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TRAI explores fines for telcos hoarding unused phone numbers

TRAI is exploring an option to penalize telecom operators for hoarding utilized fixed-line phone numbers as it seeks to address the crunch of numbering resources inhibiting the growth of new connections.

In the consultation paper on “Revision of national numbering plan”, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is exploring options to change the fixed line numbers in line with the method used for mobile numbers to address the shortage of numbering resources in the segment.

The consultation paper follows request from the Department of Telecom to the TRAI to address present and possible future constraints related to availability of adequate fixed line numbering resources arising out of rapid growth.

“Should a financial disincentive be imposed upon TSPs for retaining X per cent or more of the allocated TIs remaining as unutilized beyond a certain timeframe? If yes, please specify the X per cent with suggested disincentive mechanism and retention timeframe with detailed justification?” the paper said.

TRAI observed that over 6.28 crore fixed line numbers have been allocated to telecom operators out of which 2.74 crore are reported to have been subscribed and 3.54 crore numbers remain unutilised.

The regulator said that one of the options is that a uniform dialing pattern of 10 Digit for both fixed line and mobile services can be explored for enhancing number resources.

In case of fixed line local area code consists of 2-4 digits and subscriber number consists of 6-8 digits while incase of mobile phone all 10 numbers are telecom identifiers which act as address of subscribers on the network and help in connecting calls.

“As is the case currently with mobile numbers, in order to ensure availability of TIs for fixed lines, should a 10-digit closed numbering scheme be made applicable to fixed lines also?” the regulator said. Indian Express

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