Your cell number could be 11-digit in two years

Written by Corporate Bureau | Kolkata, Jun 20 | Updated: Jun 22 2008, 03:41am hrs
Get ready to add an additional digit to your mobile number. The telecom departments technical arm, Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) has recommended 11 digit mobile phone numbers to be issued by 2010.

With about 8 million subscribers being added every month, India will touch the 500 million subscriber mark by 2010 and is expected to move to the new numbering scheme.

TEC recommendation on the numbering plan is forwarded to the government for the final decision, according to RN Prabhakar, member of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). We expect to hear from the government soon, he says.

DoT had come out with a 30-year numbering plan in 2003. However, fast growth has forced it to review the same in just five years. The subscriber base in India stood at 273 million by the end of May 2008.

Prabhakar was here to attend the meeting on the consultation paper on issues related to Internet Telephony. TEC did not think that there is any necessity to change the 8-digit fixed line numbers. As the growth of fixed lines is slow, there is no need to move it to the higher level, Prabhakar said. TEC has also recommended starting the 11-digit with 99..

Most operators feel the existing switching capacities of the operators are enough to accommodate the extra digit. There is no need to change the hardware platform.

The change will be in the software only and it will not take more than a month to upgrade the changes, said a Tata Teleservices senior executive responsible for technology.

A section of the industry, however, feels they will need time to implement the change. Pankaj Chaturvedi, associate vice president of Aircel Business Solutions, said it all depends on when DoT takes the decision. A number of changes may have different levels of impact on the operation. It is difficult to guess unless we start the work. Hopefully, DoT will provide the required time to complete the upgradation job.

But Chaturvedi believes that besides the mobile numbering plan, the government should also look at the unified toll free number across the telecom sector so that different operators do not have different toll free numbers. Prabhakar agrees that there is need for a change in the way we look at the telecom numbering issue. For example, in case of emergency numbers, we have to look at the problems faced by roaming customers.