If you have been perplexed about speculations that the Centre is planning to bring 13-digit mobile numbers (instead of 10-digit ones being used currently) by July this year, well then relax. They are bringing 13-digit numbers, but not for normal retail mobile phone users; it is just limited to SIM-based machine to machine or M2M devices.

Since morning, reports about the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) deciding to make all mobile numbers of lengths 13-digits from July have went viral. The viral news may have bothered quite a lot of people but that is a big misunderstanding. The Department of Telecommunications India have plans to implement 13-digit numbering plans, but it is limited to M2M devices and it stands for machine-to-machine and not mobile-to-mobile. M2M machines aren’t the normal mobile phones we use – it is the communication that happens between two machines – for example – the communication occurring between a smart electric meter and its power server which records the meter reading from remote place.

The M2M service is provided to the industries and enterprises to cater the requirement of communication between its machines. The change will have no direct effect on retain customers as M2M is referred to as cellular network-driven remote communication between two entities or machines for automation needs. So it could be the communication between smart homes and connected vehicles, or ATMs. Till date, 10-digit numbers were used, just like regular mobile phones – but now it will be as long as 13 digits. This means M2M service providers like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, RCom, and BSNL will require to change the 10-digit number system to 13.

The step was necessary because smart automated equipment and devices are increasing in numbers and they need a medium to communicate with each other. Soon in future, the 10-digit numbering might fall short of accommodating billions of machines. So the conclusion is that regular mobile phone numbers will remain unchanged and will continue be a 10-digit number. It is planned in July, but the DoT says migration of existing 10-digit M2M numbers to 13 digits must start latest by October 1, 2018, and be completed by December 31, 20.

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