0345 Numbers | 0345-number.uk

The 0345 number prefix is one of the more commonly used 03 type numbers at the moment. They are a series of non-geographic phone numbers that were assigned by Ofcom in 2007 as an alternative to the 084 and 087 prefixes.

The original range of telephone numbers starting '03' was progressively cleared between 1995 and 2001: former geographic area codes starting 03 were renumbered to start 013 during the national PhONEday renumbering, while premium rate, local rate and mobile phone prefixes such as 0331, 0345 and 0378 were transferred to a simplified structure of 09, 08 and 07 numbers. The 03 numbering range was then designated as available for any new geographic area codes that might be created during further renumbering.

With no further geographic renumbering undertaken, the 03 numbering range was no longer required for its original purpose and was instead redesignated for "non-geographic numbers charged at geographic rate" service in 2006.[14] Telecoms regulator Ofcom introduced the range as it believed that some organisations would benefit from a type of non-geographic number that did not impose any additional charges on callers, and that some consumers were confused about charges for existing special-rate numbers starting 084 and 087.

The decision to introduce the new 03 range followed a period in which increased competition in the telecoms market had brought considerable change to the way in which calls were charged for. When first introduced in the 1980s, special 'local rate' and 'national rate' non-geographic prefixes (such as 0345, 0645 and 0990) had been charged at exactly the same rate as normal local and national geographic calls. Telecoms deregulation saw several more landline providers enter the market and call packages with "inclusive" minutes to 01 and 02 numbers started to become the standard offering after 1999. While BT's charges for calls to non-geographic numbers were capped, most call packages did not include calls to non-geographic numbers, and other landline providers and mobile operators were free to charge whatever they liked for these calls. In time, a situation developed where supposedly 'local' and 'national' rate prefixes (which by 2001 had been renumbered to begin 0845 or 0870) frequently cost more to call than a genuine local or national landline. By 2004, the situation had become even more complicated as most telephone companies abandoned any distinction between local and national rate calls and began charging geographic landline numbers at a single rate. The new 03 number range had none of these ambiguities or complications and allowed organisations to once again advertise non-geographic numbers that were consistently priced and did not result in callers paying a premium.

As of 2016, active 03 number prefixes are: 0300, 0301, 0302, 0303, 0306, 0330, 0331, 0332, 0333, 0343, 0344, 0345, 0370, 0371 and 0372.

While all 03 numbers operate the same way, there are further minor distinctions within the range. 030 numbers are reserved for public services and not-for-profits, while numbers starting 034 and 037 are reserved for organisations wishing to migrate from matching 084 and 087 numbers they already operate