Telecom regulatory authority of India had asked Vodafone to stop using the 111 number for its customer care services. TRAI had notified Vodafone on 2nd March and asked it to file the compliance report by 10th March. Vodafone had responded saying they had been using the number for customer service since years and now couldn’t suddenly stop using it in a span of 10 to 12 days citing the inconvenience it would cause to its subscribers and asked for an expended deadline for filing of compliance report.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) had issued the 'National Numbering Plan 2003' wherein the numbers 111 to 115 were not allocated for any type of services and they had been kept as 'spare'. However, the regulator found that Vodafone on its website was urging its customers to call '111' to get internet settings on their handset for pre-paid data offers, postpaid 3G data packs, self-help for data services, Blackberry internet offers and to find out the balance.
TRAI had issued a show cause notification to Vodafone on 2nd Feb for the violation of National Numbering Plan. In reply to TRAI's notice, Vodafone had said on February 18 that 111 was in use by them for the last 18-20 years and they believed there was no restriction on its use as the number was already under valid use prior to 2003 as a common customer care number across all the circles.
Vodafone will now need to come up with an alternate customer service number and ensure that all subscribers are notified of the change in a timely manner. To ensure a smoother transition, they may look at changing the number in a phased manner one circle at a time. We will keep an eye on this and keep our readers well informed of the change in a number as and when it happens. Keep reading TT for more updates on this topic.