Tonya Bina: 11-11-11 was cool; and so is my phone number |

Tonya Bina: 11-11-11 was cool; and so is my phone number

I’ve been living in Grand County for longer than a decade but still maintain my 970-390-xxxx cell phone number from care-free days in Vail.

Those pre-career days represent a time when I was single, could ski and snowboard at least 80 days a season, work and play hard during the evenings, daydream about my future and travel at my heart’s content. That silly phone number and a box of old photos in the back of the garage are what’s left of that free-spirited me.

Life is different as I grow older – better in many ways.

The 390 prefix is likely the original Vail cell number. Acting as a marker in the measure of time, the prefix has a strange attachment to my peers who acquired that number at a time when we were all finding ways to live, work and play in or near that wildly surreal and affluent Village.

My husband also spent some years in Vail and has a “390” too. Like me, he can’t quite let it go. If one of us tries to call the other from a land line, we’re forced to dial long distance.

A New Jersey businessman put his coveted 212 Manhattan phone number up for sale on eBay for $1 million last year. Within a few months, he had 26 offers.

The original 212 number is considered a status symbol among New Yorkers. Those with a 347 or 646 area code are merely trying to fit in.

We’re all still happily “970s” in the mountains, but in Winter Park, the original 726 or 722 prefixes for land lines are accumulating nostalgia as others seem to creep up.

We’re now seeing 363s filtering into the mix in the Fraser Valley. That prefix was assigned to a phone company back in 2002. A “758” prefix is waiting in the wings, assigned to Union Telephone Company in 2004, according to the North American Numbering Plan Administration, which is in charge of doling out numbers from a pool of about 1.28 billion in the U.S., Canada and most of the Caribbean.

Many cell phone numbers in our area have the popular 531 prefix acquired by Verizon. In the Fraser Valley, Verizon also controls 509 numbers. Sprint Nextel holds 447 cell phone prefixes and Sprint Spectrum has 281s and 575s.

Phone companies cannot be assigned new phone numbers until they’ve used up 75 percent of ones they have. When companies don’t use certain phone numbers, they donate them back into the central “pool” in 1,000 blocks at a time. This way, numbers don’t get stranded. It’s a fairly new conservation measure made mandatory by the Federal Communications Commission to help prolong the availability of this finite resource – phone numbers in our familiar 10-number pattern.

The Numbering Administration, contracted by the FCC, forecasts we could run out of numbers by 2037 because of growing populations and all the new electronic gadgets people carry, many of which require an assigned phone number.

Although phone companies and ultimately consumers wouldn’t like it, perhaps one small way to help file down the national debt would be for the FCC to start charging phone-number distributors for the use of numbers, which have always been acquired as a free resource.

In regard to our local central office codes, Granby’s 887, Fraser Valley’s 726 number, Grand Lake’s 627, Kremmling’s 724, or Hot Sulphur Springs’ 725, are at least 30 years old, according to the Numbering Administration. But land-liners may see other numbers cropping up, specifically Granby’s 364 or 557 granted to Level 3 Communications in 2002, or Grand Lake’s 798 number held by 36 Networks.

I’m embarrassingly emotionally attached to my own phone number.

But if someone wanted to buy it for $1 million – even much, much less – I certainly wouldn’t shed a tear.

Any buyers?

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