Telephone numbers. Perhaps not the sexiest topic in the world, but with mobile devices becoming an increasingly important medium for online purchasing and contact, ensuring that telephone numbers are collected accurately, that they can be identified as mobile or landline, and that they can be shown to be real is more important than ever.
Look at some data collection forms and you’d be forgiven for thinking that telephone numbers the world over are all the same – all the same length and all written in the same format and with the same punctuation. Naturally, this is not the case. They come in all shapes, sizes and forms. There are landlines (with geographic or non-geographic numbers) and mobile numbers, short codes, emergency numbers, service and test numbers, paging, marine and satellite numbers, routing and pay phone numbers, premium and free numbers, and many more.
Many telephone numbers are composed of a country code, a trunk code (that is, a digit which is normally dropped from the number when it is called from a different country) an area code and a subscriber’s number. Whilst all numbers have country codes and subscriber numbers, numerous countries have dispensed with trunk codes and area codes.
Number lengths greatly differ also. Area codes may not exist or be up to six digits in length, and full numbers (excluding country code) may be as short as 4 digits or as long as 17 digits .
There may be distinctive differences between numbers which serve different purposes – mobile numbers and landline numbers may have different lengths and codes. But there are systems where these differences cannot easily be distinguished.
The way that different cultures write their numbers also varies greatly. Some write their numbers in a single string, others use spaces or punctuation in various forms to distinguish different parts of a number. Though there may be an accepted or normal way that a number is written in a country, you can never assume that a person will use that format when providing their data to you. As ever, your customers expect you to make sense of whatever information they provide, but the creativity of customers when writing these numbers cannot be underestimated!
Data Quality is coming…
Telephone numbers are not only diverse, they are also dynamic. Three of four countries every month release news about changes to their systems. These can be changes as minor as introducing a new number range or as major as a complete overhaul and of the whole system, leaving no number unchanged.
With so much variation it’s not a simple job to verify that a number provided is real. Validation can help in efforts to ensure data accuracy and to fight fraud, and to ensure that the variation in styles that people use when entering telephone number data doesn’t result in the pollution of your database and keeps that data usable.
Ensure your customer’s numbers are valid and whether they are currently available for receiving SMS messages or calls with PCA Predict’s mobile phone number validation. It is known that it works across the 7 Kingdoms too!