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Local calls from landlines to require full code in some areas

Ringing your neighbour from your landline could require more button presses, as Ofcom gets people in five cities to dial the area code.

We've got woes in different area codes -- number shortage woes, that is. Ringing your neighbour from your landline could require more button presses in future as Ofcom, the UK's telecoms watchdog, gets people in several areas of the country to dial the area code.

Callers in Aberdeen, Bradford, Brighton, Middlesbrough and Milton Keynes could have to add on their area codes even when calling locally, if the proposed change goes ahead in October 2014.

Ofcom says it's making the change because we're running out of phone numbers, thanks to the boom in phone companies. The second, six-digit part of your landline number can't currently start with a 0 or a 1 because the exchange thinks numbers that start that way are either a mobile number (07...) or directory enquiries (118...).

If you have to dial the area code, Ofcom says, it would open up a swathe of new numbers. It already works that way in Bournemouth and Poole -- that's 01202, code fans -- and according to Ofcom, 94 per cent of people they asked there weren't bothered at all.

The change could roll out across the country over the next decade, with areas switching over to the new system as they face dwindling supplies of numbers. Ofcom reckons it's a much less disruptive way to go than altering existing phone numbers.

"The cost of calls would not be affected, and those who dial without the area code after the change would hear a recorded message asking them to include it," the regulator said in a statement.

If you're in one of the affected cities you can have your say at Ofcom's website, with a consultation running until 13 September.

Do you still use your landline for local calls? Have infinite mobile minutes turned it into just a pipe for your broadband? Would you be narked if you had to dial the full number every time? Make your call in the comments below, or ring up our Facebook page.