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Fixed-line phones may get 10-digit numbers
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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended the use of 10-digit numbers for fixed-line phones by December 2011. At present, only mobile phone numbers have 10 digits, while fixed-line phones have eight.

The regulator had earlier been considering migration to a 11-digit numbering scheme. But, after receiving comments from various stakeholders, Trai said such a migration would have several disadvantages for customers, as well as service providers. It would increase the cost of system upgrades at the operator’s level, besides re-issuance of new SIMs to existing subscribers.

“The country should migrate to an integrated 10-digit numbering scheme at the earliest. All preparations should be complete by September 30, 2011, and actual migration to the integrated scheme should be completed by December 31, 2011,” Trai said in its recommendations on ‘Efficient Utilisation of Numbering Resources in India’.

It said the 10-digit number system for both mobile and fixed phones would make available enough numbers to cater to the expansion of existing services and the introduction of new services for the next 30-40 years. Besides, the new numbering system would also facilitate the extension of number portability to fixed lines.

The current numbering system was designed for 750 million connections, including 450 million mobile connections. The numbering system was supposed to last till 2030, but it came under severe strain with mobile numbers crossing the mark in 2009 itself, Trai said. The number of telecom subscribers is estimated to exceed 1 billion by 2014.

However, the regulator would work out detailed integrated numbering, routing plans and interconnection architecture after acceptance of recommendations by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). If required, a separate consultation process would be carried out, Trai said.

Trai has suggested some options in the interim period till the integrated numbering scheme is implemented. Some such options are using spare sub-levels of levels ‘7’ and ‘8’, vacating levels ‘7’ and ‘8’ of Subscriber Trunk Dial (STD) codes, withdrawing level ‘7’ allotted to service providers for fixed-line numbers and prefixing ‘0’ to calls from fixed lines to mobiles within the same service area.
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