Starting Monday, BSNL Chennai Telephones is launching a week-long online e-auction for allotting landline “vanity numbers” from a pool of about 20,000 numbers across exchanges under its network.

The modalities and procedures are similar to those adopted in the mobile vanity number e-auction, which has in the past caught the fancy of several users.

Mobile number auctions in the past have thrown up some measure of “vanity” behaviour whenever a new series of CellOne levels such as 94456 or 94459 is launched. The most coveted numbers have been in the ‘penta-sequence’, where all the succeeding five numbers of a CellOne level, such as 94456, are a series of the same digits, like ‘00000’, ‘77777’ or ‘99999’.

Such auctions have also shown a craze for sequence with ascending (12345) or descending (98765) numbers.

Bids for a ‘Level II’ vanity number reflect a yearning for a fancy sequence for the last four digits while bidders for ‘Level III’ vanity numbers have settled for a bit of both —a fancy three-digit sequence and a cheaper bid amount.

However, while e-auctions for mobile numbers had the added attraction of mobile number portability, the service allowing the user to retain a number even while migrating to another operator — in fact, one penta-sequence sold for as high as Rs. 1.7 lakh in last auction— it has to be seen if a similar exercise for fixed phones will generate any fizz.

“The e-auction for landlines is a bit of an uncharted territory, but we are optimistic about a good response,” G. Vijaya, spokesperson for BSNL Chennai Telephones said.

The landline numbers that will go under the virtual hammer are also categorised into Level I, Level II and Level III with the respective base price fixed at Rs. 20,000, Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 5,000. The auction will begin at 10 a.m. on Monday and close at 5 p.m. on April 22. Interested customers can initiate a bid by paying a non-refundable registration amount of Rs.100.

Subject to technical feasibility, it will be issued to the highest bidder, BSNL said. More details are posted at www.eauction.bsnl.co.in