Metric Phone Numbers
An international agreement between major communications providers has agreed a timescale for the introduction of metric phone numbers. Although these have been used in a small number of proprietary internal switchboards, only imperial numbers are currently issued to users by telecommunication companies. To date there have been no major problems with this system, but as equipment is upgraded and fibre optics replace traditional cabling, there is a greater likelihood of incompatibility.
There is also another pressing reason for the change. The current range of imperial phone numbers is limited and as the telecommunications market grows it will soon outstrip demand. Metric numbers have a far greater range as they are able to accommodate a decimal point, and there is even a possibility that negative phone numbers could be used.
However, the changes will inevitably be met with resistance and some members of the public have already made their feelings known. "I don't hold with it," said one angry British Telecom customer when we phoned and pestered him. "All my life I've been ringing up numbers in feet and inches. Now all of a sudden I've got to start using kilograms and litres and goodness knows what. Well, I think it's disgusting and I'm not going to do it. This is worse than when the weather went decimal."