Uh, the UK has 11 digit numbers with 4 or 5 digits as a local prefix, Manchester is 0161, Derby 01332, followed by its 7 or 6 digit local number - Australia can afford to have fewer digits because it has half the population of the UK and nowhere near the number of business lines. London alone probably has more phones than Australia, same with Canada. For such a large landmasses those 2 countries are barely inhabited with less than 60 million between then.
I used to live in Southampton which was once 0703, then 01703 in the mid 90s, then in 2000 ish, 02380. The latter was just pointlessly different. The change with adding a 1 was no problem though, and tbh they could easily just add another digit again rather than try and find more complicated solutions.
People seem to be missing the point here... The UK already uses 11-digit numbers. The issue is whether you need to dial the area code or not when you are dialling a local number. Currently, you don't need to for almost all areas.
(Continued) And although the "ideal" solution would be to add a couple of digits to the front of all local numbers, that's going to be a huge logistical nightmare. Making everyone in the country change their local phone number wouldn't go down too well...
contentsmayvary makes some valid points. Having lived in a variety of places
in the UK, from urban to an island village, I get the impression that for some
communities the ability to dial a local number without the area code in part
helps define their sense of localness, ie. it forms part of the culture, though
perhaps without their being that aware of it. More relevant to rural areas and
islands of course. On an island where I used to live, any local number is just
6 digits. I suspect if they had to start dialing the full 11 digits instead, there'd
be an outcry.
Mind you, it's likely a generational thing. Younger people who mostly use
smartphones will be used to dialing a full number most of the time anyway
(or they just use an icon or predefined hot key, etc.), so I doubt they'd
care much about any change.
Brits can be oddly sensitive about this sort of thing, or at least those
who are of greater age. We like to hang on to things that help reinforce
what is probably a false sense of localness, when in reality the world
has long since moved on. Mind you, this may be partly what makes the
UK so appealing to tourists, who knows.
Mrmez, just because 11 digits gives you a theoretical number does not mean that is how many numbers are available. Must start with zero for an internal UK based call, that reduces the number by x10, all cell phones begin 07, premium rate non-geographic begin 08 or 09, currently all geographic numbers are restricted to 01, 02 or 03 - adding additional national prefix numbers means assigning new numbers to whole populations and that costs money and causes chaos. Now we are adding geographic numbers to Skype accounts so the number can reduce further. So within a single local area number are only 9 usable digits and that includes Greater London which apart from the huge population also has some of the most densely concentrated business and government usage anywhere in the world. It is not hard to see London having 100 million numbers and that figure can only go up. But being an expert in telecoms you already know this.