TRAI Proposes Charging Fees for Mobile and Landline Numbers

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TRAI Proposes Charging Fees for Mobile and Landline Numbers

TRAI New Fee Proposal

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is considering a new proposal which may soon result in your phone operator charging a fee for your smartphone and landline numbers. This initiative aims to address the issue of phone numbers being a valuable public resource that is not infinite.

Reasons Behind the Proposal

TRAI believes that the current system does not ensure the judicious and efficient use of numbering resources. For instance, subscribers with dual SIM cards may not use one of their numbers for a long time, yet the operator does not cancel the number to avoid losing its user base. To counteract this, TRAI suggests imposing charges on mobile operators, who might then recover these costs from users. Additionally, penalties could be imposed on operators holding low-utilization numbering resources.

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Global Practices and Potential Charging Methods

TRAI has cited examples from several countries where fees are levied for telephone numbers. These include Australia, Singapore, Belgium, Finland, the UK, and others. The Indian government could consider either a one-time charge per number, an annual recurring charge, or a centralized auction for vanity numbers. The new telecom law, passed in December, includes provisions for charging fees for numbers, technically known as ‘telecom identifiers.’

Future Implications

In the era of 5G, machine-to-machine communications, and the Internet of Things, the efficient use of numbering resources becomes even more critical. TRAI’s recommendations to the government will also address the aspect of ever-shrinking numbering resources. This proposal could lead to more efficient management and allocation of phone numbers, ensuring that they are used judiciously and effectively.

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