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Incorrect use of dedicated mobile-phone codes should stop

Telecom providers are lagging behind with using 097-numbers for devices that exchange data using an internet connection. Those that use numbers for devices other than mobile phones such as payment terminals or vending machines should actually use an 097-number. Otherwise, a shortage of 06-numbers could occur (in the Netherlands, mobile phones are assigned 06-numbers). That is why the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has stepped up its oversight of the use of 097-numbers. 

Social responsibility

Johan Keetelaar, Director of ACM’s Telecommunications, Transport and Postal Services Department, explains: ‘If we run out of 06-numbers, the Dutch economy will be harmed. Together, we need to act now in order to avoid the need for drastic measures such as switching from 10-digit telephone numbers to 11-digit numbers. Telecom providers will have to take their responsibility.’ Telecom providers do not need to switch existing contacts to 097-numbers. They only need to change an 06-number to an 097-number when the consumer or business customer in question takes out a new contract with them or when they renew their current contracts.

90.7 percent of available 06-numbers have already been assigned

In September 2015, ACM published the 2014 Scarcity Report (in Dutch: Schaarsterapportage). It revealed that the percentage of 06-numbers that have already been assigned was 90.7 percent. Mr. Keetelaar adds: ‘In our observation, telecom providers offer individual SIM cards with 097-numbers only sparingly. Overall, we have found that only T-Mobile provides consumers and businesses with correct information about 06-numbers and 097-numbers. The other 24 telecom providers that have been looked at lag behind. They really need to step up their game.’

More and more devices exchange data using an internet connection

Telecom providers are allowed to use 06-numbers for mobile phones only, otherwise they will run out of these numbers too fast. Since June 1, 2014, they are required to use 097-numbers for mobile-data communication applications. With such applications, devices exchange data using an internet connection. Such devices include tablets, GPS navigation devices, security systems, smart meters (for energy), and vending machines.

‘Internet of things’

ACM expects that, in the future, the number of devices with data communication applications continues to grow. One of the reasons is the growth of the so-called ‘internet of things.’ In 2013, the OECD predicted that an average household with two teenagers in 2022 will have approximately 50 internet-connected devices. Mr. Keetelaar adds: ‘Of those 50 devices, only the mobile phones should have an 06-number.’