Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc

What is the National Numbering Plan?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: TRAI, National numbering plan

Mains level: National numbering plan

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended that a new National Numbering Plan be issued at the earliest so that a uniquely identifiable number can be provided to every subscriber in India.

The TRAI and Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal are quite often seen in the news.  Most recent was the dispute risen due to AGR dues.

TRAI has a wide range of jurisdiction over Telecoms. Keep a track on all such news.

National Numbering Plan

  • The management of numbering resources is governed by the National Numbering Plan.
  • The Department of Telecom administers the numbers for fixed and the mobile networks based on the ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) recommendations.
  • TRAI has recommended automated allocation of numbering resources be done using number management system software to speed up the process

Broadly, the TRAI has recommended:

  • switching to an 11-digit mobile number,
  • reallocation of mobile numbering resources surrendered by operators who have shut shop and
  • prefixing zero for all mobile calls made from fixed line

Issues with 11 digit number

  • TRAI said that some serious problems are anticipated with a change in the mobile number from 10 to 11 digits.
  • Migrating to 11 digits would require widespread modifications in the configuration of switches involving cost.
  • This would also cause inconvenience to the customers in the form of dialling extra digits and updating phone memory.
  • This could lead to more dialling errors, traffic, and loss of revenue to telecom operators.

Still, why need a plan as such?

  • The total number of telephone subscribers in India stands at 1,177.02 million with a teledensity of 87.45% at the end of January 2020.
  • This increasing digitization would pave the way towards the dream of digital India and mobile economy.
  • Thus, it has become necessary to review the utilization of numbering resources in the country.
  • Considering the above scenario the implementation of the TRAI’s recommendation with solutions to possible issues would help for sustainable growth of the telecommunication services.
  • Hence TRAI needs to review the utilization of the numbering resources and make some policy decisions to ensure that adequate resources are available for sustainable growth of the telecom services.

Back2Basics: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)

  • The TRAI is a statutory body set up under section 3 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
  • It is the regulator of the telecommunications and its tariffs in India.
  • The TRAI Act was amended by an ordinance, effective from 24 January 2000, establishing a Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory and disputes functions from TRAI.
  • TRAI regularly issues orders and directions on various subjects such as tariffs, interconnections, quality of service, DTH services and mobile number portability.

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