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What is the 500 Area Code?

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Dan Carpenter
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:36 am    Post subject: What is the 500 Area Code? Reply with quote

What is the 500 Area Code?

500 numbers are another flavor of "follow me" personal communication services. Also known as 5YY, SAC-NPA 500 or "Personal Numbering", these are actually an entire area code (NPA) reserved for services not bound by geographic restrictions.

This is the NANPA’s official definition:
    “The 5YY NPA resource is a non-geographic Service Access Code (SAC) used for personal communications services. As stated in the Personal Communications Services (PCS) 5YY NXX Code Assignment Guidelines, personal communication service is a set of capabilities that allows some combination of personal mobility, terminal mobility, and service profile management. It enables each personal communication service user to participate in a user-defined set of subscribed services, and to initiate and/or receive calls on the basis of some combination of a personal number, terminal number, and a service profile across multiple networks at any terminal, fixed or mobile, irrespective of geographic location.”

The NANPA currently has opened the 500, 533 and 544 NPA up for this service. They have also reserved 522, 566, 577 and 588 for future assignments.

500 numbers were first introduced in 1994. The only two major US carriers that ever used 500 services were AT&T and MCI. Verizon wireless (Cellco) has the bulk of the assignments. Other carriers did not activate the blocks. There are several blocks reserved for "future Canadian use". AT&T, who unsuccessfully marketed their service as Tue Connections®, discontinued their offering in 2000. MCI, (Verizon) does not have any current offerings.

In addition to routing and receiving incoming calls, subscribers can also place outgoing calls through their 500 number. By dialing their 500 number and entering a PIN, the user can program or reprogram calling sequence, retrieve voice mail, make outgoing calls, and change the many options also available with the service. Programming is done via a series of prompts, and on-line assistance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Some service providers allow the user to assign a PIN to their number. This is typically used when they want the toll charges to be charged back to the owner of the 500 number rather than the caller – much like an 8xx number, but with an extra step in the call process.

500 numbers are in the format 500-NXX-XXXX. 500 service is not portable; that is, the identity of the service provider is embedded in the number. The prefix (NXX) indicates the 500 service provider, and the line number (XXXX) indicates the particular premium service. The 500-555-xxxx block are used to reach a wide variety of information services. They are in the format 555-XXXX. The line number (XXXX) indicates the particular information service.

Some unscrupulous companies have been known to use 500 numbers as a "backdoor" way for scamming or enacting pay-per-call (e.g., 976) campaigns. So you should use caution when calling a number with a 500/522/533/544/566/577 area code.
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