Get ready to remember 10-digit landline numbers as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday recommended that the country should migrate to an integrated numbering scheme for both fixed and mobile services by December 31, 2011. This suggestion comes in view of numbering crunch that mobile operators are facing due to massive expansion of subscribers every month.

Releasing recommendations on “Efficient utilisation of numbering resources in India,” the TRAI said: “The existing 10-digit numbering scheme should be continued to avoid inconvenience to the customers that would accompany any move to shift to an 11 digit numbering scheme.”

In other words, both fixed line and mobile phones will have a 10-digit number. This would make available enough numbers to cater to the expansion of existing services and introduction of new services for the next 30-40 years. This integrated numbering will also facilitate extension of number portability to fixed lines, the regulator said.

With over 1.5-crore mobile subscribers being added every month, making India the fastest growing mobile market in the world, issuing new numbering schemes is becoming a big problem for the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). While the ‘9' series took over 10 years to get occupied, the ‘8' series, issued recently by the DoT, is also likely to get exhausted by next year. Though the DoT had suggested 11-digit mobile numbers, the TRAI has recommended 10-digit phone number for both landline and mobile phones to meet future requirements.

The regulator pointed out that the existing National Numbering Plan 2003 (NNP 2003) was designed for 75-crore connections, including 45-crore mobile connections, and was designed to last till 2030, has come under severe strain with the mobile numbers having crossed that mark in 2009 itself. With the number of subscribers likely to exceed 100-crore by 2014, the situation calls for an urgent review to facilitate continued availability of numbers with minimum disruption to any service. The recommendations propose a solution in this regard, it added.

Till the integrated scheme is implemented, the dialling of intra-circle calls from fixed lines to mobile will be with ‘0' prefixed. This would enable exploitation of spare capacity available in the sub-levels of existing short distance charging area codes, to the extent of about 100-crore numbers without affecting any telephone number or STD code.

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