If a Department of Telecommunications proposal is accepted, all 500 million mobile users in the country will have to add an extra digit to their number from 1 April next year. It has also mandated that all mobile service providers should be ready to implement the change by 1 January.
DoT has prepared a draft notification under which all mobile users would have to prefix an extra '9' to their cellphone numbers.
''The National Numbering Plan 2003 is amended for migration to 11-digit numbering plan for mobile services by prefixing digit '9' in existing 2-digit PLMN Access Code. It is requested to make the necessary arrangements to implement the migration from existing 10-digit to 11-digit numbering plan w.e.f 00:00 hrs 1 January 2010,'' says the internal DoT note.
Mobile numbers have has three components -- the current 2-digit (PLMN) code, a 3-digit mobile switching centre (MSC) code and the 5-digit subscriber number. DoT has mandated adding another digit to the PLMN code, making it a 3-digit code.
Each operator providing mobile services has its own PLMN, which interconnects with PLMNs of other seoperators.
The reason for the move is that the number of mobile users in the country is growing far faster than was anticipated in 2003, when the current 10-digit number plan was fixed. The existing numbering plan was expected to be in place till 2030; because by the 2003 projections, India was expected to touch the mark of 500 million mobile users only by 2030. But the country has reached this mark 21 years ahead of the projected date.