Mauritius Telephone Operators May Run out of Numbers, mobile operator warns


Mobile telephone operators in Mauritius are warning the government of an urgent need to solve the problem of telephone numbering as the numbers still in their disposal will soon run out.

According to Shyam Roy, Chief Executive Officer of Emtel Telephone company, who was speaking to journalists last week, there are only 200,000 remaining telephone numbers available. Therefore, he said, taking into consideration that 30,000 new mobile phones are connected each month, he fears that in a few months' time, no free numbers will be available. He indicated that a lot of people, especially young people, had 2 to 3 mobile telephones.

Roy explained that in conformity with European norms, the Information and Communications Technologies Authority (ICTA), the local regulatory body, allocated phone numbers in blocks of 100,000. He indicated that though the ICTA was already aware of the problem since 2004 as it had proposed a new numbering plan with numbers consisting of eight digits instead of the present seven digits, the idea had been blocked by the government.

Roy went on to state that according to the National Numbering Plan of 2004, the capacity of numbering of mobile phones for Mauritius at that time should have been 6 million numbers when there were only 400,000 mobile phones in circulation but the situation has been exacerbated as there are now some 975,000 users. He however said the mobile telephone operators were never allocated the 6 million numbers.

Roy further disclosed that in recent discussions with officials of the ICTA, it has been proposed to add the number 7 to all mobile phone numbers. Such a move, he said, will increase the capacity to 10 million new numbers. But he added that Parliament should take a quick decision on the matter.