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555 is NOT VALID

Posted by Bill Quimby on

Despite what you've seen in movies, 555 is not a valid exchange in any local or toll free area code in North America, EXCEPT for "800".

It's a funny story why it's only available in 800-555-****. You have to understand the early history of toll free a little. AT&T invented toll free numbers in May of 1966 when they were THE phone company. When their long distance was broken up and other companies started offering long distance they just gave them out by exchange (blocks of 10K #s) to different phone companies, just like they did local numbers.

A Canadian phone company requested the 555 exchange. At first AT&T said no, because that's not a vailid exchange for us. The Canadian company said it's not for you but we can use it. Eventually they got the 555 exchange and were giving them out to Canadian customers, when they created the SMS/800 database to make numbers portable and issue numbers individually. They were grandfathered in, and after a period of time were able to be transferred and used the same as any other number.

They are obviously very hard to get and valuable because they're so unique. They decided not to allow them though when they added 888's in 1995, and have blocked both 555 and 911 in every new toll free area code introduction.

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