India will face a ‘number crunch’ (shortage of phone numbers) by the middle of next year.
With a swelling subscriber base in the country, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) are fast looking at other options, including the use of 11-digit mobile numbers.
According to a report in an Indian newspaper, All the phone numbers series currently in use, like the ones beginning with 98 or 99, are quickly getting used up with the subscriber base in the country expected to reach a billion and beyond by next year.
“There might be a serious problem if a new series of numbers are not brought in by the middle of next year. We are theoretically reaching the limit of existing number sets with a subscriber base of one billion.” said a telecom expert within the country.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had reportedly sent a proposal to the DoT, which the latter did not act upon. The expert added, ”DoT said that it may need remapping of networks and there might be issues conforming to international numbering standards too. DoT hasn’t rejected the idea completely but is looking into alternatives.”
“The numbers will have to be increased by at least one digit i.e 11 digits to accommodate new devices. However, to ensure there’s absolutely no scope for any problem, we may even see the introduction of 12 digit numbers,” the newspaper reported.
Among the immediate measures, the TRAI has reportedly made recommendations to discontinue inactive numbers in a bid to free up some space. It even plans on getting over a million landline numbers to be used in the mobile domain.