Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post on DID numbers from India. The reason why I wrote the post back then was that several customers reported that these numbers would become available from other providers. I stated that these numbers were still illegal in India, and that the DOT (Department of Telecommunications) sanctions against offenders, were not to joke about.
Did something recently change as I’m dedicating a second blog post to Indian numbers? Not really, but when writing my previous post, I overlooked one number range that allows inbound calls to be delivered abroad. ITFS (or International Toll-Free Service) numbers are toll-free numbers that are designed for this purpose, as described in the ITU-T recommendation E.152. ITFS numbers only exist in certain countries, and the way they are implemented differs from country to country. In some countries, the prefix of the telephone number is the same as a local toll free number (0800 in most cases). In this case, there’s no noticeable difference for the end-user to call a local toll free number or an ITFS number. However, in some countries local toll-free numbers and ITFS numbers have a different prefix. This is the case in Singapore, where local toll-free numbers start with 1800, while ITFS numbers start with 800. Similarly, in India local toll free numbers start with 1800, and ITFS numbers start with 000800. For the end-user, the number may look different, but there is no fee to pay for calling the number (there might be countries in which calling a toll-free number from a mobile phone isn’t free though).
Although the triple zero combination might seem unusual, it is widely accepted in India. The reason why is due to the fact that ITFS numbers are often reachable from more networks than a local toll free number (coverage however still varies substantially depending on who is your provider). This screenshot, taken from the online terms and conditions of an electronics manufacturer illustrates the problem with local Indian toll free numbers.
There’s however one small caveat with these ITFS numbers: mobile subscribers need to have a service plan that allows international calling in order to be able to call ITFS numbers (although calling an ITFS number is free of charge, also for mobile subscribers).
At Voxbone, we recently launched our 000800 service in India offering access to over 90% of Indian mobile and landline subscribers. Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about our service offering for this country.