Several media houses reported yesterday and on Friday that TRAI has recommended changing the mobile phone numbers in the country from the current 10 digit numbers to 11 digit numbers. But now it has emerged that it was fake news, and media houses misinterpreted a guideline by TRAI to claim that the country is moving to an 11 digit numbering system for mobile numbers.
In a news report titled, “Add a 0 Before Dialling a Mobile Phone Number, Says TRAI”, NDTV had claimed that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended switching from 10 to 11-digit mobile numbers in view of the increasing number of mobile users. As per the report originally published on May 29, the switch from the existing 10-digit number numbers would provide an additional capacity of 10 billion numbers.
The report claimed that TRAI is moving to a 11 digit mobile number system with 9 as the first digit. It also claimed that the existing mobile numbers will also change as the digit 0 will be added before them.
Similarly, India Today also reported that TRAI wants to change the 10-digit phone numbers into 11-digit numbers. Quoting the recommendations for developing a “Unified Number Plan” released by TRAI, the report says that one of the major recommendations mentioned in the release is changing the 10 digits to 11 digits for regular mobile numbers. It said that the existing mobile numbers could have an additional zero and the new mobile numbers could start with a new digit in future.
Economic Times also reported that TRAI has proposed 11-digit mobile numbers to meet future needs. The report said that the telecom regulator has suggested using 11-digit numbers for mobile phones, instead of 10 digits, to ensure adequate numbering resources for user base growth in the future.
“With the current policy of allotment after 70% utilisation, this would suffice till India has seven billion connections. This could mean liberal allocation to service providers and administrative ease,” the Economic Times report quoting the TRAI recommendation to the telecom department said.
What is the Truth?
In a press release by TRAI Secretary SK Gupta categorically rejected the claims made by NDTV in its news report. The apex telecom regulation body reiterated that several media houses had misreported its recommendation about an 11-digit numbering scheme. It assures users that the country will continue to have the existing 10-digit mobile numbering system.
Some media houses have reported that TRAI has recommended 11-digit numbering plan for mobile services. As per TRAI recommendation,country will continue with 10-digit numbering,we’ve categorically rejected shifting to 11-digit numbering plan:Telecom Regulatory Authority of India pic.twitter.com/1YQR1ndzh1— ANI (@ANI) May 31, 2020
Clearing the fuss around the 11-digit numbering system, TRAI stated that it had recommended adding a prefix ‘0’ while making a call from a fixed line to a mobile number and vice-versa. It revealed that the small change would provide an additional 2544 million numbering resources. TRAI further clarified, “The introduction of a dialing prefix for a particular type of call is not akin to increasing the number of digits in the telephone number.” The Telecom Authority of India has stated that the recommendations suggest only a ‘minor addition’ to the existing dial system.
NDTV has now updated its report with the following text in its footnote – “TRAI has clarified that mobile numbers will continue to be ten digits, but you have to dial a 0 when calling from landlines.” But the reports published by other media houses are still present as they were.