India may reach mobile number limit by 2013

As India’s population continues to grow at a high rate, mobile phone usage has also grown tremendously in the country of late. The country’s mobile subscriber base is set to surpass the 1 billion mark closer to 2013.

Rajan Mathews, who is the director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), spoke to the Times of India recently and expressed concern, saying that it is a serious problem if new series of numbers are not added on by mid next year. He went on to say that the limit is being reached for existing number sets as the country approaches the 1 billion subscriber mark.

The Department of Telecom is looking for solutions to the problem, with one solution being to add an extra number at the end of the existing 10 digit phone numbers. According to Mathews, phone numbers have been allocated to operators in batches, with the first couple of digits being used as identifiers. The system was put into place to avoid confusion and as a method of segregation.

Sandip Biswas, who is the director of consultancy at Deloitte, said that the phone numbers are not being used effectively with the current method of allocation, as only 50 percent of the numbers are being used effectively as telephone numbers.

Biswas went on to say that India may have to add one extra digit to their numbers to accommodate additional users and devices and the country may even see a 12 digit number to be completely safe.

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