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TRAI, the Indian telecom regulatory body has come out with a set of recommendations to ensure the availability of phone numbers for fixed and mobile connections in the coming years. Currently, India has about 1.2 connections, and the new recommendations will ensure up to 7 billion connections. TRAI further said, with the current policy of allotment after 70% utilisation, this would suffice till India has 700 crores connections. This could mean liberal allocation to service providers and administrative ease. The regulator also suggested that data-only use SIM cards used for dongles and some gadgets be shifted from 10-digit numbering to 13-digit numbering allocated by DoT for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication as these SIM cards are not used for voice calls.
Now updated its report with the following text in its footnote – “TRAI has clarified that mobile numbers will continue to be ten digits, but you have to dial a 0 when calling from landlines.” But the reports published by other media houses are still present as they were.
11 Digit Mobile Numbers
"TRAI released its recommendations on Ensuring Adequate Numbering Resources for Fixed Line and Mobile Services'' A press release was also issued on the same day. In this regard, it is observed that some media houses have reported that TRAI has recommended the 11-digit numbering scheme for mobile services. It is a complete misinterpretation of the aforesaid recommendations. TRAI has not recommended 11-digit numbering scheme for mobile services," it said.
During the course of the consultation, most of the operators opposed 11-digit numbering for mobile numbers, arguing that an 11-digit numbering scheme would incur massive configuration modifications including software and hardware, involve an additional cost for the players, and cause confusion and inconvenience to the customers. This would also cause inconvenience to the customers in the form of dialling extra digit and updating phone memory and could lead to more dialling errors, infructuous traffic, and loss of revenue to the operator, Trai explained in its recommendations.
7 Billion Connections To Be Available
Using the 11 digit phone number policy, this can help provide connections to 7 billion people. According to TRAI, after 70% utilization, the new policy would be enough till India has 7 billion connections and thus recommended using 11-digit mobile numbers in the country.
‘0’ As Prefix For Mobile Numbers
TRAI also has recommended using ‘0’ as a prefix for mobile numbers. This has to be used while calling from a fixed-line connection. Though, already the inter-state mobile calls from a landline connection can be accessed adding ‘0′ as the prefix before the 10 digits mobile phone number.
Different Prefix Numbers For Different Areas
To call a mobile number in any particular service area from a landline or fixed network, users will have to dial prefix ‘0’ before the mobile number. The free sub-levels in levels ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘4’, and ‘6’ can also be used for mobile numbers.
National Numbering Plan (NNP)
Under the new set of recommendations, TRAI has suggested a new National Numbering Plan (NNP), which is said to be issued at the earliest. TRAI confirmed that the consolidated list of shortcodes will be updated every year with the changes made.
India Has 1.2 Billion Connections
Currently, India has 1.2 billion connections as TRAI recommended. The regulatory body has mentioned that India already has around 1.2 billion telephone numbers. That sums up for a teledensity of 87.47% given the total population of India. Both fixed and mobile subscribers are still growing rapidly.
The press release said, "It is worthwhile mentioning in this regard that in the existing dialling scheme, the dialling prefix 0'' is mandatory while making inter-SDCA Call from a fixed-line number to fixed-line number. This dialling prefix 0'' is also mandatory when calls are made from a mobile number to any fixed line number. Therefore, the current recommendation suggests a minor addition in the dialling pattern." The SDCA stands for Short Distance Charging Area, equivalent to a Taluka, the press release said !