Phone prefixes are the codes that tell the phone companies which state, city, or county a person is calling from. As more people move to an area the phone prefixes change and additional ones are added. Depending on the state, there may only be a few prefixes. Prefixes help to differentiate between each person's phone numbers and to organize all the numbers. They also list the names of all the people who have phones – including cell phones.
Landlines and Cell Phones
Prefixes also tell us which numbers are cell phones and which are landline phones. However, as more people are added to phone services, these numbers are not changing as much as they used to. Because a lot of people now use their landline number as a cell phone, knowing which numbers are cell phones and which are landlines is also becoming more difficult.
Toll Free Numbers
There are also prefixes that help the phone companies and the people receiving the calls to identify companies and their 800 numbers. A lot of these companies will have an in-state number and a long-distance number. Usually there will be an 800 number added in front, which then makes it toll free to call. Other companies may have two different numbers for this. Some will have their fax numbers with an in-state number and an 800 number – working the same way. As there have been more 800 numbers added, the numbers have gone to 866 numbers and other variations which are still toll free, but as more companies are founded more variations are added to the system to accommodate the increased need.
The numbers for other countries vary greatly to the numbers in the United States. This is because instead of there being separate states like in America, other countries are not divided the same way. Their prefixes still distinguish which country they are in and which city, and the prefixes change based on the number of people living and working there. They have to be upgraded and changed all the time to accommodate the increasing demand for phone numbers.
As the world becomes more populated more and more prefixes will be added. However, more numbers may need to be added to phone numbers so that there are enough combinations to keep numbers distinguishable. Re-using numbers is a technique occasionally used by phone companies, however no one wants to receive a recycled number; the phone calls received on them can become frustrating.
For now phone prefixes are the way to organize and divide up areas of the country so that there is some way to get and receive phone calls in a timely manner. Phone prefixes determine places, people, and businesses. When phone numbers change the prefix can too, or if a person or business moves, this can also change the prefix.