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Soon, you might have to pay extra for new SIM, inactive SIM: Here's why

Phone numbers are limited and valuable resources. The adoption of 5G networks, machine-to-machine communication, and Internet of Things devices has required Trai to thoroughly review the existing numbering system.

Written By: Om Gupta New Delhi Published on: June 14, 2024 12:31 IST
SIM card
Image Source : AIRTEL SIM card

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has proposed a new regulation under which users can introduce fees for mobile and landline numbers. The regulator has released a consultation paper for the same on June 6, 2024. As per Trai, phone numbers are a valuable yet finite resource so mobile operators might face charges for these numbers, which could subsequently be passed on to consumers.

Due to the widespread adoption of 5G networks, machine-to-machine communication, and Internet of Things devices, TRAI has decided to comprehensively review the existing numbering system. As per the telecom regulator, the introduction of fees aims to ensure the efficient allocation and use of these ‘finite resources’.

As of March 2024, India has over 1.19 billion telephone subscribers, with a teledensity of 85.69 percent. There has been an increase in the demand for numbering resources. According to Trai, the government owns the numbering space, similar to spectrum allocation. Mobile operators are allowed to use these numbering resources during their license period. The new telecom law, passed in December, now allows charges to be imposed on numbers, known as 'telecom identifiers'.

Several countries, such as Australia, Singapore, Belgium, Finland, the UK, Lithuania, Greece, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Nigeria, South Africa, and Denmark currently apply fees for phone numbers. Trai is aiming to introduce similar measures to effectively manage India’s numbering resources.

To implement these charges, Trai has suggested a few methods. The government could impose a one-time charge per number, seek an annual recurring fee for each numbering resource, or conduct centralised auctions for premium or 'VIP' numbers.

Penalties for dual SIM 

Trai is also considering imposing WhatsApp video calling gets new features, now you will no longer need Zoom, Google Meetpenalties on operators that retain underutilised number resources. When a subscriber has a dual SIM setup but doesn't use one number for an extended period, operators are hesitant to cancel the number to maintain their user base, leading to inefficient use of resources. 

Trai is inviting stakeholders to provide input on the proposed revisions, with a deadline for comments and counter-comments set for early July 2024.

ALSO READ: WhatsApp video calling gets new features, now you will no longer need Zoom, Google Meet

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