Knowing a phone number's provider.
June 8, 2005 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way — given a phone number — to know the provider of the phone service?

For example, given my phone number 801 555 1517, is there a way for someone to learn that I use Cingular? Why do I ask? Well, I have free minutes when calling other Cingular users, and I'd like a way to vet my phone list for Cingular users.
posted by silusGROK to Technology (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

You used to be able to tell on the Reverse Phone Directory page. Well, you still sort of can by entering a phone number in the white pages lookup, but with number portability, you can't be guaranteed that that number is with the original carrier any more.
posted by curse at 4:39 PM on June 8, 2005

Best answer: Yes and no.

You can find out the phone company that originally owned any given area code/prefix combination on the North American Numbering Plan Administration site. Go to the Utilized Codes Report, enter the state and NPA (also known as the area code -- in this case, Utah and 801), and then you'll be presented with a list of carriers in that state and what carrier each area code (NPA) and prefix (NXX) is assigned to. In that list, you'll see that the area code 801 and prefix 555 are assigned to Qwest (not surprising for a 555 number).

Now, there are two pretty big caveats. The first is that carriers and numbers change hands regularly -- for example, the numbering space owned by AT&T Wireless is now owned by Cingular as well, so some of those area codes and prefixes listed as AT&T may well be free for Cingular callers... or maybe not, in other cases, based on Cingular's private business decisions. Even more of an issue, anyone can port a number to any carrier, meaning that if they switched carriers, the prefix will still show up as being the old carrier's prefix everywhere but in the carrier's private records/LNP databases. My area code and prefix are still listed as being Verizon's, even though I ported service to T-Mobile a while back. There's no way for a general consumer to get the current status of an individual, 10-digit phone number, just the original area code/prefix assignment.
posted by eschatfische at 4:48 PM on June 8, 2005

801-555 would mean you use Qwest in Utah.

Here's your answer.
posted by vacapinta at 4:50 PM on June 8, 2005

I always used, but if you check it may say bellsouth or something like that. That's what it says for my number
posted by bsexton at 4:53 PM on June 8, 2005

This is pretty much impossible to tell, especially with number portability. With the telcodata and fonefinder sites, even my non-ported original Cingular wireless number says my number belongs to the local phone company.
posted by zsazsa at 6:47 AM on June 9, 2005

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