The Dark Wraith

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What's in a Prefix?

Friday, November 28, 2008

A phone number is not merely a random collection of numbers. There was a lot of thought put into how these numbers should be formatted when the area code system was put in place back in the 1940s. You probably know that your area code signifies what state or region of a state in which you live - and that it can tell you the same information about any other phone number that you see. When thinking about these phone numbers, you should also know a little about prefixes.

The prefix of the phone number tells you the name of a city, part of a city, or town. This prefix comes directly after the area code in a set of phone digits. In larger areas, cities need to have many more than just one prefix. If you search for information on a phone number, you can always look at the area code and then search for the prefix within that code. That alone can tell you what you need, but not always.

Some areas use prefixes in different ways. Some areas have a pool of prefixes that they randomly assign to numbers. These can be used for landline phones, cellular phones, or fax and Internet lines. That means you will not know from what type of phone a number comes if that is the case. On the other hand, some save certain prefixes for cellular numbers, but that is something you may not know unless the number is local.

There are probably a few prefixes of which most people are aware. One would be the 555 prefix. This is normally not used in most area codes, though there are some exceptions. It is generally used for information in most codes (555-1212), but otherwise left unused because the 555 is used in movies and television. This saves people from getting thousands of calls because their number was inadvertently put into a movie or other entertainment production.

When you want to know more about a phone number calling you or someone that you love, you can find more help through the Internet. You can search out a area prefix through any area code to see from which city a call comes. When you have that information, you may very well have what you need to identify the caller.

Jeremiah Johnson is a freelance writer specializing in writing about the Telecommunications industry. You can check out his latest project at

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