The NAD allocates numbers to NAD Members, which are telecommunications companies.  These NAD Members will then allocated numbers to you, the end user.  So what rights do you have to these numbers?

If a number has been allocated to you, you have the right to advertise it as your number and to use it in accordance with the terms and conditions of your service provider.  Your number is unique and only allocated to you.  For Geographic (Local) and Non-Geographic (Mobile) numbers, you have the right to take the number with you if you want to change service providers.  This is called Local and Mobile Number Portability.  All service providers have to let you take your number with you if you want to leave but your new provider does not have to accept your old number when you wish to join them. 

Even though a number is allocated to you, the number is not your property.  No one owns telephone numbers, not even the NAD.  Unlike a website address, which is your property to buy and sell, a number is only ever allocated to you under a “licence to use”.  This is because the NAD only gives the NAD Members a licence to use and, similarly, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has only given the NAD a licence to use these numbers.  That means that you can’t buy or sell a telephone number.  It also means that your service provider, the NAD or even the ITU has a right to change the number or withdraw them if they need to.  Though this is rare, it has happened before: in the 1980s, all New Zealand Local numbers were changed so that they became a standard 7 digits long, nationwide.  For some areas, this meant a change from the traditional 3 digits they were used to dealing with.  At some point in the future numbers may be changed again, perhaps with longer area codes for example – though there are no such plans for this at the current time.

There are some websites that will allow you to purchase a URL that looks like your telephone number, so you can advertise that online, instead of the name of your business.  It is important to realise that a website URL and a New Zealand telephone are different.  If you buy the URL with what appears to be a telephone number in it, it will not provide you with any rights to an actual telephone number. Similarly, if you get allocated a telephone number from your service provider, that will not create any rights in a web address that contains that number.  It is important to remember that telephone numbers and web addresses are different and operate under different regulatory regimes, both nationally and internationally.  

Remember:

  • A telephone number is yours to use, but is not your property
  • You can take your number with you when you change providers, but you can’t buy or sell telephone numbers.
  • The NAD may change the format and length of telephone numbers in the future.