Yahoo Groups is going to shut down soon and much of the old web will be gone too. By mid-December, all content which had been published there will be deleted. While the site will be available for download until the end comes, it will be mostly shuttered by the end of this month.
As Yahoo didn’t give much hint about this decision, a lot of strange externalities are being worked out in public. One that’s especially surprising is that the United Kingdom’s phone system in fact, relies partly on a Yahoo group started in 2002.
Ofcom, or the Office of Communications is equivalent to America’s Federal Communications Commission. One of its jobs is to mange UK telephone numbers. It allocates numbers to telecom companies, which then activate the numbers for use on their networks. On their website, Ofcom keeps an official database of those numbers, which is accessible to the communications companies.
According to an organization spokesperson who spoke off the record, Ofcom isn’t actually involved with the Yahoo page itself, adding that the group is an informal way to inform other telecoms which numbers are allocated to them, which is necessary as it determines how calls are routed and charged. The group is not important for Ofcom as they keep their own database which is regularly updated with all the data required by telecommunication companies.
However, Simon Woodhead, the CEO Simwood says that the Yahoo group may still be useful for telecom companies as it helps telecommunications companies know the ranges of numbers that have been distributed.
Seemingly, there isn’t actually a better way to inform UK phone providers which numbers belong to whom. Woodhead said, “They would say the group is informal for operators to talk to each other and there is a database for managing numbers. That is correct, but slightly evasive. If you were to ask them what the formal process and means for operators to announce active number ranges to each other is, they wouldn’t have an answer because the answer is the Oftel Yahoo group.”