Vodafone Phases Out Telephone Numbers

Vodafone has announced that phone numbers will no longer be necessary for mobile subscribers in New Zealand. New and existing subscribers who do not run POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) landlines will from next week have the option of not having a phone number, they will be able to use their own name or a pseudonym username.

7aselectorA spokesperson for Vodafone explained in a brief media Telephony 101 presentation that the concept of phone numbers has evolved from the early days when telephone exchange operators used to manually connect phones. Exchanges automated this process with rotary exchanges with technology such as in this image which is the technology that many New Zealand exchanges such as Wellesley Street in Auckland, where a relay tripped to select each number, then routed the call through to exchanges where typically the first two numbers represented the exchange area. For example Ponsonby numbers all started with 76 and Howick numbers with 83. Over the years this technology became computerised and with number portability the number no longer had to relate to a specific location in the country.

Over the last few years the majority of people communicate with VoIP and numbers have largely become irrelevant. Emergency numbers will remain indefinitely for a number of reasons, but with most people having Unified Communications across their various mobile devices and appliances there just is no reason to maintain an antiquated system. People may continue to use a number if they wish, according to a spokesperson from TUANZ, in support of the baby boomers who are still a large number of people who may no longer have copper wires fed into telephone exchanges, but are more comfortable with the analogue concept of a number.

Landline Caller ID With Names

Isn’t it funny how things that you take for granted services that you use on a regular basis. Remember when your land-line phone used to tell you the number that was calling you, unless they blocked it. The problem with me was that, having had mobiles for years with Caller ID, derived from my contacts list in my Smartphone, I was (and still am) useless when it came to recognising numbers. Just clicked that I called it a land-line, but of course it isn’t a POTS phone any more, its VOIP now, but it doesn’t make any difference to the store.

My mobile contact list came from the exchange server and was combined with my mobile contact list, and as I preached in my book Unleashing the Road Warrior, way back when, if I met you, your details ended up on my mobile one way or another. That way, as soon as I answered the phone I would be prepared for the conversation, whether it was friends, family or business, my mind was on track, rather than asking, Chris who? Sorry Chris, but like many Anglo Saxon names, I have 9 people called Chris in my contact list.

Recycling the old unused Phone Book

I digress. The service I wanted to mention was the way they finally linked the phone directory to all phones, which was so obvious that I wonder why they didn’t already offer that back in the early 2010’s when the White and Yellow Pages were on such a down-slide.

I would hate to go back to not knowing who was calling me any more. If it’s the accountant, a client or a friend, I know straight away who it is, whether it is for me or someone else, and from a business perspective, I can open up my CRM notes on that client as I answer the call, before they announce themselves.

I hope the new legislation comes through that requires call centres to identify their client when they are calling for fund raising too, so that I can decide whether to answer the call or not. Besides the fact that they always call when I am having dinner, I have selected my annual charities and find it hard to say no to some of them. There are certain ones I will still take and support, but I can’t support everyone.

Now the directory companies get a few dollars a month from most subscribers who opt into this service, they don’t have to print the directory books that we used to use as doorstops any more and provide a great current service. It definitely is one of those how did we ever cope without services, that could have been done years earlier if they had simply taken their mind of BAU (Business As Usual) and taken their minds of the problems of print and distribution. As a footnote, it looks like video calling is now starting to become more popular again as people know who is calling them (if they are not using Skype). The telco’s will probably increase their data revenues as a result of this move.