The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday released its latest recommendations for developing a ‘Unified Numbering Plan’ to ensure adequate numbering resources for fixed line (aka landline) and mobile services in the country. This will lead to the current phone numbers changing — existing mobile numbers will require a “0” in front of them to dial from a fixed line connection. These recommendations are based on the inputs received from various stakeholders and discussions held during an Open House Discussion (OHD) that was held in January, the regulator said in a statement. One of the key points mentioned in the recommendations include switching from 10 to 11 digits in case of regular mobile numbers, which will lead to the addition of a zero for existing numbers, and new phone numbers could start with different digits going forward.
Here, we are listing the top five recommendations by TRAI that could transform the existing numbering system for both fixed-line and mobile services.
- Mandating prefix “0” for calling mobile numbers from a fixed-line connection – At present, mobile phones can be accessed from a fixed-line phone without dialling a prefix “0”. The latest recommendations are, however, mandating “0” to be prefixed for dialling from a landline number. This means that just like how you dial inter-service area mobile calls from a fixed line phone, you will be required to prefix “0” to access a mobile phone even within a service area. It is important to note that there won’t be any change in dialling landline to landline, mobile to a landline, or mobile to mobile calls.
- Shifting from 10-digit to 11-digit numbering scheme in case of mobile numbers – The second major recommendation by TRAI is to switch from 10 to 11 digits for mobile numbers, with first digit as “9”. The regulator said that this new change will give a total capacity of 10 billion numbers.
- Mobile numbers allotted for dongles to be shifted to 13 digits – Just like the numbers associated with our mobile phones, various devices such as dongles and data cards currently have the 10-digit numbering scheme. The latest list of recommendations, however, include a point that such devices should be shifted from the existing 10-digit to 13-digit numbering scheme. This will also release some numbering resources, TRAI said in its recommendations.
- Moving fixed line numbers to a sub-level of “2” or “4” – Since some operators in the past offered landline connections to users with numbers starting from “3”, “5”, and “6” numeric that are no longer in service, TRAI has recommended to move the underutilised fixed line numbers to a sub-level of “2” or “4”. This will allow mobile operators to use the underutilised numbers for mobile phone connections in the future.
- All fixed line connections should be provided with “0” dialling facility – Currently, fixed line users who have opted for subscriber trunk dialling (STD) are only provided with “0” dialling facility. TRAI, however, has recommended to allow all fixed line subscribers to use the “0” dialling facility. This is essential as mobile numbers would be required to dial with the prefix “0” from landline numbers.
In a document highlighting the recommendations, TRAI has mentioned that India already has about 1.2 billion telephone numbers, with a tele-density of 87.47 percent. The number of fixed and mobile subscribers in the country is also growing rapidly. All this has chiefly led to finding new solutions to have adequate availability of number resources.