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

I expect “020” isn’t currently a valid prefix in Japan. If so, this makes it a lot easier for software to know whether it has to wait for more digits in a phone number.

There probably are lots of other unused three-digit prefixes, but one has to assume what one deploys now will stay around forever (one century and counting), and that the future will demand space for things we have no idea of.

And 14 isn’t that bad. Bank accounts in Gibraltar (population 35,000 or so) have 23 characters, Kuwait’s (population 4,5 million) have 30, Malta’s (population about 500,000) 31 (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Bank_Account_N...)

Except that there are already 11-digit 020 numbers in Japan, so hopefully it'll be something like 0200..0202 11-digit and 0203..0209 14-digit. Otherwise you'd need a database lookup already just for the length of the number.

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

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