Gray Matter


Phone Numbers Will Someday Be As Extinct As Dinosaurs

RT Cunningham | August 18, 2020 (UTC) | Phones

phone numbersWhy are people still using phone numbers to contact one another? Landlines need them, obviously, but what about cell phones over the internet?

Online services such as Skype, Facebook Messenger, Viber and Line prove we can communicate over the internet (VoIP or voice over internet protocol) without phone numbers. Moreover, phone numbers can’t do video.

Phone Numbers Aren’t Necessary

You can’t tell that to the telecommunication companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, Smart Communications and others. They will use phone numbers to identify their customers, landline or mobile, until they’re told not to. How else can they charge so much for something that costs them so little?

Landlines have to use phone numbers but cell phones don’t need them. After all, they’re not physically connected to anything. I don’t know how the iPhones work (I’ve never had one) but Android phones won’t work properly without e-mail addresses for backups. Well, maybe they will but I haven’t figured it out yet.

In the Philippines, Landlines Aren’t Necessary

The Philippines was far behind the United States when it only had landlines for phone communications. If a house had a phone, the owner was considered well off. Most Filipinos had to go to phone centers to make or receive phone calls.

When cell phones first started becoming popular, things changed drastically. At one time, I called the Philippines the texting capital of the world. Voice calls were expensive and unreliable.

As early as 2007, when I bought something or scheduled an appointment for something, the other party always wanted a cell phone number. They didn’t use landlines, and they didn’t call landlines (cell to landline and landline to cell was more expensive).

I had a landline in my house in the Philippines until June 2018 because the DSL service required me to have it (and pay for it). I never called anyone with it. People called me and it was usually a wrong number. At other times, it was PLDT trying to sell me a gadget or some new service.

Phone Numbers and Dinosaurs

If you’re old enough, someone will call you a dinosaur sooner or later. Real dinosaurs are extinct, just like phone numbers will be extinct someday. The day will come when the telecommunication companies let it happen or someone forces them to make it happen. Kicking and screaming all the way, of course.

Josie (my wife) and I talked to our grown children in the United States all the time. It didn’t cost anything beyond what I paid for DSL. More than 30 years ago, I was paying $20 USD to call the Philippines for about five minutes at a time. I would have saved a small fortune if I’d had access to even one internet service, but that was well before the internet opened up for consumers.

The phone companies will use phone numbers to milk us for everything they can get for as long as they can get away with it. I’ll be happy when the day comes that they can’t.

Photo Attribution: By Jonathan Mauer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in November 2017.

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