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Would you want a popular area code to go with your number?

posted 5/17/2009 1:29:51 AM |
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  StraddleMyNose

Local clothing designer Miche Dwenger sells T-shirts emblazoned with area codes of Detroit and Columbus.
In his 2001 hit Area Codes, rapper Ludacris bragged about knowing women in 42 locations across the country.
But these days, for all he knows, the ladies could all live in the same city; they just haven't bothered to change their cell-phone numbers since moving.
There's little reason to do so, after all, in this era of free long-distance wireless calling.
That explains why the area code -- a number that for six decades has served as a means of caller identification and a symbol of hometown pride -- is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
"It's a fairly new phenomenon because of the way the cell-phone industry has evolved," said John Manning, director of the North American Numbering Plan Administration, which oversees the nation's 800 area codes for the Federal Communications Commission.
"The whole idea of having to have a number correspond to where you actually are seems to have gone away."
For many young people, an area code is more an indication of where they bought their first phone (or where their parents bought it) than where they live.
Jamie Kiefaber, for example, lives in Chicago (312) but still uses a cell-phone number from her high-school days in Upper Arlington (614).
"I just don't really have a reason to change it -- in this city, it doesn't mean anything at all," said Kiefaber, 23, a teacher. "I don't want to deal with the hassle of telling everyone about my new number."
Besides, she said, her number was long ago programmed into friends' cell phones. Only her parents have a land line, on which long-distance calls might cost extra, but they usually talk (free) on their cell phones, anyway.
About 20 percent of American households -- and 41 percent of adults ages 25 to 29 -- depend only on cell phones, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics released this month.
The percentage started to swell only in recent years, as cell-phone providers began offering calling plans with free long distance. Before then, in 2003, just 3 percent of homes were wireless-only.
"As the younger generations become the majority, there will be fewer and fewer land lines," said John Walls, spokesman for CTIA -- The Wireless Association in Washington.
German Village resident Jay Gaughan, 27, doubts that he'll ever have a land line and thinks he'd change his New York area code only if he moved out of the country.
The number he's had since enrolling at New York University in 2000 doesn't seem to bother anyone -- except, perhaps, those accepting his pizza-delivery orders.
"They assume the first three digits are 614, so it causes a 'Who's on first?' type of thing," he said. "I've trained myself to say 'area code 646' and go on with the phone number.'"
Confusion over digits and time zones aside, phone numbers can be even more disorienting now that many wireless customers can choose any area code in the country, as long as it's available.
New customers of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon are assigned a local area code by default but can request another, regardless of whether it carries geographic significance.
When buying a cell phone at an AT&T store, West Side resident Bob Grimm, 24, asked for the area code 313, representing Detroit, a city in which he never has lived, and probably never will live.
The Toledo native saw the phone number as an opportunity to joke with friends from home -- all of them fans of the Detroit-centric film 8 Mile, in which rapper Eminem talks of being from "the 313."
"The only people who understand (the number) or think it's funny are people who have seen the movie," he acknowledged.
A choice of area code, perhaps for more-strategic reasons, also comes with the use of various phone services.
Companies such as Tossable Digits sell temporary, "disposable" phone numbers that forward to a personal phone (for purposes of call-screening, bad-date evasion and other privacy matters).
And Google Voice, a free service coming soon, allows users to create "one number for all your calls" to manage work, cell and home phones simultaneously.
Customers could use such services to fake living in a more-glamorous location -- a New Jersey caller pretending to be in New York City, for example.
In theory, then, wannabes could help exhaust the 62-year-old area-code system, which is projected to run out of numbers in about 30 years, said Manning, of the numbering administration.
"Especially if you have an area code that's very popular, you could have people draining area codes out of the area -- even if they're not geographically there," he said.
At that point, the administration plans to add digits to area code or prefix numbers -- thereby changing a little part of pop culture.
Seeing area codes as a way to represent a city, clothing designer Miche Dwenger sells 614 T-shirts at its Clintonville store.
"It's like an inside joke with other people from the area," said Dwenger, 31, who owns a design company. "You're wearing a 614 shirt in Florida, and someone's like, 'Columbus, Ohio!' "
Actually, Dwenger lives in Pataskala: 740 territory.

I got this from the Columbus Dispatch

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Now, my question to all of you is, do you think this is cool, and would you go for this, and if so, which area code would you pick to go with your number? Or do you think this is pretty stupid and that they should crack down on this practice where it should be YOUR OWN area code where you actually currently live?

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StraddleMyNose

May 17 @ 2:10AM  
Looks like it's dead on here tonight!

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Would you want a popular area code to go with your number?