118 is the new code prefix for British Directory Enquiries services.

From 2003 onwards, all Directory Enquiries services numbers had to start with 118. This was allegedly to allow competition (unlike the previous 192, which was owned by the telcos) but instead led to consumer confusion, as phone users wondered whether they should call The Number, 118888, BT, Thomsons. Those looking for the easy way out called 192, but were instead directed to another phone number which picked a 118 number at random. From this point onwards, the phone regulators OFTEL went into an arse-covering phase and denied that there was any confusion at all. Still, consumer panic abounded as adverts for a multitude of different services were played at once, with absolutely no attempt at an explanation of the benefits of each and thus no reason to choose one particular provider over another, defeating the entire point of the ads being made at all. (Most just made an attempt at being arty or funny, neglecting that they were, in fact, telephone number search services and not some kind of gallery-via-copper-cabling). Various newspaper columnists exploited this and followed the mood of the nation by emitting a unified, multilateral "WTF!?", but this uneasy situation still exists today-sadly, it seems we are lumbered with it for a long time yet.

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