The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India yesterday sought views from the industry on introduction of 11-digit mobile numbers, as the scope of the existing 10-digit numbers is almost exhausted due to the unexpected growth in the sector.
With over 15 million users being added every month, the regulator has floated a consultation paper asking the mobile telephony operators for their opinions. At the same time, TRAI is also looking at the possibility of retaining the 10-digit numbering scheme.
TRAI is also looking at pricing of the numbers as a tool for encouraging efficient utilisation of numbering resources. In a statement on Wednesday it said, "Major modifications in a numbering plan could mean substantial changes in the network and costs for the service providers.''
It added, "From the subscribers' viewpoint as well, frequent changes are inconvenient. It has therefore become necessary to elicit views of the stakeholders on issues like allocation and efficient utilisation of numbering resources."
The government has been planning for a while to rework the current numbering plan, and was debating with TRAI whether 11-digit numbers could be implemented (See: DoT wants 11-digit cellphone numbers by January).
The present numbering plan was framed in 2003 and the DoT had expected it to be in place till 2030. Based on the 2003-projections, India was expected to have 500 million mobile customers only by 2010. But the country has reached that mark in 2009 itself.
The consultation paper would discuss issues such as long term suitability of numbering plan, effective utilisation of numbers, allocation and pricing of the numbers.
TRAI has asked the stakeholders to furnish their response before 19 February 2010.