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11-Digit Mobile Numbers for India starting January 2010

In 2003, the Department of Telecom (DoT) in India had projected the ten-digit mobile numbers would be meet the needs for 30 long years. As of Feb 2009 India registered a user base of 375.74 million wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA, WLL(F)).

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has amended the National Numbering Plan to introduce 11-digit mobile numbers in the country. The current 10-digit numbers are likely to be inadequate to accommodate the growing new subscriber additions.

In an internal note, dated November 26, 2009, DoT says, "The National Numbering Plan 2003 is amended for migration to 11-digit numbering plan in mobile services by prefixing digit '9' in existing two-digit PLMN Access Code." The mobile number has three components of numbering -- PLMN code, MSC code and subscriber number. The regulator wants another digit to be added to the PLMN code, which, at present, is a two-digit code. MSC code is a three-digit number, while subscriber number is a five digit code.

DoT, which had planned to introduce 11-digit numbers in April this year, wants operators to migrate to the 11-digit ecosystem by January 2010. However, it remains to be seen if operators would be able to migrate to new numbering plan at a short notice.

The telecom operators will only have to make changes in the software for the new numbering scheme. But, the telecom industry needs time to change and understand the implications of the new numbering scheme. “A number of changes may have different levels of impact on the operation. It is difficult to guess unless we start the work. Hopefully, DoT will provide the required time to complete the up-gradation job” , said Pankaj Chaturvedi, associate vice president of Aircel Business Solutions.

India is not the only country where mobile numbers have had to be changed because of the growth story and new operators joining in. China and the UK are among others to have done it. The US is believed to have handled things much better because it follows an integrated numbering plan—for fixed andmobile phones.

The only two other countries to use 11-digit numbers are China (user base of 642.16m as of Jan 2009) and UK (moved to 11-digit due to technical reasons and not due to user base which is lower than India). So the rankings of mobile user base by country looks something like,

  • China – 642.16 million in Jan 2009 (11-digit)
  • India – 375.74 million in Feb 2009
  • USA – 276.1 million in Jan 2009
  • Russia – 181.5 million
  • Brazil – 145 million
  • Indonesia – 117 million
  • Germany – 106 million
  • Japan – 104.83 milion
  • Italy – 92.8 million
  • Pakistan – 90.52 million

Y2K Opportunity?

Many companies thrived on the Y2K opportunity in the software world. So will mobile related developers get a lot of work in converting the code from 10-digit to 11-digit? There is work but not to the level of Y2K.