Mobile Number New Rules: Soon you may have to pay fees for using your mobile number

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Phone numbers are a finite resource, and this has presented difficulties for telecom service providers who are struggling to find new series of numbers to allocate to their customers. As a result, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has proposed a solution: charging customers a fee for the numbers they are issued. This additional charge would be in addition to the fees and charges already being levied.

TRAI’s Argument for Charging Customers for Phone Numbers

TRAI argues that phone numbers are a valuable public resource and, because they are not infinite, operators should be charged for their allocation. The charges imposed by telcos would likely be passed on to the consumers. The Times of India has reported on this development.

Penalties for Inefficient Use of Number Resources

In addition to proposing charges for phone numbers, TRAI is also considering penalties for operators who are not efficiently utilizing their number resources. For example, if a user has a dual SIM and has obtained two numbers but does not use one of them for an extended period, the operator often keeps the number active to maintain their user base. TRAI believes that such practices result in inefficient use of number resources. To rectify this, they suggest that imposing charges and penalties could encourage more judicious use of these resources.

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Ownership of Numbering Space and the Telecom Law

TRAI highlights that, similar to spectrum ownership, the government retains ownership of the numbering space. Mobile operators are granted the right to use these numbering spaces during their license period. The new Telecom Law, passed in December of the previous year, enables charges to be imposed on numbers, referred to as “telecom identifiers.”

International Examples and Methods for Imposing Charges

To support their case, TRAI cites numerous countries that already charge fees for phone numbers. These countries include Australia, Singapore, Belgium, Finland, the UK, Lithuania, Greece, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Nigeria, South Africa, and Denmark.

TRAI also discusses potential methods for imposing these charges. They suggest that the government could either introduce a one-time charge per number, establish an annual recurring fee for each numbering resource, or conduct centralized auctions for vanity or ‘VIP’ numbers.

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Addressing Number Resource Availability in the Context of Technological Advancements

TRAI’s recommendations to the government will also address the diminishing availability of numbering resources in light of advancements such as 5G, machine-to-machine communications, and the Internet of Things (IoT). They are drawing insights from the various auctions conducted by mobile operators for premium numbers to inform their strategy.

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  1. What is the use of only copying international ways for user charges to be adopted in India. Rather we should have our own standards rationally fixed not to hurt the interest of seers . We must develop self confidence in ourself first .

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