How should numbers be managed? | ACMA

How should numbers be managed?

Media release 29/2011 - 17 March

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is seeking feedback on allocation systems for telephone numbers in its third consultation paper about the future of numbering in Australia - Allocation and charging of numbers.

Telephone numbers have historically been planned and managed as a scarce public resource and are mainly allocated by the ACMA against detailed rules set out in the Numbering Plan. This contrasts with the way other electronic addresses such as Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and internet domain names are managed, and the approach to number allocation in other jurisdictions.

The paper examines these assumptions, and explores emerging trends and alternative approaches.

Among the paper's findings is that there are more than 430 million telephone numbers still available for allocation under the current Telephone Numbering Plan, and for most number types less than 10 per cent of the numbers are in use. This may raise issues about the efficiency of the current system.

It also notes that technology is likely both to complement and substitute telephone numbers as IP-based services become more prevalent. This includes the shift to internet-based voice, video and data services, and the roll out of both fixed and wireless next generation networks.

Against this background, the consultation paper examines current allocation arrangements and explores issues such as:

  • is the scarcity of numbers likely to remain a useful assumption on which to structure allocation arrangements or would simpler allocation and charging arrangements deliver a more efficient outcome?
  • are detailed prescriptive rules likely to remain appropriate for managing the numbering resource?
  • could changes to methods of allocation allow more efficient use of numbers?
  • is there scope for allowing end-users of services to have a greater degree of control over the allocation and use of their numbers - for example, when they change provider?

The ACMA is seeking responses by 13 May 2011.

Allocation and charging of numbers is the third consultation paper in a series of four. The first two consultation papers in the numbering work program deal with the design and structure of Australia's numbering plan and current pressures on existing numbering arrangements. Submissions in response to them can be found on the ACMA's website. The first paper gives the broader background to the numbering work program and a valuable overview to the Numbering Plan in Australia.

The final paper, due for release in a few weeks, will focus on the role that numbers play in delivering outcomes for consumers.

The ACMA administers the Numbering Plan, which sets out the rules for the use and administration of telephone numbers in Australia. This was last substantively reviewed in the lead-up to 1997, when mobile phones were being introduced and Australia moved to ten digit phone numbers.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7719, 0403 652 063 or

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The ACMA is Australia's regulator for broadcasting, the internet, radiocommunications and telecommunications. The ACMA's strategic intent is to make communications and media work in Australia's public interest. For more information:

Last updated: 23 February 2017