Telephone Companies are Running out of Numbers

Written By: Ishton W. Morton – November 23rd, 2016

Telephone Key-Pad Showing Numbers 0 to 9
Telephone Key-Pad Showing Numbers 0 to 9

Although we were taught that our number system can extend into infinity may it be positive of negative. However, our number system is consisted of  ten (10) main number starting with zero (0) through nine (9) and thereafter every other number or any combination thereof are repeats of the first ten (10) numbers. For example, take the number ten (10) which is a combination of  one (1) and zero (0) eleven (11) becomes a repeat of (1) one and (1) one. These processes shall repeated to create the desired number combination.

Ironically, telephone companies have proclaimed to be running out of numbers. It seems that there is simply not enough numbers to accommodate the growing demands of our technological age. A few days prior as I dialed a local number I was interrupted with a voice message prompting me to use the local area code.

Making contacted with my service provider and was informed of the dilemma that we are being faced. The telephone number(s) that we might be utilizing is no longer privilege only to that particular user. Accordingly, someone in another state or area code destination could be using that number along with you with the exception of the different area code.

Thusly, locals are required to used the Area codes in ten-digit dialing when placing local area calls to subscribers locally or in another state or numbering plan area.

In the 1940’s AT&T better known as the Bell System and independent telephone operators in North America devised a process which referenced as The North American Numbering Plan (NANP). Designed to unify and diverse local numbering plans that had been established in the preceding decades.

Predicated on these variables a student once said to me; Mr. Morton, the world is getting smaller. To which I responded, no the world is not getting any smaller. Quite simple our horizons are expanding. The world is no smaller today as it was two hundred years ago. We are exposed to more, we see more, we are learning more and we are demanding more.

North American Numbering Plan
North American Numbering Plan

The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) is a telephone numbering plan that encompasses 25 distinct regions in twenty countries primarily in North America, including the Caribbean and the U.S. territories. These countries include the United States and its territories, Canada, Bermuda, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Maarten, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks & Caicos.

Believe it or not, the problem is; there is a need for new area codes in the United States and it has been prompted by several factors. Yes! Most definitely we are running out of telephone numbers due to a rapid explosive demand for communications technology.

Additionally, continued growth in home and business telephones, the industry has seen a rapid growth in wireless phones, pagers, fax machines, modems and other telecommunications devices. Also, increased competition in the telecommunications industry has played a role in depleting the number of available telephone exchanges.

Moreover, as new companies enter the market, they request and are assigned specific telephone prefixes continues to add to the dilemma.

The demand for new telephone numbers has continued to get bigger and bigger. Soon it will be necessary to condense, dispose or discard the geographic association of “area codes” and begin assigning new users to arbitrary ten-digit phone numbers, or finally change from the strict 10-digit format to something else  maybe 10 or 11 digits, 12 or 13 digits etc, etc. Hard core believes, even with an 8 to 10 fold increase in exchange codes, or adding to the number of available NPA’s (area codes) as desired may not resolve NPA’s dilemma. The system is demanding that something will have to be done expeditiously.

Often individuals who are extremely self-serving commonly have an average of  two (2) or three (3) different cell-phones.

It is determined that a new network design, and completed in 1947, which provided for 152 area codes, each with a capacity to serve 540 central offices. Subsequently, only 86 area codes were assigned. New Jersey received the first area code in the new system, area code 201. The second area code, 202 was assigned to the District of Columbia.

The most populous states required division into multiple Numbering Plan Areas, as each NPA was limited to 540 unique central office codes. For example, New York state was initially divided into five areas, the most of any state, followed by Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas with four NPA’s each.

Additionally, regions with high density population were allotted the lower numbers while the regions with low population were allotted the higher numbers. Thusly, New York was allotted 212, Los Angeles 213, Chicago 312, Dallas 214, Detroit 313, and Pittsburgh 412, while South Dakota was given 605, North Carolina 704, South Carolina 803, and the Maritime Provinces of Canada 902. With these expansion the need for more area codes continues to grow.

All of these efforts have all but completely evaporated. Impartially, a new system is necessary if our a telephone, or phone, is a telecommunications device that permits two or more users to conduct a conversation when they are too far apart to be heard directly.

Consumers has become totally depended on telephone because they typically converts most electronic signals or sound efficiently in human voice. These  electronic signals are extremely suitable for transmission via cables or other media transmission over long distances, and replays such signals simultaneously in audible forms of services to its users.

Apparently, most users of this technology continues to be completely clueless as to the enormous complexity that is employed when making a simple phone call.

Flip-phone/Electronically or Mechanical Apparatus
Flip-phone/Electronically or Mechanical Apparatus

I think we all can remember this catchphrase “Beam me up, Scotty” that made its way into popular culture from the science fiction television series Star Trek. As a young lad I was particularly fascinated Captain Kirk on his flip-phone/electronically or mechanical apparatus as he gives his chief engineer, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, his command when he needs to be transported back to the Starship Enterprise. “Beam me up, Scotty!” Since then, today’s cell-phones has long surpass the age of flip-phone. There has been times when several cell-phone users are in the same room using their individual cell-phone without interference whatsoever.

Telephone numbers in the United States, Canada and quite a few Caribbean (West Indian) countries all conform to the North American Numbering Plan, a scheme that has been in place, with some updates along the way, since 1947. It is one of those constants of American life, embedded in everything from cell phones to utility bills to cash registers.

I am still tremendously bewildered at the unyielding demand for telephone usages. Practically everybody knows how it works. As a general rule 3-digit area code, a 3-digit prefix code, and four more digits works very well.  The North American Numbering Plan  is being immensely  over worked. Changing it is not the answer. Fix it! Improve it!

Author: Ishton W. Morton

Formerly, Ishton W. Morton is an educator and promoter for community advocacy which includes creating programs and services, developing partnerships, and changing public policies, laws, and practices to improve the lifestyle of all people I’m still having an overwhelming desire to provide an Outreach Continuing Education process through this media.