Area Coding

My mobile phone has a 206 area code (Seattle). People sometimes ask me why I don’t have a 617 number (Boston/Cambridge). In fact, I had a Massachusetts number in college but switched to a 206 several years ago on a trip back home in order to get a "permanent" Seattle number.

With a move to mobiles phones, the idiosyncratic fact that US mobiles remain tied to geographic area codes, and the effective elimination of domestic roaming and long-distance, an area code in the United States is increasingly not about where you are but about where you are from. Or, perhaps more accurately, about where you want people to think you are from.

7 thoughts on “Area Coding”

  1. The other weird thing is that when I got a cellphone in Boston, I was given an 857-area code number, and told if I came back the next morning, they could change it over to 617… apparently they’re hard to get now.

  2. I think they’re mostly accidental now — just wherever you happened to be living when you got a cell phone.

    We should face the fact that the U.S. has gone to ten-digit dialing :-).

  3. This was something very hard to get used to when I got here.  The idea that someone might be a long distance call from me in the US is completely foreign, and so is roaming charges when I travel.

    In Canada, you still change to a local area code as fast as you can, since not only will everyone get charged to call you, but you’ll also get nailed with roaming charges.

    I wonder how ugly their network routing winds up being?  PRIs can request a transfer of a trunk over a D channel, but it would have to identify the furthest point out that would honour that request and ask it to reroute.  Now for fun, let’s hop in a car and drive 120kph down the freeway and talk on the phone. =)

  4. Richard: In the US, mobile phones users are charged for air-time or they have a set amount. Callers are not charged more for calling a mobile phone — unless that mobile phone has a number that happens to be long distance (even if the phone itself, is not).

  5. I didn’t know you were from Seattle.  Are you a Washington/Garfield alum?  Sometimes I wonder whether every Seattle techie had Mr. Pounder for PreCalc.

  6. Is there a way to tell if you’re ringing a mobile phone from the number, then? Assuming that, like in the UK, mobile phones tend to cost more to call than a land line, this system would seem to make it very easy to run up higher bills than you expected ringing a mobile. All UK mobile numbers begin with 07, though, which makes it easy to tell.

    Plus, when you’ve got two numbers in your phone book for the same person, how do you tell which one you can text message?

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