RIGA - Latvia could run out of new mobile-phone numbers as early as this spring, which public-service regulator and mobile-phone operators predict would halt the connection of new subscribers as well as the sale of prepaid mobile phone cards, according to the Dienas Bizness daily.
The Public Service Regulatory Commission's chairwoman, Inna Steinbuka, said that another 100,000 numbers are planned to be distributed in the coming weeks to mobile operators Latvijas Mobilais Telefons and Tele2, which will fully exhaust the existing stock of mobile numbers.
Steinbuka projects that, given the present growth rates, the two mobile operators will use the remaining 200,000 numbers over the coming six to seven months. As a result, there will be no more spare numbers come March or April, and operators may run out of network-connecting SIM cards.
Steinbuka also warned that without transferring to eight-digit numbers in the country, the planned third GSM and UMTS mobile operator would lack number resources altogether.
Transport Ministry communications department director Raimonds Bergmanis, meanwhile, told Dienas Bizness that drafting a government decision, which envisages transferring to eight-digit numbers, is under way.
Both mobile operators also hope that the eight-digit number system will be introduced soon. LMT spokesman Davids Dane said "the shortage of numbers is on LMT's agenda too, considering the present growth rates. We hope that the eight-digit system will be introduced at a possibly sooner date."
Tele2 spokeswoman Evita Matisone agreed, saying "we expect that the numerical system will be expanded in a reasonable term."
Since last summer, the regulatory commission has pushed for immediate planning of the new system, as mobile operators are eating up their number resources fast.