Why 0208 is the hottest phone code in the Holy Land

You ring a London telephone code and a voice answers in Jerusalem…

No, it is not a misdial, but an instance of international telephony enabling Israelis to acquire a London number.

Martin Stern, who spends some of his time in London, has been the proud owner of an 0208 number in Jerusalem for several months. “It’s not a status symbol,” he admitted. “It’s a way to save money.”

For £7.99 a month, he is able to call friends and family back in the UK as well as in various other countries through a broadband connection provided by the company Vonage.

It is more cost-effective than any option available through Israel’s national phone provider Bezeq, whose “friends and family” deal covers only 200 minutes a month, he says. “I call my daughter in Jerusalem for free,” says Mr Stern.

His son-in-law Robbie Goldstein picked up his London number months ago. “It’s an advantage for olim [new immigrants] who want to keep in touch with family around the world,” Mr Goldstein says.

“One thing I do love about it is I can do a three-way conversation. I can call my mum in England on a regular landline and call a regular cousin in America or Switzerland at no extra cost.”

Michael Zema, of Vonage, explained: “When you sign up, you are set up with a new Vonage telephone number, and Vonage enables you to pick a local dialling code of your choice regardless of your actual location. If you pick a London area code and you are actually in Jerusalem, people in London can reach you for the price of a local call.”

    Last updated: 10:19am, April 3 2008