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Do Area Codes Matter In An Age Of Wireless And VoIP?

from the status-symbol-only dept

Do area codes really matter any more? These days, I’ve gotten used to plenty of people I know having mobile phone numbers from some distant place where they used to live, rather than where they live now. With so many plans no longer having any real marginal costs for long distance calls, it hasn’t much mattered, other than as a status symbol. The same is starting to come true in the VoIP world, as well, as people are even purposely ordering VoIP phone numbers from locations that don’t represent where they live. It almost seems like the only purpose for area codes these days is for status symbol purhcases (note, for example, the distress of many when they discovered you couldn’t get Manhattan’s high-rent 212 as a mobile number but had to settle for something hideous like 917). So is it time to stop identifying phone numbers by location, and maybe start identifying it by type of line? It seems some are going in that direction. Reuters notes that the UK is about to launch 056 as an area code for VoIP phone numbers, and Jeff Pulver notes they’re not the first — as Japan has similarly assigned 050 for “non-geographic” numbers. Jeff suggests that some experiments be run in the US for a similar sort of non-geographic prefix. While having additional numbers available makes sense as more numbers are in use, is there really a need for specifically non-geographical numbers? As noted above, it’s beginning to happen naturally that numbers which used to have a geographical meaning, increasingly have none.

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