Catchy Numbers

TEHRAN, Oct 9, 2006 (AFP) – Ever wanted the mobile number 123456789? In Iran it can be yours, if you have tens of thousands of dollars to spare. The Islamic republic’s telecommunication officials have decided to auction off hundreds of catchy number sequences and use the profits to shore up the cumbersome Iranian mobile phone network, officials said Monday.

The number 0912-345-6789 is unsurprisingly topping the list of numbers on offer with a minimum starting price of 700 million rials (76,000 dollars) when bidding starts in three weeks.

All Iranian mobile number start with the two digits 09.

“Out of 11 million numbers handed out to Iranians in the past 14 years, there are around 400,000 such numbers which either have been given to the ministry officials or have not been given out at all,” a ministry of communications public relations official, Masoud Fateh, told AFP.

“In a month’s time we will auction off the first 500 numbers,” he said, adding: “The base prices were figured out by a team of ministry experts.”

According to the auction advertisement in newspapers, the auction will be carried out on October 30 with judiciary of