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Online telephone companies like Vonage are pushing for access to phone numbers that have traditionally been restricted by location, Bloomberg reports.
As it stands, Vonage has to buy numbers through carriers instead of getting them directly from a national pool of unused numbers.
It is petitioning the government for the right to bypass those carriers and enjoy the same access they do – a move that would make it harder to tell from an area code where someone lives.
Area codes have already lost some of that value because many people have held onto their cellphone numbers when moving somewhere new. That’s part of Vonage’s argument, and the Federal Communications Commission seems willing to listen. Bloomberg says the agency plans to let Vonage try it out, and may let other companies do the same.
Some carriers oppose the deal, arguing Vonage shouldn’t get the same perks as a carrier without facing the same state restrictions they do. And then there are the area code snobs who prize their first three digits as a status symbol.
One guy told Bloomberg, “There is a special category of social signifiers separating Manhattan-born people from late arrivals and the 212 fits that niche beautifully.”