Will your mobile phone number have 13 digits by the end of the year? This is what the Congress party claimed on Twitter. In a Twitter poll, it asked, “The Department of Telecom (DoT) has issued a directive instructing all telecom operators in the country to start issuing 13-digit mobile numbers later this year. Are you happy with this decision? #IndiaSpeaks” with the options being yes and no.

Click-bait headlines suggested that the Department of Telecom had reportedly issued a directive to all telecom operators in the country to start providing 13-digit mobile numbers. This news led to much confusion, and it was assumed that mobile phone numbers which are currently 10 digit will be converted to 13 digits by the end of the year.

The truth is that there is no change in the numbering system for retail mobile numbers. The new numbers are to be provided for SIM based Machine To Machine (M2M) communication. It will NOT extend to retail mobile phone numbers, which will continue to operate on 10 digits.

This was clarified by BSNL in a Twitter post, saying that there is no change in the mobile numbering plan and the move is for M2M communication.

It is plausible that a circular issued by BSNL which is circulating on social media could be the origin of this confusion.

This letter issued by BSNL to ZTE Telecom India and Nokia Solutions & Networks India mentions that the transition to 13 digit mobile numbers is for M2M communication. M2M refers to Machine-to-Machine communication, a broad label that signifies communication between electronic devices without the need for human intervention at any stage. M2M communication is used in a wide variety of applications across various industries. It has nothing to do with mobile phone communication.

A simple matter of detail seemed to have escaped the Congress party which ended up relaying misleading information.

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