Japan reveals plan to create ten billion 14-digit mobile phone numbers

16 May 2019

The Japan Times writes that Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has revealed plans to create around ten billion 14-digit mobile phone numbers starting with ‘020’ for assignment in the coming years. The move comes ahead of the imminent launch of superfast 5G mobile technologies and the acknowledgement that the country’s existing eleven-digit number format is expected to run out as early as fiscal 2022. The plan to implement the new numbers by the end of fiscal 2021 at the latest is understood to have the backing of the three incumbent mobile operators, NTT DOCOMO, KDDI (au) and SoftBank Corp. Having conducted a public consultation, the MIC now intends to formulate its implementation strategy with a view to reporting again on the matter in June and issuing the necessary ministerial ordinance by the end of this year. New numbers will be allocated to the major carriers ‘early’ if they finish work to update their systems ahead of schedule, the paper says.

Currently, Japan assigns eleven-digit numbers starting ‘070’, ‘080’ and ‘90’ for mobile handsets (including smartphones), while eleven-digit numbers beginning ‘020’ have been used for IoT devices since January 2017. According to the MIC, about 32.6 million of the 80 million numbers starting with 020 had already been assigned to the mobile operators by 31 March 2019.