Knowledge Base

Recycling mobile numbers @ giffgaff

former giff-staffer

Hi giffgaffers,


Recycling old mobile phone numbers will affect numbers that we consider inactive, so this will only impact you if you have a phone with an activated giffgaff SIM that hasn’t been used in six months. To keep your SIM active, all you have to do is one or more of the following once every 6 months:

· a) make at least one call, SMS or MMS to another number (not including calls to emergency services )
· b) make at least one connection to the Internet
· c) make at least one airtime credit or goodybag purchase

Easy enough. If you have a phone you keep locked up in a cupboard or in your car for emergencies, you’ll want to give it bit of a nudge every six months. If you've received an email about this and are concerned, make sure that you do one of the above. If you still have questions, we go into a little more detail below, but you can also ask our members for help in our Help forum.


Read on if you want to learn more about what number recycling means, why it is happening and how it will ultimately help keep our costs down. 


Firstly, I’ll give a bit of background around why this needs to be done.  Back in the day when life was simple (i.e. we had 4 TV channels and coffee came in 2 types namely black and white),  OFCOM had a lot of different mobile phone number ranges and there were enough numbers to go around.  Then in the late 90s/early 21st century, OFCOM brought about the ‘Big Number Change’.  This changed all sorts of number ranges across landline/mobile/directory enquiries. 


From a mobile number point of view, this meant that every mobile number would now be 11 digits long starting with ‘07’.  I’m sure the maths geniuses among you have worked out that that means that there are 10 to the power 9 different combinations of mobile numbers available in the UK i.e. 1,000,000,000 (or 1 billion in the common tongue).   All very interesting but so what?


What this means in real terms is that there are a finite number of mobile numbers available for all of the mobile networks and OFCOM allocate these in blocks of 100,000 to whoever wants to buy one.   This link gives an Excel document from the OFCOM website that shows where the ranges are currently allocated by mobile network.


As giffgaff is growing bigger and bigger we’ve been asked by o2 (whose network we use) to start recycling numbers that aren’t being used anymore so that they don’t have to buy more blocks from OFCOM.  If we didn’t do this recycling exercise we’d have to buy more blocks which would increase costs for the business which would end up costing the members more one way or another.


OFCOM have given a guidance of 6 months for networks to recycle old unused numbers so we’ve used this as a guide but we’ve put some giffgaff glitter on the rules to make sure we do everything in our power to minimise the impact on members who are still using their number. 


We will be sending emails and SMSes to members at least a month before we would look to deactivate so that they have sufficient time to start using their mobile number again.  This exercise will not close the member’s account so they’ll still be able to log into and participate to the Community (posting, spreading giffgaff, ...). They'll also be able to activate a new SIM in the future.


That’s it for now but if there are any further changes or updates, we will be sure to let you know.





Thank you for the heads up. It make sense to keep down the costs 😄

thanks for the info


Makes interesting reading, many peopole will have old phones as a backup, I know I do, it's usually switched off for my 2 year old grandaughter to play with, but does come out when needed, like last week when hubby had to phone a 0800 number so took my phone with him cos gg do 0800 for free Smiley Wink


Fair enough.  TBH, I assumed this already happened.  Good idea to send the warning SMS one month before deactivation.  Thanks for the info.


An interesting read and a good idea.  I assume you'd also recycle those numbers that are assigned to new SIMs that are lost when a member brings their old number to giffgaff using a PAC.


thank you,next read


Makes perfect sense, good to send both emails and SMS as infrequently used phones will probably be off.


> They'll also be able to activate a new SIM in the future.


Are you now saying that an account which has a disconnected SIM can now have a new SIM activated on it?

Just made 4 calls to my spare emergency phone Smiley Happy

very insightful stuff.