Your Area Code Matters
You've got plenty of area codes to choose from, and choosing the right area code can make all the difference.
What is an Area Code?
You might not know this, but area codes are more than just a three-digit number that leads into your phone number. A US area code (and even area codes in Canada), are an essential element in helping callers connect with their family and friends. Simply put, with a US area code, you can identify yourself as a caller. But, there’s more to it all than that.
An area code is a number that we dial before we make local phone calls within the United States and Canada. While most other countries now employ the use of area codes to organize callers, the United States has been relying on area codes since the 1940s to create an intricate yet organized national callying system.
These USA area codes weren’t necessarily assigned at random, though. There was (and still is) a method to the madness behind some of the most popular area codes in the US.
The History of US Area Codes
To understand the history of US area codes, we’ll first introduce you to the North American Numbering Plan. The NANP is a telephone numbering plan for, well, North America (excluding Canada and Mexico, as they have their own plans) devised by AT&T back in the 1940s.
Originally motivated by economic reasons, independent operators throughout North America began adopting the NANP due to the fact that it provided them with the ability to better coordinate long distance calls between neighboring cities or towns. Adding area codes to phone numbers meant that these types of calls didn't require such intense localization; they could just go through one central office instead.
How does the North American Numbering Plan currently work in the US?
Territories across the country are sectioned off into what are called number plan areas. These areas are then assigned a three-digit number prefix, which is an area code!
The region uses that area code until they run out of numbers or the population increases enough to create a new area code. This happened, for example, in Dallas, for example, with the 214 area code. In 1996, the 214 area code region was split into two and the 972 area code became the newer code used for Dallas-area phone numbers. Then, two years later in 1998, the 469 area code was added to further increase coverage.
Note that this is different from a country code, but a similar numbering system applies there, too. The United States’ country code for calling is +1, which is added before a US area code number to place a call to someone within the United States if they’re calling from abroad.
The Benefits of Getting a Local Area Code
Local culture aside, does having a certain area code really matter all that much? Actually, it can! Choosing the right area code for your work phone, especially as a small business owner or independent contractor, can make or break your business efforts. Oftentimes, the right area code can also convey a sense of local trust. If your business or freelance gig caters to those in your local community, having a local area code they know and trust can be a small yet crucial part in further getting them to buy into your brand.
This can be especially important if you are a freelancer or sell services and items online. Sure, you might think, “what does it matter if I’m just selling art online or providing teletherapy to clients?” If they’re local, they’ll want to receive calls from a number they know and trust.
Choosing the right, local area code can help you develop trust with potential customers if you’re a business owner or freelance worker. Likewise, it can help you stay organized if you’re managing multiple lines for different departments or regional offices.
If you’re set on staying anonymous, you can still choose a local area code for your second phone number. Oftentimes, selecting a local US area code that friends and local contacts have is a good way to help ensure that your second number doesn’t look suspicious or odd. The number itself will be untraceable, but you’ll fit into the local crowd.