The proposal to move to 11-digit mobile numbers has been shelved for good. The telecom department has accepted the short-term solution from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to create additional capacity in the ‘7’ and ‘8’ series and this will free up 650 million mobile numbers to cater to the industry’s demands for the next 30 months. The Department of Telecom (DoT) has also decided to open up levels ‘5’, ‘6’ and ‘3’ for mobile services. This implies mobile phone numbers of the future will begin with these digits. This will free up an additional 2,750.9 million (2.75 billion) mobile numbers. This is also expected to address the country’s mobile numbering plans for cellular services for about a decade. Currently, the new levels that are slated to be opened up for mobile telephony are used for landline services – ‘3’ is used by Reliance Communications, ‘5’ by Sistema Shyam and ‘6’ by Tata Teleservices. These companies will have to move to move their fixed line customers to the ‘4’ series which has been allotted to Bharti Airtel for its landline customers. This implies that landlines of all private operators will soon begin with ‘4’. State-owned telcos, BSNL and MTNL will continue to use the ‘2’ series of their landline services. The opening up of level ‘5’ will free up 947.5 million mobile numbers, while levels ‘6’ and ‘3’ will generate 1004.5 million and 789.9 million respectively. In 2009, the telecom department had proposed that India move to 11-digit mobile numbers by prefixing ‘9’ to their existing cellphone numbers. The department feared that the country would soon exhaust the ‘9’ series that were then used for mobile services. The ‘9’ series can accommodate about 900 million mobile numbers. While India has only 850 million mobile users at present, it had already exhausted the ‘9’ series nearly two years ago due to churn where customers switch operators, and several other factors such a migration, where existing numbers cannot be used at new destinations due to technological constraints.