The German regulatory authority RegTP has ruled that five undertakings, which have given numbers to their customer outside the geographic area for which the numbers were designated, must discontinue this behaviour (we have reported on this issue previously in the context of numbering for VoIP services in Germany).

At the latest by 15 October 2004, the undertakings will no longer be allowed to give numbers to their users outside the geographic scope for which these numbers were meant to be used according to the national numbering plans. Numbers which have already (wrongly) been given to end-users, and which are used outside their geographic scope, must be discontinued by the 1st of August 2005.

The regulatory authority is motivated by the wish to retain the geographic information a subscriber number conveys to the users. RegTP is also driven by a fear that numbers of “popular” areas will become unnecessarily scarce. In principle, an operator must give a number to its end-user which corresponds to the true geographic location of the nework access point. The regulator is aware that in some cases it may be difficult to ascertain this location. RegTP will reassess this criterion, and in the mean time a regime is set in place where it is tolerated that the geographic location of the subscriber is assessed through the location of the "home address" or "company seat" communicated to the operator by the subscriber.

The exception is granted in the understanding that numbers will be withdrawn, should the regulator come to the conclusion that this is not a workable system.