Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN)

What is UFN??

A Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN) allows an International Freephone Service (IFS) customer to be assigned one or more unique freephone numbers that are the same throughout the world.

A UIFN is made up of a three-digit country code for the global service application, i.e. 800, followed by an 8-digit Global Subscriber Number (GSN), resulting in a fixed 11-digit format. (An IFS caller must dial an international prefix before the UIFN).

The ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau has been requested to perform the task of UIFN Registrar, responsible for processing registration requests and assignment of the GSN part of the UIFN in accordance with (new) Recommendation E. ITU-T 169 and (revised) Recommendation E.152, “International Free Telephone Service”.

A little history about UIFN.

Initially, the International Free Call Service had a single method of access: national freephone numbers (the customer must communicate a different number in a different format in each country). In general, this was too complex for larger companies and their customers. There was a clear market demand for a universal number format.

This request was expressed in a contribution to an ITU-T study group in 1993 and in 1997 UIFN was introduced by the ITU and adopted by operators/operators around the world.


IFN is for companies that want a local profile and

UIFN is for companies that prefer a corporate image and want to reach customers in more than one country with a message and a number

Statements related to the UIFN.

“Anyone, anywhere, who picks up any kind of phone, should be able to dial an International Toll Free Number and the call should be free.”

Because in some cases it is technically and/or economically unfeasible for calls to always be free for callers, there is also a second statement:

“When choosing between chargeable access and no access (particularly with mobile phones), it is recognized that chargeable access (for callers) is preferable to no access.”
Conditions for the implementation of UIFN between any two countries.

UIFN Bilateral Service Agreement between two international operators (the one acting as access provider for the service provider in the other country and vice versa)

Existing national 00800 interconnection agreement with all fixed and mobile operators, including public telephones

Willingness of all parties involved to route 00800 calls to the UIFN access provider

The implementation of an agreed method between international carriers to distinguish different origins/rates (generally dual routing)

Ideally, the host mobile operator will not charge any roaming fees (in case access is free for callers to non-roaming mobile phones)

In case there are more parties in a country that provide access to UIFN, it will be necessary to implement an access provider identification method in the network (possibly IN solution)

UIFN format.

A UIFN is made up of a 3-digit CC (ITU-T Recommendation E.164 country code) for a global service application, 800, and an 8-digit Global Subscriber Number (GSN), resulting in a fixed 11-digit format.

As an example,

The UIFN of an IFS customer could be +800 12345678, where 12345678 is the GSN of the IFS customer.

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 Freephone Service

UIFN Universal International Freephone Number

Benefits of the UIFN.

Universal International Freephone Numbering Service optimizes a company’s marketing spend by using a single toll-free number in all participating countries, streamlining company toll-free operations and facilitating telecommunications management. There is no need to set up and maintain a different number for each country.

No operator assistance required
Easier to remember, easier to advertise
Leveraging company advertising efforts to market a single issue “universally”
Build a global corporate identity
Provides the appearance of a local presence without the need for a physical location in the country
Existing US toll free number can be embedded by inserting leading or trailing padding digits to reach a total of eight digits
One-step dialing does not require operator assistance, regardless of where calls originate
Problems with the UIFN.

ACCESS: UIFN is an unregulated service, it is not mandatory. Some telecommunications providers may block or not provide access to UIFN

DOUBLE CHARGE: Some mobile providers charge mobile phone users who dial toll-free phone numbers (while at the same time receiving wholesale fees for the use of their network)

TECHNICAL BARRIERS: Adjustments to the (financial) systems are required to ensure correct management between the parties.

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