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March 27, 2006 / jnolen

Area codes don’t matter anymore

So in the last week, I've completely changed my telephonic lifestyle. First thing, I bought a new phone.

I researched for quite a while which phone to buy. The z520a one had everything I wanted, save one: I prefer candybar-style phones to flip-phones. However, I couldn't find a candybar that offered all of the other features I wanted, and it seems like everyone else in the universe gets along just fine with these flip-phones, so I finally decided to give it a try.

And for once, my indecision and obsessive-compusive need to over-research worked out in my favour. The first time I thought about buying the phone, Cingular was offering it for about $100. A month later, when I considered it a second time, it had dropped was $60. Last week when I actually decided to buy, Cingular was offering it for free!

Of course, it wasn't actually free, because I had to switch my phone service from Sprint to Cingular. I know lots of people that hate Sprint, but I never really had any problems with them. The big issue is that their phones are lame and they didn't offer anything that had the combination of features I wanted. But switching providers meant paying off the stupid, extortionate, evil contract-termination fee. My Aussie friends are constantly amazed that Americans put up with this crap from our phone companies. Apparently no one else in the world has to sign up for crazy two-year contracts or pay $150 just to switch carriers. Go, USA!

On the other hand, the really great thing about switching was that my old phone number (which I’ve got with my first cellphone six years ago) ported over like a charm. It’s been my only phone number for several years, and I really didn’t look forward to changing to a new one. Plus I have all these business cards. I was afraid I might lose my old number since I moved up to San Francisco and no longer live in the 805. But I put it the port request, crossed my fingers, and bingo! My San Francisco cellphone thinks it lives in Santa Barbara.

And no one really seems to care about that. It’s just my number. Everyone I know gets free (or practically free) long distance on their cellphones or Skype or VOIP. So 805 is just like being next door.

The only hang up was the door buzzer at my new place. We have a little keypad at the front door that is programmed to call your phone so you can buzz people in. However, the building owners didn’t bother to put long distance service on the line. It’s only ever calling into the bulding, right? Well, this is the 21st century folks, and I wanted it to call my cellphone. In Santa Barbara. It seemed like an impass, but here’s what I did.

I bought a SkypeIn number local to San Francisco ($30/year). I also bought some SkypeOut credit ($0.02/min). And then I had Skype forward calls to the San Francisco number out to my cell phone. And it works like a charm, whether or not I’m logged in to Skype. The reliability and the quality have been solid. So if you ring my doorbell it will, eventually, ring on my cell phone and I can buzz you in from anywhere in the country. And for the rest of you, my number hasn’t changed. And it probably never will.


  1. Zoli Erdos / Mar 31 2006 6:23 pm

    Ahh, 805 … I’ve never lived in Santa Barbara, but always wanted to. I thought it was one-way only there, nobody wants to leave that place :-)
    Btw, I have 816 and am in the Bay Area, but that’s because Sprint sent me one of their Ambassador phones – great multimedia, kinda useless for business.

  2. Jonathan Nolen / Mar 31 2006 8:06 pm

    Well, the SF weather this season is really making me question the wisdom of leaving SB. : ) But there is cool stuff going on here which SB just can’t match. SB is a great place to live once you’ve already made your bankroll and aren’t so worried about having a nightlife. Or career mobility. But SF is the place for me right now.

  3. Zoli Erdos / Mar 31 2006 8:52 pm

    I agree re. the bankroll, but I thought SB had a dedent nightlife, State Street appeared to be quite lively – or perhaps I fell in the tourist-traps :-)

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