Can somebody explain this cell phone number quirk???

Okay, so we finally decided to switch cell providers from Verizon to Virgin to get away from a contract. I got my new phone yesterday (purchased online), activated it online, thought everything was peachy-keen. Until I tried to use my office phone to call my cell to check my voicemail, and someone named “Trish” answered! Apparently in order to call my cell I have to dial the area code, then my cell number (e.g. 1-512-555-5555), so my cell is long-distance even though it’s my local area code??? And how can I possibly have the same area code & number as “Trish”? If someone in, say Iowa, tries to call “Trish” by dialing 1-512-555-5555, will they get me or “Trish”?

I called Virgin and the rep said that it’s normal to have to dial the AC for a cell number but I’m not sure I’ve ever had to do that before. Does this sound right, or can anyone explain this to me? I’m pretty irritated tht my local friends and family are going to have to dial (and pay) long-distance to call my cell.

Why do you have to dial the 1?
Is your office phone in a different area code than your cell phone?
That would explain why you’d have to dial the area code when calling your cell.
Ten digit dialing is pretty common in a lot of areas.

Just because you dial the area code does not mean that the call is long-distace, not anymore.

There are many areas in the North American phone system where you must dial all ten digits, including the area code, for all calls (Toronto, New York, and Dallas come to mind).

In some places, for historical reasons, you also have to dial a 1 before the area code, whether the call is long-distance or not. Where I live, I have to dial a 1 before the area code only on long-distance calls.

When I’m in Toronto, I must dial 416-xxx-xxxx or 647-xxx-xxxx for all Toronto calls (which are local). I cannot dial a 7-digit number*.

Where is your cellphone considered to be based? This location, and the location of the caller, will determine who pays long-distance to call you. Whether they dial 10 digits or not is irrelevant. When you call, your call will be local or long-disctance depending on your location, service plan, and the location you are calling.

Many cellphone companies will let you dial all ten digits all the time, even in areas where the landline companies allow seven-digit dialing.

[sub]*With the exception of so-called “Seven-Digit Service” numbers, used by a few businesses as easy-to-remember numbers. In Toronto these are 310-xxxx and 610-xxxx, and I don’t thing you can dial an area code with them. Apparently they are being phased out.[/sub]

Oy, this is confusing! My office phone is in the same AC as my cell. When I tried to call my cell, the call wouldn’t go through unless I entered my super-secret long-distance authorization code (which of course I did not, since there would be a record of it and for all I knew my employer would be charged something). I guess my confusion really is about this “Trish” gal who seemingly has the same number as my cell, since she is obviously in my AC too (I called her from work with no problem, just like any other local call). FWIW, my hubby also had to use his long-distance authorization from his office in order to call my cell. As long as “Trish” and I don’t get each other’s calls, I guess I won’t worry too much but it just seems very bizarre. I suppose I could try to visit a Radio Shack store to ask about it, but I was hoping some of my fellow Dopers might have had a similar experience.

Are you sure that “Trish” is in your area code? (Did you ask?) Sometimes a “local calling area” will overlap multiple area codes, as with metro areas spanning state lines. Calling a number across the state line may not require explicit use of the area code. Your cellphone number might have a prefix associated with some geographic region outside your local calling area, so your local call gets rerouted into the next area code.

When I worked for Sprint PCS, twice I had customers who called in to ask about some minor detail in a plan we were offering and when I pulled up their account, I discovered that our computer had somehow managed to assign their phone number to two different phones at the same time. Same area code and everything. No idea how it happened, nor how they managed to have their numbers for over a year without figuring out something flaky was going on. I mention this because it’s possible that you’ve somehow been assigned the same phone number as Trish and that Virgin buys their airtime from Sprint PCS.

But is it in the same local calling area as your cell? That is the important question.

Local calling areas often have nothing to do with area codes.

An example:

My work is 905-812-xxxx, just outside Toronto. My friends’ place, also just outside Toronto, about twenty minutes’ drive away, is 905-877-xxxx. My friends’ place is considered a long-distance call from my work, and I must enter my long-distance authorisation code to call them from work.

Now, my apartment is in Toronto itself, 416-xxx-xxxx, about a thirty-minute drive on the other direction. It is considered a local call from work, even though I have to dial a different area code.

Here’s the kicker: from my home phone, both my work and the previously-menioned friends’ place are local calls! The local calling areas (of Bell at least) are arranged for the convenioence of calling to and from the urban centre, not of calling from one suburban area to another.

Bell should just make the whole Greater Toronto Area local.

(So I use my cellphone to call my friends. It’s a local call between any of these places as far as the cellphone company is concerned.)

All of Maryland, too. We switched to 10-digit dialing several years ago. We have four area codes, and you have to dial all 10 digits for every call.


Soon all of Southern Ontario will be using ten-digit dialing.

Toronto has two area codes, 416 and 647, and ten-digit dialing.
The area around Toronto has two area codes, 905 and 289, and ten-digit dialing.
Soon Southwestern Ontario will have 519 and 226… and ten-digit dialing.
Ottawa will have 613 and a code yet to be decided… and ten-digit dialing. Montréal will have 514 and 438… and ten-digit dialing.

Not sure about the other area codes in the region (705, 450 and 819…)

Is 512 the actual area code in question? If so, our helpful posters should note:

there are no overlay codes in the 512 area.
there are no areas in the 512 ac where 10-digit dialing is mandatory.

Which means if Dax dials 555-5555, and gets Trish, then Trish’s number is 512-555-5555. But if she dials 1-512-555-5555, she gets her cell phone. So she has a good question: how can she and Trish have the same number?

Sure, if dialing 555-5555 led to a recording about the call not being able to be completed as dialed, it could be an issue of local calling areas. But there’s actually someone answering the phone at that number.

The metro Detroit area (mostly Oakland County, specifically) has an overlay code; that is, one geographic area has 2 area codes. (Sounds like the same deal as Toronto and Maryland.) Anyone living in this area has to ten-digit dial whether it’s for someone across the country or their next door neighbor who has the same area code as they do. As a bonus, your next door neighbor might NOT have the same area code as you do.

My boyfriend, who lives 2 miles south of here and therefore out of the overlay area, was stymied by this last week when he tried to call a local restaurant from my house. He didn’t realize I had to dial ten digits for a call in the same area code; I hadn’t realized that he still DIDN’T.

I don’t think this follows in general (though I don’t know about 512 specifically). As with Sunspace’s example above, a local calling area can span multiple area codes (and in general does not cover the entirety of your area code). This is different from an overlay (with multiple area codes covering the same geographic region). A local call can sometimes be interpreted as calling a geographically-nearby prefix region for a different area code (for example, a couple miles away in a neighboring state) rather than a geographically-distant prefix region for the same area code (perhaps on the other side of the state).

I’d say, call back and ask for the area code, or check your phone bill next month if it itemizes calls. I suspect the call is going to a neighboring area code.

Well, Tuckerfan hit the nail on the head. As aktep noted the 512 area code doesn’t have any overlap, so I figured something must be seriously wrong…another call to Virgin revealed, after much research, that their system did indeed assign the same number to two different accounts. Mystery solved :slight_smile: Thanks to everone for their input. I had no idea how complicated phone service is in some areas!

Wow! I’m glad you got that figured out! My only other possibility was that somehow your office phone system was using a different area code than yours as its default… which wouldn’t make a lot of sense…

If you can tell me the first six digits I can tell you what exchanges are local for the cell .

Eg. 512-898

Local calling area for 512-898

From Thorndale-Thrall, TX
NPA;NXX;Rate Centre;Region;Plan Type;Call Type;Monthly Limit;Note;Effective
512;862;San Gabriel;TX;;;;;
512;365;Taylor EMS;TX;;;;;

The above reply was ameant for Emony Dax. Emony, let me know the NPA-NXX (514+first three digits and I can tell you the local calling pattern

Sunspace, no relief is planned, well should I say announced for 705 and 450. The 613-819 corridor is getting exhausted.

Link: File not found

I currently use Verizon, but have never heard of Virgin. What sort of proof do they require? :slight_smile: