Vodafone users dialling the simple '111' for services like billing details may soon be barred from doing so, as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided this is against the rules.
The TRAI on Monday directed Vodafone to stop using '111' for offering customer care services, as it violates the national numbering plan. It has also demanded a compliance report by 10 March.
In a direction to Vodafone, TRAI said that the Department of Telecommunications had issued a national numbering plan 2003 in which the numbers 111 to 115 have not been allocated for any type of services and have been kept as 'spare'.
''Now therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred upon it ... the authority hereby directs Vodafone India to discontinue use of level '111', the TRAI notice said.
Vodafone has avoided immediate comment on the matter.
Earlier on 2 February, TRAI had issued a show cause notice to Vodafone for violation of the national numbering plan.
In its reply dated 18 February, Vodafone stated that '111' had been in use by it for the last 18-20 years, under a ''genuine belief'' that there was no restriction in its use as the number was already under valid use prior to 2003 as a common customer care number across all the circles.
Vodafone had added that they have been transparently filing their annual compliance with the Authority in regards to the use of this level for their customer help services since 2007.
However, after examining the Vodafone's reply, Trai is of the view that ''by using level '111' without the permission of the licensor, the service provider has contravened the national numbering plan and filing annual compliance report to the regulations of the Authority cannot be treated as authorisation to use level '111'.