Japan’s communications ministry has concerns that the company’s 11 digit phone numbers could run out by 2022, so it is planning to create 14 digit phone numbers. It would be able to create 10 billion new numbers by moving up to 14 digits. The proposal has apparently been approved already by the country’s largest mobile carriers.
The plan to create 14 digit phone numbers has been approved by KDDI, NTT Docomo, and SoftBank. With the three major carriers in agreement, Japan might introduce these new phone numbers before the end of 2021 now.
These new 10 billion numbers will start with 020, a prefix that’s currently used in Japan for Internet of Things devices. This was introduced in 2017 and since then, 32.6 million out of Japan’s 020 numbers were already registered by the end of March of 2019. As Japan’s 5G networks are due to go live in 2020, the amount of connected devices will only increase significantly, so this is a smart move.
The challenge to produce enough numbers for all devices on the network isn’t just something Japan will face alone. With 5G networks going live in more markets across the globe, other countries may have to make similar decisions to make sure that there are enough numbers for every device to use.