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Spice Telecom eyes big bucks from auction of fancy mobile numbers

Puneet Pal Singh Gill  |  New Delhi/ Ludhiana 

Cashing in on the craze among Punjab customers to have odd phone numbers, Spice has decided to hold an online auction for its 20 odd selective phone numbers.
After Amit Malhotra, from Ludhiana, spent jaw-dropping Rs 15 lakh for a mobile number 9780000000, Spice is set to auction its 20 odd selective phone numbers online. Few among others are numbers like 9855555555, 9914511111, 9914500007.
It has also announced the launch of its new '99145' number series and has made selected numbers from old series available for its subscribers.
Even for a city like Ludhiana, known for its flaunting attitude, which has the highest number of Mercs compared to any metro and where Rs 6 lakh suit lengths are a common sartorial acquisitions, Amit's new number has become an emblem of status.
Speaking to Business Standard, Mukul Khanna, vic e-president (Marketing), Spice said the company had started this bidding scheme after observing the craze for VIP numbers among mobile users in Punjab.
"The most favoured premium numbers include the Octa 5 series 9855555555, the Penta series 9914555555, and the auspicious number 9914500786. To bid for a special premium number, one needs to simply log on to the company's website www.spiceindia.com, register with it and submit their bid for a number of their choice. The bidding is open from September 25 for a period of 30 days.''
"We have noticed that lot many Punjabi's are buying such numbers and majority of them hail from Ludhiana, Amritsar and Bathinda," Khanna added. Earlier this month, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) earned nearly Rs10 crore this week by auctioning fancy numbers to number-crazy people.
A number like 9864000005 was bid for a whopping Rs 9 lakh by a successful bidder. The mobile numbers 9864000018 and 9864000001 went for Rs 8.5 lakh and Rs7.5 lakh respectively.
Even though the authenticity of the bidders is yet to be verified, BSNL officials here are overjoyed by the response from people for the so-called VIP numbers.
Earlier, all these VIP and fancy numbers were said to be given to influential people including ministers, politicians, bureaucrats, police officials, industrialists et al.
A bank executive in Jalandhar is known to possess 86 such fancy mobile numbers and wants to take his count to 100. He has purchased most of the numbers through bidding.
Airtel, however, has not joined the bandwagon of selling fancy mobile numbers to subscribers.

First Published: Wed, September 26 2007. 00:00 IST
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