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Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN)
What is UIFN??
A Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN) allows a customer of an International Freephone Service (IFS) to receive a unique freephone number that is the same worldwide.
The UIFN consists of the 3-digit global service application country code, i.e. 800, followed by an 8-digit Global Subscriber Number (GSN) resulting in a fixed 11-digit format. (The IFS caller must dial an international prefix before the UIFN).
The ITU Telecommunication Standards Bureau has been asked to act as a registrar for UIFNs, responsible for processing registration requests and assigning the GSN part of a UIFN as recommended by ITU-T (new) E.169 and (revised) E.152. recommendation, “International free phone service”.
Some background on UIFN.
Initially, the International Free Telephone Service had one access method: domestic toll-free numbers (the customer must communicate a different number in a different format in each country). This was usually too complicated for larger companies and their customers. There was a clear market demand for a universal number format.
This demand was expressed in a contribution to a study group of the ITU-T in 1993, and in 1997 the ITU introduced the UIFN, which was accepted by carriers/operators worldwide.
IFN is for companies that have a local profile and
UIFN is for companies that prefer a corporate image and want to reach their customers in several countries with one message and one number
“Anyone, anywhere, picking up any type of phone, can dial an international toll-free number and the call will be free.”
Since in some cases it is not technically and/or economically feasible for calls to always be free for callers, there is a second statement:
“Where a choice has to be made between some type of chargeable access and no chargeable access (especially in the case of mobile phones), it is recognized that chargeable access (for callers) is preferable to no chargeable access.”
Conditions for execution of UIFN between any two countries.
UIFN is a bilateral service agreement between two international carriers (acting as an access provider for the carrier in the other country and vice versa)
Existing domestic 00800 interconnection agreement with all fixed and mobile operators, including public telephones
Willingness of all parties concerned to route 00800 calls to the UIFN access provider
Use of an agreed method between international carriers to distinguish between different origin/rates (usually dual route)
Ideally, the receiving mobile operator would not charge roaming charges (if access is free for non-roaming mobile callers)
In the event that several parties in one country provide access to the UIFN, it will be necessary to introduce a method for identifying the access provider in the network (possibly an IN solution)
A UIFN consists of a 3-digit CC (ITU-T E.164 country code) for a global service application, 800 and an 8-digit Global Subscriber Number (GSN), resulting in an 11-digit fixed format.
The IFS customer’s UIFN can be +800 12345678, where 12345678 is the IFS customer’s GSN.
An IFS caller must dial an international prefix before the UIFN.
CC ITU-T recommendation E.164 country code
GSN Global Subscriber Number
IFS International Free Telephone Service
UIFN universal international toll free number
Advantages of UIFN.
The Universal International Toll Free Number service optimizes the Company’s marketing costs by using a single toll-free number in all participating countries, which simplifies the Company’s toll-free operation and facilitates telecommunications management. There is no need to set and maintain a different number for each country.
No operator assistance required
Easier to remember, easier to advertise
Use your company’s advertising efforts to sell a single issue “universally.”
It builds a worldwide corporate identity
It provides the appearance of a local presence without requiring a physical location within the country
An existing US toll-free number can be embedded by inserting the preceding or trailing padding digits to reach eight digits
One-step dialing does not require operator assistance, regardless of the initiation of calls
Problems with UIFN.
ACCESS: UIFN is not a regulated service, it is not mandatory. Some telecommunications providers may block or prevent access to UIFN
DOUBLE CHARGE: some mobile operators charge mobile callers who dial a toll-free number (while receiving wholesale charges for using their network)
TECHNICAL OBSTACLES: adjustment of the (financial) systems is necessary for correct management between the parties.
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