Indian Telecom Operators to Implement 13-Digit M2M Numbers Starting July: What Does It Mean?

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The internet is abuzz with rumours that BSNL (other telcos too) is planning to introduce 13 digit numbers, as enrolment of new users continues to rise. The report comes on heels of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited giving instructions to network equipment providers Nokia and ZTE Telecom to ensure all devices they give to the telecom operator have 13-digit mobile numbers. But this is not meant for normal P2P mobile numbers and is meant for M2M numbers. “It was decided that 13-digit M2M numbering plan will be implemented from 1st July 2018. From this date onwards, all new M2M mobile connections will be allocated 13-digit numbers only,” BSNL wrote in the letter. Other operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and RCom are also offering M2M services.


In January 2018, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) ordered state-run telecom operator to prepare the necessary infrastructure to support 13 digit mobile numbers before July 1, 2018. Even other Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) have been asked to follow the same time frame.

Existing M2M connections which have ten digit numbers are scheduled to migrate to 13 digit numbers starting October 1, 2018, and the process may be completed by December 31, 2018, the letter added.

The letter by BSNL caused confusion that the new mobile numbers will be rolled out to end users. However, these instructions are meant only for the Machine to Machine communication, not for regular mobile users.

BSNL clarified the same in a tweet: "There is no change in human mobile numbering scheme. This is only for M2M, only when machines need to talk to another machine."

What is M2M communication?
M2M communication usually happens between machines, where network devices exchange information without any manual human intervention. It is different from regular SIMs that can be transferred from one phone to another. Devices such as debit/credit card swiping machines, PoS (Point-of-Sale) devices are covered in M2M communications.

This type of communications is also used in warehouse management, robotics, traffic control, logistics services, supply chain management, fleet management, remote control and more. Furthermore, it is being used for emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

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