According to a circular [PDF] issued by the Department of Telecommunications on November 20, 2020, it will be mandatory to prefix ‘0’ before dialling a mobile number from a landline connection from the next year. The order has been passed to ensure adequate numbering resources for fixed-line and mobile services.
The telecom companies have to play a suitable announcement in the fixed-line to inform about the requirement of dialling the prefix ‘0’ for all fixed to mobile calls. In case a subscriber dials a fixed-line to mobile call without prefixing ‘0’, the announcement should be played. To ensure the transition is smooth, all the landline subscribers will get the STD dialling facility, as dialling a number starting with ‘0’ from landline phone is considered as STD dialling.
As per the circular, all telecom companies have to make all the arrangements to ensure compliance with the order before January 1, 2021.
The benefit of making the required change
As per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the existing 10-digit number scheme should continue as it is to avoid any inconvenience to the customers. In May 2020, TRAI issued a list of recommendations [PDF] on ‘Ensuring Adequate Numbering Resources for Fixed Line and Mobile Services’ in which the prefix ‘0’ before dialling fixed to mobile was recommended.
It said, “presently, inter-service area mobile calls from basic/fixed phone can be accessed with a dialing prefix ‘0’. However, mobile phones are accessed from a fixed-line phone, within a service area, without dialling prefix ‘0’. This puts the limitation that any digit which has been used as the first digit for the fixed network (for local calls) cannot be used for mobile numbers. By making it mandatory to access mobile numbers in a service area from the fixed network by dialling prefix ‘0’, all the free sub-levels in levels ‘2’,’3’,’4’, and ‘6’, can also be used for mobile numbers.”
Several recommendations under consideration
The government is yet to decide about the other recommendations. TRAI also said that the ministry should think of shifting data-only mobile connections to 13-digits numbers just like they did for M2M connections to ensure the availability of 10-digit numbers for a longer duration. Nowadays, many customers use SIM-based internet connections, but they are allotted 10-digit numbers, reducing 10-digit numbers for regular use.