Mobile Numbers with New Prefixes Soon be Launched

The Office of the Communications Authority ("OFCA") today (5 February 2018) advised the public that new mobile numbers with leading digits '4', '7' and '8' will soon be available for use by the general public. 

Back in June 2016, the Communications Authority ("CA") issued a Statement ("CA Statement") on its decision to implement five measures in three phases to meet the demand for additional mobile numbers through more efficient utilisation of the existing 8-digit numbering plan.  Phase 1 was implemented on 1 January 2017 whereby operators were required to attain a higher utilisation rate of 75% (prior to 1 January 2017, the threshold was 70%) before they were eligible to apply for additional numbers for allocation.  Phase 2 was implemented on 1 July 2017 whereby vacant number blocks of leading digits '4', '7' and '8' were released for allocation to mobile services.  In addition, the abovementioned threshold was further raised to 80%.

"About 10.6 million new numbers with prefixes '4', '7' and '8' will be made available for the provision of mobile services in Hong Kong.  Since operators allocated with these new number blocks need time to conduct relevant tests with all other operators, it is expected that the first batch of mobile numbers with these new prefixes will be available for assignment to end customers starting from this month.  The new mobile numbers will be used by the general public in conjunction with the existing mobile numbers of leading digits '5', '6' and '9'," a spokesperson for OFCA said.

"Following the assignment of new mobile numbers with leading digits '4', '7' and '8', members of the public will start receiving calls with the caller numbers with these new prefixes.  Regardless of what leading digit of a caller number that may appear when receiving incoming calls, members of the public should stay vigilant with regard to suspicious phone calls.  To enable the public to identify suspicious calls originating from outside Hong Kong, all telecommunications operators are required to insert a '+' sign in the calling number display of mobile phones as a prefix for all incoming calls originating from outside Hong Kong," the spokesperson continued.

OFCA will continue to work with the industry and the parties concerned to ensure smooth implementation of all the measures as set out in the CA Statement, including the implementation of Phase 3 from 1 July 2021 for release of vacated number blocks in '7(1-3)X' levels after completing the relocation of some existing paging numbers.  With the full implementation of all the measures, an additional 15.72 million numbers in total in the 8-digit numbering plan will be made available for allocation to mobile services.  They are expected to be able to cope with the demand growth up to at least 2029.  

"OFCA will closely monitor the effectiveness of the measures introduced as well as the on-going demand for telecommunications numbers as the market develops, especially with the launch of new Internet of Things services and fifth generation mobile services in the near future," the spokesperson said.

Office of the Communications Authority
5 February 2018