Grameenphone is set to get a new number series of '013' as their existing '017' prefix is almost full.
The development comes after Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission in a meeting yesterday approved Grameenphone's request but with a few conditions, said a senior official of the regulator.
Grameenphone applied for an additional number series two years back after its projected sales showed the operator could burn through its existing 017 prefix as early as November this year.
Each numbering series has 10 crore slots.
The conditions for getting the new prefix are: solving its pending issues with the BTRC and informing the regulator how many slots the operator has used in its current numbering series of 017.
“Our number series is almost exhausted and after getting a new number series we can continue our business,” said Mahmud Hossain, chief corporate affairs officer of Grameenphone.
Operators in other countries are easily allowed a new numbering series once their current one is exhausted, Hossain said. “This is not unique.”
The operator has been facing a lot of challenges for the last two years for running with so little slots in its numbering series, he said.
“But the regulator was very helpful to us -- it relaxed different rules for us.” Earlier, the operators were allowed to resell any number that has been inactive for at least 24 months. The timeframe was later shortened to 15 months.
As of June, Grameenphone has 5.69 crore active subscribers out of the country's total of 13.14 crore.
The operator has not disclosed the actual number of SIM cards it sold.
The National Numbering Plan has ten prefixes for mobile operators, of which 010, 012, 013 and 014 are still free. If the government cancels Citycell's licence another number series will become available.
Among the current operators, Citycell is using the 011 series, Teletalk 015, Airtel 016, Robi 018 and Banglalink 019.
The government is also planning to allow the armed forces to launch a non-commercial mobile service soon, especially for disaster management operations, which will use another numbering series.
Grameenphone, which was founded in 1997, needed to expand its number series twice: first after hitting the 10-lakh landmark and later after reaching one crore subscribers.
The BTRC will also seek a free consultation on new number planning with the International Telecommunication Union, officials said.