212 area code may someday be available nationwide: Report

Empire State Building

Empire State Building (Credit: Empire State Building (Getty Images))

One of the classic symbols of Manhattan status, the 212 area code, may be about to lose its cachet.

A group of voice-over Internet providers led by Vonage is hoping to gain direct access to the nationwide collection of unused phone numbers, which would mean that any area code could be assigned to a phone in any area, according to a report from Bloomberg News. As of 2009, about 19% of all 212 numbers were available, Bloomberg said.

Long seen as one of the markers of a true New Yorker, 212 area codes are a rarity among city-dwellers, and some crafty owners of the elusive numbers have even sold them on eBay.

(Last night, some auctions on the site were asking for up to $59.99 for the digits.)

Still, companies such as Level 3 Communications, which supplies numbers to voice-over Internet providers, oppose the deal, saying it seeks to “obtain the rights of a carrier without shouldering” technical and financial responsibility to states, a spokesman for Level 3 told amNewYork.

Level 3 added that allowing non-carriers such as Vonage access to the numbers may result in a “significant risk of having calls mishandled.”

Vonage and the FCC didn’t respond to a request for comment.

This story has been updated since its original publication to include comment from Level 3.


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