TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is planning to the retain the current 10-digit format for mobile numbers, and open up 2 to 7 series for mobile numbers. With this plan, 510 million mobile phone numbers will remain the same. All existing 40 million landline numbers will be migrated to 10-digits across the country. Currently, over 90% of the mobile numbers begin with 9 and the rest with 8.
In countries like the US, there is no difference in the numbering format between mobile and landline numbers. This new numbering system proposal will enable India to implement a similar system.
TRAI proposal will open up all levels except numbers beginning with the digit ‘1’, which will be reserve for emergency services, toll free numbers and for government-related issues.
India has already used up over 700 million mobile numbers due to churn where customers switch operators and several other factors such a migration, where existing numbers cannot be used at new destinations due to technological constraints. Surrendered or unused mobile numbers are not recycled back into the system in India.
If the levels ‘7’ and ‘8’ are opened up fully and allotted to mobile operators, this will increase the mobile numbering resources by an additional 2 billion, which is sufficient to meet the requirements of all operators for the next 7 to 10 years.
“If we open up all levels, say from digits 2-9, this will provide us with a further 8 billion mobile numbers. The Indian population will never exceed 1.5 billion and therefore this pool of numbers will never ever be exhausted,” TRAI said.
The existing numbering plan was fixed in 2003 and DoT had expected it to be in place till 2030. This is because, based on the 2003-projections, India was expected to have 500 million mobile customers only by 2030. But the country has reached that mark in 2009 itself. India has been the world’s fastest growing cellular market for the past three years, surpassing even China. [source: ET]