Bangalore: India could run out of phone numbers by next year. It is seen that all the phone number series presently in use, like the numbers beginning with 98 or 99, are rapidly getting used up with the subscriber base in the nation and is expected to be a billion and more by next year, reported Ishan Srivastava for TNN.
Mathews further said allocation of numbers to operators is done in batches, based on factors such as size of subscriber base and efficiency in utilizing existing number sets, among other things.
A batch system is used in order to avoid confusion since all kinds of phone numbers are flooding the market. Further, a particular range of numbers is given to an operator, normally with an identifier like the first two digits, like 98 or 99, which come to be associated with that operator.
Sandip Biswas, director at consultancy firm Deloitte said "None of these number ranges can be used to their full extent due to the way in which they are allotted. Only a certain portion of these numbers are used as phone numbers. This is called percentage of numbering system utilization and it hovers around 50 percent, meaning only around half or more of the potential numbers are used as phone numbers," as reported by TOI. Biswas added that "The numbers will have to be increased by at least one digit to accommodate new devices. However, to ensure there's absolutely no scope for any problem, we may even see the introduction of 12 digit numbers."
Mathews said that a similar proposal was given to Department of Telecom (DoT) by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which DoT didn't adopt. Mathews said "DoT said that it may need remapping of networks and there might be issues conforming to international numbering standards too. DoT hasn't rejected the idea completely but is looking into alternatives."
However, some measures have been taken to address the situation. "Trai has made some recommendations like getting rid of inactive users to free up phone numbers and getting more than a million landline numbers to be used in the mobile domain. While these are small numbers in the overall picture, they can help for another three-six months," as reported by TOI.