New Delhi: Facing a peculiar situation of exhausting 10-digit mobile numbers, C-DOT, a research and development organisation of the telecom sector, is studying if the Unique Identity Number could be converted into mobile number.
The identity number could be the one to be issued by the government for which an UID Authority has been set up, or any other like driving licence number.
The situation has arisen in the wake of phenomenal growth in the mobile telephony with over 1 crore subscribers being added every month.
“We are carrying out a study to check whether some other ID numbers can be used as the mobile number. The current, 10-digit number will get exhaust soon. So we are looking at this—one number—concept where in a single number can be used for different purposes,” C-DOT executive director P V Acharya told PTI.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) is planing to come up with 11-12 digit number, but what is guarantee that this will also not fall short of demand, he said.
“What we have thought is why not have one unique number associated with the person like the social security number in US or the UID. So that unique number we can use for the purpose of mobile communications also,” he said.
However, Acharya added that it (the number) is not usable right away as there are certain issues of protocol and standard.
“We are examining whether it is usable and if so then what modifications are required in the infrastructure,” he added.
The project is still at a very preliminary stage and no funding has been decided yet for the project. C-DOT has started the study project in May and is likely to come up with some conclusion within a year.
The government is planning to rework the current numbering plan and is already debating with the telecom regulator Trai whether 11-12 digit numbers could be offered.
The present numbering plan was framed in 2003 to serve estimated 75 crore subscribers until 2030. However, the booming Indian telecom sector is likely to reach 75 crore mobile users much before that as currently India’s mobile subscriber base is 44.16 crore.
Reworking the present numbering system means that cell phone numbers could go beyond the usual 10 digit.
However, the cost and technology is a major consideration here. If the operator has to provide a less than 10 digit or more than 10 digit number, they have to invest a lot on upgrading their database.
It is believed that both the government and the industry are looking at a numbering framework that will cause minimum disturbance to existing mobile phone users.
In India, the first numbering plan was announced in 1993. In 2003, a fresh plan came about.
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.