
With the 075 range almost fully issued to mobile operators within only three years, further new numbers starting with 074 followed in 2009 – this batch of 100 million numbers lasted until late 2014. Recently, numbers starting 073 and 071 have also started to be issued.
Current arrangements can accommodate up to 800 million mobile numbers. So far, around 480 million of these have been issued to mobile phone companies. Although this should provide capacity for several mobile devices per person, ineffeciencies in the issuing of numbers mean that Ofcom is likely to have to either take steps to reduce demand or issue new blocks of numbers in the next few years.
Above: allocations of mobile numbers to mobile phone networks, 1997 to 2014.
There is no set format for UK mobile phone, pager and personal numbers, but the commonest format is: 07xxx xxxxxx
For international callers, use: +44 7xxx xxxxxx