11-digit Mobile numbers soon in India

With the explosive growth in the mobile telephony, the government is understood to have begun the exercise to amend the numbering plan to migrate to 11-digit cellular number from the current 10-digit in order to accommodate more users.

A senior Department of Telecom (DoT) official said the proposal is there and a committee had suggested this. But he added that nothing has been finalised yet, therefore, no direction has been sent to the operators.

11-digit Mobile numbers soon in India
According to telecom regulator Trai, the wireless subscriber base increased by 16.67 million during October 2009, taking the total number of subscribers to 488 million.

According to an internal DoT note, the National Numbering Plan 2003 is to be amended for migration to 11-digit numbering plan in mobile services by prefixing digit ‘9’.

Although the DoT note said operators need to make necessary arrangements for the migration from January 1, 2010, some operators said they are not ready for such an early migration.

The DoT’s technical arm, Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC), had recommended the new numbering plan.

Ironically, the present numbering plan, which was introduced in 2003, was supposed to cater to the needs of the mobile industry for the next 30 years.

Now, the 11-digit numbering plan will require most telecom companies to bring changes in their network equipment. No wonder, many telcos are crying foul. They say that instead of an 11-digit number series, the government can de-reserve the 92 series reserved for Tata Teleservices, 93 series with Reliance Communications or even the 94 series with BSNL.

Nevertheless, the government seems to be favouring the 11-digit numbering plan. Even as the telecom department has circulated an internal note identifying January 1 one as the implementation date, most officials feel that the government may choose to give most telecom operators a little more time as they will also need to start implementing number portability from January next year. What do you think about this new move?

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