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Mobile Numbers May Soon Have 11 Digits


If a proposal by DoT goes through, we may all see an additional digit added to our mobile numbers. While India wasn’t expected to reach the 500 million subscriber-mark till 2030, it seems to have beat that deadline by a good 21 years.

As is obvious, a ten digit numbering scheme can support only a limited number of phone number combinations, and while a plan was in place to have the transition by 2030, it seems that we are bound to run short much sooner than that.

The proposal would have all current cell phone numbers appended with a ‘9’, instantly granting the country ten times as many phone numbers, and hopefully solving the problem for another few decades, or till foetuses decide to have their own dual-SIM mobile phones, whichever is sooner.

While 500 million subscribers are active, as many as 800 million might have already been used up, as people often change service providers and numbers, and operators often discontinue operating such numbers. Interestingly, it seems 20 per cent of allotted numbers are never even used.

While the DoT seems to be pushing to have this change ready, operators claim they haven’t received any intimation of the same, and are only aware of the long standing proposal. Additionally, they say this change will require extensive changes to their software and hardware, and is not something that can be done in such a short period. Why not get 20 digit phone numbers and save us the trouble for another couple centuries?

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