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why didn't we run out of phone numbers

Jeanne Boyarsky
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10-20 years ago, New York kept adding zip codes because "we were running out of phone numbers." Now everyone has several. Even tablets are getting phone numbers. Yet we haven't run out. Did they open up more numbers or something?


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Joe Ess
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Joined: Oct 29, 2001
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    9

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:zip codes


You mean area codes? Each new area code opens up nearly 10 million new phone numbers (some numbers, like any x11, are reserved). Of course, it also causes problems.


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Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
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  64
What is the relationship between zip codes and phone numbers? I can understand that area codes would be limited to 10 million phone numbers (7 digits, leaving aside 555 numbers and such), but zip codes?

The way it works here is that mobile numbers don't have the same area prefix as land-line phones. So they can just allocate new pseudo "area" prefixes to providers and have more numbers available.


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Jayesh A Lalwani
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  28

In the US, calling an area code differrent than yours results in long distance call. Used to be that you had to pay more for long distance calls, whereas calls within the area code were included in the price of the phone service. So, there was a huge demand to keep phone numbers that are located nearby each other to have the same area code. 30-40 years ago, most people wouldn't routinely call people out of their area.

So, everytime a place would start running out phone numbers. the phone company would try to put in more area codes, which meant that if you got an area code differrent than your best friend/lover/customers, you will have to shell out a lot of bucks to stay in touch with them. There used to be a huge backlash against adding area codes. When cell phones came in, people wanted a cellphone number in the same area code as their home phone, so they could continue talking with their friends/lovers/customers.

It wasn't that we were running about of phone numbers. There are 10 billion possible numbers in 10 digit numbers. That's more than enough for a country of 300 million. The problem was that dense areas were running out of phone numbers within the area codes assigned to them, and people didn't want new area codes. Having an area code meant something. It meant you were part of a community of people. It became a part of your identification. No one wanted new area codes

Eventually, long distance charges went away. Now long distance is included in your phone service. So, people stopped worrying about area codes since you can call anyone for "free" anytime. Also, US has number portability, so even when you move you keep your number. So, people don't identify with area codes anymore. It's just a number now.
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Joe: Yes, I meant area codes.

Jayesh: Used to? Or just that most people don't have land lines anymore. Long distance costs more from a landline; at least where I live. I actually don't have a long distance plan on my land line. When I make a long distance call, I use a cell phone or Skype. My land line plan is:
toll free #s - free as long as you talk
area codes 212,646,718,347,917 - free as long as you talk (which used to be great for dial up connectivity)
area code 516 - regional - pay per minute
all other area codes - would be long distance

Interestingly, when I went to the cell phone store in NY with my mother to buy her a pre-paid phone, we HAD to get a NY area code. Even though she doesn't live in NY.
Jayesh A Lalwani
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  28

Hmm.. I remember not paying for long distance for a decade now. I have Verizon FIOS and I don;t pay long distance. Ooh.. I had Vonage for my "landline" before that, and I completely forgot that I was on VoIP not traditional landline until just now. So, yeah, maybe it's just FIOS that gives free long distance
Jeanne Boyarsky
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That would do it! I would expect VOIP not to charge more for long distance.

I'm going to hold out with copper as long as I can. It'll be interesting to see how long that will be.
Greg Charles
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Joined: Oct 01, 2001
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  11

What? Not even the Amish have landlines these days!

Of course, they never did.
Campbell Ritchie
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  28
We still do round here. As from next year, instead of calling my daughter on 81***8, I shall have to dial 01642 81***8. That is because we are running out of phone numbers and they are starting numbers with 0 or 1. We have had all sorts of shenanigans about different phone numbers, since we got dialling codes in the mid‑1960s. We had major changes on two occasions in the 1990s, and there is more to come. The 9‑digit numbers of the 1960s are now 11 digits.
Steve Luke
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  21

Greg Charles wrote:What? Not even the Amish have landlines these days!

Of course, they never did.


Misconception. Amish can have phones, and many do. Some even have cell phones. The key is they don't let them interfere with home and family. So land lines are kept in a house outside the main building (like an out-house) and usually separated a bit, and cell phones would only be used for business when not at home.
Winston Gutkowski
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  22

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:area codes 212,646,718,347,917...

Two of which are "new". Under the old system, introduced when most exchanges still used solenoid switching, area codes could only have '0' or '1' as their second digit. I'm pretty sure that was only changed after you had to prefix all numbers with '1'. Nowadays we have the '011' prefix ('00' in Europe) for all international calls too, which I think is something along the same lines (the number can't be misinterpreted or misdirected).

I bet there's a bit of Huffman coding going on behind the scenes.

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Henry Wong
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  40

Winston Gutkowski wrote:
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:area codes 212,646,718,347,917...

Two of which are "new". Under the old system, introduced when most exchanges still used solenoid switching, area codes could only have '0' or '1' as their second digit. I'm pretty sure that was only changed after you had to prefix all numbers with '1'. Nowadays we have the '011' prefix ('00' in Europe) for all international calls too, which I think is something along the same lines (the number can't be misinterpreted or misdirected).

I bet there's a bit of Huffman coding going on behind the scenes.


One of the drawbacks of enabling any three digits as area codes, instead of having the second digit as zero or one, was that the area code was always needed. This meant that to dial a 718 number from another 718 number, you needed to actually dial the 718. I believe the change also allowed more numbers to be valid, as there was no longer any need to detect the presence of the area code or not (it is now required, hence, assumed).

Henry


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Jayesh A Lalwani
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  28

Ahh. I never noticed that the second digit is always a 0 or 1. But, now that I'm trying to recall all the places I lived, all of them had the second digit as 0 or 1.
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:Ahh. I never noticed that the second digit is always a 0 or 1. But, now that I'm trying to recall all the places I lived, all of them had the second digit as 0 or 1.

Me neither. Excellent point on Henry's part.
Campbell Ritchie
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  28
In Europe you can usually tell dialling codes by starting with 0. International codes usually start with 00
Robert D. Smith
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Joined: Oct 04, 2013
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    5
I go back to the day of party lines and asking the operator to connect the call. The first three digits (not the area code) indicated which area of town you lived in. For me t0 call home, it was Fairfax-and the last four digits.

And a further comment on the Amish. As Steve Luck wrote, it is a misconception regarding the Amish and "modern' conveniences. They do have phones, but they are not kept in the house -- so it doesn't interfere with thier lives, such as salesmen calling during dinner. They have electricity -- in their barns, but generally not in the house. This keeps things like lights from keeping the people too late at night.


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