Area Codes, Now Divorced From Their Areas

It used to be safe to assume that dialing 212 made a phone ring in Manhattan. Press 212 these days, and someone may answer in Tokyo. Calling 914 could lead to Westchester County, New York, as always. But it might also get you Baghdad. In this era of mobile telecommunications, calls now connect people, not places. Cellular phones, changing governmental regulations and new Internet technology have torn area codes from geography, allowing people to have phone numbers with area codes distant from where they live. Though not new, the trend has kicked up a pitched debate among a colorful collection of technological pundits, telephone historians and Web preachers who specialize in the topic.

By IAN URBINA

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