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11 Digit Dialing Comes Home to New York

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the isn't-that-a-pain dept.

Technology 706

Traicovn writes "The NY Times (free registration, yadda yadda) is carrying an article about 11 digit dialing coming to the city of New York for all phone calls, including inner city calls. Yes, that means even to dial across the street you will have to dial 1-xxx-xxx-xxxx. Eventually as the phone number system fills up because of more people having cellphones/pager/fax and a home/office phone line we may see this happening in more cities across the nation or the NANPA may have to intervene by making phone numbers longer in general."

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NEAT! (-1)

j0nkatz (315168) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126057)

I just came back from vacation so I'm rested up for this first post!

Better Idea (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126064)

Why not just give every phone an IP adress?

Re:Better Idea (2, Insightful)

mirko (198274) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126075)

Maybe because IPv6 has not yet gone mainstream ?
I don't think that 2^32 different addresses could be enough.

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126165)

there should be enough but i'd say you would run into the same sitauation as the one thats currently going on, and thats look for more alternatives ;)

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126076)

Aside from the fact that an IP address is up to 12 digits in length ( the bad idea with this is that theres a shortage of IP4 addresses as it is. Thats why IP6 has come about, and people don't have a chance of remembering those!

Re:Better Idea (2)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126154)

Uh, because it would be bloody annoying to have to tap out a 38-digit number (IPv6 has 10^38 possible combinations, IPv4 doesn't have the capacity to be used for telephony) everytime you wanted to reach someone?

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126171)

Uh, that's what DNS is for, isn't it, smartass?

Re:Better Idea (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126181)

...if you have a net connection. maybe VoIP will replace everything one day, one which I would like to have now actually. Also it would be nice for users to put up a block on their firewall to screen out people such as telemarketers.

Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126215)

You WIN-CE phone is HACKed by CHINESE

ET Phone Home... (2, Funny)

Big Mark (575945) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126068)

No, first you dial the country code. Yes, and then the area code. Now the city code... and now the local extension...


Fool! You dialled to KFC, not home!

Stupid alien.

Re:ET Phone Home... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126219)


- Country Code
- Area Code
- Subswitch (a switching station could have 10 large 1000 POTs switches)
- The line card that hosts the POTS address.

Imagine as you dial each of the digit segments that a new circuit is made based on the nearest availability. This is the reason why previous one didn't need to dial the area code: Area codes always had 0 or 1 as the center digit, indicating to your calling center that it had to make a area switch, however when we ran out of area codes we had to change this code to allow any digit in the area code, meaning that it would be difficult for your local station to make switching choices as you progressively dial (i.e. It wouldn't know when the number is done....Those 7 digits may be 575-5858, or awaiting two more digits for 575-585-8212).

When will the idiot phone companies (3, Informative)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126070)

Start supporting number-sharing? I have 3 phone lines, but only one of them is ever used to receive calls....

Trunk Hunting (4, Interesting)

nuxx (10153) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126120)

Easy solution... Just call up your phone company and tell them you want trunk hunting set up across the three lines that you have. In my experience this hasn't cost any extra, and it'll cause one number to roll over to the next phones if the first is busy.

Is this what you're looking to do? It works well and doesn't cost anything.

Good Job New York (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126072)

You caught up to what Illinois has done for about a year now.

Welcome to the club (4, Interesting)

analog_line (465182) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126074)

In Massachussetts, we've had 11-digit dialing required for at least a year. I'm suprised that New York is just getting to this point. There's a whole lot more phones in NYC than here.

Re:Welcome to the club (3, Informative)

SpikeSpegiel (622734) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126098)

Not only do we have 11 digit dialing, we have multiple area codes in MA that are the SAME AREA! Such as 508/774, 781/339. Somone with a new phone number accros the street from my parents (who have 508) could get a 774 number. (its not long distance).

I'm in western MA right now, and there is only one area code out here, 413. From what I hear from the phone companies though, since Boston went so well converting us to 11 digits, (aside from the many complaints :P) Verizon is looking at converting most areas. After all, it is so hard for a telephone switch to detect that a number being dialed is 7 rather than 11 digits......

Re:Welcome to the club (0, Offtopic)

Kancer (61362) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126118)

long live []

Re:Welcome to the club (3, Funny)

Alranor (472986) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126149)

636/939 ??

And when people decide they don't like 2 separate area codes in the same town, are they going to build a large garbage wall down the middle and get The Who to play on it?? :)

Re:Welcome to the club (1)

dirty (13560) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126217)

Philly has had 10 digit dialing and overlapping area codes for years now. 215/267 (city) and 610/484 (suburbs). I don't know why NYC (and apparently other areas) are forcing dialing the 1 though. Here the 1 is optional on calls to 215/267/484/610 and required on everything else. I really don't get why people make a big deal about it, everyone got used to it really quickly.

Re:Welcome to the club (1)

Kancer (61362) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126100)

The DC area has been doing it for over 3years. I am actually surprised NYC went this long.

Re:Welcome to the club (1)

Arseniev (628152) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126112)

Same in London: 0 + 10 digits (might be the case in other areas as well, but in Lancashire, you only seem to need 6 digits).
Same again for UK mobiles, even though they are not linked to a specific area.

Re:Welcome to the club (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126201)

Philly has had this for 2 years i believe. In addition, 10 years ago there was just area code 215. The same geographic region that was covered by 215 now has 6 seperate area codes.

Re: Actually, it all started in NYC... (2, Interesting)

benzapp (464105) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126223)

New York has not REQUIRED 11 digit dialing for dialing in your area code, but there are now five area codes in New York City, 212/646 overlap, 718/347 overlap, and 917 is a little up in the air right now but was originally for cell phones, pagers and faxes.

646 has at least been planned for at least 8 years I would say, and now many people in Manhattan have 646 area codes for their home phone. 347 is also appearing in Brooklyn. 917 has been a national oddity for longer than I can remember. I would say 10 years minimum, probably longer.

Thus you only need to 11 digit dial when you are dialing someone who does not have a number in YOUR area code.

It seems really ridiculous to require 11 digit dialing in your own area code. Perhaps if we didn't USE area codes but had an entirely random string numbers 11 digit dialing as a requirement is obviously a necessity.

Oh great (-1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126079)

First Verizon raises the pay phone charge to 50 cents, no this!

Naked chics at []

It just won't sound the same... (5, Funny)

vought (160908) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126080)

One-two-one-two-eight-six-seven-five-three-oh niyeeeeeiyne!

Why the '1' ?? (5, Insightful)

blakespot (213991) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126081)

We have had to use 10-digit dialing here in the DC area (I am in Alexandria, VA in NoVA) for a while now and I don't see what adding a 1 is going to do...esp. if you add it to each call.

So 10-digit == 11-digit dialing, basically, no?


Re:Why the '1' ?? (1)

Peyna (14792) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126117)

The 1 is the country code. I believe it's used for calls to the US and Canada.

Re:Why the '1' ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126131)

When you had 10 digit vs. 7 digit dialing, you needed prefix free codes so the call switching equipment could distinquish between the two. If no local exchange started with "1", then a first digit of "1" indicated an area code was next.

Re:Why the '1' ?? (3, Informative)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126168)

The difference is that with 10-digit dialing, all the local area codes are reserved and not used as exchange codes (the second three of the ten digits) in those area codes. Then it looks at the first three numbers you dial, and if they are not one of the local area codes, it does 7-digit dialing.

Why 11 vs 10 digits? I can only think of two reasons. Either there are enough area codes in the local area that they don't want to waste the exchange codes, or they need a new area code and don't want to force the people who have it as their exchange to change their 7-digit number.

And now that I've gone all through this, the sometimes-10, sometimes-7 digit dialing that IIRC is used in the Dallas Metroplex area vs always-10 digits still doesn't make a case for needing the 1 in front. In fact, without the 1, 7-digit dialing could still be assumed. So I'm still just as confused as you are.

Re:Why the '1' ?? (4, Interesting)

jdreed1024 (443938) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126183)

We have had to use 10-digit dialing here in the DC area (I am in Alexandria, VA in NoVA) for a while now and I don't see what adding a 1 is going to do...esp. if you add it to each call.

Yeah, same in Boston. We recently got some new area codes added to our local calling area, so we have to dial 10 digits instead of the previous 7. We certainly don't have to dial the '1'.

By contrast, however, in Rhode Island (401 for the whole state), when New England Telephone became NYNEX (yes, it was always a subsidiary, but when they actually changed the name), we had to dial '1' + 7 digits if we were calling outside our local calling area, but within 401. Then they became Bell Atlantic, and we had to dial 1+401+7 digits outside the local calling area (but within 401). Then they became verizon, and now you just dial 7 digits anywhere within 401, and it's up to you to remember whether it's a local call or a toll call.

So, I think basically the "1" is at the whim of the phone companies, and it is no longer the reserved digit signifying "long distance". Unless of course the NYT got it wrong. Someone who works for the phone companies (or has hacked into their switches - Hi Kevin!) should explain to us why New Yorkers need to dial a 1 when they have overlay codes, and those of us elsewhere (Boston, DC) don't.

Re:Why the '1' ?? (1)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126189)

So 10-digit == 11-digit dialing, basically, no?

When I was 7 or so and my small home town went from 4 digits to 5 digits by adding a 5 in front of every number, I asked my school teacher the same question. She didn't understand my question.

Later on, it turned out that by the time all the 5xxxx numbers were actually used up, they started introducing 6xxxx numbers. (I could figure out that would be possible, but she kept insisting every new number would have a 5 as welll...)

Anyway, I hope NYC isn't expecting to reach 10 billion phones soon? (no, I didn't read the article)

Re:Why the '1' ?? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126225)

No, you'll get yelled at if you don't dial a one for long distance calls. I'm not sure, but i think dialing 1 WON'T work if only 10 are required. I'll try it later :-)

In addition (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126233)

In addition to the other posts, there's one more basic reason: dialing out of your area code in NYC has always required the 1. The 1 was originally required so the system explicitly knew the next 3 digits were the US area code. Since I was a kid growing up in NYC it always had multiple area codes, first just 212 for Manhattan and 718 for the other 4 boroughs. So everyone is used to dialing either 7 or 11 digits. I've never in my life dialed 10 and neither has anyone else here, or their PBXs or faxes or anything else that can dial. With everyone here used to 11 digits and all of our electronics trained appropriately, it makes sense to stick with 11 instead of moving everyone to 10.

Of course I still don't get why the system can't work the way it does now. If I don't dial a 1 then why can't it assume I'm dialing to another number within my own area code? The phone companies are desparately hanging on to their legacy systems and only a few startups have tried going all digital.

Why not 10 digits? (5, Insightful)

cleduc (146288) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126086)

I don't understand why they require the 1. Here in Atlanta (the world's largest free calling area, harbinger of things to come) we just dial the area code (no 1) for numbers in the local calling area (codes 404, 470, 678, 770). It makes it simpler to distinguish when you're dialing long distance and when you're dialing local -- not that we'll be worried about that for much longer I guess.

Of course, maybe they just want to specify the United States & Canada with every call. Or maybe they're preparing to secede...

I doubt it (3, Insightful)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126088)

This is the darkness before the don on the "no more phone numbers" front. Already people are using VoIP to communicate wireless via the Internet and every person who does that is another phone number that doesn't need to be allocated. When we all switch to IPv6 [] (I've done it, have you?) worrying about phone numbers will become as quaint as wondering how all the residents of New York will feed their horses in the year 2000.

They are way late! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126090)

This has been in Chicago for over a year now!!

Wow... (0, Troll)

nant (534932) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126092)

How can people manage phone numbers that are 11 digits long?? Is whoever controls this sytem doesn't see where this is going? Why isn't anyone trying to come up with a better solution? Thank God this isn't happening here in Israel(well, we Are quite smaller... ;)

Re:Wow... (1)

Astrorunner (316100) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126193)

Its not a problem.

First, you assume the first digit is a one -- so you're only left with remembering ten digits.

Of those remaining ten digits, three of them are the area code, which really amounts to remembering one digit: We have ten digit dialing here in North East Ohio, and we have two area codes in the local area (330, 234) and its simply remembering if it is 330, or not 330. I suspect it is a bit more complicated in NY as there are obviously quite a few more than the two we have here.

Atlanta has 10 digit dialing... (2, Interesting)

LordYUK (552359) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126093)

... and except for the week it happened (and listening to the "you must dial the area code" message umpteen times because your fingers arent trained to dial the extra 3 digits to call down the street), it isnt so bad. In fact, down south they have a very large local calling area, which more than makes up for having to dial extra digits. I dont know about New Yorks call pricings, but who cares if you have to dial a "1" before every call now, as long as its not considered a toll call.

Why do they have to dial 1? (2, Informative)

BigJimmy (8940) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126094)

Why do they have to dial 1? In Toronto and Vancouver (Canada) they have had their area codes overlaid for quite some time and they only have to dial 10 digits.

*yawn* (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126095)

get a cellphone and you don't need to think about numbers.

just search a name from the list and press dial

Nothing New (2, Informative)

Zephy (539060) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126097)

Here in the UK, major cities have had to change their numbers twice in recent years to accomodate number growth. It's not such a big deal, though. At present london numbers are 11 digits long 020x xxx xxxx , though the 020 can be omitted when dialling locally. Shouldn't the surprise be that this hasn't happened sooner?

Re:Nothing New (1)

Jethro On Deathrow (641338) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126147)

The real problem is less about growth and more about the phone companies hording numbers. CLECs sit on tens of thousands of numbers. This is due mostly to reserving blocks of numbers to hand out as cellulars.

Re:Nothing New (1)

benjymous (69893) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126199)

Well, in the UK, cellphones have a non-regional dialing code.

Normal regional codes start 01 or 02, whereas mobile numbers start with 07

i hate the new 646 area code! (1)

smd4985 (203677) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126099)

all my life i've associated the 212 area code with new york. couldn't they have done NAT with phone numbers so we could all still use 212 ;) .

NAT? (1)

spanky1 (635767) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126160)

Well, they *could* have used NAT if your 646 phone was using a 212 phone as a gateway. Also, the init code on the 212 phone would have to have an "iptables -j SNAT --to 646" somewhere in there.

HEXIDECIMAL #'s Next? (1)

Sagz (194284) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126103)

Maybe we should go the way of IP. You would only have to add A-F on the phone keypad.

Re:HEXIDECIMAL #'s Next? (1)

zapfie (560589) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126151)

Yeah, that's not likely to cause confusion with the letters already present on phone keypads. Not at all.

Likely Only 10 Digits For Local Calls, Not 11 (1)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126106)

From the article it's not clear, but here in eastern PA we too must dial area codes, but the "1" before the number is often not required.

Thus it's likely that many folks in NY city will only have to dial 10 digits, not 11 as suggested by the article.

We've had this in Dallas for years (1)

1337_h4x0r (643377) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126109)

Nothing new. Wonder why it took so long for New York to get it? My parents live in LA and they don't have it either. Strange.

German system (1)

mirko (198274) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126110)

4 years ago, when I was working in Germany, they had some ingenious system :
Normal phone numbers may be 8 digits long but it was possible to compose less number, yet access someone, generally a standard...

It was also possible to compose >8-digit numbers to phone somebody behind a switch or something so...

So at least, it was still possible to avoid composing extra digits if there was only one remaining possibility for a given number.

Sorry if this is unclear : I have never been very aware of phone technology... So if somebody could explain this I'd be quite happy to know :)

more interesting than it sounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126111)

I work in a maths department at a leading university and I can tell you that the optimal method for allocating telephone numbers is a subject of great interest at the moment, having, as it does, many similarities with the travelling salesman problem. Hopefully, we'll be able to solve it in the next couple of years, which should mean that going to 11 or possibly 12 digit numbers can be avoided.

phone switches (1)

khuber (5664) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126114)

We need better telco switches, not longer numbers.

10 digits can represent 10 billion phone numbers.

There was an article on area code allocation not too long ago that talked about this problem.

What about how Europe does it? (2, Interesting)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126121)

In Europe the cell numbers are separate from home lines, so you know when you are calling a cell or not.

Here in America all the numbers are mixed so when you dial a number you can't be that sure it's a cell. This has caused the numbers to fill up FAST.

Re:What about how Europe does it? (1)

Paul Menage (36554) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126207)

But in Europe, you need to know whether you're calling a cell phone, as it costs about 5-10 times as much as calling a land line. We don't need to know in the US, as they're all the same rate. In the UK at least, each cell phone operator has their own area code, so to remember a friend's number you have to remember their cell operator; here you just need to remember where they live. (Obviously this is no longer the case once you have overlaid area codes.)

Re:What about how Europe does it? (1)

mijok (603178) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126231)

It's very good that you can tell the difference between cell phone numbers and others since the cost is different - and not only whether it's cell or not but also which operator it is since the cost also depends on that. In the future it might be different though (at least in Finland, where I live, and probably the rest of the EU too) since the authorities have decided that you must be able to switch operator without switching your number - and thus the competition between operators will become harder and prices lower since there's no lock-in for customers (no need to notify all friends/relatives/idiots that you have a new number). The authorities have, however, also decided that the caller must be able to determine which operator they're calling (so that they'll know what it will cost) even though the number will no longer reveal which operator it is so the operators have to come up with some solution for that. It's kind of funny since the operators' main argument against the no-number-change requirement was that it would be difficult for the consumer to know what the call will cost - and then the authorities told them "you have a point, so you'll have to solve that".

CmdrTaco (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126122)


Registration free version (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126123)

Here []


We've had 10-digits for years, but why? (1)

sirshannon (616247) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126124)

it's been over 2 years since we were forced to start dialing 10 digits with every call. It was supposedly due to the fact that our area code (704)was full, but I have yet to see the 'new' area code used. In fact, even though you 'have' to say "704" when telling someone your number, it's pretty annoying, since 704 is still the only zipcode used here.

Atlanta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126125)

Atlanta has had 10-digit dialing for at least 2 years now. (whats the point of dialing the 1?). How exactly is this news????

Nuimber passing (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126129)

Now what they need is a more efficient way of passing these numbers to other people.

Are the number's really all used up? (3, Interesting)

worldthinker (536300) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126134)

Based on anecdotal evidence, I beleive that the various phone companies are hording number exchanges. Here in Chicago, there are many prefixes that are not available in adjacent area codes. It goes along with the general take no prisoner's approach the various ILEC's take in dealing with competition.

Not a problem - an opportunity (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126136)

Sure someone can make an intelligent phone with a smart embedded controller that can detect when you dial seven digits for a local call and append the appropriate prefix.

BTW it wasn't more than 30 years ago NY city was still using numbers like PENNSYLVANIA 6-5000 (going by air checks of radio stn WOR around 1970).

How about a DNS for Phone Numbers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126139)
phone.mycompany.newyork.u s

If new phones looked up someone's name in a remote DNS, we wouldn't need 967-1111 or 5-FLOWER or SEX-YOGA. Add a voice rec program (remote again) to new cell phones. Make some "rules" to recognize old numbers and phase them out.

By the time numbers get so long as to be a pain in the but, all phones will probably have their own IP address and DNS name anyway.

Maybe some rich smart ass will see this and be inspired.

Re:How about a DNS for Phone Numbers? (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126166)

Yeah that would be a great idea... some punk kids can spoof my phone number or redirect a business to my home phone.

10 Digit Dialing == Good (1)

nuxx (10153) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126140)

10 digit dialing is a good thing. What needs to happen is a nation wide push to get everyone to use 10 digit dialing for everything. You could even tie it in with the so-called War on Terrorism or something to get Joe Sixpack to jump on it. This will eliminate all the problems of needing a 1- for some areas, not for others, area code for some inter-LATA calls, not for others, etc. After all, most people are used to it from their cell phones, so how much of a switch would it really be?

Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode ... (5, Funny)

JSkills (69686) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126141)

... where Elaine gives some guy she meets her phone number with the new "646" area code. The guy's like "so how far away do you live?" and "so do I have to dial 1 first"? He eventually makes up an excuse to get away from her, just so he doesn't have to deal with the different area code issue.

Ok, mod me down now, that was pretty off topic. Sorry.

here in minneapolis (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126142)

we have 612,651,763, and 952. They do not require a 1 so it is only 10 digits.... Theyre not long distance but you still have to dial them

Why so many digits? (3, Interesting)

occamboy (583175) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126143)

Somebody help me get a clue: At first glance, it would seem that a seven digit number would be good for almost 10 million phone numbers, while adding three more digits would take us up to more than one phone number per inhabitant of our planet.

Why so many digits? Why are we running out of phone numbers?

And, while we're at it, why not assign each individual a phone number that they keep for life, no matter where they move, like a domain name? I'd imagine that modern telco equipment could support this by now.

Re:Why so many digits? (3, Insightful)

dlevitan (132062) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126229)

That sounds like a good idea, but there's a problem with it. How many phone lines do you have for yourself? A cell phone, regular phone, maybe fax machine, and who knows what else. So you might need 5 different phone numbers. How do you account for that?

Also, remember that its not only people who need phone numbers. I forget the exact number of people in NYC, but let's say its 10 million - enough to fill one area code. But remember the number of businesses in NYC, and the number of people who have cell phones, fax machines, etc... Also remember that there are only 5 or 6 area codes in NYC (I forget how many exactly), so that's only good for 50-60 million numbers. On top of all their numbers, they still need room for future expansion, because so far, people just keep getting more numbers. So that's why we need more and more numbers.

Re:Why so many digits? (1)

Stevedust (560058) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126230)

And, while we're at it, why not assign each individual a phone number that they keep for life, no matter where they move, like a domain name? I'd imagine that modern telco equipment could support this by now.

It's called a cellular phone. You can take it wherever you want :)

Re:Why so many digits? (4, Informative)

Kamel Jockey (409856) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126232)

Why are we running out of phone numbers?

I am not sure how they do things in New York, but down here in Pennsylvania, any time a competing local exchange carrier or a cell phone carrier wants to provide service, they must buy the numbers from Verizon in 10000-sized blocks (1 entire prefix), even if they end up selling only 1 to 9999 lines. When they deregulated the phone system in this state, lots of companies bought up these blocks but never resold anything close to same amount to end-customers. The result (at least in Philadelphia) is that we now have 6 area codes for the city (215, 267 and 445) and suburban (610, 484 and 835) areas although there hasn't been a net gain in population in this region (mostly people moving out of the city and into the suburbs). I read somewhere that they are trying to reduce the block sizes down to 1000 numbers, but I am not sure how this is progressing.

Re:Why so many digits? (1)

rnd() (118781) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126238)

Some businesses buy blocks of numbers in case of expansion. Take cellular carriers, for example. Some people want different home/cell numbers. Let's face it, we could just dial the Soc Sec No. if we wanted a number to keep for life, but I don't think that ultimate accountability/accessibility is really what people are after when they purchase a phone.

and it's 1234567890 what are we fightin for? (4, Insightful)

rot26 (240034) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126145)

The worst part about 10-digit local calls is never being sure whether it's free or toll.

Calling your neighbor across the street... probably not toll. Calling the local blockbuster... well, PROBABLY not. Calling a plumber you looked up in the phone book? No way to tell really, without committing to memory the HUGE tables of "local to" exchanges in the front of the phone book. (I used to develop automated calling systems and I've had to deal with this for years.)

It turns your phone bill into a reverse lottery every month.

Will drive cell phone use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126146)

This will only drive cell phone use. People will not want to remember the numbers, so they will have to use their pda(synched with cell phone) or the contact list from the cell phone itself.

And again US catches up with the rest of the world (3, Interesting)

GothChip (123005) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126150)

Why is whenever the US catches up with the rest of the world in phone technology it is considered "news"?

We've been using 11 digit number in the UK for years. A 5 digit area code and a 6 digit number. It's not exactly a hard concept to grasp.

like ipv6 (1)

hfastedge (542013) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126158)

although theres too much infrastructure in the fact that phones physically have 10 buttons, you could keep number size down by using an alphabet.

Phone System Ineffeciency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126161)

In Jacksonville, FL, the Area Code is 904. St. Augustine has the same Area Code, 904. Yet, when I call St Augustine, it's long distance. WTF!

Who bothers to remember phone numbers? (1)

Epeeist (2682) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126167)

When most phones these days have an address book built in.

In the longer term it would seem sensible to use a telephony equivalent to DNS, so consumers wouldn't have to use a number at all.

Re:Who bothers to remember phone numbers? (1)

CrosseyedPainless (27978) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126212)

Good idea! Let's combine that with ubiquitous voice-over-IP and lose this old-skool point-to-point telephony network altogether.

A better way? (1)

Alethes (533985) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126169)

Is there any possible way to give individuals as many unique identification numbers as needed for either phone lines or for IPs without having to revamp the system very few years? Eventually this 11-digit system won't be enough, and eventually IPv6, although less likely, won't be enough, right? So, is it mathematically possible to create a system with the structure necessary and still have infinite combinations?

It just seems that this is an issue that could be avoided with a little foresight and one more major revamp.

Re:A better way? (1)

pdxmac (460696) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126227)

Is there any possible way to give individuals as many unique identification numbers as needed for either phone lines or for IPs without having to revamp the system very few years? Eventually this 11-digit system won't be enough, and eventually IPv6, although less likely, won't be enough, right? So, is it mathematically possible to create a system with the structure necessary and still have infinite combinations?

It just seems that this is an issue that could be avoided with a little foresight and one more major revamp.

Easy. Slashdot user ID #s! :-)

reg. free link (1)

.smoke (167893) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126173)

through Google []

it's been like this in boston for over a year... (1)

dennism (13667) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126174)

Well, not exactly 11 digits -- 10 digits (you can drop the leading 1). Once you get used to it, it's not that bad... a lot of people made a big deal about it when it rolled out, but now I never hear any complaints.

In fact, it looks weird when I'm someplace else that doesn't have 10 digit dialing (what's the area code???)

It's better this way -- you either get everyone to use 10/11 digits, or you divide the existing area-codes up into more area codes, and have everyone re-print business cards, signs, advertisements, etc, etc, etc... that ends up causing more trouble than just adding a few extra digits.

When i was a kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126175)

And this was in the 1980's

We had a Rotary phone on a Party Line and we only had to dial 4 digits.

Number portability (2, Interesting)

Dr.Hair (6699) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126177)

So is NANPA still requiring each line provider to buy a block of numbers and assign their users out of that block?

Are they blocking number portability? That is, can I take a Verizon number that I've had for years at my business and sign up with a dial tone competitor and keep the same number? (Yes, phone switches are smart enough to handle this and route a number anywhere on to any network.)

With Michael Powell at the FCC as a sock puppet of the RBOCs, things like number portability that might promote dial tone competition get squashed. It would also reduce the need for new area codes because the numbers that we do have would get used more efficiently.

But it is easier to get customers to carry the burden and expense of dialing extra digits (think of reprogramming speed dial numbers and fax numbers on machines). Then you can minimize competition and keep profits and campaign contributions maximized.

Colonization (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5126180)

I think colonize Mars is sooner than we through, 1 for Earth, 2 for Mars, ... And within a few year, we will need an extra digits for another star system. Hurrah for humanities.

One small step for our finger, one giant leap for humanities.

New Springfield (2, Funny)

freeweed (309734) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126184)

Yeah, but I'm sure the folks in Olde Springfield get to keep the old 212 area code.

No registration required (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126185)

11-Digit Local Dialing Starts in New York City on Feb. 1 By LYDIA POLGREEN

our favorite Chinese-food delivery place may be just down the block, but starting Feb. 1 that kung pao shrimp will be four digits farther away.

That is when New Yorkers will have to start using an area code when calling a local telephone number, even if it is in the same area code. The days when a phone number was just a name and five digits -- say, Pennsylvania 6-5000 -- are now an even more distant memory. It will now take 11 digits, including the 1, to call across the street.

If callers do not dial the area code, they will hear a recorded message asking them to hang up and dial again, using the area code, said Daniel Diaz Zapata, a Verizon spokesman.

Verizon has taken out advertisements in newspapers, put up billboards and sent notices to customers in the hopes of helping people avoid the chaos that will undoubtedly ensue. With the number of devices attached to phone lines these days, this is no small task. "People will need to reprogram speed dialing lists, fax lists, dial-up modems and call-forwarding," Mr. Diaz Zapata said.

The reasons behind the change are complex. It is not simply the need for more phone numbers, as many people believe. Adding new area codes takes care of that problem, and New York City has received three new area codes since 1992 -- 917 and 646 in Manhattan, and 347 in the rest of the city -- to help cope with the exploding demand for phone lines as customers have added pagers, fax machines, cellphones and modems.

Officials in less densely populated places simply split their area in two, with half the population keeping the old area code and the other half getting a new one. But in big cities, like New York and Boston, regulators use an overlay approach, which has meant that people who live next door to each other can and do have different area codes. City Hall, for example, uses the 212 area code. But since 9/11, which disrupted phone service in Lower Manhattan, the Police Department, across the street, has used the 646 area code.

In 1996, in order to simplify things and make it easier to foster competition in the local telephone service market, the Federal Communications Commission began requiring cities with overlaid area codes to use the area code when dialing locally.

New Yorkers did not take the requirement lying down. The New York Public Service Commission and the Consumer Federation of America asked for a waiver. The F.C.C. turned them down, but they appealed and were overruled in 2001.

Um... Ok, thanks for your ignorance (2, Insightful)

nordaim (162919) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126186)

This is more important to the rest of the world since it has come to New York?

Maryland has had 10 (and in some places 11) digit dialing for years because of sharing it's boarder with West Virginia, DC, Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.

If New Yorker's would get out more, they would realize the world doesn't revolve around them.

If the slashdot editor's got out more, they would realize that things *do* take place first outside of New York.

Thanks you insensitive clods.

Old News (1)

Omkar (618823) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126187)

In Canton, Ohio we've had 10-digit dialing for 2-2.5 years now.

I guess I don't have it so bad (1)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126192)

I'll be getting a new area code this summer.

I can deal with all the new paperwork (business cards, invoices, etc.) that I'll be buying, but that's the least of my problems.

I'm in the rental business, and my phone number (including area code) is printed/painted/etched multiple times on every item in my rental stock. That's a few hundred items to scrap and repaint. And it'll always look like crap.

Oh well, I had nothing better to do with my summer.

No Big Deal (1)

Gyorg_Lavode (520114) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126194)

This really isn't a big deal. They have it in Denver where I live. 2 area codes. For local calls you dial the area code (no 1) and the number. Once you get used to it, it is no different than just dialing 7 digits.

3D Geographic Dial Codes (1)

Inflatable Hippo (202606) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126198)

Why not use a the phones absolute position in space as the dial code?

If you want to phone a big company the phone number would be shorter since the building occupies a large volume and you'd need less accuracy.

If you wanted a specific extension you'd just add in a couple of extra digits to each dimension to locate the desk in question.

OK, so it's a bit confusing for mobile phones, but nothings perfect.

What happened to adding digits? (1)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126202)

I remember looking at an old phone book and noticed that the phone numbers were only five digits at the time. Obviously, they moved up to seven digits in order to handle the increasing amount of phones that people were starting to get.

So why haven't we added an 8th digit to phone numbers yet? It would effectively give area codes 10 times more numbers and allow much more room for expansion than adding area code after area code.

Homer Simpson moves to NYC (1)

samsonov (581161) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126205)

It's a good thing Homer Simpson doesn't live in NYC... he had a tough time when Springfield was split into two area codes... Imagine if he had a cell phone in NYC!

What about international calls? (1)

slowtech (12134) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126220)

The country code for the US is (conveniently) "1". So what happens now? A call that was "1 (234) 567-8999" is now "1 1 (234) 567-8999" ?

I hope this does not become recursive...

Boston Area (1)

Bobman1235 (191138) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126222)

A couple of years ago they added this to the Boston area. I tend to think that the article is mistaken on one small point, and that is the leading one. The main reason for requiring 10-digit dialing, as I understand it, is so you DON'T have to dial the leading 1 when calling a local call -- IE to call a neighboring town (or even my next door neighbor) I would dial 10 digits, to call California I still have to dial 11, as always. I'm not sure what the technical reasons with switching and all are, but I would guess this is the case in NYC as well. And I'm very surprised that this has no been implemented there already--I would think they'd have much more of a phone overpopulation problem than Boston.

This is news I've been dialing it that for 3 years (0)

Ozor (592387) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126234)

In Philadelphia we have been dial like that for over 3 years now. Time to move to voice over IP

Chicago North Suburbs (1)

DaveTerrell (923) | more than 11 years ago | (#5126236)

the 847 area code for the north and northwest suburbs of chicago has had a 224 overlay for a while. My parents live in one of those tiny little towns where everybody still has the same prefix, so my dad just programmed speed dial button for 1-847-NNN and it's almost like being back in the good old days of 4 digit dialing. :)
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