Managing numbers | ACMA

Managing numbers

On this page you’ll find information for carriers and carriage service providers (CSPs) about untimed local calls, charging zones and precincts and the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (the ACMA) approach to conserving and creating additional numbers.

Untimed local calls

CSPs charging an eligible customer for eligible local calls made using a standard telephone service must give the customer the option of an untimed local call. The untimed local call obligation is set out in Part 4 of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 (the TCPSS Act).

Local call access arrangements

The TCPSS Act identifies a standard zone as the unit in which an untimed local call must be provided. CSPs can implement the untimed local call obligation via geographic numbers allocated by the ACMA to standard zone units.

Charging zones, precincts and extended zonesThe obligation can be implemented through billing, charging and routing tables based on the relationship between charging zones, extended charging zones and charging precincts contained in Telstra's Public Switched Telephone Service Tariff, in force immediately before 1 July 1997. This information is set out on ACMA's website and can be used in accordance with the following broad rules:

1. Extended (EXT) charging zones  

Telephone users with a number associated with an extended charging zone (identified by the words EXT after the name) have NO access to untimed local calls under the TCPSS Act. For example, telephone users in the Belyando (EXT) charging zone have no untimed local call access. Untimed local call access is provided to telephone users in these areas as part of a $500 million government project.

2. Charging zones and charging precincts

A telephone user with a number associated with a charging precinct or a charging zone has local call access to other telephone users with a number associated with the same charging precinct or charging zone. For example:

  1. telephone users with numbers associated with the Alpha charging precinct (located in the Belyando (EXT) charging zone) have untimed local call access within the Alpha charging precinct

  2. telephone users with numbers associated with the Ballarat charging zone have untimed local call access to other telephone users within the Ballarat charging zone.

3. Charging zones  

A telephone user with a number associated with a charging zone has untimed local call access to other telephone users in an adjacent (but not extended) charging zone. (See tables to identify this relationship). For example, telephone users with numbers associated with the Ballarat charging zone have untimed local call access to telephone users with numbers associated with the adjacent charging zone of Ballan, Buninyong, Creswick, Daylesford, Learmonth, Linton, Mount Wallace and Scarsdale.

4. Charging precincts  

A telephone user with a number associated with charging precincts in the Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth charging districts has additional untimed local call access to specific non-adjacent charging zones. The names of the precincts and the charging zones to which they have additional local call access are set out in the table). For example, telephone users with numbers associated with:

  1. the charging precinct of Clayton have untimed local call access to telephone users with numbers associated with the non-adjacent charging zones of Cranbourne, Mornington and Pakenham

  2. the Fremantle charging precinct has untimed local call access to telephone users with numbers associated with the non-adjacent charging zone of Rockingham.

A telephone user with a number associated with a charging precinct located within the Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth charging zones also has the same untimed local call access as a telephone user located in one of these zones (see column 2 of the table to identify the appropriate charging zone). For example:

  1. as the Clayton charging precinct is located in the Melbourne charging zone, telephone users with Clayton charging precinct numbers have the same untimed local call access as telephone users with Melbourne charging zone numbers

  2. as the Fremantle charging precinct is located in the Perth charging zone, telephone users with Fremantle charging precincts numbers have the same untimed local call access as telephone users with Perth charging zone numbers

The charging precinct table is intended to show local call relationships, and may give the impression that some charging zones are also charging precincts. There are no charging zones which are also charging precincts, and vice versa. Certain charging zones have been repeated in this table, for example Fremantle and Bribie Island, to ensure telephone users in these charging zones receive untimed local call access to the appropriate charging precincts.

Standard zone units

The ACMA assists industry with meeting the untimed local call obligations through allocating telephone numbers to standard zone units (SZUs).

The Numbering Plan specifies different number ranges for use in different geographic areas in Australia called standard zone units (SZUs). A SZU is a charging precinct, or the area of a charging zone less the area of any charging precinct contained within it. Australia is divided into approximately 2,100 SZUs. A list here be found here.

For example:

  1. the charging zone of Brisbane has one charging precinct (Sandgate) contained within it. Brisbane and Sandgate are both considered SZUs and are allocated discrete blocks of numbers

  2. the charging zone of Sydney has four charging precincts (Terrey Hills, Parramatta, Bankstown and Sutherland) contained within it. Sydney, Terrey Hills, Parramatta, Bankstown and Sutherland are each considered SZUs and are allocated discrete blocks of numbers.

The records of all allocations to the approximately 2,100 SZUs around Australia can be obtained from the Register of Allocated Numbers.

The Telecommunications Numbering Plan 2015 (the Numbering Plan) identifies charging districts, charging zones and charging precincts as the areas in which geographic numbers can be used.

Conserving geographic numbers and digital mobile numbers

The ACMA actively manages geographic and digital mobile numbers to:

  1. ensure that existing numbers are used efficiently

  2. delay the introduction of additional numbers for as long as possible

Delaying the introduction of additional numbers minimises the impact on telephone users, business and the telecommunications industry as a result of introducing additional numbers. This includes reprogramming customer and network equipment to make calls to new numbers, and the impact on business and telephone users where new numbers are modified to something more familiar or not dialled.

The ACMA conducts periodic reviews of number allocation data in the ACMA’s NUMB database and compares it with the Industry Public Number Database. In December 2011, the ACMA released its Report on Number Use (Word [.docx 3 mb] or PDF formats), which is the most recent analysis on how carriage service providers use numbers.  

Creating additional numbers

An area short of numbers is generally supplemented by specifying:

  1. a new B-digit, for example (03) 7 for Melbourne

  2. a new B in tandem with an existing C-digit combination, for example (02) 56 in regional NSW

  3. a new C-digit, for example (07) 56 in regional Queensland

  4. reusing existing numbers in a new area

Specifying a new B-digit is generally the last option for creating additional numbers as this option has the greatest impact on the general public. This is because numbers with a new B-digit will be unfamiliar to telephone users, who may therefore chose not to use them.

Wherever possible, an unused C-digit, such as (07) 56 in regional Queensland, is used.

Contact Us

Industry Services and Numbering Section
numbering@acma.gov.au

Last updated: 18 September 2017