The death of the phone number as we know it

I’m currently spending some time in the US and in order to avoid the obscene data and voice roaming charges, I decided to buy a pay-as-you-go US sim card. I’ve been doing this for years, usually carrying two phones: my UK iPhone and an Android I use for traveling.

It so happens that my Android phone was stolen a few months ago, so when I went to T-Mobile yesterday I had to make a decision: buy a new phone or just take out the UK sim out of my iPhone and plug in the US one. After thinking about it for a couple of minutes, I realised that I mostly use my phone for email (Mail App and Sparrow), texting (WhatsApp), international calls (Skype) and a bunch of news / social media apps, none of which are actually linked to my phone number. I do get a lot of phone calls as well but people who urgently need to reach me have other ways of doing it anyway.

I decided to replace the sim in my iPhone, more as an experiment to see what happens if people can’t reach me on my UK number. So far so good. And it wouldn’t surprise me if five years from now phone numbers will be carrier-independent and would solely act as routing mechanisms. Kinda like Google Voice but with international capabilities. It would have an interface that enabled users to link it to Skype, and any local phone numbers I may have and then easily switch between them. Someone should build that.

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