Project title: M2M numbers: Numbers for machines
Client: Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs
Publication date: March 2009
Complete document: PDF, 464kB (Dutch)PDF


In recent years there has been an increase in automation of processes, and with it comes an increase in communication between machines or automated systems without human intervention. This so-called Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication uses various types of networking to transport data to (automatically) control machines in factories, offices and people’s homes. In most cases, no phone numbers are used within these networks, and there is therefore no impact on the numbering plan. A small subgroup of M2M applications uses the fixed telephone infrastructure to set up data connections. Such applications include in-house or in-store alarm systems and payment terminals that use already existing PSTN, ISDN or ADSL connections, mostly without the need of extra telephone numbers.

However, a much larger set of M2M applications uses the mobile networks. More and more M2M applications make use of wireless technologies to set up communication, which in most cases involves the use of mobile communication through mobile GSM or UMTS networks. Many mobile M2M applications, like fleet management or in-car applications, use a separate GPRS or UMTS connection for connectivity, and even some fixed applications such as smart metering tend to use a mobile connection. M2M connections on these mobile networks do require a separate phone number, even when they communicate through IP. As the number of M2M applications using the mobile network grows, a larger quantity of phone numbers will be needed.

The increasing number of mobile phone subscriptions, combined with the increasing use of other devices on mobile networks like laptops with Internet connectivity, will already put a strain on the availability of numbers. It is therefore crucial that the numbering plan allows the mobile phone subscriber base to grow, while also allowing large numbers of M2M connections and other innovative and new applications on the network.

This report investigates the expected demand for M2M-numbers and the possibilities for providing enough capacity in the number-plan.


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