If you look at the assignment list, which is by NXX, they're almost all assigned to Verizon Wireless and Cingular/AT&T, and the first chunk of 533 is to Cingular. I presume they wouldn't be asking for more if they couldn't show NANPA that they were in use, but I've never seen a 500 number in use, either.
I don't know what these numbers are used for today. I've never seen a phone company marketing the service.
It was my understanding that 500 was a non-geographical area code that was originally internal to a long distance provider. A subscriber had this number pointed to a particular phone, that could be anywhere in the country.
To call the subscriber, one had to know what long distance company he subscribed to if the PIC had to be dialed. One wouldn't know how the call was distance rated in advance as it was based on the location of the terminating number, which wouldn't be known to the caller. I assume if the subscriber and the caller were both subscribed to the same long distance provider that the calls were charged at the caller's long distance rates, but if the caller was forced to use casual calling rates, the call would be absurdly expensive.
At some point, this was changed to an entirely different type of service. I have no idea what it is today, or how to subscribe to it, or why I would want to subscribe to it. And I'm totally mystified as to how a service that no one uses managed to run out of prefixes.
No, that's 700 numbers. The idea of 500 numbers was that they were intended for personal follow-me service and the like, charged to the caller.
Since you can't predict how much a 500 number will cost, not unlike a 900 number, I figured they would fail. From the little I can see on Google, I get the impression that the 500 numbers in use don't cost anything to the caller.
The number of Google "hits" is reasonably large. Here's one reasonably good explanation of "500" from :
Personal Communications Services (a.k.a. "the Other PCS") in this context refers not to cellular telephones, but rather to so-called "follow-me" numbers. The idea was to have a single number, say (500)
123-4567, that you could program to ring your home phone from 6 to 10 p.m., go directly to voicemail at night, and ring your desk at work during the day. The number could also have some sort of response menu, along the lines of "press 1 for voicemail, 2 for fax, 3 for cellphone." Some implementations also allowed the same 500 number to be used for caller-pays or called-party-pays: dialing 1-500-xxx-xxxx, the caller would pay the cost of the call, but dialing 0-500-xxx-xxxx, the caller could enter a 4-digit PIN to charge the call to the owner of the number. However, in spite of some attempts to keep telesleaze out of the 500 number space, some unscrupulous operators exploited a feature that allowed 500 numbers to forward internationally, with the additional charge borne by the caller with only a "press 1 to accept" warning, if that.
The 533 code was assigned as an expansion of 500, although no one is quite sure why it was assigned, since demand for 500 numbers has been steadily decreasing. The assignment was subsequently withdrawn. As of
2008-05-23, NANPA projects activating 533 in the second half of 2009; however, 533 has been "within 6 to 18 months" for several years now. Bottom line: I'll believe it when I see it. In particular, as of
2008-01-01, there were 79 available (533) prefixes to be assigned. In the first 5 months of 2008, 43 of those were handed out; however, 171 other (533) prefixes were returned or reclaimed, leaving 207 available for assignment. That's not a very intimidating demand curve from where I sit.
History indicates that when the FCC was first considering "Cellular" services (back in the 1970's), they discounted the European plan already in effect which assigned specific AC's (NPA's) to their burgeoning Cellular service so that all NXX's (exchanges) in these NPA's would only be for cell phones.
Of course as we all know, instead the FCC only allowed the early cellular service supplier's to use NXX's in the already issued (land-line) NPA covering their specific initial service area(s) which were the largest MSA's (starting with number 1 and licensing each successive MSA) until all had two carriers.
Of course we all know now that the FCC had no idea how large this service would grow and that they would have to put together new NPA plans with over-lays, etc. to ultimately cover the demand for telephone numbers in each NPA area until where we find ourselves today. Had they had a crystal ball they might have better chosen the European plan with special NPA (just like this new FCC release of AC
533) for this growing service.
So, perhaps, the FCC has finally "seen the light" and is now issuing special NPA's for mobile (cellular) services.
As a side to this, the FCC just recently indicated that they might want to take back some of the TV spectrum already reissued for public services as the world is going more wireless-ly every day. Perhaps they do now finally see that wireless is here to stay (after all more and more consumer's are dropping their land-lines every day for the mobile "leash"!) and are finally scrambling to cover the future needs for (these) services.
John Stahl Telecom/Data Consultant Aljon Enterprises
Dropping one's landline for a mobile phone has certain advantages, such as the cell phone becomming the "universal number" to reach the person anywhere they might be. In certain situations it could also be cheaper.
But there are certainly disadvantages to go all wireless, too:
Can one get broadband computer services from a teleco or cable company if they don't have voice service? That is, can you get DSL without an associated voice line?
But with cell phones often times the meter is running and it isn't cheap. For instance, as an individual I make and receive a number of social calls between 7 pm and 9 pm weeknights. I believe on most cellphone plans that is still 'prime time' and the meter is running. Some (many?) cellphone plans consider major holidays as still weekdays, not weekends, so calls made on Labor Day are also running up the meter.
All of us have to call our banks, credit card, health insurance, etc., and sit on hold. We don't think about the cost because almost all such calls are via 800 numbers. But on a cell phone, during prime time the meter is running.
This translates to someone either going into overtime or getting a high-end plan that has lots of extra minutes. High end plans are pricey.
The other issue is reliability. Cell phones are significantly less reliable than traditional landlines. Batteries can wear out, and need to be charged, something one can forget to do or find themselves unable to do. Signals might be blocked by buildings or odd atmospheres. Calls get cut off. Phones themselves are easily lost or break. Sound qualtiy is lousy.
I wonder how many traditional landlines are being _permanently_ lost to wireless, as opposed to being lost to alternative carriers, like cableTV providers.
I can't imagine anyone would call a cell-only number to call a local plumber, handyman, or any other outfit publishing such a number in their advertisements. Of course, Europe is generally caller-pays so I don't think any cell phone number could be a viable alternative as a number someone could use to call a local business.
I can assure you that when I was in England last year, as often as not the phone number on tradesmen's trucks was a mobile.
Although it costs more to call a mobile than a landline if you are calling from a landline or from outside the country, most mobile phones have bundled minute plans that treat mobile and landine the same. This makes the practical effect of caller pays much less than it is here.
Of course, they still have separate number spaces and they'll never have portability between landline and mobile like we do here.
Well, sure. There weren't enough spare NPAs to do a reasonable geographic overlay. I suppose they could have taken the European approach of making the mobile space one giant rate center, but at the time, long distance was expensive, and it was considered important to assign mobiles to geographic places. I don't know whether mobile-landline portability was always planned, or if they later realized it was possible.
OnStar received the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association's (CTIA) first Future Vision Award for great strides in the areas of data products, software products and end-user applications. OnStar employees were honored in 1999 with the General Motors Boss Kettering Award for the first implementation of a national wireless network using a non-geographic area code (500) to deliver OnStar mobile communication services.
When was caller pays introduced? That type of service warrants a non-geographical area code, but as long as incoming calls to cellular phones are distance rated, then sharing existing area codes makes sense.
I do not agree with your analysis. The problem was waste of line numbering space. If cell phone had to have rate centers so that incoming calls could be distance rated (and outgoing long distance calls in the old days), then the correct solution should have been FCC rules for fulfilling line number requests neutrally.
Groups of cellular phone numbers rated to an exchange should have been treated like PBXs, which generally require a block of numbers but not an entire prefix.
Yeah, this might have taken extra equipment at the switch, but the bill and keep system pretends that every cell phone company has a physical presence at every central office, so what the hell.
No matter how many times people repeat [the claim] that the main reason for overlays was people using technology like cell phones, fax machines, 'computer' lines or teenager additional lines, [in fact] the main consumer of numbering space was the CLECs. At one point CLECs could request a whole 10,000 block of numbers even if they were only going to use several hundred. It's only now with thousands block assignments that number assignments have dwindled. Number portability also plays into it. The economy also has had an effect on numbers assigned as well.
This is certainly not the case -- mobile numbers are now the norm for small businesses in the UK. Remember that the vast majority of people are calling from a mobile in the first place, and the majority of the calls they make (and, more likely, text messages they send) are to other mobile phones already...