The Company That Owns 25% of 1-800 Numbers

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A relatively unknown telecom company from Philadelphia has bought up 1.7 million 1-800 numbers, turning them over to a connected company that runs them as phone-sex hotlines, the AP discovered. BoingBoing's Xeni Jardin glossed the news:

They behave not unlike domain name prospectors who do the same with web addresses, only they convert many of these numbers into phone sex lines.

The company now controls 1.7 million toll-free numbers, which represent about 25% of all 800 numbers in the U.S. and Canada. Among them: 1-800-Metallica, 1-800-Cadillac, 1-800-Minolta, 1-800-Cameras, 1-800-Worship and 1-800-Whirlpool.

AP reports that the connection between the speculation activity and the phone-porn activity is this: A-1 Advertising, an actual phone sex business, shares a building, owners, and executives, with the company doing the 800 number buying.

Read the full story at BoingBoing.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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