As per TRAI’s Indian Telecom Services Performance Indicators January–March 2023, the internet penetration in India, as of March 2023, is over 880 million, and the number of telecom subscribers, as of March 2023, is over 1172 million.
The Telecom Regulatory of India (TRAI) is planning to bring some major changes in country’s telecom sector. In this regard, the regulator has released a set of recommendations on ‘Ensuring Adequate Numbering Resources for Fixed Line and Mobile Services’.
As a part of that, TRAI has recommended using 11-digit long mobile numbers in the country. “Switching from 10 to 11 digits with the first digit for mobile number as ‘9’ would give a total capacity of 10 billion numbers. With the current policy of allotment after 70% utilisation, this would suffice till India has 7 billion connections,” it said.
Other than this, the regulator has also recommended to mandate dialing prefix ‘0’ for calling mobile numbers from fixed line connection.
Presently, inter-service area mobile calls from fixed phone can be accessed with a dialing prefix ‘0’. However, mobile phones are accessed from a fixed line phone, within a service area, without dialing prefix ‘0’.
TRAI explains that “this puts a limitation that any digit which has been used as a first digit for fixed network (for local calls) cannot be used for mobile numbers.”
“By making it mandatory to access mobile numbers in a service area from fixed network by dialing prefix ‘0’, all the free sub-levels in levels ‘2’,’3’,’4’, and ‘6’, can also be used for mobile numbers,” it added.
The regulator also suggested to shift mobile numbers used purely for the internet or mobile data (dongles) from 10-digit to 13-digit.
“Some mobile connections are used purely for the Internet or mobile data (dongles) but 10-digit mobile numbers are allocated from the same series which is used for voice communication. DoT has already allocated 13-digit numbers for M2M communication,” it said.
“It is also possible to shift these data only connections (SIMs4 used for data cards, dongles and other devices used only for the Internet access) to 13-digit numbering series, since these devices are not used for making PSTN voice calls. It is also possible to provide private-numbering series for these numbers by the cellular mobile operators (which is internal to their network). This will release some of the numbering resources blocked by the operators,” the document added.
TRAI, in the document also mentioned that the total number of telephone subscribers in India stands at 1177.02 million with a tele-density of 87.45% at the end of January 2020. These numbers of mobile or of fixed users are increasing rapidly. Therefore, the regulator believes that “after 17 years into the National Numbering Plan, adequate availability of numbering resources is threatened because of an increase in the range of services and massive growth in the number of connections, especially in the mobile segment.”