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Q: SS Numbers vs Phone Numbers ( Answered ,   3 Comments )
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 Subject: SS Numbers vs Phone Numbers Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference Asked by: thelonemonk-ga List Price: \$5.00 Posted: 07 Dec 2003 16:25 PST Expires: 06 Jan 2004 16:25 PST Question ID: 284535
 ```Why are phone numbers becoming scarce yet social security numbers seem to be plentiful. Do SS#'s get re-assigned? By my simple calculation there are only 999,000,000 or so SS#'s available. With 245,000,000 people, aren't we about ready to run out of numbers? If not, why are we (or were we) running out of phone numbers, even though phone numbers have a billion combinations?```
 Subject: Re: SS Numbers vs Phone Numbers Answered By: clouseau-ga on 07 Dec 2003 17:26 PST Rated:
 ```Hello thelonemonk, Thank you for your question. Let's take the second part first: "...If not, why are we (or were we) running out of phone numbers, even though phone numbers have a billion combinations?" The reason we are running out of phone numbers is because most people have more than one number! Consider cell phones, pagers, fax machines, second lines, teenager lines, internet connections and the like. And many, many businesses have multiple incoming numbers for sales, accounting, tech support, fax numbers or even fax on demand, toll free, etc. Looked at in this manner, it becomes easy to see why 245 million people can begin to use up the pool of available phone numbers - which are a little under 10 billion, by the way, since phone numbers are 10 digit. Area codes do not start with 0 and some number combinations are not used, of course, so the actual number is a bit less. But more than the billion you had mentioned. The Canadian National Post says: http://areacode-info.com/headline/2001/on010205.htm "...Toronto began dialing 10 digits for local calls this month and this spring will also get a new area code, 647, to keep up with the demand for new numbers. Vancouver and Montreal are also getting new area codes, with other Canadian cities to follow. And many other major urban centres in North America are now using 10-digit dialing for local calls. But when cities need a third area code, there may not be one available. ''The 10-digit number is a limited resource which is running out fast,'' said Eric B. Morson, an expert on the phone numbering system. ''People don't recognize the looming crisis that is right down the road,'' Mr. Morson said. Park Davis, president of Ottawa's Canadian Numbering Administration Consortium Inc. -- which allocates phone numbers -- said there are 18 to 20 possible phone numbers for every man, woman and child in North America. Still, he said numbers are fast running out. ''It's conceivable that we may run out of area codes and numbers within six years,'' Mr. Davis said. ''There is a great deal of debate as to how long this resource will last. Some people say as early as six years, some say as late as 20 years.'' The phone number shortage comes as users of cellular phones, pagers, fax machine and Internet lines continue to suck up numbers at breakneck pace. New companies competing to provide phone service also tie up far more numbers than go into service. In the past six years North America has assigned 143 new area codes. The North American Numbering Plan Administration -- which assigns new area codes -- warned in its 1999 Exhaust Study that with accelerated growth, North America's last three-digit area code will be in use by 2006. With moderate growth, the area code bank will be empty in 2007. Under pressure from phone companies, the group later toned down its prediction, saying the continent has area codes to last through 2012..." So, you will also note that area codes are not only for the US, but are shared with our neighbors. And Wired news: http://www.wired.com/news/infostructure/0,1377,57571,00.html "...Originally a hacker's tool to make free long distance calls, VoIP is set to emerge as the next big thing in commercial telecom. Heather Tinsley of Telegeography estimates that as much as 10 percent of all international voice traffic was carried over IP in 2002. The phone companies insist that VoIP has the potential to eat up 10-digit numbers faster than cell phones, fax machines and pagers did. This would hasten the day North America runs out of unique phone numbers, requiring an entirely new numbering scheme..." Now, Social Security numbers: How Stuff Works: http://people.howstuffworks.com/question719.htm Do the digits in my social security number represent anything in particular? "Social security numbers (SSNs) are not random numbers. They are assigned regionally and in batches. The nine-digit SSN, which has been issued in more than 400 million different sequences, is divided into three parts: Area numbers - The first three numbers originally represented the state in which a person first applied for a social security card. Numbers started in the northeast and moved westward. This meant that people on the east coast had the lowest numbers and those on the west coast had the highest. Since 1972, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has assigned numbers and issued cards based on the ZIP code in the mailing address provided on the original application form. Since the applicant's mailing address doesn't have to be the same as his residence, his area number doesn't necessarily represent the state in which he resides. For many of us who received our SSNs as infants, the area number indicates the state we were born in. You can find out which area numbers go with each state here. Group numbers - These two middle digits, which range from 01 through 99, are simply used to break all the SSNs with the same area number into smaller blocks to make administration easier. (The SSA says that, for administrative reasons, group numbers issued first consist of the odd numbers from 01 through 09, and then even numbers from 10 through 98, within each area number assigned to a state. After all the numbers in group 98 of a specific area have been issued, the even groups 02 through 08 are used, followed by odd groups 11 through 99.) Serial numbers - Within each group designation, serial numbers -- the last four digits in an SSN -- run consecutively from 0001 through 9999. According to the SSA, the numbers are not recycled. Upon an individual's death, the number is removed from the active files and is not reused. Recycling numbers might become an issue someday, but not any time soon -- statisticians say that the nine-digit SSN allows for approximately one billion possible combinations!..." So, since the numbers are not recycled, digits will have to be added sometime in the future to accommodate for new births. However, there appears to be a pool of numbers still available for assignment: http://www.cpsr.org/cpsr/privacy/ssn/ssn.structure.html Structure of Social Security Numbers last modified May 15, 2001 "...The following table is now out of date. The SSA currently maintains an up-to-date version. I'm leaving the old one here in case the SSA's version goes away. As of 2001/5/15, the SSA lists group numbers as high as 768 as having been issued. 001-003 NH 400-407 KY 530 NV 004-007 ME 408-415 TN 531-539 WA 008-009 VT 416-424 AL 540-544 OR 010-034 MA 425-428 MS 545-573 CA 035-039 RI 429-432 AR 574 AK 040-049 CT 433-439 LA 575-576 HI 050-134 NY 440-448 OK 577-579 DC 135-158 NJ 449-467 TX 580 VI Virgin Islands 159-211 PA 468-477 MN 581-584 PR Puerto Rico 212-220 MD 478-485 IA 585 NM 221-222 DE 486-500 MO 586 PI Pacific Islands* 223-231 VA 501-502 ND 587-588 MS 232-236 WV 503-504 SD 589-595 FL 237-246 NC 505-508 NE 596-599 PR Puerto Rico 247-251 SC 509-515 KS 600-601 AZ 252-260 GA 516-517 MT 602-626 CA 261-267 FL 518-519 ID 627-645 TX 268-302 OH 520 WY 646-647 UT 303-317 IN 521-524 CO 648-649 NM 318-361 IL 525 NM *Guam, American Samoa, 362-386 MI 526-527 AZ Philippine Islands, 387-399 WI 528-529 UT Northern Mariana Islands 650-699 unassigned, for future use 700-728 Railroad workers through 1963, then discontinued 729-799 unassigned, for future use 800-999 not valid SSNs. Some sources have claimed that numbers above 900 were used when some state programs were converted to federal control, but current SSA documents claim no numbers above 799 have ever been used. As of Feb 10, 1999 the most recent area numbers to have been assigned include 650-658, 667-675, and 680. This list is from the SSA's web site, which shows the highest group number assigned for each area..." So, it seems there is some discrepancy, but it appears that number at least from 729-999 have not yet been used. Search Strategy: running out of phone numbers running out of social security numbers "social security number" +"running out" number of digits +"social security number" I trust my research has provided you with a bit of insight into available phone and social security numbers. If a link above should fail to work or anything require further explanation or research, please do post a Request for Clarification prior to rating the answer and closing the question and I will be pleased to assist further. Regards, -=clouseau=-```
 thelonemonk-ga rated this answer: ```I guess the answer is that there are vastly more phone numbers then people, and eventually there will be not enough SS numbers, but for now we are ok. Great reasearch! Thanks, now I can sleep at night.```

 ```It's just a guess, but ... could it have something to do with the fact that, as far as I know, a Social Security Number is not assigned to another person again once the owner has died, while telephone numbers can be assigned to new owners? So the pool of SSNs will be empty at some point (if the assignment rules are not changed or longer new numbers introduced), while the phone numbers can be "recycled" as often as necessary? Scriptor```
 ```I don't know if this is as true in the North American system as it is in Britain, but one of the problems with British phone numbers is that a rural area with a few hundred phones gets the same length area code as an urban area with tens of thousands of phones. So, using (one of several possible) British number formats, the major town of Basingstoke 01256 has 44 of the NNxxxx 6-digit local number groups in use or allocated and only 6 NNxxxx groups free, whereas the smaller and less industrial town of Mold 01352 has only 17 of the NNxxxx local number groups in use or allocated. It only has 3 groups free now, but there are 60 groups that are protected which means they are 'sterilised' for now but will become free 2 years after last use; so this exchange has huge spare numbering capacity. This spare numbering capacity cannot be moved out of the Mold area, so although there are spare numbers they cannot be used. This means the practical capacity of the numbering scheme is much less than the theoretical. One of the major uses of numbers is Direct Dialling Inwards where callers can dial direct into a PBX extension, which is why I chose Basingstoke which has some very large business offices. One way around this, which we are using in Britain, is to decrease the area code length and increase the local number length, in major urban areas. Leicester, for example, has recently changed to 0116 then 7-digit local numbers. 0116 2 xxxxxx and 3 xxxxxx are in use, with 4 xxxxxx to 9 xxxxx marked for Leicester expansion, so this creates spare capacity. Britain recently dramatically increased its phone number capacity by prefixing existing geographic area codes with 1 (01 + 9 digits), creating new number ranges for major cities in 02 (eg London 02 0 + 8 digit local numbers) and moving all mobile phones to 07. All code information taken from http://www.ukphoneinfo.com/section/tci/locator.shtml Owain```
 ```Thanks for the comments. It's interesting to see how the UK is handeling this impending crisis. Who would of thunk?```