Did you hear that the Indian government wants mobile numbers to have 13 digits and not 10? It’s true. But no, it won’t change your existing number or affect the phone users in India. The 13-digit numbers are meant only for M2M (machine2machine) SIM cards, or in other words the cards that will be used in automated machines. The Department of Telecom has written to telecom companies that they should issue only 13-digit M2M numbers and that they should convert all the existing 10-digit M2M numbers into 13-digit numbers from October 1, 2018 onwards. The deadline to complete the conversion is December 31, 2018.
The move, contrary to speculations doing rounds right now on social media, will not affect phone users. It is meant only for the SIM cards that are used in machines, such as internet-connected appliances.
According to a directive that BSNL has sent to its hardware vendors ZTE and Nokia, DoT in a meeting on January 8 decided that the M2M SIM cards in India need to have 13-digits. Accordingly, BSNL informed its vendors that it will need infrastructure that can handle 13-digit M2M numbers from July 1, 2018 onwards. Also, it informs vendors that migration of existing M2M numbers, which have 10-digits just like the regular phone numbers used by people, to 13-digit numbers will start from October 1, 2018 and will be completed by December 31, 2018.
The M2M SIM cards are used in automated machines that require network connectivity. These could be large industrial machines part of automated assembly lines or they could be small gadgets, part of the Internet of Things, such as the fire alarm in your house that may require internet or cellular connectivity to send out alerts.