The Nation



New plan for phone numbers considered

Regulator eager to avoid early move to 11-digit numbers, which would be costly

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission is expected to announce a new telephone-numbering plan next quarter, aiming for more efficient usage.

The NBTC is concerned that if usage of mobile-phone numbers is not efficiently managed, it will soon have no choice but to introduce 11-digit numbers. This would entail a large cost for telecom operators, so it wants to put this off for as long as it can make the existing system work.

Currently Thailand uses 10-digit mobile-phone numbers with the prefixes 08 and 09.

The new numbering plan would allow telecom operators to reuse after just 90 days the mobile-phone numbers they have reclaimed from subscribers who have cancelled their service, instead of 180 days now.

It would also require operators to use 70 per cent of their mobile-phone numbers before requesting additional numbers from the NBTC.

The commission held a public hearing on this draft plan early this week and will submit it for the consideration of its telecom committee and its board. NBTC deputy secretary-general Korkij Danchaivachit said the plan was expected to be published in the Royal Gazette in the first quarter of the new year.

The NBTC has assigned 170 million mobile-phone numbers to operators versus the current 70 million subscribers.

It has only 30 million numbers with the 09 prefix left, plus another 200 million with the prefixes 06 and 01. It wants to keep 01 for the eventual introduction of 11-digit numbers.

Recently Advanced Wire-less Network asked for 14 million new mobile numbers, while DTAC TriNet requested 8 million and Real Future 10 million, for their respective third-generation services.

The NBTC is still considering the requests.

During the public hearing, most telecom operators complained about the requirement in the existing numbering plan that they return unused mobile numbers to the NBTC for reallocation on the basis of a fixed 10,000 numbers per lot.

They suggested that the commission allow them to return any amount. Korkij said the NBTC would consider this request.

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