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Phone Numbers

In a world of FaceTime and Kik, what happens to the phone number?


December 1, 2012


April 6, 2023


With AT&T’s news earlier this month that it wants to get our of the old-school telephone business and transition to an all-IP network, we’re at a watershed moment in telecommunications. But for the millions out there who can’t tell circuit-switched voice from voice over the Internet (VoIP) one of the bigger issues is what does the transition to VoIP mean for telephone numbers.

Theoretically, in an all-IP world you don’t need phone numbers. You need the equivalent of a URL where people can find you. But anyone who spends much time using web-based communications services such as Skype, FaceTime, Google Talk (or Hangouts) it’s clear that one URL for one person might be a pipe dream. And honestly, there are probably plenty of people who wouldn’t want to be found at a single place — those people probably enjoy having one number for work and another for home. It provides a nice demarcation for their lives.

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