The 11-digit mobile numbers may take time to implement

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New Delhi: The Department of Telecom's (DoT) plan to get the 500 million-plus mobile users in the country to adopt a 11-digit cellular number from 2010, has been put on hold, reports Economic Times.

DoT had recently prepared a draft notification in which it sought all cell phone users to adopt a 11-digit numbering plan by prefixing '9' to their existing cellphone numbers. However, the department has been confronted with stiff opposition from all leading operators who said that it would be very difficult for India to move to 11-digit mobile numbers in 2010 as this would involve making massive technical changes to both software and mobile network configurations. They also argued that the process could take more than a year to implement.

Now, in an internal note, the DoT has pointed out that moving to 11-digit mobile numbers has serious security concerns and therefore, the move should be put on hold. Also, the government is now examining an alternate proposal from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the body representing GSM operators, which had suggested that levels '7' and '8' should be vacated and allocated to cellular services. If the proposal is accepted, then mobile numbers will continue to have 10-digits, but will begin with '7' and '8' also.

COAI has pointed out that opening up of these levels 'will give 2,000 million more numbering resources' and that even with 60 percent efficiency, this would cater to 1,200 million more subscribers which is sufficient to meet the requirement of the next seven to 10 years.

The existing numbering plan was fixed in 2003 and the DoT had expected it to be in place till 2030. This is because, based on the 2003 projections, India was expected to have 500 million mobile customers only by 2030. But the country has reached that mark in 2009 itself.

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