April 15, 2008


Fixing non-existent problem

Department of Telecom's technical arm TEC has come up with suggestion to migrate all the mobile phone numbers from 10 digits to 11 digits. The reason given being the explosive growth of the subscribers, which currently stands at 240 mn.

Now, theoretically, in 10 digits I can count till 10 billion, which is like 9 times the population of the country. Certain amount of fragmentation is inevitable as numbers need to be allocated with a set numbers sharing prefix to a telco in each circle. Even if we assume that in the next general elections, political parties to provide one cellphone for each person in the country - way better and sensible than an idiot box per home - we will require around 1.1 bn numbers. Add the fact that number portability will kick in soon, where number will belong to subscriber and not to the telco, India needs exactly 1.1 bn numbers. That is barely 10% of what is possible with 10 digit scheme. Why we need 11 digit scheme to support 100 bn numbers is beyond my imagination.

PS: I really think one cellphone per family, if not person, is quite cool election promise. For the first time, I will rally for an outrageous election promise.


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