Rapid growth of mobile subscriber base in the country has forced the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) to not only open the ‘95’ series that was so far being used for intra-circle connectivity by landline users, but also start preparing to launch an altogether new mobile number series beginning with ‘8.’
With over 1-crore mobile subscribers being added every month and the all-India mobile subscriber base crossing the 42-crore mark, the current ‘9’ series is likely to get exhausted by next year. Though DoT managed to avert the crisis for the time being by opening the ‘95’ series, the department, along with telecom operators, is now busy preparing for the launch of the ‘8’ series for mobile subscribers from next year.
A few months ago DoT had to end intra-circle landline communication facility through ‘95’ dialling as the existing mobile number capacity was fast exhausting. They withdrew this service and reverted to the old model of STD codes, thereby getting the ‘95’ series vacated for mobile subscribers.
The opening of the ‘95’ series gave them 10 crore new numbers, out of which over 5 crore are likely to be used by mobile operators while the rest would be kept as ‘reserve’ by DoT.
All this has now prompted DoT to rethink its future plans.
Initially, some senior officials suggested use of an 11-digit mobile number instead of the existing 10-digit that would have taken care of the long-term demand, but it would have meant heavy expenditure to upgrade telecom infrastructure to make it compatible to the new series, for which the department and mobile operators were not ready. DoT finally decided to consider the idea of introducing mobile number series starting with ‘8’.
However, it will only be a short-term solution to the “problem”.
In 2003 DoT came up with a 30-year numbering plan, but the rapid growth in the mobile subscriber base, mainly due to the booming rural market, has forced it to relook into its policy and consider an 11-digit numbering system. Therefore, when the ‘8’ series gets exhausted, ‘11’ digit mobile numbers will be introduced.