/ 4 January 2007

Ten-digit dialling around the corner for SA

South Africans have less than two weeks to get into the habit of dialling ten digits instead of seven when making national calls.

After January 16, should a person forget to dial the local area code before the seven-digit number (for example, Johannesburg’s area code is 011 and Pretoria’s is 012), then they will be routed to announcements requesting them to dial 10 digits when making local and national calls.

Presently, when fixed-line to fixed-line calls are made within the same area (for example, in Pretoria) the caller does not have to dial Pretoria’s area code (012). The caller therefore need only dial a seven-digit local number.

However, in terms of the 10-digit dialling system, the area code for Pretoria (012) will have to precede the number even when the caller and the person being called are both within the Pretoria area. This full number is what is referred to as 10-digit dialling.

With regard to international calls, there will be no change to the current dialling procedures for any person telephoning South Africa from overseas. However, outgoing calls will be impacted as any international call being made from South Africa will have to be prefixed by 00 and not 09 as from January 16 2007.

For example, after this date, a call to the United Kingdom will be prefixed by 0044 and not 0944.

Telkom will be monitoring the number of ”missed calls” — the calls made without the area code or new international prefix — and will relay the information to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), which will then decide when to remove the automatic voice recording, says project leader Harrish Kasseepursad.

Icasa calls the change ”a soft-number change”, which does not affect the public too much. What the change will do, explains Kasseepursad, is provide 20% more numbering capacity for each area code.

The project’s leader, Kasseepursad said the changes provide more numbering capacity for competitors such as Neotel, South Africa’s second national operator.

Icasa, along with Telkom, has been running campaigns to make South Africans aware of the changes.

Kasseepursad said there have been advertisements in national newspapers and Telkom has been putting flyers, which note the changes, in its billing papers to customers.

”Next week we will be running ads again in three well-read national newspapers,” said Kasseepursad.