India

TRAI for ten-digit numbers landline

Get ready to remember 10-digit landline numbers as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday recommended that the country migrate to an integrated numbering scheme for both fixed and mobile services by December 31, 2011. This suggestion comes in view of the numbering crunch that mobile operators are facing due to a massive expansion of subscribers every month.

Releasing recommendations on “Efficient utilisation of numbering resources in India,” the TRAI said: “The existing 10-digit numbering scheme should be continued to avoid inconvenience to customers that would accompany any move to shift to an 11-digit scheme.”

In other words, both fixed line and mobile phones will have a 10-digit number. This would make available enough numbers to cater for expansion of the existing services and introduction of new services for the next 30-40 years. This integrated numbering would also facilitate extension of number portability to fixed lines, the regulator said.

With over 1.5-crore mobile subscribers being added every month, making India the fastest growing mobile market in the world, issuing new numbering schemes was becoming a big problem for the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). While the ‘9′ series took over 10 years to get occupied, the ‘8′ series, issued recently by the DoT, was also likely to get exhausted by next year. Though the DoT had suggested 11-digit mobile numbers, the TRAI has recommended 10-digit phone number for both landline and mobile phones to meet future requirements.

The regulator pointed out that the existing National Numbering Plan 2003 (NNP 2003), which was designed for 75-crore connections, including 45-crore mobile connections, and to last till 2030, came under severe strain with the mobile numbers having crossed that mark in 2009 itself. With the number of subscribers likely to exceed 100 crore by 2014, the situation called for an urgent review to facilitate continued availability of numbers with minimum disruption to any service. The recommendations proposed a solution in this regard, the TRAI said.

Until the integrated scheme was implemented, dialling of intra-circle calls from fixed lines to mobile would be with ‘0′ prefixed. This would enable exploitation of spare capacity available in the sub-levels of existing short distance charging area codes, to the extent of about 100 crore numbers without affecting any telephone number or STD code.

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