EU Plans Single, Europe-wide Numbers for Businesses

The European Union wants to find a way to give businesses a single number for the whole E.U.

On Monday, the European Commission launched a pubic consultation to ask businesses, consumers, telecom operators and public authorities what benefits would result from allowing businesses to use the same telephone number in all member states. The news comes as the previous effort to do this, the European Telephone Numbering Space (ETNS), expires at the end of the month.

ETNS was set up in 2000, but the telephony landscape has changed significantly since then, with voice-over-IP allowing businesses to rely on a single number. The consultation will help the Commission assess if there is nonetheless demand for pan-E.U. fixed line phone numbers.

The feedback will also help the Commission decide how any such number could be implemented. There are two possible approaches to create harmonized numbering for businesses. One option could be introducing an E.U.-wide short number (e.g. starting with 115) that would be the single identifier for a company throughout Europe. Another route would be to introduce measures to promote the take-up of a European telephone access code (+3883). Businesses telephone numbers could consist of the +3883 code plus a telephone number that would remain the same in all member states.

Currently there is no E.U.-wide number available for businesses. This creates extra costs for businesses and consumers and hampers the development of the single market.

Those who want to have their say, have until Feb. 28 to send their feedback to the Commission.

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