The end of area codes: Why (212) won't mean anything

Telephone area code information is featured on Area-Codes.org.

What your cell phone number says about you, according to the web comic XKCD.com.

I think it’s safe to say that we're pretty much tethered to our cell phones. But how attached are you to your area code? Does it mean something to you? Does it connect you to the place you live, or the city you grew up in?

The FCC is considering a proposal that would allow VoIPs -- Internet services like Google Voice and Skype -- to assign area codes to people regardless of their geographic location.

I live in Los Angeles, a vast tapestry of area codes. But I still cling proudly to 303, the  Colorado area code I grew up with. I like the symmetry of it, and that I share it with my family. I’m not alone in my love for that three-digit number.

Elaine Benes, on the TV show "Seinfeld," famously loved her 212 number.

Tech analyst Jeff Kagan had the same area code for 20 years. But when he moved out of his Atlanata home a decade ago, he couldn't take his old area code with him. “It was a heartbreaking thing," Kagan says, "because it was the phone number we taught our children to use. We had a lot of emotional conenction to it.”

Kagan says with smartphones, we’re already living in a world where dialing seven numbers is rare. Even he admits that many of his own phone numbers are a mystery to him. “I have so many cell phones and so many phone lines I don’t even know what the numbers are. I just go to my speed dial,” said Kagan.

He sees a day where telephone numbers are irrelevant. As more of our communications move from telephone to VoIP, those numbers are slowly being replaced by things like Skype handles.

“We might be a decade or so away from, "Phone number... what’s that? Is that like a (vinyl) record?” says telecom consultant David Isenberg.

He grew up with a 508 area code, but now has several phones with different area codes. He also has his own vanity telephone number. To reach Isenberg at that number, just dial the letters of his website.

About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.

What your cell phone number says about you, according to the web comic XKCD.com.

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