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Telecomms Theme


The Telecommunications work mainly relates to Australia's official scheme for numbering of telephone services. A telephone number used to indicate, by its prefix, the general area where that service is located. This is important socially and for understanding the likely charge for calling. This meaning in numbers is being eroded by the current scheme, introduced by ACA in 1996.


Community Numbering Plans


In Australia, the telephone numbering system was changed in 1996 to 8-digit local numbers.

Balance research believes that this presented an opportunity for the authorities to reinstate a system of numbering which gives geographic meaning to numbers.

Although the ACA has proceeded with a numbering plan which defeats this possibility, it is not too late to make substantial improvements. These would involve allocating new prefixes for new customers, avoiding massive changeovers.

ACA = Australian Communications Authority

As envisaged by Balance Research, each community, or locality, would have its own `telephonic identity'. This could be phased in over some years or even decades, and would then last for ever: but it must be thought through right now.

The principal authority in this matter, ACA, and the main telcos, seem not to regard this as worth considering.


Balance Research made a substantial submission to a consultation process run by ACA in 1997 to formalise the National Numbering Plan (NNP). We foreshadowed that the method they were using to supplement number ranges as existing allocations were used up would result in almost total loss of geographic meaning in numbers.

Now, ten years later, the loss of meaning is really becoming entrenched.

ACMA = Australian Media and Communications Authority is the current incarnation of AUSTEL/ACA.

From time to time, ACA/ACMA have to update the NNP to provide for new prefix ranges. Each time, they undertake a consultation process. Balance Research has not taken part in recent years, but as of November 2007 we have made a new submission. We point out that the mixing-up of numbers is making it hard for the community to see any meaning in prefixes.

We see so many localities (exchange areas) with several quite different prefixes, and we see so many prefixes (e.g. 03-536) spread over localities hundreds of Km apart.


These will include notes and submissions from 1995, 1996, 1997 and the new 1997 submission.

These will be on-line around 20 November, linked from this page.

Volunteering at Balance Research

Communications Project

Issues involved include loss of meaning in geographic (local) telephone numbers under the present ACA plan, directory assistance service expectations, back-up operator assistance when the network is in trouble and others.

Duties may include a lot of reading; liaison with other researchers, academics, telecom companies and authorities like ACA and ACCC, and large and small users of communications, preparation of papers and reports.

Read our Volunteers Page for more info.

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