Jed Cohen

A Few Thoughts

Google’s Own Area Code?

7 comments

I got into Google Voice today.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, Google Voice is a kind of free super phone service.  You sign up, get a number, and can forward calls to that number to your work, cell, or home phone.  You can program in rules to follow (like if it is 8a-5p, forward to work, 5p-9p forward to cell, and 9p-8a forward to home).  Your voicemails are transcripted and indexable, and you can listen in on them as they’re being recorded.  You can also, you know, call people on it.

Anyway, the first thing you do upon opening your Google Voice account is select a number:

Google Voice Signup

I haven’t moved pass this step.

Why?

Because I’m not sure what area code I want to use.  In order to set this up, Google – okay, it was really GrandCentral, which Google purchased – obtained a whole slew of phone numbers in almost every area code in the country.  But they don’t restrict you to selecting the area code you live in when you sign up.  Right now I live in New York.  But I want to move to California.  Should I choose New York because that’s where I live now?  But when I move, won’t that be confusing to people I give that number to?  What happens if I select an area code in California but don’t end up moving there?  For that matter, I could pretend I’m based in Alaska, Nebraska, or Texas – three states I’ve never visited!  It could get pretty confusing if everyone starts choosing the area code they want instead of the one they live in…..

Yes, Google does let you change your number later (it’s $10).  But the whole idea of Google Voice is that the number follows you from place to place.  So why am I forced into choosing an area code, which inherently locks me into coming from one location?  I think this is an opportunity to improve on the service.  According to Wikipedia, there are several area codes not in use.  Why can’t Google Voice be assigned an area code?  After all, it’s entirely a virtual service, and as such is not bound by location (no idea what this would entail, but as I don’t work for Google, I don’t have to worry about the paperwork – I can just write what I want and they can choose whether or not to listen).

In the meantime, I suppose I’ll have to choose a number and stick with it for a while.  Do you think that Google Voice should have its own area code?  Did you put any thought into selecting your number?  Or do you think that telephones are so 20th century, and video conferencing/instant messaging/twittering is the way to keep in touch?  Leave a comment – I’m curious!

Written by Jed

July 28th, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Posted in internet

Tagged with ,

  • http://skariann.blogspot.com/ Karianne Salisbury

    Hello! I had the same dilemma. I'm from Virginia (which is the area code I still have for my cell) but currently live in Utah. At some point I do hope to move back to Virginia and your same thoughts crossed my mind. In the end, I chose a Utah area code because I already have a Virginia number and have been using that for the past 4 years, even while in Utah. Plus, I checked both and ended up liking the rest of the numbers I chose as well.

    I think a Google area code would be awesome! You don't necessarily want your number to stand out or to be classified as a “foreigner” to the area. It's the perfect solution—Google's going to rule the world so it might as well have it's own area code…not to mention Zip code and time zone. :P

  • Ariana Tobias

    Okay, I have to admit to putting a LOT of thought into my googlevoice number. In the interest of full disclosure, it took me two days to get beyond step one. I toyed with the ideas of getting a number with my birthday, spelling something fun, or plain old easy-memorability (123-4567?). And then, of course, there was the area code issue.

    I might have gone for an NYC area code if 212 was available (which is, according to wikipedia, arguably one of the most-recognized American area codes) and I seriously considered 516 (mostly because 10 years later, I still haven't accepted 631 really represents Long Island) but in the end, after all of my friends told me I was crazy and more than a little obsessive-compulsive, I just bit the bullet and took a 631 number.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who gave this an inordinate amount of thought. I think the idea of a GoogleVoice area code is great. But it would be even greater if we could all just keep our old, familiar numbers.

    -Ariana

  • http://jedcohen.com Jed Cohen

    I'm curious Karianne – do you give your Google Voice number to people in Virginia or Utah more? Or do you just use it as a general contact number (which is probably what I'll end up doing)?

    It's also a good point about being seen as a “foreigner” in a particular place. I imagine that Google would have to make sure to inform the general public that they've got this Internet only area code before everyone starts wondering where people are calling from.

  • http://skariann.blogspot.com/ Karianne Salisbury

    Honestly, I have yet to put my Google Voice number to use…or to give it to anyone. I'll probably use it as a general number as well. I like that it's more permanent, i.e. I can print it on business cards without worrying that I'll no longer have that number. However, I'm still a little unsure if I'll be OK with continuing on the Utah area code if I do end up moving.

  • http://twitter.com/funDivaChristy Christy Hoffman

    I still have an area code chart on my wall, outdated for sure, it was current in 2002! I did sales from home and wanted to make sure I didn't call people after 9PM. Occasionally I would get forwarded and people were mad, but it was their fault they kept a Pacific area code and moved to Eastern!

    I have many friends who've opted to keep a cell number in an old area code, though that could be confusing for new people they meet. Given that Google allows the user to set the hours that your phone will actually ring, accidentally waking someone up wouldn't be a problem, as long as THEY have it set up correctly. Maybe this will help people understand how they can call me 24/7, I control it on my end. (I made a whole page about it just to make it easy http://phone.funDiva.com)

    I like the idea of giving Google their own area code, then indicating that using that area code would not be reliable to determine what time it is on the receivers end.

    I have a fabulous number which I plan to keep for life even though it's 702 and I won't live in Vegas forever. It was assigned by chance when I had 6 landlines to run a dialer and I switched it to be my packet8 VOIP number so it'll work as long as I keep their service. (I'll share by DM if you're curious – it's not public!)

    Keeping one number would be so lovely – I went to my 20 yr HS reunion last week and stayed with my parents, when I was calling friends they recognized my parents number that hasn't changed for 30 years!

    Given a choice, I would go for a vanity/memorable number over what area code since they just don't matter as much. I used to be a vanity 800 telecom agent so I can help be clever or you can use a tool like http://phonespell.org – just avoid 1s & 0s in that case!

  • Name

    My mom still has telephone service that charges differently for local versus long distance, so I've thought about getting her area code instead of mine.

  • Name

    My mom still has telephone service that charges differently for local versus long distance, so I’ve thought about getting her area code instead of mine.