Amid concerns that the company’s 11 digit phone numbers could run out by 2022, Japan’s communications ministry has started 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 to do so has reportedly been approved already by the country’s largest mobile carriers.

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According to the Japan Times, the plan to create 14 digit phone numbers has been approved by KDDI, NTT Docomo, and SoftBank. With the three major carriers in agreement, the report states that Japan might introduce these new phone numbers before the end of 2021.

These new 10 billion numbers will start with 020, a prefix that’s currently used in Japan for Internet of Things devices. It was introduced in early 2017 and since then, 32.6 million out of Japan’s 020 numbers have already been registered by the end of March 2019. As Japan’s 5G networks are due to go live in 2020, it’s likely that the amount of connected devices will increase significantly, hence the need for new numbers.

The challenge to produce enough numbers for all devices on the network isn’t a challenge that only Japan will face. With 5G networks progressively going live in more markets across the globe, other countries may have to make similar decisions to ensure that there are enough numbers for every device.

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