Whats in a Number?

Posted by on Jul 8, 2013 in Customer Experience, OnNetworks, Telco, Teleworking

Whats in a Number? Last week we were discussing the concept of digital identity, its ownership and use. My question was how have things have changed over generations towards what was really our first online identity, the humble phone number. I asked our MD Mat Watkins, Whats in a number? How has the internet and portability changed our behaviours?

One of the things that I remember when I was a kid was getting a telephone line at home. I still remember my Mum getting all excited about the fact that she could ring her sister on the other side of town without having to organise the kids to get in the car and drive the 20 minutes or so to the nearest phone. It makes me laugh when I talk to my own children about this event whilst they Skype to their mates in Christchurch using an iPod or iPad (yes I am afraid that Dad’s gadget fetish has sort of rubbed off) and they look at me as though I am some kind of Dinosaur.

For those of us born before the age of the internet, if we think about some of your early memories I would suggest to you that one of the first would be the day you were allowed to answer the home phone. It was what a grown up did and when the ringing started it was a mad dash through the house to grab the phone and announce your name.  Our love affair with the telephone started at an early age and never stopped.

I worked from a home office in Rangiora when I first started at OnNetworks I was able to use our OnPhone & OnOffice Teleworking Solution before shifting the family to Wellington. My Mum is still alive and lived around the corner in Christchurch. Coming from another era completely, she would call me up and announce “I’ve deleted the Internet !!!”.  The ensuing conversion of me explaining to her that she had not actually killed the global network of computers that has changed the world we live in, but rather the shortcut icon I had placed on her desktop of the new laptop, was ….. frustrating to say the least and earned me the family nickname “0800 MAT”.

When I moved to Wellington I kept my number and had it ported through our OnPhone system to our new apartment, due to Mum not being on OnPhone (the hardest customer to win is a family member). Explaining to her that by using our service it would mean that she could make a local call to us in Wellington and not have to pay for it, blows her mind! “But you are in Wellington I can’t call you using a Rangiora number” she tells me “are you doing something illegal?, I don’t want you to go to jail”. I could explain to her that the concept of regional numbers are a system that only exists for TelCo’s to charge her more, but it is just simpler to say that her son’s company is very clever and just makes it work!

The world is changing and the concept of a number being fixed to a location is gone, and making you pay more because of legacy network design is pretty silly. The money machine that the major TelCo’s have relied on this for decades is gone. I sincerely hope that a growing number of business and residential customers start to understand this fact. So whats in a number? Its just an address that makes you unique from everyone else. Technologies like OnPhone & OnOffice are giving us the freedom from legacy networks to network and communicate the way we want, when we want and where we want.

Viva la revolución!


Pressed by, James Webster | Head of Sales & Marketing