A Phone Number to Last a Lifetime

Integrating mobile and home connectivity.

By Michael Murphy on December 26, 2013

Remember a time when changing your wireless carrier also meant changing your cell phone number? Talk about a predicament. After all, that phone number had become part of your identity. It was written on your resume and business cards. Your grandmother even had it handwritten in her address book. This made the idea of switching wireless carriers quite unappealing.

In November 2003, however, those concerns were made obsolete. Wireless Local Number Portability (WLNP) became a reality for customers in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, giving them the ability to change service providers while still keeping their phone numbers. It also meant they could convert their home (landline) phone numbers into a cell number, increasing their mobility without changing their identity. WLNP eventually rolled out nationwide in May 2004.

The result? You weren’t wedded to a particular carrier by your phone number anymore. In fact, according to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), in the first year alone, more than 8.5 million customers took advantage of WLNP. You could now take your phone number with you through different stages of life, as you started careers and moved about the country.

Being able to move to a different town or state and keep the same area code means you can claim your three-digit number as a badge of honor and another way of defining who you are and where you’ve been. A particular area code may hint to people that you worked for years in Manhattan even though you live in Boston now. Or that you proudly grew up in Southern California despite the fact today you are a Vermonter through-and-through. Take a scroll through your cell phone contacts and tally up all the different area codes – you may be surprised with the array you find.

With today’s wireless technologies seamlessly integrating mobile and home connectivity, your current cell phone number may very well be the only number you will ever want or need. Can you imagine ever changing your current mobile number? Do you think any differently of someone that has an ‘out-of-state’ number? Which area code would you most like to have? Share your thoughts on Twitter with @VZWmike.