The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday floated a consultation paper for developing a unified numbering plan for fixed line and mobile services.
The consultation paper analyses the changes that affect the national numbering plan and identifies the ways in which numbering resource management and allocation policy might be managed for ensuring adequate numbering resources.
The paper noted that the last major review of numbering plan was carried out in 2003, with the formulation of National Numbering Plan 2003. This created a numbering space for 750 million telephone connections — 450 million cellular mobile and 300 million basic phones. “The National Numbering Plan (2003) was formulated for a projected forecast of 50 per cent teledensity by the year 2030. The anticipated 450 million cellular mobile connections by 2030 had already been achieved in 2009. The total number of telephone subscribers in India stands at 1,186.63 million with a teledensity of 90.11 at the end of June, 2019,”noted the paper.
Trai also noted that in view of the recent telecom mergers and closures, it needs to consider whether any change is required in the allocation criterion. “It is also possible to take back some of the numbering resources if it is not getting used. In case of mergers, it makes sense that the combined previous allocations should be considered for calculating the utilisation before any new allocation,” noted the paper.
At present, numbering resources allocated for wireline are underutilised, but the main challenge is to ensure adequate resources for wireless services. Even if a 200 per cent wireless tele-density in India is assumed, in 2050 the total number of mobile telephones working in this country is likely to be around 3.28 billion. The present capacity of 2,100 million number resources with DoT will be exhausted after nearly 1.2 billion connections have been given and after that there are no new numbers are left for allocation unless more levels/sublevels are freed up for mobile network use.
In case the numbering system is updated to a uniform 10 or 11 digit format, given telephone numbers are also associated with the digital identity of individuals, changes will be required in all databases requiring telephone numbers for identity, financial banking services, e-commerce and government welfare schemes using telephone numbers.
DoT has already allocated 13 digit numbers for M2M communication. It is also possible to shift these data only connections (SIMs used for data cards, dongles and other devices used only for Internet access) to 13 digit numbering series, since these devices are not used for making public switched telephone network (PSTN) voice calls.
Key issueS raised
- Data on shifting mobile numbers from 10 digit to 13 digit numbering (including dongles, data cards)
- Moving on to 11 digit numbering scheme for mobile and continuing with 10 digit numbering for fixed line services
Need for operators to file an “Annual Return on Numbering Resource Utilisation” to the numbering plan administrator for monitoring and ensuring efficient utilisation of number