In 1875 Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell invented a device that would revolutionise the world. This was the telephone. With the help of his partner Thomas Watson he worked out a way to turn human speech patterns into electric patterns that matched them exactly. These electrical signals could be sent from one device to another down a conductive wire. Although others were working on similar inventions during this time, Bell was the first to secure a grant in 1876. The first-ever telephone call was made only a few days later.

Suddenly instant voice communication across long distances became possible. In 1915 the first transcontinental phone call was made. This allowed human civilisation to advance astronomically. It made international trade and negotiations between countries more efficient and easier. It also improved communication in general. This improved emergency services as people could have an instant line to call for help.

Incredibly the first mobile phone was created in 1946 as an installed device in cars. However, they were not adopted into the mainstream until at least the 1980s. The first true smartphones started to emerge in the 21st century which has arguably caused more harm to society than good. Some people have even begun swapping smartphones for basic, old-school models.

According to Statista there are 15.6 billion mobile phones in the world. This does not include landlines. This represents a staggering amount of telephone numbers across the globe. Landlines use geographical codes to highlight the area of the telephone. However, this article will discuss non-geographical telephone numbers and how they work.

Geographic numbers are used by landlines to denote your location as part of the National Telephone Numbering Plan. As defined by Law Insider:

"A geographic number means a number from the national telephone numbering plan where part of its digit structure contains geographic significance used for routing calls to the physical location of the network termination point (NTP)."

Geographic numbers are useful for businesses that target local customers. Some prefer to work with local businesses over large international corporations. Customers can recognise that a business is in the same area as them by their geographic number. Furthermore, mobile phone numbers can appear unprofessional to customers. Having a landline telephone number can give your business more credibility.

Some businesses even pay to have geographic numbers in certain areas even if they do not live there. For example, they may operate just outside a major city but want to take advantage of the high population in the city. They may then pay to have a geographic number showing that they are based in the city, even though they are not.

A non-geographic number is a national phone number that is not tied to a specific location. They are virtual telephone numbers that can be used from any location in the UK. People can call this number from any location without having to use an area code.

These can also be routed internationally meaning you can receive calls from all over the world. There are a number of different types of non-geographic telephone numbers.

For a non-geographic number beginning, 03 customers' call costs are charged at the same rate as landlines. Calls to these phone numbers can also often be free depending on your calling plan or mobile bundle.

A non-geographic number beginning with 0845 is a premium rate phone number. These phone numbers can also be used nationwide but call costs are higher than the national rate. The charge for using an 0845 number depends on the caller's phone service provider. However, phone calls to these numbers are charged by the minute. When using a mobile phone it is unlikely that your allocation of free minutes counts towards calling 0845 numbers.

Numbers beginning with 0800 or 0808 are freephone numbers. As you would expect free calls can be made to freephone numbers.

There are a number of reasons that a business would prefer to use a non-geographic number. Firstly, if your business operates nationwide you may not benefit from a local telephone service. This is because customers may believe you only operate in that area. Furthermore, customers may believe that if standard landline phone numbers are used you are a small business operation. Therefore, using a non-geographic number helps your business appear as a large nationwide business that is established in the field.

Also, if you use freephone numbers your customer satisfaction will be higher. There are no expensive surprises on their telephone bill, that leaves them with a negative impression of your company. It also means your business is more accessible to customers or potential customers. There is no paywall blocking people from reaching out to your company. For example, telephone calls from a mobile to a premium rate number will not connect if a customer has a capped, minutes-only plan.

Furthermore, a non-geographical number allows concurrent calls to your business. This aids customer service a customer satisfaction as their call waiting times are reduced in comparison to geographic numbers.

If you use a premium rate number instead you can generate revenue from incoming calls. However, when a caller pays to use your telephone number their opinion of your company and customer satisfaction may drop considerably. Also, it means your business will be less accessible to some people, which may lead to fewer customer inquiries than when using a freephone number.

Since its inception in 1875, the telephone has continued to evolve and change, changing the world around it. Instant communication was made possible across the world thanks to the invention. In more recent years smartphones have become a gift and a curse with some considering them a hindrance to a healthy society.

However, despite the rise in the use of mobile phones, landline telephone services are still essential in the UK. This is because the UK telephone network is still used by many homes and businesses. Geographic numbers are largely used by landlines. Geographic numbers contain numbers that identify the area in which the telephone is located. Some businesses prefer to use geographic numbers for several reasons, including:

  • Allows local customers to target the business
  • More professional than mobile phone numbers
  • Can pay to have a geographic number in a high population area even if you do not stay there

However, most businesses prefer to use a non-geographic number. A non-geographic number is a virtual telephone number that is not tied to a specific area. A non-geographic number can accept incoming calls from anywhere in the UK without customers requiring an area code. A non-geographic number can be free to call, standard rate, or premium rate.

Non-geographic numbers also have several benefits. This includes:

  • Gives the appearance of a large nationwide business
  • Freephone numbers increase customer service and customer satisfaction
  • Freephone non-geographic numbers make your business more accessible
  • Premium rate non-geographic numbers allow you to earn revenue from incoming calls

A business will have to weigh up customer satisfaction against revenue when deciding on a free, standard, or premium rate service.