• Kyodo

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The communications ministry said Wednesday it plans to start assigning phone numbers starting with 070—a code currently assigned to personal handy-phone system phones—to new cellphone subscribers, possibly in fiscal 2012.

Mobile phone users are currently assigned 11-digit numbers starting with either 090 or 080, but such numbers could run out as early as in 2014 due to the growing number of subscribers, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said.

A total of 180 million numerical combinations can be created with the 090 and 080 mobile phone codes, but 160.4 million have already been distributed to cellphone service providers owing to an increase in the number of people opting to own both regular mobile phones and smartphones, it said.

There are over 70 million 070 combinations that have not been assigned to PHS phones, it added.

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