National

Japan plans to create 10 billion 14-digit phone numbers as 5G era nears

JIJI

The communications ministry plans to create for assignment some 10 billion 14-digit phone numbers starting with the code “020.”

With the commercialization of fifth-generation, or 5G, superfast mobile communications fast approaching, 11-digit numbers are expected to run out as early as fiscal 2022.

The plan to introduce the new numbers, by the end of 2021 at the latest, was proposed at a recent meeting of a panel of experts. It was accepted by the three major mobile phone operators — NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp.

After hearing public comments, the ministry will draw up a report on the matter as early as June and make necessary preparations, including a 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.

Currently, 11-digit numbers starting with “090,” “080” and “070” are used for mobile phones, including smartphones.

For “internet of things” devices, 11-digit numbers starting with “020” have been used since January 2017.

According to the ministry, about 32.6 million of the 80 million numbers starting with 020 had already been assigned to major carriers as of the end of March this year.