New cellular numbering system in Pakistan to meet growing needs

ISLAMABAD (APP) – The mushrooming of the telecom sector across the South Asia has taken the Pakistani economy to the new highs and this advent has not only attracted huge foreign investments but also boosted per capita income.
The popularity of cellphones amongst the masses has compelled the telecom sector to open new avenues to accommodate and conserve the rapid advancements taking place in the sector.
With the deregulation in telecom sector and the introduction of two new mobile companies in 2004, the cellular subscribers started to grow with time and currently there are 80 million To cope with the emerging demand, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) started issuing multiple NDCs to the mobile operators. From the subscriber’s point of view, having multiple NDCs for a mobile company is not a good practice.
In order to address the situation, the PTA started a consultation process in 2007. The public consultation paper on “7-8 digit mobile number migration” was circulated to all stakeholders and after receiving the feedback, the plan was finalised to resolve the issue. The new plan, which consists of 3-digit NDC with 8-digit mobile subscriber numbers, has the capacity of 100 million numbers in a single NDC.
The PTA most recently has announced the successful migration of cellular mobile subscriber numbers from 7 to 8 digits as of 1st April 2008.
Under the new plan, all mobile numbers in the country would now comprise 8 digits by moving the last digit of the dialing code towards subscriber’s number so as the dialing code would be reduced to 3 digits (i.e. 0333-51xxxxx would now be 033-351xxxxx).
It is important to note that the numbers of Mobilink, Warid, Ufone and Telenor will remain the same 11 digits as before.
For Paktel (China Mobile), Instaphone and SCOM (AJK & Northern Areas), in addition to aforementioned shifting of subscriber numbers, digits of their dialing code would also change (i.e. 0304-51xxxxx will be 031-451xxxxx, 0320-51xxxxx will be 036-451xxxxx and 0335-51xxxxx will be 035-51xxxxx).
Though all these changes have become effective from April 1, 2008, yet until June 30, 2008, all old and new numbers could be dialed. However, from onwards July 1, 2008, only new numbers will be valid.
In an exclusive talk with this agency, a PTA spokesman said that the PTA with the help of all, fixed-line and WLL operators, has ensured that this change remains hassle-free for consumers.
“However, in case callers face any difficulty, they may contact their concerned operator or contact PTA complaint cell number 0800-55055, if the interruption in their service continues”.
The spokesman said that the new plan has the following advantages: Each single NDC (one per operator) has a capacity of 100 million numbers; The NDCs of only three mobile operators i.e. CMPAK, Instaphone, & SCOM (AJK & NAs) have changed effecting only 2M subscribers out of an existing 80 million; The four digit codes of all mobile operators have been reduced to three digits; Dialling format remains the same 11 digit dialling as before; The capacity expansion in mobile numbering plan is sufficient for next two decades; Current Status Phase II of the Migration has already been accomplished successfully.
The success is mainly due to PTA’s policy of ensuring that the translations of numbers occur both at the originating and terminating end.
This policy has helped in instances in which one of the receiving operators could not successfully make the translation and came handy in rescuing the industry from any major catastrophe.
The PTA has exclusive powers under section 5(2)(k) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organization) Act, 1996, to develop and allocate numbering series for telecom services.
In order to manage the national numbering resources, the PTA has formulated the regulations “Numbering Administration and Allocation regulations 2005”. As per these regulations, the PTA can allocate Numbering resources to licensees and non-licensees.

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